Imágenes de páginas

fortable exception in favour of the dentist. This is because we are not rodents. The mind can indeed do much, and Shakespeare was surely wrong when he said there never was yet philosopher who could endure the toothache patiently, for a man with strong mental power might be able to inhibit the pain — which, after all, is in the brain and not in the tooth; but no man can compete with a mouse in the manufacture of dentine.

Here then we have a satisfactory area about which there is no dispute. The most materialistic physician admits that there are certain diseases which mind can cure, and that mind has a large share in the cure of all diseases; on the other hand the most extreme faith-healer cannot but agree with the doctor when he says that faith will not cure everything. The two circles overlap.

It would be unphilosophical for us to take sides, since there is no principle to deny, and all that lies in dispute is where the limits are to be fixed which is a matter that experience and not our predilections will determine. Our business is to try the spirits, not to refuse experiment nor to shut our eyes to results, but to avoid controversy as much as possible --- and with fair minds, and friendly hearts, to enlarge the area of agreement and to seek after the truth.

Hypnotism Many remarkable results have been achieved through the medium of hypnotism, and the experimental value at least of this strange form of sleep has been immense; but none the less one practitioner

[ocr errors]

after another has found that hypnotism is in many cases unnecessary and that the most successful curative suggestions can be made without it. There is no need then for us to discuss hypnotism as a distinct subject in this book, though we naturally have often to refer to it. Only here, once and for all, let us dismiss from our minds the popular delusion that there is something uncanny, or illicit, or charlatanish about hypnotism. We need to speak strongly about this in England, where even the doctors are afraid of the popular prejudice; and in America, also, it would seem, the

average man conceives of hypnotism as a diabolical power possessed by a few favoured individuals, by means of which they can do anything they please with any other individual who is unfortunate enough to come within their influence." 2

All this, of course, is absolute nonsense. Hypnosis is only a condition of sleep — it is supposed to be that intermediate stage between sleeping and waking which we all pass through every night — induced by suggestion 3 and fixed for a certain


1 The best and most recent English book on the subject is Dr. J. Milne Bramwell, Hypnotism, 1906. The standard German works are: A. Moll, Der Hypnotismus, Berlin, 1889; A. Forel, Der Hypnotismus, seine Bedeutung und seine Handhabung, Stuttgart (Enke), 1891; L. Löwenfeld, Der Hypnotismus, Wiesbaden (Bergmann), 1901; Hirschlaff, Hypnotismus und Suggestio-therapie, Leipsig (Barth); H. Bernheim, Die Suggestion. The two first have both been translated by H. W. Arnit, as — Moll, Hypnotism, 1890, and Forel, Hypnotism and Psychotherapy, 1906. Bernheim has been translated as Suggestive Therapeutics by Dr. C. A. Hertie of New York, 1890.

2 American Journal of Psychology, X, 3, P. 478.

3 The means employed to help this suggestion are as varied and as indifferent as they are in faith-healing.


time. The hypnotist has no power which the subject does not give him, and the subject will always resist suggestions that are against his moral nature: thus a drunkard could be encouraged to drink by hypnotic suggestion, but a sober man could not be made a drunkard. On the other hand, since even the worst of us have some remaining substratum of goodness — profound and cheering truth!— the most depraved patients are often morally restored by a wise hypnotist. There is thus no serious moral danger; the connection of hypnotism with crime has been carefully investigated during the last twenty years, and always with a negative result.1 Of course there is a certain amount of danger in the use of any power, because any power may be misused; but the danger is really less with hypnotism than with surgery or drugs; while hypnotism has the power not only of curing disease, and of enabling operations to be made without anæsthetics, but also of removing morbid cravings, manias, and phobies, or moral evils such as jealousy, impurity, weakness of will, or bad habits. The patient's moral nature awakens, and so far from being the slave of the kypnotist, he becomes more independent, as he grows free from the need of outside assistance.

The same thing is true of suggestions made in 1 Dr. Liégois experimented with Dr. Liebeault's patients, and afterwards in 1884 published a memoir, and in 1889 a book, De la Suggestion

dans ses rapports avec le Droit

criminel: cf. A. Von Bentivegni, Die Hypnose und ihre civilrechtliche Bedeutung, 1890 ; G.' de la Tourette, L'Hypnotisme et les etats analogues au point de vue médico-légal; Von Lilienthal, Hypnotism in its Relation to Jurisprudence (Journal of Collective Legal Science, 1887); and the chapter on “ The Legal Aspects of Hypnotism Moll's Hypnotism,


ordinary sleep to children: it would be possible for a scoundrel to make bad suggestions, though perhaps with little result; but the same danger lies in all education, and in the influence also upon the child of its normal environment, which indeed is potent in suggestion, so that, for instance, much of the ingrained feeling of honour which is popularly associated with “ blood ” and heredity, is really due to the suggestions always filtering unconsciously into the child's mind. Suggestions can be made easily to a child during natural sleep, simply because it does not wake up as an adult would probably do, not because there is any radical difference between this and hypnotic suggestion. And children may often be cured of bad habits or vices by whispered words when they are asleep, and strengthened also with good thoughts. How much of the so often noticed excellence in the sons of a good mother has been due to her care of them when they slept and to the suggestions, uttered and unuttered, which they received in their waking hours !

[ocr errors]



Just at present there is a very general tendency in medical circles to admit frankly the possibility of mind-cure but at the same time to limit it stiffly within the area of functional nerve diseases.1 This offers so easy a truce, and is so convenient an answer to therapeutic innovators, that it is necessary to point out its dangers; for most certainly it is not here that the limits will be found.

It is, indeed, a great step forward when so much as this is universally admitted. Neurasthenia, hysteria, and all the rest of that terrible neurotic tribe, can, as every doctor now readily agrees, be cured by religion, or by hypnotism, or by simpler forms of suggestion.

How great, then, is the scope where, beyond all controversy, the minister of religion, or the secular mind-healer can achieve triumphant success! What a wide admission is here, and how little has it been realised in this country! Our English doctors complain much of the existence of quacks; but is not their existence due largely to the fact that in England we are so far behind in mental therapeutics? France has its long-established hospitals of Nancy and La Salpétrière; Germany, too, has its hospitals,

1 Organic diseases of the nerves are mentioned on p. 107.

« AnteriorContinuar »