Complete Hypnotism: Mesmerism, Mind-Reading and Spiritualism
by A. Alpheus
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E-text prepared by Jerry Kuntz as part of the Lawson's Progress Project


How to Hypnotize: Being an Exhaustive and Practical System of Method, Application, and Use





INTRODUCTION—History of hypnotism—Mesmer—Puysegur—Braid—What is hypnotism?—Theories of hypnotism: 1. Animal magnetism; 2. The Neurosis Theory; 3. Suggestion Theory

CHAPTER I—How to Hypnotize—Dr. Cocke's method-Dr. Flint's method—The French method at Paris—At Nancy—The Hindoo silent method—How to wake a subject from hypnotic sleep—Frauds of public hypnotic entertainments.

CHAPTER II—Amusing experiments—Hypnotizing on the stage—"You can't pull your hands apart!"—Post-hypnotic suggestion—The newsboy, the hunter, and the young man with the rag doll—A whip becomes hot iron—Courting a broom stick—The side-show

CHAPTER III—The stages of hypnotism—Lethargy-Catalepsy—The somnambulistic stage—Fascination

CHAPTER IV—How the subject feels under hypnotization—Dr. Cocke's experience—Effect of music—Dr. Alfred Warthin's experiments

CHAPTER V—Self hypnotization—How it may be done—An experience—Accountable for children's crusade—Oriental prophets self-hypnotized

CHAPTER VI—Simulation—Deception in hypnotism very common—Examples of Neuropathic deceit—Detecting simulation—Professional subjects—How Dr. Luys of the Charity Hospital at Paris was deceived—Impossibility of detecting deception in all cases—Confessions of a professional hypnotic subject

CHAPTER VII—Criminal suggestion—Laboratory crimes—Dr. Cocke's experiments showing criminal suggestion is not possible—Dr. William James' theory—A bad man cannot be made good, why expect to make a good man bad?

CHAPTER VIII—Dangers in being hypnotized Condemnation of public performances—A commonsense view—Evidence furnished by Lafontaine; by Dr. Courmelles; by Dr. Hart; by Dr. Cocke—No danger in hypnotism if rightly used by physicians or scientists

CHAPTER IX—Hypnotism in medicine—Anesthesia—Restoring the use of muscles—Hallucination—Bad habits

CHAPTER X—Hypnotism of animals—Snake charming

CHAPTER XI—A scientific explanation of hypnotism—Dr. Hart's theory

CHAPTER XII—Telepathy and Clairvoyance—Peculiar power in hypnotic state—Experiments—"Phantasms of the living" explained by telepathy

CHAPTER XIII—The Confessions of a Medium—Spiritualistic phenomena explained on theory of telepathy—Interesting statement of Mrs. Piper, the famous medium of the Psychical Research Society


There is no doubt that hypnotism is a very old subject, though the name was not invented till 1850. In it was wrapped up the "mysteries of Isis" in Egypt thousands of years ago, and probably it was one of the weapons, if not the chief instrument of operation, of the magi mentioned in the Bible and of the "wise men" of Babylon and Egypt. "Laying on of hands" must have been a form of mesmerism, and Greek oracles of Delphi and other places seem to have been delivered by priests or priestesses who went into trances of self-induced hypnotism. It is suspected that the fakirs of India who make trees grow from dry twigs in a few minutes, or transform a rod into a serpent (as Aaron did in Bible history), operate by some form of hypnotism. The people of the East are much more subject to influences of this kind than Western peoples are, and there can be no question that the religious orgies of heathendom were merely a form of that hysteria which is so closely related to the modern phenomenon of hypnotism. Though various scientific men spoke of magnetism, and understood that there was a power of a peculiar kind which one man could exercise over another, it was not until Frederick Anton Mesmer (a doctor of Vienna) appeared in 1775 that the general public gave any special attention to the subject. In the year mentioned, Mesmer sent out a circular letter to various scientific societies or "Academies" as they are called in Europe, stating his belief that "animal magnetism" existed, and that through it one man could influence another. No attention was given his letter, except by the Academy of Berlin, which sent him an unfavorable reply.

In 1778 Mesmer was obliged for some unknown reason to leave Vienna, and went to Paris, where he was fortunate in converting to his ideas d'Eslon, the Comte d'Artois's physician, and one of the medical professors at the Faculty of Medicine. His success was very great; everybody was anxious to be magnetized, and the lucky Viennese doctor was soon obliged to call in assistants. Deleuze, the librarian at the Jardin des Plantes, who has been called the Hippocrates of magnetism, has left the following account of Mesmer's experiments:

"In the middle of a large room stood an oak tub, four or five feet in diameter and one foot deep. It was closed by a lid made in two pieces, and encased in another tub or bucket. At the bottom of the tub a number of bottles were laid in convergent rows, so that the neck of each bottle turned towards the centre. Other bottles filled with magnetized water tightly corked up were laid in divergent rows with their necks turned outwards. Several rows were thus piled up, and the apparatus was then pronounced to be at 'high pressure'. The tub was filled with water, to which were sometimes added powdered glass and iron filings. There were also some dry tubs, that is, prepared in the same manner, but without any additional water. The lid was perforated to admit of the passage of movable bent rods, which could be applied to the different parts of the patient's body. A long rope was also fastened to a ring in the lid, and this the patients placed loosely round their limbs. No disease offensive to the sight was treated, such as sores, or deformities.

"A large number of patients were commonly treated at one time. They drew near to each other, touching hands, arms, knees, or feet. The handsomest, youngest, and most robust magnetizers held also an iron rod with which they touched the dilatory or stubborn patients. The rods and ropes had all undergone a 'preparation' and in a very short space of time the patients felt the magnetic influence. The women, being the most easily affected, were almost at once seized with fits of yawning and stretching; their eyes closed, their legs gave way and they seemed to suffocate. In vain did musical glasses and harmonicas resound, the piano and voices re-echo; these supposed aids only seemed to increase the patients' convulsive movements. Sardonic laughter, piteous moans and torrents of tears burst forth on all sides. The bodies were thrown back in spasmodic jerks, the respirations sounded like death rattles, the most terrifying symptoms were exhibited. Then suddenly the actors of this strange scene would frantically or rapturously rush towards each other, either rejoicing and embracing or thrusting away their neighbors with every appearance of horror.

"Another room was padded and presented another spectacle. There women beat their heads against wadded walls or rolled on the cushion-covered floor, in fits of suffocation. In the midst of this panting, quivering throng, Mesmer, dressed in a lilac coat, moved about, extending a magic wand toward the least suffering, halting in front of the most violently excited and gazing steadily into their eyes, while he held both their hands in his, bringing the middle fingers in immediate contact to establish communication. At another moment he would, by a motion of open hands and extended fingers, operate with the great current, crossing and uncrossing his arms with wonderful rapidity to make the final passes."

Hysterical women and nervous young boys, many of them from the highest ranks of Society, flocked around this wonderful wizard, and incidentally he made a great deal of money. There is little doubt that he started out as a genuine and sincere student of the scientific character of the new power he had indeed discovered; there is also no doubt that he ultimately became little more than a charlatan. There was, of course, no virtue in his "prepared" rods, nor in his magnetic tubs. At the same time the belief of the people that there was virtue in them was one of the chief means by which he was able to induce hypnotism, as we shall see later. Faith, imagination, and willingness to be hypnotized on the part of the subject are all indispensable to entire success in the practice of this strange art.

In 1779 Mesmer published a pamphlet entitled "Memoire sur la decouverte du magnetisme animal", of which Doctor Cocke gives the following summary (his chief claim was that he had discovered a principle which would cure every disease):

"He sets forth his conclusions in twenty-seven propositions, of which the substance is as follows:— There is a reciprocal action and reaction between the planets, the earth and animate nature by means of a constant universal fluid, subject to mechanical laws yet unknown. The animal body is directly affected by the insinuation of this agent into the substance of the nerves. It causes in human bodies properties analogous to those of the magnet, for which reason it is called 'Animal Magnetism'. This magnetism may be communicated to other bodies, may be increased and reflected by mirrors, communicated, propagated, and accumulated, by sound. It may be accumulated, concentrated, and transported. The same rules apply to the opposite virtue. The magnet is susceptible of magnetism and the opposite virtue. The magnet and artificial electricity have, with respect to disease, properties common to a host of other agents presented to us by nature, and if the use of these has been attended by useful results, they are due to animal magnetism. By the aid of magnetism, then, the physician enlightened as to the use of medicine may render its action more perfect, and can provoke and direct salutary crises so as to have them completely under his control."

