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CHAPTER V

THE APPLICATION OF HYPNOTISM TO THE TREATMENT OF BODILY AND MENTAL DISORDERS

Rapid and lasting cures can be achieved by hypnotic treatment. No other treatment, certainly no other form of psychotherapy, can produce such results.

First of all, as regards physiological effects produced in hypnosis, the pulse can be quickened or retarded, respiration slowed or accelerated, and perspiration can be produced, if needed. Even the temperature can be affected. A healthy appetite can be created, the action of the bowels regulated, and, what is more remarkable, the menstrual period in ordinary amenorrhoea can be determined to the day and hour.

Insomnia is most readily treated by hypnosis, even when accompanied by painful sensations, and when all medical remedies have failed. As a matter of fact, it is only then, as a rule, that the possibility of relief by hypnosis is thought of.

One of the most sensational spontaneous recoveries in my experience was that of a young girl who had arrived from India seriously ill with constant vomiting and persistent insomnia. Two eminent physicians had treated her in a nursing home with antitoxins, without result. As she gradually got worse and lost weight rapidly, it occurred to them that the cause of her trouble might be mental, and I was sent for. I did not attempt a long course of psycho-analysis, but tested her for hypnosis. She proved a good subject and I elicited from her a confession which completely accounted for her symptoms; though in her ordinary state she denied that she had any mental trouble whatever. She slept the same night and every succeeding night seven and a half hours, and the vomiting ceased the first morning and did not return. The patient had gained half a stone in weight at the end of a week when she left the home.

By hypnotic treatment we can relieve most forms of pain, including headache, migraine, ear-ache, and even pain after surgical operations. To relate one history only: that of a boy who had been run over by a trolley, which smashed his ankle. After operation the patient had so much pain in the joint that he could not sleep, and the surgeon thinking that possibly a nerve had been involved in the healing process, again opened up the wound, but to no effect. After the usual medicinal remedies had been tried by mouth and by injection, hypnosis was suggested. The boy was a most difficult subject, and I nearly despaired of succeeding. Then I must have hit upon the right suggestion to influence this sceptical youth, for his pain disappeared and he slept soundly that night, and every following night, and after a few days more rest he came to see me, completely recovered.

Another difficult case was recommended by an

Oxford doctor. It was a man suffering from facial neuralgia for five years, who had undergone a variety of treatments without benefit. He was hypnotized and made a spontaneous recovery, and there was no return for years after, as I have been able to ascertain.

As regards headache, it is very important to discover the origin of the complaint, for it may be due to physical disorders or arise from emotional causes alone. In some people duties which they do not like to undertake, or events which they anticipate with anxiety, are apt to bring on the pain. I know a woman who suffered from headache whenever her husband, for whom she had no love, asked her to go out with him; and another, who was very happy in her matrimonial life, but had been allowed in early childhood to complain of pains and sickness whenever she did not want to go to school or do anything else that was disagreeable to her.

Treatment by hypnotism may be successfully employed in chorea, muscular tremors, and nervous tics. I had one case which resembled so much the sudden recoveries claimed for Lourdes that I should like to give its history. A girl, age 22, was sent to me by a doctor in Fulham. She had suffered for ten years from chorea, the sequela of rheumatic fever and heart complications (endocarditis). She had lost the power over her lower limbs and was brought to me in a Bath-chair. She also suffered from insomnia and night terrors. At the second interview hypnotism was attempted and repeated several times at intervals, with the result best given in the words of her sister, who wrote to me:

After leaving your house on Friday we walked along Oxford Street, through the lower department of Selfridge's, on to Marble Arch, and across the Park to St. George's Hospital, where we took an omnibus for home; that, for a girl who has scarcely walked a yard and has been wheeled about in a Bath-chair since two years ago last May, is little less than a miracle. She is sleeping splendidly and naturally. All her terrible night fears have ceased to trouble her—and us. Her screams used to rouse us all at times. Her new cheery outlook on things in general would be laughable if we were not so intensely thankful. It seems almost impossible—a fortnight ago an apparently incurable invalid, again and again unconscious in her Bath-chair in the streets, and now to-day, and every day since your treatment began, a normal, cheerful girl who is able to move about and speak, and whom it is a pleasure to be with.

