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CHAPTER VI

ACCENTUATION OF THE SENSES FOLLOWING HYPNOSIS

Hypnotism, since it has received general acknowledgment, has been applied chiefly to the treatment of nervous disorders. Consequently, the notion is prevalent that only persons of great excitability, weak-mindedness, or hysterical disposition make good subjects, and that the higher phenomena produced by the old mesmerists must have been due either to suggestion, self-deception, or fraud. Hence I determined to experiment on normal subjects, whose consent I could obtain for the purpose, and test what are the powers manifested in the hypnotic state and immediately on awakening, independent of any conscious, or (so far as I could judge) subconscious suggestion.

The hypnotic state is induced as usual and as soon as the necessary concentration of attention is reached, the person is roused, and the experiments performed, which I am about to relate.

I may state at once that all these experiments have been repeated (without the preliminary hypnosis, which on repetition is no longer necessary) during the past thirty years, before small and large audiences, consisting of learned and scientifically trained men and sometimes entirely of medical experts.

After the first successful performance of the experiment, there is no further need of the operator's presence, and it is my custom to leave the subject entirely to the audience. This does away with the objection that the subject is hardly ever left to his own inspiration but is dependent on the operator for the manifestation of the phenomena. On the contrary, the subject, though he manifests exalted powers, is in his perfectly normal state and able to converse freely with any people present.

In this chapter I shall deal only with the accentuation of the special senses.

Those familiar with the phenomena of hypnosis are familiar with the fact that all the senses in this state are greatly accentuated.

Let us take, first of all, the sense of sight. A popular experiment is the following: The operator or any onlooker takes a packet of blank ivory cards, note-paper, or envelopes, fresh from the stationer's, and shows one of these cards or envelopes to the hypnotized subject, who is now awake, afterwards shuffling it in amongst the others, and remembering its position. The pack is then returned to the subject, who as a rule without hesitation picks out the right card or other object from the number handed to him, although no difference is perceptible to the most skilful observer watching the performance.

This experiment, which was first performed by me in 1904 (see Ethological Journal, 1905), and has often been repeated since, has more recently been done by Dr. H.

Yellowlees {Manual of Psychotherapy, 1923), who acknowledges that the subject's "special senses can be sharpened and intensified by the physician's suggestion to a remarkable degree." For example, the subject "is given an ordinary playing-card, and shown both sides of it, being told that he is to take note of it, and be able to recognize it. The card is then mixed with a dozen others which are finally dealt out before him face downwards. A good subject has no difficulty in picking out this card from among the rest, although the backs appear identical to the ordinary observer. This feat is a particularly striking one, and seems wellnigh incredible; but the writer has had patients perform it on several occasions, and the successes have been more numerous than the failures, although every precaution and safeguard has been taken." Dr. Yellowlees thinks that the patient evidently recognizes the card by minute markings on the back, which are indistinguishable to the ordinary sight, for his most striking failure was in a case "where a perfectly new and unused pack was procured for the test." This explanation cannot be correct, for I have always in my experiments used only new packs of cards that have never been opened, and I have chosen other objects, in their original packing, every time with the same results.

Some experimenters suggest that a photograph should appear on the back of one of the cards, by which illusion the subject invariably recognizes the card. I have often done so, and when the card, quite unintentionally, is handed to the subject upside down, he will remark the same about the photograph. This experiment is no less wonderful, but Moll {Hypnotism, 1909) has an adverse explanation for it, which cannot be passed over. He says:

I will take this opportunity of quoting an experiment which is often repeated and is wrongly considered as a proof of increased keenness of the senses. Let us take a pack of cards, which naturally must have backs of the same pattern, so that to all appearances one cannot be distinguished from the other. Let us choose a card—the ace of hearts, for example—hold it with its back to the subject and arouse by suggestion the idea of a particular photograph on it—his own, let us say. Let us shuffle the cards, including, of course, that with the supposed photograph on it, and request the hypnotic to find the photograph, without having allowed him to see the face of the cards. He will often find the right one, although the backs are alike. The experiment can be repeated with visiting-cards, or with sheets of paper, if the selected one is marked, unknown to the hypnotic. This experiment makes a greater impression on the inexperienced than it is entitled to, for most people are able to repeat the experiment without hypnosis, and hyperassthesia is not generally a condition for its success. If the back of these cards and papers are carefully examined, differences which may easily be discerned will be discovered. The experiment has no bearing on the question of simulation. Naturally, I do not contend that a hypnotic cannot find a paper in such a case better than a waking man. I only wish to point out that although this experiment is often used to demonstrate the presence of hyperesthesia, the latter is not generally necessary for its success. I have seen men of science show astonishment when a hypnotic distinguished apparently identical sheets of paper. They did not understand that there were essential differences in the sheets, which suffice for distinguishing them even without hypnosis. The experiment is to be explained thus: The minute but recognizable difference {points de repere) presented to the hypnotic at the moment when the idea of the photograph was suggested to him, recall the suggested image directly he sees them again. The points are so closely associated with the image that they readily call it up. Binet and Fere have rightly pointed out that the image only occurs when the points de repere are recalled to the memory; they must first be seen. Consequently, if the paper is held at a distance from the subject's eyes, the image will not be recognized, for the points de repere are not visible.

I absolutely deny that a normal person can distinguish a blank card out of a pack of identical cards owing to any defect or peculiarity in the manufacture, if the same conditions are followed that I have made obligatory in my experiments. Only one card out of an unused pack is shown to the subject, which is shuffled by some stranger, who must remember whether it is the fifth or fifteenth or any other card, but who need not remain in the room, so as to avoid any suspicion of thought transference. Nor, of course, should anyone else know, least of all the operator. The subject, on receiving the pack, will take up one card after another and as soon as arriving at the right one will stop, without looking at the rest of the pack, and hand that particular card over.

D'Abundo produced enlargement of the field of vision by suggestion.

Bremaud ascribed the increased power of vision in hypnosis to an increase of attention. Attention is certainly increased, but that, in my opinion, is not the entire explanation.

The celebrated French philosopher, Bergson, has described one of the most remarkable cases of increased power of vision. This particular case has been cited as a proof of supersensual thought-transference, but Bergson ascribed the result to hyperesthesia of the eye. In this case a subject who seemed to be reading through the back of a book held and looked at by the operator, was really proved to be reading the image of the page reflected on the latter's cornea. The same subject was able to discriminate with the naked eye details in a microscopic preparation, to see and draw the cells in a microscopical section, which were only o'o6 cm. in diameter. Sauvaire, after some not quite irreproachable experiments, supposed the existence of such a hyperesthesia of sight, that a hypnotic subject recognized non-transparent playing-cards by the rays of light passing through them. A case of Tagnet's, in which an ordinary piece of cardboard was used as a mirror, is said to have shown quite as strong a hyperesthesia. All objects which were held so that the reflected rays from the card fell on the subject's eye were clearly recognized.

I have frequently demonstrated visual accentuation in another manner. A subject in the hypnotic state after a time may get fatigued and express a wish for a glass of water. On a table close by there are a dozen empty glasses, all exactly alike. I hand to the subject one of these empty glasses and he drinks from it as if it really contained water. When he puts it down all the glasses are changed in position by some member of the audience, so that no person by the mere look of the glasses could tell which is the one that hag been used. After some little time the subject himself may want to drink again, or else it may be suggested to him to have another drink. He will glance over the glasses and to the great astonishment of the audience take up the original one and empty it of its supposed contents.

The subject can be made to hear with increased acuteness, and that to an extent apparently marvellous. The ticking of a watch inaudible at more than three feet distance in the waking state becomes audible at thirty-five feet in some hypnotics.

That the sense of smell in the hypnotic state may also be made acute is equally easy of proof. A card, paper, envelope, or handkerchief is selected from a number, all alike, and the blindfolded subject is requested to smell it. The object chosen is then put among the rest and the whole packet handed back, when the subject will smell each of them until he gets to the right one, which he gives up, frequently without testing the remainder, so sure is he of his selection.

An experiment in this connection, which I have arranged on several occasions, is the following. The subject is requested to smell a handkerchief, which of course must have no particular smell whatever, and hand it to some member of the audience. To avoid any possibility of mind-reading the operator takes the subject out of the room, while someone hides the handkerchief in some easily accessible place. The subject is led back and told to find the handkerchief. He walks round the room and will soon stop at a place, where he makes a search and discovers the article in question.