The Faculty of Medicine investigated Mesmer's claims, but reported unfavorably, and threatened d'Eslon with expulsion from the society unless he gave Mesmer up. Nevertheless the government favored the discoverer, and when the medical fraternity attacked him with such vigor that he felt obliged to leave Paris, it offered him a pension of 20,000 francs if he would remain. He went away, but later came back at the request of his pupils. In 1784 the government appointed two commissions to investigate the claims that had been made. On one of these commissions was Benjamin Franklin, then American Ambassador to France as well as the great French scientist Lavoisier. The other was drawn from the Royal Academy of Medicine, and included Laurent de Jussieu, the only man who declared in favor of Mesmer.

There is no doubt that Mesmer had returned to Paris for the purpose of making money, and these commissions were promoted in part by persons desirous of driving him out. "It is interesting," says a French writer, "to peruse the reports of these commissions: they read like a debate on some obscure subject of which the future has partly revealed the secret." Says another French writer (Courmelles): "They sought the fluid, not by the study of the cures affected, which was considered too complicated a task, but in the phases of mesmeric sleep. These were considered indispensable and easily regulated by the experimentalist. When submitted to close investigation, it was, however, found that they could only be induced when the subjects knew they were being magnetized, and that they differed according as they were conducted in public or in private. In short—whether it be a coincidence or the truth—imagination was considered the sole active agent. Whereupon d'Eslon remarked, 'If imagination is the best cure, why should we not use the imagination as a curative means?' Did he, who had so vaunted the existence of the fluid, mean by this to deny its existence, or was it rather a satirical way of saying. 'You choose to call it imagination; be it so. But after all, as it cures, let us make the most of it'?

"The two commissions came to the conclusion that the phenomena were due to imitation, and contact, that they were dangerous and must be prohibited. Strange to relate, seventy years later, Arago pronounced the same verdict!"

Daurent Jussieu was the only one who believed in anything more than this. He saw a new and important truth, which he set forth in a personal report upon withdrawing from the commission, which showed itself so hostile to Mesmer and his pretensions.

Time and scientific progress have largely overthrown Mesmer's theories of the fluid; yet Mesmer had made a discovery that was in the course of a hundred years to develop into an important scientific study. Says Vincent: "It seems ever the habit of the shallow scientist to plume himself on the more accurate theories which have been provided f, by the progress of knowledge and of science, and then, having been fed with a limited historical pabulum, to turn and talk lightly, and with an air of the most superior condescension, of the weakness and follies of those but for whose patient labors our modern theories would probably be non-existent." If it had not been for Mesmer and his "Animal Magnetism", we would never have had "hypnotism" and all our learned societies for the study of it.

Mesmer, though his pretensions were discredited, was quickly followed by Puysegur, who drew all the world to Buzancy, near Soissons, France. "Doctor Cloquet related that he saw there, patients no longer the victims of hysterical fits, but enjoying a calm, peaceful, restorative slumber. It may be said that from this moment really efficacious and useful magnetism became known." Every one rushed once more to be magnetized, and Puysegur had so many patients that to care for them all he was obliged to magnetize a tree (as he said), which was touched by hundreds who came to be cured, and was long known as "Puysegur's tree". As a result of Puysegur's success, a number of societies were formed in France for the study of the new phenomena.

In the meantime, the subject had attracted considerable interest in Germany, and in 1812 Wolfart was sent to Mesmer at Frauenfeld by the Prussian government to investigate Mesmerism. He became an enthusiast, and introduced its practice into the hospital at Berlin.

In 1814 Deleuze published a book on the subject, and Abbe Faria, who had come from India, demonstrated that there was no fluid, but that the phenomena were subjective, or within the mind of the patient. He first introduced what is now called the "method of suggestion" in producing magnetism or hypnotism. In 1815 Mesmer died.

Experimentation continued, and in the 20's Foissac persuaded the Academy of Medicine to appoint a commission to investigate the subject. After five years they presented a report. This report gave a good statement of the practical operation of magnetism, mentioning the phenomena of somnambulism, anesthesia, loss of memory, and the various other symptoms of the hypnotic state as we know it. It was thought that magnetism had a right to be considered as a therapeutic agent, and that it might be used by physicians, though others should not be allowed to practice it. In 1837 another commission made a decidedly unfavorable report.

Soon after this Burdin, a member of the Academy, offered a prize of 3,000 francs to any one who would read the number of a bank-note or the like with his eyes bandaged (under certain fixed conditions), but it was never awarded, though many claimed it, and there has been considerable evidence that persons in the hypnotic state have (sometimes) remarkable clairvoyant powers.

Soon after this, magnetism fell into very low repute throughout France and Germany, and scientific men became loath to have their names connected with the study of it in any way. The study had not yet been seriously taken up in England, and two physicians who gave some attention to it suffered decidedly in professional reputation.

It is to an English physician, however, that we owe the scientific character of modern hypnotism. Indeed he invented the name of hypnotism, formed from the Greek word meaning 'sleep', and designating 'artificially produced sleep'. His name is James Braid, and so important were the results of his study that hypnotism has sometimes been called "Braidism". Doctor Courmelles gives the following interesting summary of Braid's experiences:

"November, 1841, he witnessed a public experiment made by Monsieur Lafontaine, a Swiss magnetizer. He thought the whole thing a comedy; a week after, he attended a second exhibition, saw that the patient could not open his eyes, and concluded that this was ascribable to some physical cause. The fixity of gaze must, according to him, exhaust the nerve centers of the eyes and their surroundings. He made a friend look steadily at the neck of a bottle, and his own wife look at an ornamentation on the top of a china sugar bowl: sleep was the consequence. Here hypnotism had its origin, and the fact was established that sleep could be induced by physical agents. This, it must be remembered, is the essential difference between these two classes of phenomena (magnetism and hypnotism): for magnetism supposes a direct action of the magnetizer on the magnetized subject, an action which does not exist in hypnotism."

It may be stated that most English and American operators fail to see any distinction between magnetism and hypnotism, and suppose that the effect of passes, etc., as used by Mesmer, is in its way as much physical as the method of producing hypnotism by concentrating the gaze of the subject on a bright object, or the like.

Braid had discovered a new science—as far as the theoretical view of it was concerned—for he showed that hypnotism is largely, if not purely, mechanical and physical. He noted that during one phase of hypnotism, known as catalepsy, the arms, limbs, etc., might be placed in any position and would remain there; he also noted that a puff of breath would usually awaken a subject, and that by talking to a subject and telling him to do this or do that, even after he awakes from the sleep, he can be made to do those things. Braid thought he might affect a certain part of the brain during hypnotic sleep, and if he could find the seat of the thieving disposition, or the like, he could cure the patient of desire to commit crime, simply by suggestion, or command.

Braid's conclusions were, in brief, that there was no fluid, or other exterior agent, but that hypnotism was due to a physiological condition of the nerves. It was his belief that hypnotic sleep was brought about by fatigue of the eyelids, or by other influences wholly within the subject. In this he was supported by Carpenter, the great physiologist; but neither Braid nor Carpenter could get the medical organizations to give the matter any attention, even to investigate it. In 1848 an American named Grimes succeeded in obtaining all the phenomena of hypnotism, and created a school of writers who made use of the word "electro-biology."

In 1850 Braid's ideas were introduced into France, and Dr. Azam, of Bordeaux, published an account of them in the "Archives de Medicine." From this time on the subject was widely studied by scientific men in France and Germany, and it was more slowly taken up in England. It may be stated here that the French and other Latin races are much more easily hypnotized than the northern races, Americans perhaps being least subject to the hypnotic influence, and next to them the English. On the other hand, the Orientals are influenced to a degree we can hardly comprehend.


We have seen that so far the history of hypnotism has given us two manifestations, or methods, that of passes and playing upon the imagination in various ways, used by Mesmer, and that of physical means, such as looking at a bright object, used by Braid. Both of these methods are still in use, and though hundreds of scientific men, including many physicians, have studied the subject for years, no essentially new principle has been discovered, though the details of hypnotic operation have been thoroughly classified and many minor elements of interest have been developed. All these make a body of evidence which will assist us in answering the question, What is hypnotism?

Modern scientific study has pretty conclusively established the following facts:

1. Idiots, babies under three years old, and hopelessly insane people cannot be hypnotized.

2. No one can be hypnotized unless the operator can make him concentrate his attention for a reasonable length of time. Concentration of attention, whatever the method of producing hypnotism, is absolutely necessary.

3. The persons not easily hypnotized are those said to be neurotic (or those affected with hysteria). By "hysteria" is not meant nervous excitability, necessarily. Some very phlegmatic persons may be affected with hysteria. In medical science "hysteria" is an irregular action of the nervous system. It will sometimes show itself by severe pains in the arm, when in reality there is nothing whatever to cause pain; or it will raise a swelling on the head quite without cause. It is a tendency to nervous disease which in severe cases may lead to insanity. The word neurotic is a general term covering affection of the nervous system. It includes hysteria and much else beside.