Some years have elapsed since then, but when I saw the doctor recently he assured me that the patient was now a fine woman and had kept perfectly well.

Another medical practitioner brought me a lady suffering from neck and shoulder spasms, whom I did not think I could treat by hypnotism, for she could not keep still on the couch. In this case I had to use a sedative by way of preliminary treatment, after which hypnosis was made possible, and she, too, made a perfect recovery.

Inco-ordination of muscular movement and tremors occur most often in people suffering from a sense of inferiority. They lack self-confidence and self-assertion, and frequently they are morbidly shy and self-conscious. An inferiority complex is often the primary cause of the inco-ordination of another set of muscles, those involved in speech, giving rise to stuttering and stammering. Many cases have been treated by me. The method I follow is after induction of hypnosis to remove first of all the anxiety about speech. Training of the voice is very good, but insufficient without this preliminary. Exercises are curative chiefly by inspiring confidence, but they take time; whereas by hypnosis we can remove the fear of speech and the sense of inferiority at once. That stammering is not a mere disorder of speech is shown by the fact that the patient can usually speak perfectly when alone or amongst his intimates, and fails only amongst strangers. That is why he avoids company and inclines towards solitude.

The stammerers that present difficulty are those who are constitutionally defective and lack nervous energy. For this reason I test them before commencing treatment. Thus, one day I had two stammerers to treat. One a boy of fourteen, and another four years of age. I asked the former to put his foot down and say: I must speak properly. He gently touched the floor with his foot and stammered in a low tone the words I told him. I knew by this he would take some time to recover. The other boy I asked also to put his foot down and say: I am going to be a great orator. This boy stamped the floor and carefully, in slow but emphatic tones, he said: "Indeed, I am not going to be an orator, I am going to be an engineer." He was well within a week.

Another disorder, for which the hypnotist is frequently consulted, is occupational cramp, which affects writers, violinists, and others who have to use their fingers to excess, until fatigue supervenes. This disability, at its first occurrence, may be accidental, consequent upon some overstressed effort. However, in a person over-anxious, the failure causes a fear of future failure, which interferes with the harmonious automatism. It is the effort to overcome this which produces and perpetuates the cramp. By hypnosis we can remove the anxiety, and so remove the effect.

Epilepsy is a disease not usually treated by hypnotism; but when it arises from psychical causes the emotional state associated with the disturbance of consciousness may be influenced in hypnosis and the patient trained to take heed of warnings so as to prevent an attack.

Then there are such varied troubles as noises in the ear, spasmodic asthma, and hyperthyroidism which can be relieved in hypnosis. In the last disorder, which may arise from sudden shock, I have seen the heart going at a furious speed, with excessive emotionalism, tremor of the hands, insomnia, and yet the mental and physical state became completely restored.

Incontinence of urine is a frequent complaint among children. I have had a number of adults as well with the same weakness, and treated them successfully by hypnotism. Most of them suffered from nocturnal bed-wetting; but I had one case of a girl with claustrophobia, who, when in church, a theatre, or hall, had to rush out to relieve herself. Another girl, age 21, still had persistent incontinence, and her brother, a doctor, had sought all possible advice to relieve her. Finally, he thought of hypnosis. She made an immediate recovery, and I am told she is now happily married and the mother of several children. Another case was that of a young teacher, who felt keenly his weakness as he had little boys under him with the same complaint. He, too, made a quick recovery and continued well.

