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although the latter distinctly perceives all the other persons
and objects in the apartment. The subject may be made to
adopt some other character, as that of a policeman, a nun, a
little child, or an old woman; and not infrequently acts the
part remarkably well. In this deeper somnambulistic stage
the actions suggested by the experimenter are almost
invariably executed, even though they be absurd, unpleasant,
or ridiculous.

Amnesia and "deferred suggestions." — A common feature of
the deeper forms of the trance is complete forgetfulness vvhen
awakened, of the incidents which have just happened, although
they may be perfectly recalled in a future hypnosis. Never-
theless post-hypnotic suggestions or orders given during the
trance with regard to future actions are often faithfully per-
formed at the appropriate time when the subject has been
restored to his normal waking state, although no recollection
of the suggestion be retained. The subject simply feels a
vague impulse to perform the action. It is in this force of
"deferred suggestions" that the value of hypnotism as a
therapeutic agency lies. But here also is obviously one of
its gravest dangers. The patient, when hypnotized, is assured
that he will awake in good health, that his neuralgia or
dyspepsia will have ceased ; and the malady accordingly
disappears. Or, if ordered to do something on a future occa-
sion, he will feel, when the circumstances arrive, an inex-
plicable impulse to perform the act ; and this craving, it
is said, possesses in some instances an overmastering
force which rcndcis the subject miserable until the deed is


accomplished, or the occasion for it has passed completely

Exalted sensibility. — In certain cases the sensibility of
the perceptive faculties seems to be heightened in a marvel-
lous manner, so as to enable the hypnotized subject to
apprehend faint stimuli that would in the normal state be
indiscernible. How far certain strange, extraordinary pheno-
mena of this class are to be ascribed to hypnotism proper, it
is very difficult to decide. At all events authenticated cases
of the kind do not seem to occur in legitimate clinical practice
like that of Bernheim at Nancy. Cn the other hand, a writer
as little likely to extend unduly the territory of the preter-
natural as Professor James, is very frank in his confession of
belief in the reality of occurrences at " seances " given by
certain " mediums," as altogether inexplicable by hitherto
known natural causes.^

Whether the human intellect can ever naturally work more
efficiently in the hypnotized state seems even more open to
doubt ; though it is not impossible that the suspension of
inferior cerebral centres may in particular circumstances set
certain higher mental processes in a freer and more unim-
peded condition of activity.^

The percentage of persons hypnotizable is variously
stated by different experimenters, partly owing to their
differences of view as to the genuineness of the lighter form
of Hypnotism. Thus: " Bottey gives 30 per cent, as sus-
ceptible, Morselli 70 per cent., Delboeuf over 80 per cent., /
whilst Bernheim refuses the right to judge of hypnotism to /
all hospital doctors who cannot hypnotize at least 80 per cent,
of their patients, and Forel fully agrees with him."^

Men, according to some writers, are as hypnotizable as
women, soldiers being particularly good subjects. The sus-
ceptibility of the subject increases with the frequency of the
operation, and the induction of a morbid " hypnotic habit " is
one of the serious evils attending on frequent hypnotization. As

5 Principles of Psychology, Vol. I. p. 396 ; and The Will to Believe,

P- 319-

^ Such would seem to be the view of St. Thomas in regard to

some states. But though he lays down the general principle, he is

rather considering the possibility of supernatural communications:

" Anima nostra, quanto magis a corporalibus abstrahitur, tanto

intelligibilium abstractorum fit capacior. Unde in somniis, et aliena-

tionibus a sensibus corporis magis divinae revelationes percipiuntur,

et prsevisiones futurorum." {Sum. i. q. 12, a. 11. Cf. Coconnier,

L'Hypnotisme franc, p. 361.)

"' Moll, Hypnotism, p. 47. Only a small percentage, however,

reach the deeper stages.


to whether we can be hypnotized against our will, it is gener
ally admitted that if a person has already often submitted to
the experiment, he may sometimes be hypnotized without
his consent. It is also agreed that certain neurotic or
hysterical patients can be hypnotized from the first time against
their desire. As regards normal healthy persons, if they
decline to comply with the conditions, the hypnotizer can do
nothing. It is also generally held that an abnormally sus-
ceptible subject can be safeguarded from future abuse by the
suggestion that he can never be hypnotized save by some
particular person.