On all these points practically every student of hypnotism is agreed. On the question as to whether any one can produce hypnotism by pursuing the right methods there is some disagreement, but not much. Dr. Ernest Hart in an article in the British Medical Journal makes the following very definite statement, representing the side of the case that maintains that any one can produce hypnotism. Says he:

"It is a common delusion that the mesmerist or hypnotizer counts for anything in the experiment. The operator, whether priest, physician, charlatan, self-deluded enthusiast, or conscious imposter, is not the source of any occult influence, does not possess any mysterious power, and plays only a very secondary and insignificant part in the chain of phenomena observed. There exist at the present time many individuals who claim for themselves, and some who make a living by so doing, a peculiar property or power as potent mesmerizers, hypnotizers, magnetizers, or electro-biologists. One even often hears it said in society (for I am sorry to say that these mischievous practices and pranks are sometimes made a society game) that such a person is a clever hypnotist or has great mesmeric or healing power. I hope to be able to prove, what I firmly hold, both from my own personal experience and experiment, as I have already related in the Nineteenth Century, that there is no such thing as a potent mesmeric influence, no such power resident in any one person more than another; that a glass of water, a tree, a stick, a penny-post letter, or a lime-light can mesmerize as effectually as can any individual. A clever hypnotizer means only a person who is acquainted with the physical or mental tricks by which the hypnotic condition is produced; or sometimes an unconscious imposter who is unaware of the very trifling part for which he is cast in the play, and who supposes himself really to possess a mysterious power which in, fact he does not possess at all, or which, to speak more accurately, is equally possessed by every stock or stone."

Against this we may place the statement of Dr. Foveau de Courmelles, who speaks authoritatively for the whole modern French school. He says:

"Every magnetizer is aware that certain individuals never can induce sleep even in the most easily hypnotizable subjects. They admit that the sympathetic fluid is necessary, and that each person may eventually find his or her hypnotizer, even when numerous attempts at inducing sleep have failed. However this may be, the impossibility some individuals find in inducing sleep in trained subjects, proves at least the existence of a negative force."

If you would ask the present writer's opinion, gathered from all the evidence before him, he would say that while he has no belief in the existence of any magnetic fluid, or anything that corresponds to it, he thinks there can be no doubt that some people will succeed as hypnotists while some will fail, just as some fail as carpenters while others succeed. This is true in every walk of life. It is also true that some people attract, others repel, the people they meet. This is not very easily explained, but we have all had opportunity to observe it. Again, since concentration is the prerequisite for producing hypnotism, one who has not the power of concentration himself, and concentration which he can perfectly control, is not likely to be able to secure it in others. Also, since faith is a strong element, a person who has not perfect self-confidence could not expect to create confidence in others. While many successful hypnotizers can themselves be hypnotized, it is probable that most all who have power of this kind are themselves exempt from the exercise of it. It is certainly true that while a person easily hypnotized is by no means weak-minded (indeed, it is probable that most geniuses would be good hypnotic subjects), still such persons have not a well balanced constitution and their nerves are high-strung if not unbalanced. They would be most likely to be subject to a person who had such a strong and well-balanced nervous constitution that it would be hard to hypnotize. And it is always safe to say that the strong may control the weak, but it is not likely that the weak will control the strong.

There is also another thing that must be taken into account. Science teaches that all matter is in vibration. Indeed, philosophy points to the theory that matter itself is nothing more than centers of force in vibration. The lowest vibration we know is that of sound. Then comes, at an enormously higher rate, heat, light (beginning at dark red and passing through the prismatic colors to violet which has a high vibration), to the chemical rays, and then the so-called X or unknown rays which have a much higher vibration still. Electricity is a form of vibration, and according to the belief of many scientists, life is a species of vibration so high that we have no possible means of measuring it. As every student of science knows, air appears to be the chief medium for conveying vibration of sound, metal is the chief medium for conveying electric vibrations, while to account for the vibrations of heat and light we have to assume (or imagine) an invisible, imponderable ether which fills all space and has no property of matter that we can distinguish except that of conveying vibrations of light in its various forms. When we pass on to human life, we have to theorize chiefly by analogy. (It must not be forgotten, however, that the existence of the ether and many assumed facts in science are only theories which have come to be generally adopted because they explain phenomena of all kinds better than any other theories which have been offered.)

Now, in life, as in physical science, any one who can get, or has by nature, the key-note of another nature, has a tremendous power over that other nature. The following story illustrates what this power is in the physical world. While we cannot vouch for the exact truth of the details of the story, there can be no doubt of the accuracy of the principle on which it is based:

"A musical genius came to the Suspension Bridge at Niagara Falls, and asked permission to cross; but as he had no money, his request was contemptuously refused. He stepped away from the entrance, and, drawing his violin from his case, began sounding notes up and down the scale. He finally discovered, by the thrill that sent a tremor through the mighty structure, that he had found the note on which the great cable that upheld the mass, was keyed. He drew his bow across the string of the violin again, and the colossal wire, as if under the spell of a magician, responded with a throb that sent a wave through its enormous length. He sounded the note again and again, and the cable that was dormant under the strain of loaded teams and monster engines—the cable that remained stolid under the pressure of human traffic, and the heavy tread of commerce, thrilled and surged and shook itself, as mad waves of vibration coursed over its length, and it tore at its slack, until like a foam-crested wave of the sea, it shook the towers at either end, or, like some sentient animal, it tugged at its fetters and longed to be free.

"The officers in charge, apprehensive of danger, hurried the poor musician across, and bade him begone and trouble them no more. The ragged genius, putting his well-worn instrument back in its case, muttered to himself, 'I'd either crossed free or torn down the bridge.'"

"So the hypnotist," goes on the writer from which the above is quoted, "finds the note on which the subjective side of the person is attuned, and by playing upon it awakens into activity emotions and sensibilities that otherwise would have remained dormant, unused and even unsuspected."

No student of science will deny the truth of these statements. At the same time it has been demonstrated again and again that persons can and do frequently hypnotize themselves. This is what Mr. Hart means when he says that any stick or stone may produce hypnotism. If a person will gaze steadily at a bright fire, or a glass of water, for instance, he can throw himself into a hypnotic trance exactly similar to the condition produced by a professional or trained hypnotist. Such people, however, must be possessed of imagination.


We have now learned some facts in regard to hypnotism; but they leave the subject still a mystery. Other facts which will be developed in the course of this book will only deepen the mystery. We will therefore state some of the best known theories.

Before doing so, however, it would be well to state concisely just what seems to happen in a case of hypnotism. The word hypnotism means sleep, and the definition of hypnotism implies artificially produced sleep. Sometimes this sleep is deep and lasting, and the patient is totally insensible; but the interesting phase of the condition is that in certain stages the patient is only partially asleep, while the other part of his brain is awake and very active.

It is well known that one part of the brain may be affected without affecting the other parts. In hemiplegia, for instance, one half of the nervous system is paralyzed, while the other half is all right. In the stages of hypnotism we will now consider, the will portion of the brain or mind seems to be put to sleep, while the other faculties are, abnormally awake. Some explain this by supposing that the blood is driven out of one portion of the brain and driven into other portions. In any case, it is as though the human engine were uncoupled, and the patient becomes an automaton. If he is told to do this, that, or the other, he does it, simply because his will is asleep and "suggestion", as it is called, from without makes him act just as he starts up unconsciously in his ordinary sleep if tickled with a straw.

Now for the theories. There are three leading theories, known as that of 1. Animal Magnetism; 2. Neurosis; and 3. Suggestion. We will simply state them briefly in order without discussion.

Animal Magnetism. This is the theory offered by Mesmer, and those who hold it assume that "the hypnotizer exercises a force, independently of suggestion, over the subject. They believe one part of the body to be charged separately, or that the whole body may be filled with magnetism. They recognize the power, of suggestion, but they do not believe it to be the principal factor in the production of the hypnotic state." Those who hold this theory today distinguish between the phenomena produced by magnetism and those produced by physical means or simple suggestion.

The Neurosis Theory. We have already explained the word neurosis, but we repeat here the definition given by Dr. J. R. Cocke. "A neurosis is any affection of the nervous centers occurring without any material agent producing it, without inflammation or any other constant structural change which can be detected in the nervous centers. As will be seen from the definition, any abnormal manifestation of the nervous system of whose cause we know practically nothing, is, for convenience, termed a neurosis. If a man has a certain habit or trick, it is termed a neurosis or neuropathic habit. One man of my acquaintance, who is a professor in a college, always begins his lecture by first sneezing and then pulling at his nose. Many forms of tremor are called neurosis. Now to say that hypnotism is the result of a. neurosis, simply means that a person's nervous system is susceptible to this condition, which, by M. Charcot and his followers, is regarded as abnormal." In short, M. Charcot places hypnotism in the same category of nervous affections in which hysteria and finally hallucination (medically considered) are to be classed, that is to say, as a nervous weakness, not to say a disease. According to this theory, a person whose nervous system is perfectly healthy could not be hypnotized. So many people can be hypnotized because nearly all the world is more or less insane, as a certain great writer has observed.