It is often denied that organic disease—disease which causes a permanent and often progressive organic change in the tissues—as distinguished from functional disorder, can be benefited by hypnotic treatment. We must not forget that there is a mental element in all diseases and that the nervous system is implicated, and in so far as we can influence it for good we can minimize the disease. No one would claim thus to make lame men walk; yet I have seen them make successful efforts in hypnosis. That does not say that their paralysis was cured. Their legs were still paralysed, but evidently they could in this state recollect the co-ordination of movement of former times and had greater power over their muscles, enabling them to make better use of their paralysed limbs.

If in organic diseases we can procure sleep and abolish pain, there is a much better chance of recovery. Even if the disease be incurable we can at least make the remaining months or years of life tolerable for the patient. The sick person is more emotional and suggestible. The man who feels sure of getting well eats better and sleeps better. The very action of the heart is promoted by this hopeful and contented attitude of the mind.

That sleep can be induced must be acknowledged, but so also can pain be abolished, no matter whether the hypnosis is the work of others or self-induced. Thus the martyrs of old who suffered death by torture were probably in a mental state of self-hypnosis. Their mind was so absorbed with the single idea of the cause for which they were dying that, as in hypnosis, physical sensations failed to reach their consciousness. Warriors, too, in the heat of battle, often fail to notice the wounds they have received. And mighty men of genius have completed their life-work in face of a painful disease which before long claimed its victim.

Again I am in a position to relate an extraordinary case, that of a woman lying ill with cancer in a nursing home. The surgeon had done his utmost to make her sleep, but notwithstanding all remedies the constant spasms of pain kept her awake, and she was slowly sinking. The patient went under hypnotic influence almost immediately and she slept, but only about three minutes, when with a sudden start of pain she woke again. I continued my attempts; finally, after an hour, by gently stroking the patient's arms and hands, I got her to sleep peacefully. A week later I received a letter of thanks from the mother acknowledging that the patient had slept well every night after and kept free from pain.

I have often applied hypnotism successfully to patients about to undergo surgical operation and unduly excited about it, or refusing to submit to it. We can bring about physical and mental repose, establish equanimity, and prevent the excessive anxiety associated with the operation, or with the taking of an anaesthetic. Shock is diminished, and the patients awake from the narcosis as if they had been merely asleep.

Just prior to the discovery of chloroform many surgical operations were painlessly performed upon mesmerized patients {Numerous Cases of Surgical Operations without pain in the Mesmeric State, by John Elliotson, M.D., F.R.S., London, 1843). James Esdaile, a Medical Officer of the East India Company, who used mesmerism for the production of anaesthesia in surgical operations, was so successful that a small hospital was granted him in Calcutta in 1846, where he performed many major and a multitude of minor surgical operations on mesmerized patients. (Mesmerism in India, 1846.)

Every hypnotist gets a large number of sufferers from morbid fears. These are of various kinds. Some people fear open spaces (agoraphobia) and refuse to go out by themselves into streets or anywhere in the open. Others fear closed places (claustrophobia) and cannot go to a theatre or hall, or cannot travel by omnibus or train, or if they do, they are panic-struck when travelling alone in a compartment; others cannot enter an occupied compartment. Some people fear objects, such as knives; others fear living things, such as cats or other animals. Some fear the elements, waters, rivers, sea, thunder, lightning, darkness. Some fear functions as respiration, swallowing, blushing, writing. Some again fear diseases, especially heart-disease and insanity. Others fear self-destruction, premature death, or sudden collapse. It is not ordinary fear that they experience, but excess of fear, amounting to terror, and they exhibit all the symptoms of it. The heart-beat is quickened, they may shiver or perspire, and some of them faint when brought into contact with the object of their fear. These fears are unreasonable, but the subject is unable to drive them away. The attempt to do so makes them feel worse and they therefore avoid the situations which give rise to their particular fears.

