« PreviousContinue »
Without regarding this division as altogether fanciful, we may say that it is artificial or at least premature; and it is not denied by those who maintain it, that a great many intermediate stages
In all probability the apparent differences between the Paris and the Nancy schools in this particular are not very important. The evidence of every writer on the subject from Mesmer onwards tends to show that patients are very variously affected, but that the different states into which they are thrown always partake of the nature of inertness, muscular spasm, somnolence or somnambulism.
We shall proceed therefore to the separate phenomena without reference to the stage in which they occur, but merely grouping them under two heads, (1) physiological, (2) psychological, premising that they are by no means all producible in the same patient or in the same state.
Physiological phenomena. Muscular excitability: stroking, pressing or touching the muscles causes them to contract. The application of a magnet held at a little distance produces the same effect but with more energy.
In this condition the muscles possess double the power that they do in the waking state, as measured by the dynamometer. Moreover there is no tremor as when muscles are voluntarily subjected to great strain, and the relaxation takes place smoothly and regularly.
The strength of the contraction is proportionate to the strength of the stimulus. If the stimulus be continued, after a time the opposite set of muscles begins to contract; the spasm is transferred,' for instance, from the muscles which bend the fingers or the arm to those which straighten them. The application of a magnet to contracted muscles also produces the same transference. Complete rigidity of the whole body may be produced. The nerves and tendons may be acted on in the same way
and produce the same result. Excitability of the Senses.--The observations of Braid on the heightening of the senses are confirmed. He found that the ticking of a watch heard at three feet distance in the waking state became audible at thirty-five feet in the hypnotic, that the scent of a rose could be traced through the air at a distance of forty-five feet, and that objects could be felt without actual contact, sometimes at a considerable distance. Similarly in Paris a ray of light or waves of sound impinging on the skin have been found to cause muscular contractions, so great is the sensibility; and again subjects can read the newspaper with a layer of cotton-wool over the eyelids, or perceive different colours through a wooden screen. When one faculty is heightened, the others are correspondingly in abeyance.
Circulation. It has been ascertained by actual experiment with exact instruments that the blood-vessels undergo certain regular changes, contracting in the cataleptic and dilating in the lethargic state. This phenomenon is purely physical and wholly independent of the action of the mind. Further, by directing attention to the heart's action, it can be modified at pleasure ; so, too, the local capillary circulation. Reddening and even blistering of the skin can be thus induced ; and it is probable that many of the actual therapeutical results are obtained in this way. This namely, modification of the local circulation—was in fact the means by which Braid successfully treated rheumatism and some affections of the
eye. Secretion and Excretion.—The action of the glands and glandular organs can be modified at pleasure, doubtless through altering the blood-supply as just mentioned. Recent experiments show that certain regular changes, probably secondary to those of the circulation, take place in the secretions; a fact which proves that the condition is not a purely subjective one, as some observers maintain, but a real pathological state.
Respiration may be quickened, rendered slower, or suspended. Anesthesia and paralysis, partial or complete, may be produced.
Psychological Phenomena.—These are chiefly 'manifestations of the power of suggestions.' Suggestions may be conveyed through any of the senses ; for instance, through the muscular sense by placing a limb in such a position as to suggest an act. The subject spontaneously completes the act so suggested. Again, through the sense of sight; he will imitate and complete movements indicated before him. Through sight and touch combined: give him an umbrella, he will open it; give him a knife and a piece of bread, he will cut the bread; give him knitting needles, and he will knit. Through the sense of hearing ; music often produces the most extraordinary effect. The subject will render in action with the utmost liveliness and accuracy the emotions expressed by the music. A lively dance tune is instantly reflected in his expression and movements, his face beams with pleasure and vivacity, he dances; then, if the music passes suddenly without stopping into a religious theme, he instantly falls on his knees with eyes and hands raised to heaven. The curious phenomenon called écholalie comes under this head. By placing one hand on the forehead and the other on the neck, the patient is transformed into a veritable phonograph,' giving back with perfect exactness every sound uttered by the operator. Powers are thus conferred which the subject does not naturally possess, such as the ability to sing and pronounce foreign languages. Suggestions may also be con
veyed from the mind of the operator to that of the subject by means of touch ; that is to say, the touch may be the medium of purely mental communication. The idea in one mind passes by contact into another. Or it may so pass even at a distance and out of sight. The easiest way of conveying suggestions, however, is of course by verbal utterance.
Among the most striking phenomena thus produced are Hallucinations. Subjects may be made to see or hear anything whatever by simply saying that they do so. merely says, There are some children, and to the subject they are there. Or it may be a wounded man, a friend, animals, serpents, the devil, angels, paradise-sights of all kinds, agreeable and disagreeable. The reality of the illusion is shown by the behaviour of the subject, who exhibits the emotions and the conduct corresponding to each hallucination, with a spirit and naturalness beyond all acting. Thus one woman on being made to see children will exhibit the greatest pleasure and proceed to play with them, another will look displeased and order them to go away. The suggestion made sets the mind in action, and it then follows up the given idea in its own way. Say that there is a stream of water running down the floor, the subject voluntarily steps over it; or that there is an enormous fire in the grate, he takes his coat off. Illusions of the mind may be produced in precisely similar manner. On being told that he is somebody else, a beggar-woman, a general, an archbishop, the subject instantly assumes the character and acts it to the life. Words, pronunciation, gesture, bearing, all correspond exactly to the character. One of the most remarkable and interesting effects is the production of unilateral hallucination. The subject is made to see a different sight with each eye, and the expression on each side of the face corresponds with the thing seen by the eye on the same side. This is of great physiological interest, proving as it does the independence of the two cerebral hemispheres.