Theories concerning Hypnotism. — According to Charcot
and the Paris school at least the deeper hypnosis is a nervous
disorder, found only in hysterical patients, and exhibiting
itself in the three stages of cataleptic, lethargic, and somnam-
bulistic trance.^ On the other hand, the Nancy school, whose
view now generally prevails, advocate not a physical but a
psychical explanation of the phenomena. They teach that the
hypnosis is not a nervous disorder but a state possessing close
affinity to natural sleep. For them the essence of hypnotism
is suggestion. They explain the contrary conclusions of their
rivals, as due to the fact that the experience of the latter is
confined chiefly to the neurotic patients of the Salpetriere
hospital ; and they urge that the phenomena of the three
stages and other features insisted on by Charcot's disciples
can all be accounted for by suggestion and imitation.-' Still,
as has been justly observed, " what needs explanation here is
the fact that in a certain condition of the subject suggestions
operate as they do at no other time."^*' The matter is con-
fessedly exceedingly obscure, and no satisfactory answer is
yet forthcoming ; nevertheless, some considerations connect-
ing hypnosis with more familiar mental phenomena may be
usefully indicated.

Hypnosis. — First, then, the hypnotic trance, though not
identical in any stage with natural sleep, clearly bears affinity
to the latter state, especially to that type of it exhibited in
spontaneous somnambulism. It is induced by similar means, and
the lighter forms resemble the drowsiness which precedes or
succeeds sleep. We have pointed out how the apparent
reality of the dream results from the cessation of the cor-
rective action of the external senses and the suspension of
the power of reflective comparison whilst the exaggeration
of the impressions which succeed in penetrating into the
sleeper's mind is due to the circumstance that they secure a

« Cf. Binet and Fere, op. cit. cc. vi, vii,

*♦ Cf. Bernheim, op. cit. c. vi.

1" James, Principles of Psyclwlogy, vol. ii. p. 6oi.


monopoly of his consciousness, (p. 176.) These facts help
towards the explanation of some of the phenomena of

Fixation of attention : " Rapport." — The primary effect of
the concentration of attention involved in all the methods of
hypnotizing is to starve out all rival impressions and thoughts.
This seems to bring on a condition of somnolence in regard
to all surrounding objects, except the operator who has
induced the state by directing the fixation of tiie subject's
attention. This peculiar " rapport " witli the hypnotizer
preserved throughout the trance is the chief feature by
which this artificially induced sleep is distinguished from
normal sleep. Even in ordinary sleep, the senses are not
altogether closed. There is exerted a certain " selective "
reception of impressions, and those which fit in with the
current of a dream may have an abnormally intense effect.
It is, indeed, sometimes possible, if we hit upon the current of
a dreamer's thoughts, to direct them by suggestions. But in
the hypnosis instead of this imperfect casual relation with (r.ty
body, there is a fixed stable rapport wdth one person who
possesses an absolute monopoly of the subject's conscious-
ness. The subject by the voluntary strained fixation of his
attention on the hypnotizer has fallen into a trance in which
his attention is henceforth riveted, or involuntarily fascinated
by the latter. Why the subject's attention should become
thus " clamped " we cannot tell.

Abnormal sug-g-estibility. — The power of suggestion is a
familiar fact already sufficiently illustrated. If the thought
of a rat being in the room, or of a worm crawling up my back,
is suggested to me, I am uncomfortable until I convince
myself that it is not true. As St. Thomas teaches, the repre-
sentations of the imagination win assent unless contradicted
by sense-perception or reason, (p. 178.) In proportion to the
vividness of the idea and the completeness of the suspension
of the other faculties will be the intensity of the illusion.
Again, vivid ideas of action tend to realize themselves. A
lively conception of a word or gesture expresses itself in a
faint movement of the appropriate muscles. But attention,
whether voluntary or extorted, enormously increases the
force of an idea or sensation. It augments the excitability
of the nerve tracts and cerebral centres engaged, it suppresses
the enfeebling effect of competing stimuli ; and it concentrates
mental energy on the object of interest. But in proportion
as the trance is more profound all rival experiences seem to
be excluded, and the faculties of the subject are receptive
only of the suggestions of the hypnotizer, which cunsccpiently
acquire very exceptional force.