Patients suffering from morbid fears hardly ever recover spontaneously in hypnosis, and often offer considerable resistance to the operator. The reason is that they are self-hypnotized, and we have to break the spell. Let us take, for example, a person with agoraphobia. He refuses to go out into the open by himself, declaring that he experiences a sensation as if the houses were tumbling upon him. He feels faint and suffers the greatest agony. No reasoning will avail. He behaves exactly the same as if these things had been suggested to him in deep hypnosis. He is self-hypnotized. His emotional disturbances are genuine. Through the sympathetic nervous system one or other bodily function becomes abnormally active, producing the sensation of dying.

Whereas Freud, the founder of the modern psychoanalytic school, finds in all these cases some derangement of the sex functions, this, in my experience, is true only of some cases. Nearly all patients suffer from a sense of inferiority (Adler). In a number the fear can be traced back to some fear-inspiring incident in childhood or early youth, which has been ill-repressed. In all of them we have to unravel the complex which interferes with their proper conduct, we have to bring the cause of their anxiety—the original emotional experience—before their consciousness and under control and censorship, and have to re-educate them to adapt themselves to the circumstances of life. We have to give them new interests, so as to keep them fully occupied, for occupation employs the intellect and keeps the emotions inactive. Altogether they must be helped by a sympathetic and philosophic understanding.

By far the largest number of patients who seek help from the hypnotist are people addicted to bad-habits, whether to alcohol, drugs, self-abuse, or other perverse sex practices. Here the habit is often so deeply ingrained that quick results are the exception. Perverse habits undermine the physical health and destroy the mental energy and will power. Their treatment requires the co-operation of the patient.

He must be willing to make an effort, and this is just what he is not able or willing to do. He would like to see a miracle performed, to go to sleep and wake up a changed being. Such cures are sometimes achieved, but they do not happen every day. If they did, they would cease to be miraculous. That instantaneous cures do sometimes take place, the following cases will prove.

One case is that of a lady over sixty years of age, a habitual drunkard, brought to me by a physician in Putney, who himself had considerable experience in hypnosis and who made it a condition to be present during the treatment. She was deeply hypnotized at the first sitting, and taught to look with disgust on her former vice, and to find pleasure in natural and healthy modes of life. She came twice more at intervals of a week, and the doctor assured me, when I saw him later, that this lady had kept to total abstinence ever since.

Another instance of spontaneous recovery is that of a drug-taker (morphia injections), who could not for a long time make up his mind to submit to treatment. When he ultimately came, he, too, made a good subject. On the second day he brought me all his stock of morphia and syringes, and he has never fallen back since, as confirmed by his wife, and acknowledged by himself in affectionate letters every New Year.

Still another case was that of perverse sexual practices by a man of some distinction, who might have risen higher in his profession had he not lowered his vitality by his terrible addiction. He, too, was successfully treated, though it took some time before he completely recovered. There can be no greater acknowledgment of the value of psycho • therapy than was conveyed by this patient in a letter to me in which he said: "You are to me a Solomon of wisdom and a mountain of moral strength."

The nervous and emotional disorders known under the collective term hysteria have always formed a big field for hypnotic treatment. Sometimes they are due to painful emotional experiences, which have not been successfully banished from the mind and continue subconsciously to influence the patient's feelings and conduct. By the searchlight of psycho-analysis, or more quickly by hypnosis, the cause of the emotional disturbance is revealed and can be brought before the patient's consciousness. Sometimes the hysterical symptoms are manifestations or expressions of unconscious, unfulfilled wishes and have to be recognized by the patient. Sometimes they are due to faulty upbringing, or to external circumstances which conflict with the patient's longings and notions of life.

Most hysterical symptoms seem to arise from self-hypnosis. There is a narrowing of the field of consciousness, exaggerated absent-mindedness, and increased suggestibility. It is the narrowing of the field of consciousness that makes one set of their ideas all powerful, while others drop out of the field of their perception (amnesia), bodily sensations may not be perceived (anaesthesia), and they may be devoid of the knowledge of how to move their limbs (functional paralysis). What auto-suggestion has caused, heterosuggestion (suggestion by others) can cure. To prevent relapse we have to combat the increased suggestibility and the emotionalism, and must unify divided states of consciousness—in other words, we must re-educate the patient.

