Complete Hypnotism, Mesmerism, Mind-Reading and Spiritualism



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.

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