Suggestion. This theory is based on the power of mind over the body as we observe it in everyday life. Again let me quote from Dr. Cooke. "If we can direct the subject's whole attention to the belief that such an effect as before mentioned—that his arm will be paralyzed, for instance—will take place, that effect will gradually occur. Such a result having been once produced, the subject's will-power and power of resistance are considerably weakened, because he is much more inclined than at first to believe the hypnotizer's assertion. This is generally the first step in the process of hypnosis. The method pursued at the school of Nancy is to convince the subject that his eyes are closing by directing his attention to that effect as strongly as possible. However, it is not necessary that we begin with the eyes. According to M. Dessoir, any member of the body will answer as well." The theory of Suggestion is maintained by the medical school attached to the hospital at Nancy. The theory of Neurosis was originally put forth as the result of experiments by Dr. Charcot at the Salpetriere hospital in Paris, which is now the co-called Salpetriere school—that is the medical, school connected with the Salpetriere hospital.

There is also another theory put forth, or rather a modification of Professor Charcot's theory, and maintained by the school of the Charity hospital in Paris, headed by Dr. Luys, to the effect that the physical magnet and electricity may affect persons in the hypnotic state, and that certain drugs in sealed tubes placed upon the patient's neck during the condition of hypnosis will produce the same effects which those drugs would produce if taken internally, or as the nature of the drugs would seem to call for if imbibed in a more complete fashion. This school, however, has been considerably discredited, and Dr. Luys' conclusions are not received by scientific students of hypnotism. It is also stated, and the present writer has seen no effective denial, that hypnotism may be produced by pressing with the fingers upon certain points in the body, known as hypnogenic spots.

It will be seen that these three theories stated above are greatly at variance with each other. The student of hypnotism will have to form a conclusion for himself as he investigates the facts. Possibly it will be found that the true theory is a combination of all three of those described above. Hypnotism is certainly a complicated phenomena, and he would be a rash man who should try to explain it in a sentence or in a paragraph. An entire book proves a very limited space for doing it.



Dr. Cocke's Method—Dr. Flint's Method—The French Method at Paris—at Nancy—The Hindoo Silent Method—How to Wake a Subject from Hypnotic Sleep—Frauds of Public Hypnotic Entertainers.

First let us quote what is said of hypnotism in Foster's Encyclopedic Medical Dictionary. The dictionary states the derivation of the word from the Greek word meaning sleep, and gives as synonym "Braidism". This definition follows: "An abnormal state into which some persons may be thrown, either by a voluntary act of their own, such as gazing continuously with fixed attention on some bright object held close to the eyes, or by the exercise of another person's will; characterized by suspension of the will and consequent obedience to the promptings of suggestions from without. The activity of the organs of special sense, except the eye, may be heightened, and the power of the muscles increased. Complete insensibility to pain may be induced by hypnotism, and it has been used as an anaesthetic. It is apt to be followed by a severe headache of long continuance, and by various nervous disturbances. On emerging from the hypnotic state, the person hypnotized usually has no remembrance of what happened during its continuance, but in many persons such remembrance may be induced by 'suggestion'. About one person in three is susceptible to hypnotism, and those of the hysterical or neurotic tendency (but rarely the insane) are the most readily hypnotized."

First we will quote the directions for producing hypnotism given by Dr. James R. Cocke, one of the most scientific experimenters in hypnotism in America. His directions of are special value, since they are more applicable to American subjects than the directions given by French writers. Says Dr. Cocke:

"The hypnotic state can be produced in one of the following ways: First, command the subject to close his eyes. Tell him his mind is a blank. Command him to think of nothing. Leave him a few minutes; return and tell him he cannot open his eyes. If he fails to do so, then begin to make any suggestion which may be desired. This is the so-called mental method of hypnotization.

"Secondly, give the subject a coin or other bright object. Tell him to look steadfastly at it and not take his eyes away from it. Suggest that his eyelids are growing heavy, that he cannot keep them open. Now close the lids. They cannot be opened. This is the usual method employed by public exhibitors. A similar method is by looking into a mirror, or into a glass of water, or by rapidly revolving polished disks, which should be looked at steadfastly in the same way as is the coin, and I think tires the eyes less.

"Another method is by simply commanding the subject to close his eyes, while the operator makes passes over his head and hands without coming in contact with them. Suggestions may be made during these passes.

"Fascination, as it is called, is one of the hypnotic states. The operator fixes his eyes on those of the subject. Holding his attention for a few minutes, the operator begins to walk backward; the subject follows. The operator raises the arm; the subject does likewise. Briefly, the subject will imitate any movement of the hypnotist, or will obey any suggestion made by word, look or gesture, suggested by the one with whom he is en rapport.

"A very effective method of hypnotizing a person is by commanding him to sleep, and having some very soft music played upon the piano, or other stringed instrument. Firm pressure over the orbits, or over the finger-ends and root of the nail for some minutes may also induce the condition of hypnosis in very sensitive persons.

"Also hypnosis can frequently be induced by giving the subject a glass of water, and telling him at the same time that it has been magnetized. The wearing of belts around the body, and rings round the fingers, will also, sometimes, induce a degree of hypnosis, if the subject has been told that they have previously been magnetized or are electric. The latter descriptions are the so-called physical methods described by Dr. Moll."

Dr. Herbert L. Flint, a stage hypnotizer, describes his methods as follows:

"To induce hypnotism, I begin by friendly conversation to place my patient in a condition of absolute calmness and quiescence. I also try to win his confidence by appealing to his own volitional effort to aid me in obtaining the desired clad. I impress upon him that hypnosis in his condition is a benign agency, and far from subjugating his mentality, it becomes intensified to so great an extent as to act as a remedial agent.

"Having assured myself that he is in a passive condition, I suggest to him, either with or without passes, that after looking intently at an object for a few moments, he will experience a feeling of lassitude. I steadily gaze at his eyes, and in a monotonous tone I continue to suggest the various stages of sleep. As for instance, I say, 'Your breathing is heavy. Your whole body is relaxed.' I raise his arm, holding it in a horizontal position for a second or two, and suggest to him that it is getting heavier and heavier. I let my hand go and his arm falls to his side.

"'Your eyes,' I continue, 'feel tired and sleepy. They are fast closing' repeating in a soothing tone the words 'sleepy, sleepy, sleep.' Then in a self-assertive tone, I emphasize the suggestion by saying in an unhesitating and positive tone, 'sleep.'

"I do not, however, use this method with all patients. It is an error to state, as some specialists do, that from their formula there can be no deviation; because, as no two minds are constituted alike, so they cannot be affected alike. While one will yield by intense will exerted through my eyes, another may, by the same means, become fretful, timid, nervous, and more wakeful than he was before. The same rule applies to gesture, tones of the voice, and mesmeric passes. That which has a soothing and lulling effect on one, may have an opposite effect on another. There can be no unvarying rule applicable to all patients. The means must be left to the judgment of the operator, who by a long course of psychological training should be able to judge what measures are necessary to obtain control of his subject. Just as in drugs, one person may take a dose without injury that will kill another, so in hypnosis, one person can be put into a deep sleep by means that would be totally ineffectual in another, and even then the mental states differ in each individual—that which in one induces a gentle slumber may plunge his neighbor into a deep cataleptic state."

That hypnotism may be produced by purely physical or mechanical means seems to have been demonstrated by an incident which started Doctor Burq, a Frenchman, upon a scientific inquiry which lasted many years. "While practising as a young doctor, he had one day been obliged to go out and had deemed it advisable to lock up a patient in his absence. Just as he was leaving the house he heard the sound as of a body suddenly falling. He hurried back into the room and found his patient in a state of catalepsy. Monsieur Burq was at that time studying magnetism, and he at once sought for the cause of this phenomenon. He noticed that the door-handle was of copper. The next day he wrapped a glove around the handle, again shut the patient in, and this time nothing occurred. He interrogated the patient, but she could give him no explanation. He then tried the effect of copper on all the subjects at the Salpetriere and the Cochin hospitals, and found that a great number were affected by it."

At the Charity hospital in Paris, Doctor Luys used an apparatus moved by clockwork. Doctor Foveau, one of his pupils, thus describes it:

"The hypnotic state, generally produced by the contemplation of a bright spot, a lamp, or the human eye, is in his case induced by a peculiar kind of mirror. The mirrors are made of pieces of wood cut prismatically in which fragments of mirrors are incrusted. They are generally double and placed crosswise, and by means of clockwork revolve automatically. They are the same as sportsmen use to attract larks, the rays of the sun being caught and reflected on every side and from all points of the horizon. If the little mirrors in each branch are placed in parallel lines in front of a patient, and the rotation is rapid, the optic organ soon becomes fatigued, and a calming soothing somnolence ensues. At first it is not a deep sleep, the eye-lids are scarcely heavy, the drowsiness slight and restorative. By degrees, by a species of training, the hypnotic sleep differs more and more from natural sleep, the individual abandons himself more and more completely, and falls into one of the regular phases of hypnotic sleep. Without a word, without a suggestion or any other action, Dr. Luys has made wonderful cures. Wecker, the occulist, has by the same means entirely cured spasms of the eye-lids."