Suggestions to act are carried out with the same readiness, although they may involve absurd or criminal situations. • L'hypnotique est donc dans ce sens le sujet de l'expérimentateur et sa responsibilité morale est nulle.' A common experiment of this kind with the French hypnotizers is to make their subject commit an imaginary murder, though it is difficult to see how the indefinite and purposeless repetition of such an experiment can be justified. X. (a good subject) is told that a friend of hers has been killed by a man present, who is pointed out to her. Her eyes blaze with fury. Kill him. See, here is some poison. Go and give it him. She pours it out (plain water) and presents it to the supposed murderer, pretending with great art that it is something good. He drinks it and pretends to die. To her it is real. She believes she has poisoned him and exhibits all the emotions appropriate to the occasion. An experiment of a like nature, carried out by Dr. Bernheim, curiously exhibits the relation between suggestion and the natural play of the mind. A, is hypnotized and told that there is a man standing over against the door, who has grossly insulted him. A paper-knife is put into his hand, and he is told to go and kill him. He at once steps to the door and drives the paper knife into it, then remains fixed to the spot with haggard eye and trembling in every limb. They pretend to arrest him and bring him before the juge. What have you done?'— I have killed a man.'—'Why did you do it?'- Because he insulted me.'—But you don't kill people because they insult you.'— M. Bernheim told me to do it.'-No,' interrupts Bernheim, “I did not. You did it of your own accord. Now comes the curious point. On being further taken before an imaginary procurateur, and again interrogated, A. returns the same answers to a certain point, but on being asked, "Why did you do it?' he replies, 'I don't know.'-- Did any one-did M. Bernheim tell you to do it ?'-— No. I did it of my own accord.' Suggestion is paramount so far as it goes, but when it stops short the subject's own mind acts, yielding again, however, before a fresh suggestion. The above case illustrates another curious point, and that is the truthfulness of hypnotics; they cannot lie. The rule is nearly absolute, but not quite ; Pitres had a case in which a hypnotized woman lied obstinately on being asked what she had done.
The following experiments, conducted by Professor Beaunis, again illustrate two interesting points, namely, the degree to which hypnotics retain their individuality, and their capacity to resist suggestions. Malle. A. E., who by the way seems to be a sort of common property among the Nancy hypnotizers in a way which is neither to her credit nor to theirs, was hypnotized, and told after a time to go into another room, steal a silver spoon, and hide it in a friend's pocket. At first she resisted the suggestion, but presently she quietly got up and went out. Those present heard her go into the other room and take a spoon.
On her return she was asked what she had done. “I have stolen a spoon.'-'What have you done with it?' _Thrown it away. I couldn't keep a stolen spoon.'—*Did you not put it in So-and-so's pocket ?'>Oh no! I couldn't do that.' Madame H. A., who was present, did not think she could be made to do
the same : so the experiment was tried. Not only did she steal the spoon, but concealed it afterwards.
Post-hypnotic suggestion.—Any of the hypnotic phenomena may be produced in certain subjects afterwards in the waking state at a given suggested time. •Revenant à eux, les sujets exécutent l'ordre donné à l'heure dite au jour prescrit. If asked why they do it, they say they don't know, but sometimes allege specific reasons to justify an act which they believe to be spontaneous, but which has really been imposed by the will of another. The subject, says Dr. Liebeault, marche au but avec la fatalité d'un pierre qui tombe.' M. Liégeois believes that the fact constitutes a serious public danger, inasmuch as the power might very well be utilized by an unscrupulous person for the committal of crime in such a way as to secure absolute immunity for the real criminal. Two cases are recorded, in one of which a suggestion was realized 172 days afterwards, and in the other at a no less interval than 365 days.
The first case was one of hallucination, and was practised by Dr. Beaunis on the above-mentioned Malle. A. E. He said to her when hypnotized, • At 10 o'clock in the morning of New Year's-day you will see me appear
I shall wish you a happy New Year, and disappear again.' It was then July. On waking, the lady reinembered nothing, and no more was said. At the given date Beaunis happened to be in Paris, but at 10 o'clock the lady, being then busy in her room, heard a knock at the door, and said, • Come in!' To her astonishment Beaunis entered, dressed in his summer clothes, wished her a happy New Year, and retired. She looked out of the window, but did not see him leave the house. Soon after she went downstairs and told her friends that Beaunis had paid her a visit, nor could she ever be persuaded that he had not actually been there in person. This experiment throws light on many cases of so-called apparitions. The other instance, in which suggestions were realized after the lapse of a whole
year, was of a similar nature, but much more complicated, involving a series of acts as well as several hallucinations.
The power of post-hypnotic suggestion has been much used of late for the treatment of dipso-mania and allied disorders. The patient is told that drink or morphia, or whatever it may be, is distasteful, and will remain so. Remarkably good results are said to have been attained.
Memory.—As a rule, the subject on awaking remembers nothing of what has passed in the hypnotic state, but remembers again on being re-hypnotized. This faculty, however, is also under the control of suggestion. Subjects will remember if