George W 1856-1940 Jacoby.

Suggestion and psychotherapy online

. (page 9 of 18)
Online LibraryGeorge W 1856-1940 JacobySuggestion and psychotherapy → online text (page 9 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

backward upon itself and thus cover the posterior
openings of the nasal cavity and keep the air in
his lungs from escaping. Sleep is then effected
through auto-suggestion and the exclusion of all
distracting sensory impressions, combined with
fixation of the Yogi's own nose. The Yogi then
is laid in a coffin, occasionally even buried, and,


after a day or even a few weeks, disinterred and

The documents of Braid, who calls this process
of apparent death "human hibernation," are of
importance. His interest in these occurrences was
aroused by communications concerning them which
were made to him by Dr. John Cheyne, professor
in Dublin, a recognized medical authority. Special
interest attaches to Braid's report of such apparent
death in a European. Colonel Townsend, an Eng-
lishman, possessed the power of voluntarily causing
a cessation of his heart and respiratory action and
of remaining in a state of apparent death for a
period of half an hour. Dr. Cheyne and Dr. Bay-
nard, who were witnesses of such an act, state that
they were unable to perceive any pulse or heart
beat nor any respiratory movement, and that a clean
mirror held to Townsend's mouth did not become
dimmed. The physicians feared Townsend was
dead, but after half an hour the heart-beat slowly
returned, respiration set in, and the body began to

Braid says that, in the face of such testimony,
he was no longer able to disregard the statements
concerning such occurrences among the fakirs, or


Yogis, and he made further written inquiries of
reliable people in India. These reports of cases
collected by Braid include some in which actual
burial, with or without a coffin, had taken place.
Such burials of apparently dead Yogis certainly
must be very infrequent. Paul, who, by the way,
according to Schmidt, was an anglicized native of
India, by the name of Navina Candra Pala, and
whose reports for this reason are not unbiassed,
mentions in his treatise only three cases of such
burial. He says the bodies were placed in a vault,
which then was covered by two heavy flat stones
five to six feet long, several inches thick, and wide
enough to occlude the opening completely, and, Paul
believes, some earth was thrown over the stones.

Bunge, in his "Physiology," cites the report by
a Swiss merchant, Charles Breuer, who had lived
in India for a long time, of a religious celebration
which took place in 1895 in the presidency of
Madras. A fakir was placed in a trench, his
body was covered with a cloth and then by earth.
This occurred at eleven o'clock in the forenoon; at
five o'clock in the afternoon the body was disin-
terred and resuscitated. During the entire time a
large number of spectators was present, and Breuer


himself witnessed both the interment and the dis-

Of course, it is very difficult to say whether
much contained in these reports is not due to errors
of observation. According to Schmidt, the four
cases of Braid occurred between the years 1828 and
1857, and, in all probability, represent various
"deaths'* of one and the same person, the Yogi
Haradas, who came from the neighborhood of
Karnul. Garbe says that the reports by Hindoo
natives of apparent deaths of the Yogis **have
but little value for those who recognize the untrust-
worthiness of the modern Hindoos."

Even if all these reports are exaggerated, even if
the trustworthy ones are only those which tell of
the Yogi's sleep in the open air and of cases in which
heart action and respiration showed no marked va-
riation from normal conditions, still there must be
involved in them a question of prolonged hypnosis,
of a cataleptic state. Hence they must be of inter-
est in showing the extent to which bodily functions
may be influenced by suggestion, by the concen-
tration of the will and the imagination upon a
certain idea.


C. Forms of Suggestion

In a more special discussion of the various forms
of suggestion, it is advisable to take up first the
difference between waking suggestion and hypnotic

There can be no doubt whatever that premedi-
tated psychic inoculation is most easily effected in
a special condition of consciousness which is called
hypnosis. We are usually able to avoid the use of
this method, however, since in a large number of
persons a further increase of the naturally great
receptivity and impressionability is superfluous.
Furthermore it is frequently difficult, and, for the
unpractised hypnotist, occasionally impossible, to
produce the hypnosis necessary for an increase of
suggestibility. As a rule, therefore, we shall have
to confine ourselves to suggestions made during
the waking state. Those, in the majority of cases,
not only are adequate, but also enable us to avoid
the various dangers associated with hypnosis, es-
pecially as practised by the unskilled.