Inhibition. — Even in waking life, onr power of action is
much dependent on onr belief in our ability to act. The
partial conviction that we cannot or can perform a certain
movement goes far to make it impossible or possible for us.
But in hypnosis the conviction of inability can be made
absolute by simple suggestion, and the voluntary control of
tiie subject's muscles is suspended as completely as in a night-
mare. The hypnotizer cannot, as is sometimes erroneously
said, directly rule the Will of the hypnotized: but he can
determine, at least in extreme cases, the movements and per-
ceptions of the latter by suggesting the images which excite
his motor and sensory nerves and cerebral centres.

Suggested illusions. — The same principles help to explain
both the negative and positive illusions of hypnosis. Even
in waking life, when the attention is engrossed by some other
subject, a man may gaze at an object without perceiving it ;
he may walk through a crowded street with as little notice
of the sights which assail his eyes, as if it were empty ; even
an acute pain may remain unobserved by him. This is the
ordinary character of the somnambulism of normal sleep and
of the hallucination of the monomaniac. The attention is
absorbed by some dominant thought or fixed idea, and the
chief difference in the case of hypnosis is that the thought
which is to dominate is determined by the operator. If he
chooses to concentrate the mental energy of the subject on
a phantasm of the imagination, since all initiative or voluntary
use of reason is inhibited, hallucination is inevitable. That
suggestions made under such favourable circumstances not
only possess exceptional force at the time, but also produce
an enduring impression which will work itself out later on,
appears natural enough. There is probably also something
in the cerebral conditions of hypnosis which renders the brain
peculiarly susceptible to suggestions of the time.

Amnesia. — The forgetfulness of the events of the hypnotic
state during the following waking period, and their recollec-
tion in a subsequent hypnosis, hive their parallel in the
obliviscence of dreams and somnambulistic performances in
the daytime. The memory of our waking experiences presents
us with analogous facts. The recollection of a past cognition
seems commonly to involve, or at least to be facilitated by,
the reproduction of part of the frame of mind in which the
incident occurred. Each mental act forms an integral part
of an environing conscious state connected with a network
of nervous conditions, and when these are completely changed
as from the sleeping to the waking state, remembrance of
experiences of the former condition are naturally difficult.
We have alluded to tliis before in dealing with "alternating


personalities." (pp. 490, 491.) The retention in a latent
subconscious form of an impulse to carry out a deferred
suggestion when the appointed circumstances arise may
perhaps be explained in the same way. The man who,
engrossed in conversation, automatically posts a letter,
owing to a friend's request, as he passes a pillar-box, executes,
it has been justly said, a "deferred suggestion," of which he
may have been oblivious from the moment he received the
letter until he finds his pocket empty on arriving home ; and
he may be then utterly unable to recall the incident. In many,
if not all cases, the performance of complex post-hypnotic
suggestions seems to involve a relapse into the trance state. ^^
Ethics of Hypnotism. — The morality of hypnotism is a
question rather for Ethics or Moral Theology than for
the Psychologist, so a very few words must suffice here : (i) It
is admitted on all hands that hypnotism is attended by serious
peril to health of both body and mind when practised by
unskilled persons and irresponsible charlatans. Epileptic
fits, hysterical paroxysms, and permanent mental and nervous
disorders have been induced by ignorant experimenters.
Accordingly several continental governments have wisely
made public exhibitions and the practice of hypnotism by
other than duly qualified persons a penal offence. (2) Further
it is generally agreed that frequent hypnotizatiou, especially
when the profounder stages are induced, brings on a morbid
hypnotic Jiabit, besides rendering the subject unduly sub-
servient to the influence of the operator. Obviously this
latter consequence may be attended with serious dangers.^''^

^1 See Coconnier, U Hypnotisme franc (Paris, 1897), cc. xii. — xiv.
This is an able and judicious work on the subject. There are good
chapters also in Meric's Le Merveilleux et la Science.