Genuine mental disorders are most difficult to treat. As a rule, only the early stages can be benefited. In the more advanced stages of mental derangement, we have to wait for the more or less lucid moments, in which the patient is receptive to other ideas than those which preoccupy him. We have to take care not to arouse his antagonism. In the milder forms of melancholia, we may dissipate the anxiety and fears; in the early stages of paranoia, we may dispel the suspicions; and in dementia praecox, some good may be done and the progress of the disease arrested if the patient still has insight of his mental condition. Treatment of these disorders requires considerable patience and we must proceed cautiously. More promising is the so-called folie raisonnante or reasoning mania, in which the patient questions everything, suffers from doubts, mental hesitation, and indecision.

Among the minor mental troubles which can be treated hypnotically are obsessions. They consist most often of useless conscious ideas which occupy the mind of the patient to the exclusion of nearly everything else and dominate his character and actions.

In hypnosis we can bring the experiences in which the fixed idea originated before consciousness, and dispel any anxiety connected with them.

Loss of memory, in most cases, can be treated successfully in hypnosis. Only when due to head-injury and subsequent destruction of brain cells is the condition hopeless. Two of the most interesting cases that have come before me were the following. Both were due to concussion of the brain. One was the commander of a submarine boat which had exploded. The patient had not been visibly injured but was unconscious when rescued. He had married a few months before the accident, an incident in his life which, on leaving hospital, he had completely forgotten. In fact, he did not recognize his wife and refused to live with her. The other was a similar case, caused by a railway accident. When I saw the man the first time, he addressed me with the words, "The lady standing by my side says she is my wife, but I have no recollection of having married." In both these cases the memory was successfully restored by hypnosis.

Conscious hypnosis may be applied for purposes of education. In a great many cases of youths who have been hypnotized for the relief of some ailment, bad habit, or disorder, the parents have asked me to awaken some slumbering talent or renewed interest in some study or pursuit, and, as will be shown presently, all mental faculties can be raised in power, so that better work is accomplished than had been done before. Quite a large number of young men I have helped over their examinations in such varying subjects as the law, accountancy, engineering, surveying, civil service subjects, military and naval science. Inattentive and forgetful boys have acquired concentration and memory; timidity and weakness will have been turned into self-confidence and decision; and application became easy to them by the very training given during hypnosis.

As regards moral education, the entire personal character may be influenced in hypnosis. Quarrelsomeness, over-sensitiveness, obstinacy, and other failings which mar the prospects of a person may be rectified. Some children are positively ungovernable. Some are hopelessly wicked. Here, when the ordinary educational measures have failed, we can bring about changes in character and habits. Weak capacities may be stimulated, a kleptomanic may be restrained, a case of habitual lying may be influenced, evil habits may be uprooted, a mental force and moral sentiment induced, and a useful character developed. Guiding ideas that will produce interest, enthusiasm, and noble passions may be introduced, and high purpose and noble endeavour may be substituted in the character for carnal propensities and sordid aims, worthy ideals for bestial standards, intellectual brillance and living interest for obtuseness and indifference. Habits of thought-concentration may be made to take the place of habits of rambling, nervousness, and timidity. Habitual indolence and disinclination to exertion can be overcome, and a subject may have a real interest excited and motive supplied, which have a bearing on his future activity in the world. Sometimes the deficiency or perverseness is inborn; in others we can trace the cause to upbringing, such as a wrong mental attitude in the spoiled or bullied child, which hinders adjustment in later years.

I have seen social misfits and moral perverts of all kinds, youths addicted to lying, fraud, stealing, and with the obtuseness of feeling of possible murderers. Much depends on the diagnosis, for we cannot help the actual degenerate, and the youth with arrested brain development; but there are many men now occupying honourable positions whose parents at one time sat weeping in my consulting-room. Again I could quote many striking and interesting cases, but naturally must refrain to avoid identification.



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