He who, through lack of experience or because
of ignorance of the technique, is in doubt regard-
ing his ability to implant suggestions by means of


hypnosis, will be able, notwithstanding, to attain
results by the persistent use of suggestive influence
during the waking state. Still it will be useful to
know the main characteristics of the hypnotic state.

Hypnosis, as the word indicates, is a sleep-like
state produced by artificial means. The condition
is brought about by suggesting the idea of sleep
and by the acceptance of the suggestion on the part
of the person to be influenced. The question im-
mediately arises, Is the condition produced by the
suggestion of sleep an actual sleep? As to that,
opinions differ widely. Certain authors, including
Wundt and Krafft-Ebing, deny there is any simi-
larity between the hypnotic state and sleep; others
consider the two states identical; still others adopt
a middle course, designating the lighter grades of
hypnosis as states not akin to sleep, while deep
hypnosis is regarded by them as actual sleep.

The difficulty of answering this question lies in
our ignorance of the physiological conditions which
exist during sleep. In sleep, the attention — that
is, the power of concentrating the psychic energy
on certain concepts — probably is divided equably
among all the sensory organs. In consequence of
this equable distribution, it is impossible, accord-


ing to Hirsch, for any individual function of the
brain to become efficient to the same degree as in
the waking state.

Indeed, it may be said normal sleep occurs
through not concentrating the attention, through
not thinking of anything definite, through not di-
recting the sensory organs toward a definite point
— in short, through closing them to external
stimuli. The more such equalization occurs, the
stronger does fatigue become, and when it reaches
its height, sleep occurs. Sleep does not occur in
consequence of the attention being concentrated
upon the idea of sleep, for, as is well known, many
people fall asleep entirely against their wills, even
when they voluntarily distract their attention from
sleep, and often under very inappropriate condi-

Accordingly, also, the process of awakening,
after brain and body have become rested, probably
takes place through the gradual reconcentration of
the attention, which, during sleep, has been dis-
tributed equably in individual perceptional cen-
tres. When such reconcentration is taking place,
any sensory stimulus, a stream of light, a noise,
etc., which is not perceived during sleep, may be


ample to make an impression on consciousness
and cause the awakening.

The main distinction between sleep and hypnosis
is furnished by the state of the attention. Whereas
in sleep the attention is equably distributed, in hyp-
nosis we find it concentrated on the idea of sleep.
The hypnotized person merely believes he is asleep,
he has the illusion of sleep without really being
asleep. That is corroborated by the fact that
people in natural sleep usually are not amenable to
suggestion. Since the attention, in hypnosis, is
directed toward a certain idea, consciousness is not
altered in the same manner as in sleep. The hyp-
notist can place himself in communication, en
rapport, with the object of the experiment, and can
receive answers to his questions. It is said to be
possible by this means even to inveigle- the hypno-
tized person into revealing his innermost secret —
that of a crime, for instance. Here, of course, we
cannot enter on a discussion of the question whether
such a procedure is justifiable, or whether, assum-
ing all inhibition to be removed during hypnosis,
divulgence of such secrets may be attained with
any degree of certainty.

It is a fact, however, that we cannot place our-


selves en rapport with a sleeping person, and for
that reason alone hypnosis is not identical with
actual sleep. On the other hand, it is possible to
transform sleep into hypnosis, or hypnosis into
sleep. In the former case a rapport may be sub-
sequently attained, in the latter case the rapport
at once ceases.

Various additional points might be adduced to
indicate the difference between sleep and hypnosis
— such, for instance, as the fact that the closure of
the lids which characterizes natural sleep is not
necessarily present in hypnosis; the regular expe-
rience that going to sleep takes much longer than
being placed in a state of hypnosis, which usually
is attained in a few seconds; and the absence in
hypnosis of the sensation of fatigue, which is con-
comitant with going to sleep. In the main we must
agree with Hirsch that the chief difference between
the two states rests in the fact that in natural sleep
the attention is incapable of concentration and is
therefore ineffective.