^- The grave words of Wundt are worth recording : " Hypnotism
as a therapeutic agency is a two-edged instrument. If its effects
are strongest when the patient is predisposed to it in body and
mind, or when suggestion has become a settled mode of treatment,
it may obviously be employed to intensify or actually induce a
pathological disposition. It must be looked upon, not as a remedy
of universal serviceability, but as a poison whose effect may be
beneficial under certain circumstances. . . . (Some assert) that the
hypnotic sleep is not injurious, because it is not in itself a patho-
logical disposition. But surely the facts of post-hypnotic halluci-
nation and the diminution of the power of resistance to suggestive
influences furnish a refutation of this statement which no counter-
arguments can shake. It is a phenomenon of common observation
that frequently hypnotized individuals can, when fully awake, be
persuaded of the wildest fables and thenceforth regard them as
passages of their own experience." [Lectures on Human and Animal
Psychology, pp. 334, 335.)


How far a subject can by hypnotism be led to commit a
crime is mucli disputed, but it is clearly unlawful to suspend
or diminish in this way the use of our free-will and intel-
ligence without adequate reason and due precautions. (3)
Where hypnotism is employed for illicit purposes, or in con-
nexion with superstitious practices as in spiritualism, occultism,
clairvoyance and the like, it is evidently immoral. (4) If,
however, the question be put : Is hypnotism ever allowable ?
the true answer seems to us to be that of the moral Theo-
logians who teach ^'^ that in certain circumstances the use of
hypnotism is permissible. The conditions usually prescribed
are : (a) There must be a grave reason to justify the sus-
pension of reason ; and we would add that the gravity
increases in proportion to the completeness of the abdication
of free control involved, (b) Sufficient guarantee should be
had as to the character and competence of the operator,
(c) Some adequately trustworthy witness, such as a parent,
husband, or guardian should be present when a person
submits to being hypnotized.

^' Genicot writes: " Vitatis conatibus suparstitiosis, et adhibitis
cauteiis supra explicatis, licet seipsum ob j^ravem causam hypno-
tizanti tradere. . . . Graves causae ob quas licite hypnotismus adhi-
beatur, sunt praesertim duas ; curatio morborum quibus sanandis
desit aliud medium prorsus innocuum ; et progressus quarundam
scientiarum, puta medicinae vel psychologiae, hisexperimentisobtin-
endus. Praeterea censemus hypnotismum licite adhiberi, ad tollendas,
vel saltem minuendas, quasdam malas propensiones quae, ob vehe-
mentiam suam, libertatem tollunt vel extenuant, puta propensio»em
ad suicidium, ad liquores inebriantes, &c." (TJieoIogij' Moralis Insti-
tutiones, vol. i. § 275 (1898). Cf Lehmkuhl, Theologia Moi-alis, vol. i.
n. 994 ; Sabetti, Theologia Moralis, § 209 ; Coconnier, op. cit. cc.
xxi.— XV. ; Bucceroni, Casus ConscienticT, § 89 (1895).




The fourth edition of this work was honoured by an
elaborate attack from Mr. W. hi. Mallock in a long article
entitled, " Rehgion and Science," in the Fortnightly Revieiv, of
November, igoi. His own view, expounded in a series of
essays in that Review, seems to be that not only do belief
in a Personal God, free-will, a spiritual soul and a future life
find no support in Science or deductions from Science, but
that Psychology, Biology, and Physics exclude and negate all
these behefs, that ''the facts put before us by Science form
an absolute affirmation of monism, and monism is the absolute
negation of religion." {Fortnightly, Oct. 1902.) He therefore
maintains that the attempts of myself and other "Apologists"
to harmonize science and rehgion, or to justify any of these
beliefs from a scientific study of the mind are " futile and
worthless," and further that my own arguments are self-
contradictory. Mr. Mallock himself, though admitting an
irreconcilable conflict between science and religion, defends
the latter on these grounds : (i) " Contradictions are involved
in all existence," and " Religion contradicts Science no more
than each contradicts itself." {Ibid. p. 696.) (2) The ethical
argument : Life is not worth living, unless the religious
assumptions are true.

My reply in general is that in all those places where
Mr. Mallock's criticism seems effective he has misrepresented
my arguments — of course not intentionally. Unfortunately,
though he quotes me over a score of times, he only gives the
references twice, so that the ordinary reader cannot consult
the context. Yet no one knows better than Mr. Mallock how
vital this is in philosophical criticism. As my space is limited,
I must be very brief in answering his objections.