Professor Delboeuf gives the following account of how the famous Liebault produced hypnotism at the hospital at Nancy. We would especially ask the reader to note what he says of Dr. Liebault's manner and general bearing, for without doubt much of his success was due to his own personality. Says Professor Delboeuf:

"His modus faciendi has something ingenious and simple about it, enhanced by a tone and air of profound conviction; and his voice has such fervor and warmth that he carries away his clients with him.

"After having inquired of the patient what he is suffering from, without any further or closer examination, he places his hand on the patient's forehead and, scarcely looking at him, says, 'You are going to sleep.' Then, almost immediately, he closes the eyelids, telling him that he is asleep. After that he raises the patient's arm, and says, 'You cannot put your arm down.' If he does, Dr. Liebault appears hardly to notice it. He then turns the patient's arm around, confidently affirming that the movement cannot be stopped, and saying this he turns his own arms rapidly around, the patient remaining all the time with his eyes shut; then the doctor talks on without ceasing in a loud and commanding voice. The suggestions begin:

"'You are going to be cured; your digestion will be good, your sleep quiet, your cough will stop, your circulation will become free and regular; you are going to feel very strong and well, you will be able to walk about,' etc., etc. He hardly ever varies the speech. Thus he fires away at every kind of disease at once, leaving it to the client to find out his own. No doubt he gives some special directions, according to the disease the patient is suffering from, but general instructions are the chief thing.

"The same suggestions are repeated a great many times to the same person, and, strange to say, notwithstanding the inevitable monotony of the speeches, and the uniformity of both style and voice, the master's tone is so ardent, so penetrating, so sympathetic, that I have never once listened to it without a feeling of intense admiration."

The Hindoos produce sleep simply by sitting on the ground and, fixing their eyes steadily on the subject, swaying the body in a sort of writhing motion above the hips. By continuing this steadily and in perfect silence for ten or fifteen minutes before a large audience, dozens can be put to sleep at one time. In all cases, freedom from noise or distractive incidents is essential to success in hypnotism, for concentration must be produced.

Certain French operators maintain that hypnotism may be produced by pressure on certain hypnogenic points or regions of the body. Among these are the eye-balls, the crown of the head, the back of the neck and the upper bones of the spine between the shoulder glades. Some persons may be hypnotized by gently pressing on the skin at the base of the finger-nails, and at the root of the nose; also by gently scratching the neck over the great nerve center.

Hypnotism is also produced by sudden noise, as if by a Chinese gong, etc.


This is comparatively easy in moot cases. Most persons will awake naturally at the end of a few minutes, or will fall into a natural sleep from which in an hour or two they will awake refreshed. Usually the operator simply says to the subject, "All right, wake up now," and claps his hands or makes some other decided noise. In some cases it is sufficient to say, "You will wake up in five minutes"; or tell a subject to count twelve and when he gets to ten say, "Wake up."

Persons in the lethargic state are not susceptible to verbal suggestions, but may be awakened by lifting both eyelids.

It is said that pressure on certain regions will wake the subject, just as pressure in certain other places will put the subject to sleep. Among these places for awakening are the ovarian regions.

Some writers recommend the application of cold water to awaken subjects, but this is rarely necessary. In olden times a burning coal was brought near.

If hypnotism was produced by passes, then wakening may be brought about by passes in the opposite direction, or with the back of the hand toward the subject.

The only danger is likely to be found in hysterical persons. They will, if aroused, often fall off again into a helpless state, and continue to do so for some time to come. It is dangerous to hypnotize such subjects.

Care should be taken to awaken the subject very thoroughly before leaving him, else headache, nausea, or the like may follow, with other unpleasant effects. In all cases subjects should be treated gently and with the utmost consideration, as if the subject and operator were the most intimate friends.

It is better that the person who induces hypnotic sleep should awaken the subject. Others cannot do it so easily, though as we have said, subjects usually awaken themselves after a short time.

Further description of the method of producing hypnotism need not be given; but it is proper to add that in addition to the fact that not more than one person out of three can be hypnotized at all, even by an experienced operator, to effect hypnotization except in a few cases requires a great deal of patience, both on the part of the operator and of the subject. It may require half a dozen or more trials before any effect at all can be produced, although in some cases the effect will come within a minute or two. After a person has been once hypnotized, hypnotization is much easier. The most startling results are to be obtained only after a long process of training on the part of the subject. Public hypnotic entertainments, and even those given at the hospitals in Paris, would be quite impossible if trained subjects were not at hand; and in the case of the public hypnotizer, the proper subjects are hired and placed in the audience for the express purpose of coming forward when called for. The success of such an entertainment could not otherwise be guaranteed. In many cases, also, this training of subjects makes them deceivers. They learn to imitate what they see, and since their living depends upon it, they must prove hypnotic subjects who can always be depended upon to do just what is wanted. We may add, however, that what they do is no more than an imitation of the real thing. There is no grotesque manifestation on the stage, even if it is a pure fake, which could not be matched by more startling facts taken from undoubted scientific experience.



Hypnotizing on the Stage—"You Can't Pull Your Hands Apart"—Post Hypnotic Suggestion—The News boy, the Hunter, and the Young Man with the Rag Doll—A Whip Becomes Hot Iron—Courting a Broomstick—The Side Show.

Let us now describe some of the manifestations of hypnotism, to see just how it operates and how it exhibits itself. The following is a description of a public performance given by Dr. Herbert L. Flint, a very successful public operator. It is in the language of an eye-witness—a New York lawyer.

In response to a call for volunteers, twenty young and middle-aged men came upon the stage. They evidently belonged to the great middle-class. The entertainment commenced by Dr. Flint passing around the group, who were seated on the stage in a semicircle facing the audience, and stroking each one's head and forehead, repeating the phrases, "Close your eyes. Think of nothing but sleep. You are very tired. You are drowsy. You feel very sleepy." As he did this, several of the volunteers closed their eyes at once, and one fell asleep immediately. One or two remained awake, and these did not give themselves up to the influence, but rather resisted it.

When the doctor had completed his round and had manipulated all the volunteers, some of those influenced were nodding, some were sound asleep, while a few were wide awake and smiling at the rest. These latter were dismissed as unlikely subjects.

When the stage had been cleared of all those who were not responsive, the doctor passed around, and, snapping his finger at each individual, awoke him. One of the subjects when questioned afterward as to what sensation he experienced at the snapping of the fingers, replied that it seemed to him as if something inside of his head responded, and with this sensation he regained self-consciousness. (This is to be doubted. As a rule, subjects in this stage of hypnotism do not feel any sensation that they can remember, and do not become self-conscious.)

The class was now apparently wide awake, and did not differ in appearance from their ordinary state. The doctor then took each one and subjected him to a separate physical test, such as sealing the eyes, fastening the hands, stiffening the fingers, arms, and legs, producing partial catalepsy and causing stuttering and inability to speak. In those possessing strong imaginations, he was able to produce hallucinations, such as feeling mosquito bites, suffering from toothache, finding the pockets filled and the hands covered with molasses, changing identity, and many similar tests.

The doctor now asked each one to clasp his hands in front of him, and when all had complied with the request, he repeated the phrase, "Think your hands so fast that you can't pull them apart. They are fast. You cannot pull them apart. Try. You can't." The whole class made frantic efforts to unclasp their hands, but were unable to do so. The doctor's explanation of this is, that what they were really doing was to force their hands closer together, thus obeying the counter suggestion. That they thought they were trying to unclasp their hands was evident from their endeavors.

The moment he made them desist, by snapping his fingers, the spell was broken. It was most astonishing to see that as each one awoke, he seemed to be fully cognizant of the ridiculous position in which his comrades were placed, and to enjoy their confusion and ludicrous attitudes. The moment, however, he was commanded to do things equally absurd, he obeyed. While, therefore, the class appeared to be free agents, they are under hypnotic control.

One young fellow, aged about eighteen, said that he was addicted to the cigarette habit. The suggestion was made to him that he would not be able to smoke a cigarette for twenty-four hours. After the entertainment he was asked to smoke, as was his usual habit. He was then away from any one who could influence him. He replied that the very idea was repugnant. However, he was induced to take a cigarette in his mouth, but it made him ill and he flung it away with every expression of disgust. *This is an instance of what is called post-hypnotic suggestion. Dr. Cocke tells of suggesting to a drinker whom he was trying to cure of the habit that for the next three days anything he took would make him vomit; the result followed as suggested.