Still, since hypnosis is a sleep-like state, we are
justified in contrasting it with the waking state.
We must reiterate that during hypnosis, since the
attention is directed to the concept of sleep, the


will power and judgment are markedly weakened,
if not entirely suspended, and for that reason alone
suggestibility is increased. Suggestions, therefore,
may become fastened and realized more easily than
in the waking state.

Nevertheless, we must insist that even without
hypnosis, and without the usual accessories asso-
ciated with it, such as the fixation of lustrous ob-
jects, stroking and other manipulations employed
for the purpose of increasing the subject's credu-
lousness, the simple verbal method of suggestion is
entirely and promptly efficacious in the majority
of instances. If we succeed in obtaining the ac-
ceptance of a suggestion, the emotions, the sensory
perceptions, the impulses of the will, etc., which cor-
respond to the suggested idea, will become opera-
tive, in accordance with the law of ideodynamics,
or of the power of thought, first formulated by

In connection with the discussion on hypnosis,
we must briefly mention the manifestations known
as "subconscious" and their corollary, alternating

The studies and investigations devoted to the
hypnotic state, with the special attention given to


the memory of hypnotized subjects, soon showed
that the memory remained unaltered during the
Hghter degrees of hypnosis. Throughout such
superficial hypnosis the subject retains his recol-
lection for all occurrences of waking life, and, after
the hypnotic state has passed away, for all which
has taken place during that state. Even the slight-
est lapse of memory cannot be discovered. But
in the deeper grades of hypnosis the conditions are
entirely different. A characteristic of those states
is the post-hypnotic amnesia, loss of memory of
what the person has experienced during the hyp-
nosis. This loss of memory, which may be termed
the direct mark of differentiation between super-
ficial and deep hypnosis, is, however, by no means
complete. The memory pictures w^hich appar-
ently have faded can be revived by means of a
fresh hypnosis.

In the new hypnosis the memory impressions
received in the preceding hypnosis will again be
present. Even in the waking state an experience
of the hypnotic state which apparently has been
obliterated can occasionally be recalled. This
takes place when conditions similar to those which
have brought about the first impression arouse


the dormant recollections by means of association
of thought. In this manner dreams and experi-
ences of the waking state which have apparently
been forgotten entirely, may reappear suddenly,
distinctly, and clearly. If, on the other hand,
many sensory perceptions disappear from memory
without leaving a trace of their former presence,
it is because they have left no impress on the brain,
for, as we have already stated, such impress takes
place only when the sensory perception is accom-
panied by the requisite attention. \Mienever such
attention is lacking, when the mind is busied with
other matters or is incapable of concentration, the
sensory perceptions will pass by without leaving a
record; then recollections of their happening
cannot be revived by a recurrence of like or similar

Memory is dependent on actual brain impres-
sions and on the existence of association fibres by
which these impressions are interconnected. It is
immaterial whether these impressions have been
produced in the waking state, in a dream, or in
hypnosis. If the same or similar conditions are
not reproduced again to, stimulate the association
fibres, the impressions will sink into oblivion, to


be recalled at once, however, when such conditions
are reproduced again.

In hypnosis such reproduction Is ^ected arti-
ficially when, through association of ideas, the im-
parting of the experience of a former hypnosis
forms a bHdge, so to speak, between hypnosis and
hypnosis, or occasionally between the hypnotic and
the waking state. But where have these memory
images been during the time they have been una-
ble to force their way into consciousness? They
could not have been actually effaced, since an asso-
ciation of ideas or a renewed hypnosis has again
brought them to light. The answer is that they
were latent in the brain, in a sphere of conscious-
ness which has been designated the '^subconscious
or subliminal mind," in contradistinction to the
supra-conscious or supra-liminal mind, which
takes in the perceptional contents always pres-
ent in consciousness. On this basis Dessoir has
constructed his theory of dual personality. The
concepts present during hypnosis would fall, there-
fore, within the domain of the subconscious. Des-
soir even goes so far as to look upon all hypnosis
as a state in which the subconscious self occupies
a dominant position, displacing the supra-conscious