(i) Mr. Mallock starts by representing modern defenders
of Theism as resting their case almost entirely on the fact
that science has disproved the doctrine of the spontaneous
generation of life from inorganic matter. He next groups me
with these "recent apologists of Religion," and then devotes
four pages of criticism to show {a) that my argument is in-
sufficient to prove the existence of a conscious or intelligent
Being, and therefore is worthless, {b) That my own reason-


ing and language in other parts of my book prove its worth-
lessness. " Father Maher has unintentionally adopted almost
the exact language employed by Tyndall. . . . ' In matter
I discern the potency of life,' the only difference being that
according to Tyndall the Power which evokes this potency is
immanent in matter, and according to Father Maher it is a
separate personality which is exterior to it," but there is
nothing to prove that this Personality must be conscious.
(c) Further, Father Maher has unintentionally " misrepre-
sented in the grossest manner possible what the leading men
of science have really said on the subject. . . . F. M. quotes
Tyndall and Huxley as affirming that living beings are
produced only by living beings, and adds that accordmg to
them ' there is not a shred of evidence to support a contrary
conclusion.' What they really say is not that spontaneous
generation has never taken place, and that life as we know it
is not due to this process, but that the process has not been
discovered taking place now, and that experiment thus far
has been unable to reproduce it. That it has taken place in
the past is the very thing they affirm, and that all the
analogies of the Universe show that it must have done so."
{Fuytnighily, Nov. 1901, pp. 812 — 816.)

To (a) it may be rephed on the part of Theists generally
that this argument is only one, or rather a part of one of
several arguments which co-operate in the proof of the
existence of God in the full sense of a self-existing, infinite,
intelligent, free Being, and that even if taken by itself it does
not immediately establish all the attributes of God it is not
therefore worthless. A fact may be valuable evidence, it
may exclude a rival hypothesis, or it may supply a precious
link in one chain of reasoning, even though it should not
establish the whole thesis to be proved.

On my own part the answer is still easier. My book is a
treatise on Psychology, not on Natural Theology, and I may
incidentally allude to the bearing of some psychological truth
on the doctrine of Theism without being bound to expound
the whole proof of the existence and attributes of God.

{b) Nowhere in this book does my reasoning prove this
argument to be worthless. To point out against materialistic
scientists that the first Author of life must a fortiori have
been a self-existing Living Being does not prove that this
Being may be icitJioiit consciousness. (Cf. p. 584.) It is
shown in Natural Theology that a self -existing being must be
infinite and intelligent. The small difference between my
language and that of Tyndall covers a wide divergency of
thought. It is not the same thing to conclude that a printed
page of a book has been educed from the properties or


potentialities of a quantity of type by a type-setter and that it
has been evolved by the type themselves.

(c) The reader can test the validity of Mr. Mallock's
charge of "gross misrepresentation" for himself. If he will
turn back to page 547, he will find that I there give the exact
words of Huxley and Tyndall affirming that spontaneous
generation never takes place nozv-a-days, whilst the very point
of my argument in the conclusion on p. 551 is precisely what
Mr. Mallock accuses me of concealing, viz., that these
scientists affirm " that life did arise spontaneously from
dead matter in the distant past," and that they are illogical
in so doing. When Mr. Mallock or any other writer indicates
how " all the analogies of the universe" prove that life arose
by spontaneous generation from inorganic matter in the past,
it will be time to discuss that suggestion.

(2) Mr. Mallock next attacks my proof of the spirituality of
the soul. Professing to express my arguments " as far as
possible in my own words," he writes thus : " We all admit,"
Father Maher begins, " that man possesses intellect, but
' intellect is a faculty specifically distinct from sense' (a). We
can see that it must be so by considering what intellect
includes. ' It includes attention, judgment, reflexion, self-
consciousness, the formation of concepts and the processes
of reasoning' (/3). Let us, he says, take the one act of self-
consciousness. This cannot be ' dependent essentially on a
material agent, for the peculiar nature of this aptitude is
fundamentally opposed to all the properties of matter' (y).
And what is true of consciousness is true of all the
faculties of intellect. F. M. triumphantly cites the dictum of
Tyndall that ' the chasm between the two classes of
facts remains intellectually impassable ' (S). 'There is,' he
continues himself, ' an absolute contrariety of nature between

Online LibraryMichael MaherPsychology: empirical and rational → online text (page 61 of 63)