The same phenomena that was shown in unclasping the hands, was next exhibited in commanding the subjects to rotate them. They immediately began and twirled them faster and faster, in spite of their efforts to stop. One of the subjects said he thought of nothing but the strange action of his hands, and sometimes it puzzled him to know why they whirled.

At this point Dr. Flint's daughter took charge of the class. She pointed her finger at one of them, and the subject began to look steadily before him, at which the rest of the class were highly amused. Presently the subject's head leaned forward, the pupils of his eyes dilated and assumed a peculiar glassy stare. He arose with a steady, gliding gait and walked up to the lady until his nose touched her hand. Then he stopped. Miss Flint led him to the front of the stage and left him standing in profound slumber. He stood there, stooping, eyes set, and vacant, fast asleep. In the meantime the act had caused great laughter among the rest of the class. One young fellow in particular, laughed so uproariously that tears coursed down his cheeks, and he took out his handkerchief to wipe his eyes. Just as he was returning it to his pocket, the lady suddenly pointed a finger at him. She was in the center of the stage, fully fifteen feet away from the subject, but the moment the gesture was made, his countenance fell, his mirth stopped, while that of his companions redoubled, and the change was so obvious that the audience shared in the laughter—but the subject neither saw nor heard. His eyes assumed the same expression that had been noticed in his companion's. He, too, arose in the same attitude, as if his head were pulling the body along, and following the finger in the same way as his predecessor, was conducted to the front of the stage by the side of the first subject. This was repeated on half a dozen subjects, and the manifestations were the same in each case. Those selected were now drawn up in an irregular line in front of the stage, their eyes fixed on vacancy, their heads bent forward, perfectly motionless. Each was then given a suggestion. One was to be a newsboy, and sell papers. Another was given a broomstick and told to hunt game in the woods before him. Another was given a large rag doll and told that it was an infant, and that he must look among the audience and discover the father. He was informed that he could tell who the father was by the similarity and the color of the eyes.

These suggestions were made in a loud tone, Miss Flint being no nearer one subject than another. The bare suggestion was given, as, "Now, think that you are a newsboy, and are selling papers," or, "Now think that you are hunting and are going into the woods to shoot birds."

So the party was started at the same time into the audience. The one who was impersonating a newsboy went about crying his edition in a loud voice; while the hunter crawled along stealthily and carefully. The newsboy even adopted the well-worn device of asking those whom he solicited to buy to help him get rid of his stock. One man offered him a cent, when the price was two cents. The newsboy chaffed the would-be purchaser. He sarcastically asked him if he "didn't want the earth."

The others did what they had been told to do in the same earnest, characteristic way.

After this performance, the class was again seated in a semicircle, and Miss Flint selected one of them, and, taking him into the center of the stage, showed him a small riding whip. He looked at it indifferently enough. He was told it was a hot bar of iron, but he shook his head, still incredulous. The suggestion was repeated, and as the glazed look came into his eyes, the incredulous look died out. Every member of the class was following the suggestion made to the subject in hand. All of them had the same expression in their eyes. The doctor said that his daughter was hypnotizing the whole class through this one individual.

As she spoke she lightly touched the subject with the end of the whip. The moment the subject felt the whip he jumped and shrieked as if it really were a hot iron. She touched each one of the class in succession, and every one manifested the utmost pain and fear. One subject sat down on the floor and cried in dire distress. Others, when touched, would tear off their clothing or roll up their sleeves. One young man was examined by a physician present just after the whip had been laid across his shoulders, and a long red mark was found, just such a one as would have been made by a real hot iron. The doctor said that, had the suggestion been continued, it would undoubtedly have raised a blister.

One of the amusing experiments tried at a later time was that of a tall young man, diffident, pale and modest, being given a broom carefully wrapped in a sheet, and told that it was his sweetheart. He accepted the situation and sat down by the broom. He was a little sheepish at first, but eventually he grew bolder, and smiled upon her such a smile as Malvolio casts upon Olivia. The manner in which, little by little, he ventured upon a familiar footing, was exceedingly funny; but when, in a moment of confident response to his wooing, he clasped her round the waist and imprinted a chaste kiss upon the brushy part of the broom, disguised by the sheet, the house resounded with roars of laughter. The subject, however, was deaf to all of the noise. He was absorbed in his courtship, and he continued to hug the broom, and exhibit in his features that idiotic smile that one sees only upon the faces of lovers and bridegrooms. "All the world loves a lover," as the saying is, and all the world loves to laugh at him.

One of the subjects was told that the head of a man in the audience was on fire. He looked for a moment, and then dashed down the platform into the audience, and, seizing the man's head, vigorously rubbed it. As this did not extinguish the flames, he took off his coat and put the fire out. In doing this, he set his coat on fire, when he trampled it under foot. Then he calmly resumed his garment and walked back to the stage.

The "side-show" closed the evening's entertainment. A young man was told to think of himself as managing a side-show at a circus. When his mind had absorbed this idea he was ordered to open his exhibition. He at once mounted a table, and, in the voice of the traditional side-show fakir, began to dilate upon the fat woman and the snakes, upon the wild man from Borneo, upon the learned pig, and all the other accessories of side-shows. He went over the usual characteristic "patter," getting more and more in earnest, assuring his hearers that for the small sum of ten cents they could see more wonders than ever before had been crowded under one canvas tent. He harangued the crowd as they surged about the tent door. He pointed to a suppositious canvas picture. He "chaffed" the boys. He flattered the vanity of the young fellows with their girls, telling them that they could not afford, for the small sum of ten cents, to miss this great show. He made change for his patrons. He indulged in side remarks, such as "This is hot work." He rolled up his sleeves and took off his collar and necktie, all of the time expatiating upon the merits of the freaks inside of his tent.



Lethargy—Catalepsy—The Somnambulistic Stage—Fascination.

We have just given some of the amusing experiments that may be performed with subjects in one of the minor stages of hypnotism. But there are other stages which give entirely different manifestations. For a scientific classification of these we are indebted to Professor Charcot, of the Salpetriere hospital in Paris, to whom, next to Mesmer and Braid, we are indebted for the present science of hypnotism. He recognized three distinct stages—lethargy, catalepsy and somnambulism. There is also a condition of extreme lethargy, a sort of trance state, that lasts for days and even weeks, and, indeed, has been known to last for years. There is also a lighter phase than somnambulism, that is called fascination. Some doctors, however, place it between catalepsy and somnambulism. Each of these stages is marked by quite distinct phenomena. We give them as described by a pupil of Dr. Charcot.


This is a state of absolute inert sleep. If the method of Braid is used, and a bright object is held quite near the eyes, and the eyes are fixed upon it, the subject squints, the eyes become moist and bright, the look fixed, and the pupils dilated. This is the cataleptic stage. If the object is left before the eyes, lethargy is produced. There are also many other ways of producing lethargy, as we have seen in the chapter "How to Hypnotize."

One of the marked characteristics of this stage of hypnotism is the tendency of the muscles to contract, under the influence of the slightest touch, friction, pressure or massage, or even that of a magnet placed at a distance. The contraction disappears only by the repetition of that identical means that called it into action. Dr. Courmelles gives the following illustration:

"If the forearm is rubbed a little above the palm of the hand, this latter yields and bends at an acute angle. The subject may be suspended by the hand, and the body will be held up without relaxation, that is, without returning to the normal condition. To return to the normal state, it suffices to rub the antagonistic muscles, or, in ordinary terms, the part diametrically opposed to that which produced the phenomenon; in this case, the forearm a little above the hands. It is the same for any other part of the body."

The subject appears to be in a deep sleep, the eyes are either closed or half closed, and the face is without expression. The body appears to be in a state of complete collapse, the head is thrown back, and the arms and legs hang loose, dropping heavily down. In this stage insensibility is so complete that needles can be run into any part of the body without producing pain, and surgical operations may be performed without the slightest unpleasant effect.

This stage lasts usually but a short time, and the patient, under ordinary conditions, will pass upward into the stage of catalepsy, in which he opens his eyes. If the hypnotism is spontaneous, that is, if it is due to a condition of the nervous organism which has produced it without any outside aid, we have the condition of prolonged trance, of which many cases have been reported. Until the discovery of hypnotism these strange trances were little understood, and people were even buried alive in them. A few instances reported by medical men will be interesting. There is one reported in 1889 by a noted French physician. Said he:

"There is at this moment in the hospital at Mulhouse a most interesting case. A young girl twenty-two years of age has been asleep here for the last twelve days. Her complexion is fresh and rosy, her breathing quite normal, and her features unaltered.

"No organ seems attacked; all the vital functions are performed as in the waking state. She is fed with milk, broth and wine, which is given her in a spoon. Her mouth even sometimes opens of itself at the contact of the spoon, and she swallows without the slightest difficulty. At other times the gullet remains inert.