To me it does not seem that the term " subcon-
sciousness '^ has been happily chosen. The word
may give the impression that there is a contradic-
tion between subconsciousness and supra-conscious-
ness. Yet the one does not exclude the other, as,
for example, the word "day" excludes the idea of
night, light excludes dark, right excludes left.
We must always remember that subconsciousness
does not stand for any new thoughts, but is essen-
tially made up of memory images. For this rea-
son I agree entirely with Prince, who prefers the
term "co-consciousness." This quite correctly ex-
presses the idea that, beside the main conscious-
ness there exist perceptional contents which are
not always present and apparently have left be-
hind no brain impressions, but which, through pur-
poseful or accidental stimulation of the association
fibres, may be recalled to memory at any time.

This explains the facts mentioned by certain
observers, which at first blush seem rather mystical.
I would recall to mind the case mentioned by Ober-
steiner of a servant girl who, while in hypnosis,
cited Hebrew phrases, but during the waking state
had no knowledge of that language nor any recol-
lection of ever having known it. It was shown,
however, that this knowledge had come to her in


an entirely natural way. Years before she had
been in the employ of a pastor whose custom it
had been to read aloud the Hebrew biblical texts,
and these she evidently had learned without in
any way understanding them. It certainly is not
unusual for persons in hypnosis to live in a world
of thought entirely foreign to that of their waking
state. Out of that condition of affairs grows the
idea of a double self or dual personality. It is
this which has helped to surround the hypnotic
state with an atmosphere of mysticism, and which
has caused the belief that some demonic or super-
natural force controls hysterics, who, on the one
hand, are easily hypnotizable, and, on the other,
are so changeable emotionally that they often
present the picture of dual personality.

It is now in order to take a cursory view of the
condition which the spiritists designate as "trance.''
In this state, which is identical with hypnosis or
somnambulism, the spiritistic mediums, figura-
tively speaking, are said to be transported from
earth and endowed with the power of second sight,
clairvoyance. Then, it is asserted, they manifest
knowledge which goes far beyond what should
be expected of them in view of their educational


opportunities. The spiritists explain this by the
assumption that the mediums, when in a state of
trance, are the interpreters of people who are
dead, and, therefore, that it is not their proper
self which gives expression in the trance to so-
called supernatural knowledge, but another self —
namely, the spirit of the departed. As a matter of
fact, in these cases it is a question essentially of
the revival of memory images which have passed

' out of consciousness and which, perhaps for many
years, have lain latent in the subconsciousness, or
co-consciousness. The use of foreign languages
in the trance is also to be explained in this way.
Thus Laura Edmonds, daughter of Justice J. W.
Edmonds, of New York, was able to speak nearly
all languages in which conversation was sought,

I although, according to her father's statement, in a
waking state she knew only her mother tongue,
English, and a little school-girl French. \Vlien in
a trance she also sang in foreign languages.

Such powers have been manifested by other
mediums, too. Quite as singular is the answering
of scientific questions in a state of trance by a
medium who, when awake, is unable to impart
any information whatsoever on such subjects.


Spirit-writing, or the transmission of a spirit's
"thoughts'* in writing by the hand of a medium,
is usually effected by means of the psychograph.
Varied constructions of this apparatus are seen.
A common one consists of a light, freely movable
bar or pointer on a board on which letters of the
alphabet, the figures to 9, and many of the com-
monest words are printed in a circle. The medium
places his hands on this board, and then the
pointer moves to and fro, from letter to letter, thus .
forming words and sentences. The planchette is a I
variety of psychograph.

Automatic writing, spirit-writing without the use
of apparatus, is effected as follows: A pencil is
held by the medium in a writing position over the
paper; when the attempt is successful, the hand
moves as though under foreign influence; often
many futile attempts are first made, the writing
then representing nothing but a confusion of lines
and dots, from which ultimately a legible writing
is developed. It also is asserted "spirits" send
direct written communications, in which the pen-
cil is moved by the "spirits" themselves, and the
writing is done on covered or concealed sheets of
paper. The statement of the spiritists that this




form of communication is the highest manifesta-
tion of spirit Hfe, when considered together with
the concealment necessary for its effectiveness, suf-
fices to characterize the entire procedure as a piece
of dextrous sleight of hand, which can impress
none but the credulous mind.

As a matter of curiosity, let us here relate an
example of direct writing which has been designated
by the spiritists as a "great success," and which
shows that even the most learned men may become
victims of deception when they abandon the field
of fact for that of speculation. This example is
taken from the report of a seance, at which Pro-
fessor du Prel and Baron von Hellenbach allowed
themselves to be mystified by the well-known
medium Eglinton. As du Prel tells the story,
EgHnton, on being left to himself, soon went into
a condition in which, evidently, he no longer acted
consciously, but was governed by instinctive and
involuntary impulses. He next sat at a table,
arising now and then, walking about, and speaking
in an altered tone of voice. He asked von Hellen-
bach for some clean paper, and, taking a single
sheet from a package of rather stiff sheets of note-
paper of the size of a postal card, placed it on the


table. Then, going to a bookcase, he took out a
book which happened to be Zoellner's "Transcen-
dental Physics," and which also was placed on the
table. Tearing a corner from the sheet of note-
paper, Eglinton placed the torn bit in du Prel's
hand, and the empty sheet, together with the point
of a pencil, in the opened book, which then was
immediately closed. Eglinton kneeled between du
Prel and Hellenbach, and all three joined hands
on the closed book. Hellenbach asked a question
relating to his studies which required a long an-
swer. After a few seconds, du Prel, having the
feeling in one of his hands that writing was going
on within the book, placed his ear on the volume
and distinctly heard the muffled sound correspond-
ing to rapid writing on material of such a nature.
Three quick knocks from within the book an-
nounced that the unknown "spirit" had com-
pleted its work. When the book was opened, the
previously clean sheet was found covered by thirty
closely written lines. From a corner of the sheet
a piece was missing, and the torn edge fitted ex-
actly with that of the piece in the possession of
du Prel. A repetition of the experiment furnished
the opportunity for a completion of the answer.


Du Prel says particularly that the writing bore no
resemblance to that of Eglinton, and that, by the
light of three gas-jets, every movement of Eglinton
could be carefully observed. He gives it as his
opinion that no deception could have taken place.
Any one who has attended spiritualistic seances,
and who has been a witness of the manner in
which even the most intricate exhibitions of so-
called mediums have been surpassed by expert
prestidigitators, must be able to form his own con-
clusion as to the value of such experiments. So
far as automatic writing is concerned, we would
only recall what has been said concerning the in-
voluntary bodily movements always associated with
psychic processes. That these movements may
give to the pencil a certain direction is evident.
At times the meaning of the written communica-
tion is without sense or ambiguous; at times a
clear meaning is given. In the latter case, careful
study always will show that the apparently foreign
thought is not a new revelation, but represents that
part of the general conceptive contents which has
lain dormant in subconsciousness, or, rather, co-
consciousness. That such processes of thought
may be elicited during trance or hypnosis without


having been suggested is explained by the aug-
mented powers of recollection which accompany
those states, and which condition is known as

We have already mentioned that, during hyp-
nosis, there may be observed in certain persons a
complete dissociation of consciousness which bears
the impress of dual personality. The case of the
woman lima Szandor, to whom had been suggested
the seventh year of her life and loss of memory for
the entire period which had elapsed since that time,
so that she believed herself to be a child and looked
upon her surroundings from a childish view-point,
as well as the case of the young man who, during
hypnosis, was transformed from a mild and timid
into a valorous and intrepid person, depends solely
on the power of suggestion and the alteration in the
conceptional contents produced thereby. An en-

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryGeorge W 1856-1940 JacobySuggestion and psychotherapy → online text (page 9 of 18)