"The whole body is insensible. The forehead alone presents, under the action of touch or of pricks, some reflex phenomena. However, by a peculiarity, which is extremely interesting, she seems, by the intense horror she shows for ether, to retain a certain amount of consciousness and sensibility. If a drop of ether is put into her mouth her face contracts and assumes an expression of disgust. At the same moment her arms and legs are violently agitated, with the kind of impatient motion that a child displays when made to swallow some hated dose of medicine.

"In the intellectual relations the brain is not absolutely obscure, for on her mother's coming to see her the subject's face became highly colored, and tears appeared on the tips of her eyelashes, without, however, in any other way disturbing her lethargy.

"Nothing has yet been able to rouse her from this torpor, which will, no doubt, naturally disappear at a given moment. She will then return to conscious life as she quitted it. It is probable that she will not retain any recollection of her present condition, that all notion of time will fail her, and that she will fancy it is only the day following her usual nightly slumber, a slumber which, in this case, has been transformed into a lethargic sleep, without any rigidity of limbs or convulsions.

"Physically, the sleeper is of a middle size, slender, strong and pretty, without distinctive characteristic. Mentally, she is lively, industrious, sometimes whimsical, and subject to slight nervous attacks."

There is a pretty well-authenticated report of a young girl who, on May 30, 1883, after an intense fright, fell into a lethargic condition which lasted for four years. Her parents were poor and ignorant, but, as the fame of the case spread abroad, some physicians went to investigate it in March, 1887. Her sleep had never been interrupted. On raising the eyelids, the doctors found the eyes turned convulsively upward, but, blowing upon them, produced no reflex movement of the lids. Her jaws were closed tightly, and the attempt to open her mouth had broken off some of the teeth level with the gums. The muscles contracted at the least breath or touch, and the arms remained in position when uplifted. The contraction of the muscles is a sign of the lethargic state, but the arm, remaining in position, indicates the cataleptic state. The girl was kept alive by liquid nourishment poured into her mouth.

There are on record a large number of cases of persons who have slept for several months.


The next higher stage of hypnotism is that of catalepsy. Patients may be thrown into it directly, or patients in the lethargic state may be brought into it by lifting the eyelids. It seems that the light penetrating the eyes, and affecting the brain, awakens new powers, for the cataleptic state has phenomena quite peculiar to itself.

Nearly all the means for producing hypnotism will, if carried to just the right degree, produce catalepsy. For instance, besides the fixing of the eye on a bright object, catalepsy may be produced by a sudden sound, as of a Chinese gong, a tom-tom or a whistle, the vibration of a tuning-fork, or thunder. If a solar spectrum is suddenly brought into a dark room it may produce catalepsy, which is also produced by looking at the sun, or a lime light, or an electric light.

In this state the patient has become perfectly rigidly fixed in the position in which he happens to be when the effect is produced, whether sitting, standing, kneeling, or the like; and this face has an expression of fear. The arms or legs may be raised, but if left to themselves will not drop, as in lethargy. The eyes are wide open, but the look is fixed and impassive. The fixed position lasts only a few minutes, however, when the subject returns to a position of relaxation, or drops back into the lethargic state.

If the muscles, nerves or tendons are rubbed or pressed, paralysis may be produced, which, however, is quickly removed by the use of electricity, when the patient awakes. By manipulating the muscles the most rigid contraction may be produced, until the entire body is in such a state of corpse-like rigidity that a most startling experiment is possible. The subject may be placed with his head upon the back of one chair and his heels on the back of another, and a heavy man may sit upon him without seemingly producing any effect, or even heavy rock may be broken on the subject's body.

Messieurs Binet and Fere, pupils of the Salpetriere school, describe the action of magnets on cataleptic subjects, as follows:

"The patient is seated near a table, on which a magnet has been placed, the left elbow rests on the arm of the chair, the forearm and hand vertically upraised with thumb and index finger extended, while the other fingers remain half bent. On the right side the forearm and hand are stretched on the table, and the magnet is placed under a linen cloth at a distance of about two inches. After a couple of minutes the right index begins to tremble and rise up; on the left side the extended fingers bend down, and the hand remains limp for an instant. The right hand and forearm rise up and assume the primitive position of the left hand, which is now stretched out on the arm of the chair, with the waxen pliability that pertains to the cataleptic state."

An interesting experiment may be tried by throwing a patient into lethargy on one side and catalepsy on the other. To induce what is called hemi-lethargy and hemi-catalepsy is not difficult. First, the lethargic stage is induced, then one eyelid is raised, and that side alone becomes cataleptic, and may be operated on in various interesting ways. The arm on that side, for instance, will remain raised when lifted, while the arm on the other side will fall heavily.

Still more interesting is the intellectual condition of the subject. Some great man has remarked that if he wished to know what a person was thinking of, he assumed the exact position and expression of that person, and soon he would begin to feel and think just as the other was thinking and feeling. Look a part and you will soon begin to feel it.

In the cataleptic subject there is a close relation between the attitude the subject assumes and the intellectual manifestation. In the somnambulistic stage patients are manipulated by speaking to them; in the cataleptic stage they are equally under the will of the operator; but now he controls them by gesture. Says Dr. Courmelles, from his own observation: "The emotions in this stage are made at command, in the true acceptation of the word, for they are produced, not by orders verbally expressed, but by expressive movements. If the hands are opened and drawn close to the mouth, as when a kiss is wafted, the mouth smiles. If the arms are extended and half bent at the elbows, the countenance assumes an expression of astonishment. The slightest variation of movement is reflected in the emotions. If the fists are closed, the brow contracts and the face expresses anger. If a lively or sad tune is played, if amusing or depressing pictures are shown, the subject, like a faithful mirror, at once reflects these impressions. If a smile is produced it can be seen to diminish and disappear at the same time as the hand is moved away, and again to reappear and increase when it is once more brought near. Better still, a double expression can be imparted to the physiognomy, by approaching the left hand to the left side of the mouth, the left side of the physiognomy will smile, while at the same time, by closing the right hand, the right eyebrow will frown. The subject can be made to send kisses, or to turn his hands round each other indefinitely. If the hand is brought near the nose it will blow; if the arms are stretched out they will remain extended, while the head will be bowed with a marked expression of pain."

Heidenhain was able to take possession of the subject's gaze and control him by sight, through producing mimicry. He looks fixedly at the patient till the patient is unable to take his eyes away. Then the patient will copy every movement he makes. If he rises and goes backward the patient will follow, and with his right hand he will imitate the movements of the operator's left, as if he were a mirror. The attitudes of prayer, melancholy, pain, disdain, anger or fear, may be produced in this manner.

The experiments of Donato, a stage hypnotizer, are thus described: "After throwing the subjects into catalepsy he causes soft music to be played, which produces a rapturous expression. If the sound is heightened or increased, the subjects seem to receive a shock and a feeling of disappointment. The artistic sense developed by hypnotism is disturbed; the faces express astonishment, stupefaction and pain. If the same soft melody be again resumed, the same expression of rapturous bliss reappears in the countenance. The faces become seraphic and celestial when the subjects are by nature handsome, and when the subjects are ordinary looking, even ugly, they are idealized as by a special kind of beauty."

The strange part of all this is, that on awaking, the patient has no recollection of what has taken place, and careful tests have shown that what appear to be violent emotions, such as in an ordinary state would produce a quickened pulse and heavy breathing, create no disturbance whatever in the cataleptic subject; only the outer mask is in motion.

"Sometimes the subjects lean backward with all the grace of a perfect equilibrist, freeing themselves from the ordinary mechanical laws. The curvature will, indeed, at times be so complete that the head will touch the floor and the body describe a regular arc.

"When a female subject assumes an attitude of devotion, clasps her hands, turns her eyes upward and lisps out a prayer, she presents an admirably artistic picture, and her features and expression seem worthy of being reproduced on canvas."

We thus see what a perfect automaton the human body may become. There appears, however, to be a sort of unconscious memory, for a familiar object will seem to suggest spontaneously its ordinary use. Thus, if a piece of soap is put into a cataleptic patient's hands; he will move it around as though he thought he were washing them, and if there is any water near he will actually wash them. The sight of an umbrella makes him shiver as if he were in a storm. Handing such a person a pen will not make him write, but if a letter is dictated to him out loud he will write in an irregular hand. The subject may also be made to sing, scream or speak different languages with which he is entirely unfamiliar. This is, however, a verging toward the somnambulistic stage, for in deep catalepsy the patient does not speak or hear. The state is produced by placing the hands on the head, the forehead, or nape of the neck.


This is the stage or phase of hypnotism nearest the waking, and is the only one that can be produced in some subjects. Patients in the cataleptic state can be brought into the somnambulistic by rubbing the top of the head. To all appearances, the patient is fully awake, his eyes are open, and he answers when spoken to, but his voice does not have the same sound as when awake. Yet, in this state the patient is susceptible of all the hallucinations of insanity which may be induced at the verbal command of the operator.

One of the most curious features of this stage of hypnotism is the effect on the memory. Says Monsieur Richet: "I send V—— to sleep. I recite some verses to her, and then I awake her. She remembers nothing. I again send her to sleep, and she remembers perfectly the verses I recited. I awake her, and she has again forgotten everything."

It appears, however, that if commanded to remember on awaking, a patient may remember.

The active sense, and the memory as well, appears to be in an exalted state of activity during this phase of hypnotism. Says M. Richet: "M——, who will sing the air of the second act of the Africaine in her sleep, is incapable of remembering a single note of it when awake." Another patient, while under this hypnotic influence, could remember all he had eaten for several days past, but when awake could remember very little. Binet and Fere caused one of their subjects to remember the whole of his repasts for eight days past, though when awake he could remember nothing beyond two or three days. A patient of Dr. Charcot, who when she was two years old had seen Dr. Parrot in the children's hospital, but had not seen him since, and when awake could not remember him, named him at once when he entered during her hypnotic sleep. M. Delboeuf tells of an experiment he tried, in which the patient did remember what had taken place during the hypnotic condition, when he suddenly awakened her in the midst of the hallucination; as, for instance, he told her the ashes from the cigar he was smoking had fallen on her handkerchief and had set it on fire, whereupon she at once rose and threw the handkerchief into the water. Then, suddenly awakened, she remembered the whole performance.

In the somnambulistic stage the patient is no longer an automaton merely, but a real personality, "an individual with his own character, his likes and dislikes." The tone of the voice of the operator seems to have quite as much effect as his words. If he speaks in a grave and solemn tone, for instance, even if what he utters is nonsense, the effect is that of a deeply tragic story.

The will of another is not so easily implanted as has been claimed. While a patient will follow almost any suggestion that may be offered, he readily obeys only commands which are in keeping with his character. If he is commanded to do something he dislikes or which in the waking state would be very repugnant to him, he hesitates, does it very reluctantly, and in extreme cases refuses altogether, often going into hysterics. It was found at the Charity hospital that one patient absolutely refused to accept a cassock and become a priest. One of Monsieur Richet's patients screamed with pain the moment an amputation was suggested, but almost immediately recognized that it was only a suggestion, and laughed in the midst of her tears. Probably, however, this patient was not completely hypnotized.

Dr. Dumontpallier was able to produce a very curious phenomenon. He suggested to a female patient that with the right eye she could see a picture on a blank card. On awakening she could, indeed, see the picture with the right eye, but the left eye told her the card was blank. While she was in the somnambulistic state he told her in her right ear that the weather was very fine, and at the same time another person whispered in her left ear that it was raining. On the right side of her face she had a smile, while the left angle of her lip dropped as if she were depressed by the thought of the rain. Again, he describes a dance and gay party in one ear, and another person mimics the barking of a dog in the other. One side of her face in that case wears an amused expression, while the other shows signs of alarm.

Dr. Charcot thus describes a curious experiment: "A portrait is suggested to a subject as existing on a blank card, which is then mixed with a dozen others; to all appearance they are similar cards. The subject, being awakened, is requested to look over the packet, and does so without knowing the reason of the request, but when he perceives the card on which the portrait was suggested, he at once recognizes the imaginary portrait. It is probable that some insignificant mark has, owing to his visual hyperacuity, fixed the image in the subject's brain."


Says a recent French writer: "Dr. Bremand, a naval doctor, has obtained in men supposed to be perfectly healthy a new condition, which he calls fascination. The inventor considers that this is hypnotism in its mildest form, which, after repeated experiments, might become catalepsy. The subject fascinated by Dr. Bremaud—fascination being induced by the contemplation of a bright spot—falls into a state of stupor. He follows the operator and servilely imitates his movements, gestures and words; he obeys suggestions, and a stimulation of the nerves induces contraction, but the cataleptic pliability does not exist."

A noted public hypnotizer in Paris some years ago produced fascination in the following manner: He would cause the subject to lean on his hands, thus fatiguing the muscles. The excitement produced by the concentrated gaze of a large audience also assisted in weakening the nervous resistance. At last the operator would suddenly call out: "Look at me!" The subject would look up and gaze steadily into the operator's eyes, who would stare steadily back with round, glaring eyes, and in most cases subdue his victim.


How the Subject Feels Under Hypnotization.—Dr. Cooper's Experience.—Effect of Music.—Dr. Alfred Marthieu's Experiments.

The sensations produced during a state of hypnosis are very interesting. As may be supposed, they differ greatly in different persons. One of the most interesting accounts ever given is that of Dr. James R. Cocke, a hypnotist himself, who submitted to being operated upon by a professional magnetizer. He was at that time a firm believer in the theory of personal magnetism (a delusion from which he afterward escaped).

On the occasion which he describes, the operator commanded him to close his eyes and told him he could not open them, but he did open them at once. Again he told him to close the eyes, and at the same time he gently stroked his head and face and eyelids with his hand. Dr. Cocke fancied he felt a tingling sensation in his forehead and eyes, which he supposed came from the hand of the operator. (Afterward he came to believe that this sensation was purely imaginary on his part.)

Then he says: "A sensation akin to fear came over me. The operator said: 'You are going to sleep, you are getting sleepy. You cannot open your eyes.' I was conscious that my heart was beating rapidly, and I felt a sensation of terror. He continued to tell me I was going to sleep, and could not open my eves. He then made passes over my head, down over my hands and body, but did not touch me. He then said to me, 'You cannot open your eyes.' The motor apparatus of my lids would not seemingly respond to my will, yet I was conscious that while one part of my mind wanted to open my eyes, another part did not want to, so I was in a paradoxical state. I believed that I could open my eyes, and yet could not. The feeling of not wishing to open my eyes was not based upon any desire to please the operator. I had no personal interest in him in any way, but, be it understood, I firmly believed in his power to control me. He continued to suggest to me that I was going to sleep, and the suggestion of terror previously mentioned continued to increase."

The next step was to put the doctor's hand over his head, and tell him he could not put it down. Then he stroked the arm and said it was growing numb. He said: "You have no feeling in it, have you?" Dr. Cocke goes on: "I said 'No,' and I knew that I said 'No,' yet I knew that I had a feeling in it." The operator went on, pricking the arm with a pin, and though Dr. Cocke felt the pain he said he did not feel it, and at the same time the sensation of terror increased. "I was not conscious of my body at all," he says further on, "but I was painfully conscious of the two contradictory elements within me. I knew that my body existed, but could not prove it to myself. I knew that the statements made by the operator were in a measure untrue. I obeyed them voluntarily and involuntarily. This is the last remembrance that I have of that hypnotic experience."

After this, however, the operator caused the doctor to do a number of things which he learned of from his friends after the performance was over. "It seemed to me that the hypnotist commanded me to awake as soon as I dropped my arm," and yet ten minutes of unconsciousness had passed.

On a subsequent occasion Dr. Cocke, who was blind, was put into a deep hypnotic sleep by fixing his mind on the number 26 and holding up his hand. This time he experienced a still greater degree of terror, and incidentally learned that he could hypnotize himself. The matter of self-hypnotism we shall consider in another chapter.

In this connection we find great interest in an article in the Medical News, July 28, 1894, by Dr. Alfred Warthin, of Ann Arbor, Mich., in which he describes the effects of music upon hypnotic subjects. While in Vienna he took occasion to observe closely the enthusiastic musical devotees as they sat in the audience at the performance of one of Wagner's operas. He believed they were in a condition of self-induced hypnotism, in which their subjective faculties were so exalted as to supersede their objective perceptions. Music was no longer to them a succession of pleasing sounds, but the embodiment of a drama in which they became so wrapped up that they forgot all about the mechanical and external features of the music and lived completely in a fairy world of dream.

This observation suggested to him an interesting series of experiments. His first subject was easily hypnotized, and of an emotional nature. Wagner's "Ride of Walkure" was played from the piano score. The pulse of the subject became more rapid and at first of higher tension, increasing from a normal rate of 60 beats a minute to 120. Then, as the music progressed, the tension diminished. The respiration increased from 18 to 30 per minute. Great excitement in the subject was evident. His whole body was thrown into motion, his legs were drawn up, his arms tossed into the air, and a profuse sweat appeared. When the subject had been awakened, he said that he did not remember the music as music, but had an impression of intense, excitement, brought on by "riding furiously through the air." The state of mind brought up before him in the most realistic and vivid manner possible the picture of the ride of Tam O'Shanter, which he had seen years before. The picture soon became real to him, and he found himself taking part in a wild chase, not as witch, devil, or Tam even; but in some way his consciousness was spread through every part of the scene, being of it, and yet playing the part of spectator, as is often the case in dreams.

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