I have never tested the increased sense of smell beyond the distance of an ordinary room, but Braid recorded a case in which the scent of a rose was traced through the air at a distance of forty-five feet.

Moll related similar experiments. A visiting-card was torn in pieces, which pieces were professedly found purely by the sense of smell; pieces belonging to another card were rejected. The subject gave gloves, keys, and pieces of money to the persons to whom they belonged, guided only by smell. Hyperesthesia of smell has often been noted in other cases. Carpenter stated that a hypnotic found the owner of a particular glove among sixty other persons. Sauvaire related another such case, in which a hypnotic, after smelling the hands of eight persons, gave to each his own handkerchief, although every effort was made to lead him astray. Braid and the earlier mesmerists related many such phenomena. Braid, like Moll, described a case in which the subject on each occasion found the owner of some gloves among a number of other people; when his nostrils were stopped the experiment failed. This delicacy of the different organs of sense, particularly of the sense of smell, is well known to be normal in many animals; in dogs, for example, who recognize their masters by scent. Hypnotic experiments teach us that this keenness of scent can be attained by human beings in some circumstances.

An experiment which aroused the keenest interest of neurologists, before whom I have repeated it on several occasions at private seances, is to show that human beings, too, like dogs, can distinguish their fellows by the smell of their clothes. As a matter of fact, they do not really distinguish them in the same manner, but are taught by hypnosis to impute a certain pungent smell to any article of clothing. The subject is brought blindfolded into the room, and smells one person amongst the audience, whom he or she can afterwards recognize by this transferred (really non-existing) smell almost instantaneously.

That the sense of touch is accentuated in hypnosis and subsequently in the waking state can be easily demonstrated by giving the blindfolded subject a penny coin to feel, and putting the same amongst a dozen others, he will distinguish the coin chosen from the rest by fingering it.

On the skin two sharp points can be distinguished at less than normal distance, when in the ordinary state they would be taken as one. The sense of touch is so delicate that according to Delboeuf a subject after simply poising on his finger-tips a blank card drawn from a pack of similar ones, can pick it out from the pack again by its "weight."

That the sense of touch is quickened in the subconscious state can be tested also in the following manner. Six objects—I generally choose glasses—are put on a table. The subject looks away or may be blindfolded. Someone selects one of the glasses which I am to touch. The subject is then requested to find the "magnetized" glass, which he does without hesitation.

Frequently I do not even touch the glass, but hold two extended fingers over it. It would appear that in doing this the temperature of the air contained in the glass is slightly raised, sufficiently at least to be recognized by the subject.

I have made movements with a finger at a distance of three to six feet, as if tickling the nose of the subject—who is blindfolded—and produced sneezing; and similar movements elsewhere to the bare skin excited irritation, and consequent scratching by the subject. If this hypersensibility does exist, we cannot deny it to such persons, as, for example, the water diviners. Because a process or event is inexplicable in the light of our present knowledge, this is no reason to deny its possibility.

According to Grasenberger, Sommer, Haenel, and others the rod held in the hands of the diviner of water or of certain minerals deflects downwards by a momentary relaxation in the tension of the muscles, and this is apparently caused by a super-sensitiveness to electric currents in the soil; for the physicists Haschek and Herzfeld, who have made very thorough tests at the Physics Institute of the University of Vienna with a dowser, have come to the conclusion that the dowser is sensitive to differences of electrostatic vibration fields, enabling him to indicate the soil under which there is a stream of water or linear mineral lodes.

What most sceptics forget is that the diviner is "human." Even the most perfect machine will fail sometimes.

Both the sense of temperature and the sense of taste can be tested by pouring water into a number of glasses and holding two fingers over one. The subject will taste each till he gets to the "magnetized" one, which he hands to the operator. Mesmer spoke of mesmerized water, but this idea was scouted and rejected as absurd. But everyone who has studied mesmerism, and tried the experiments, knows that water may be so charged with some force that a person in the mesmeric sleep, without the slightest knowledge that the experiment is made or intended, instantly and infallibly distinguishes such water from that not mesmerized. It is generally described as having a peculiar taste, not easily defined, but different from ordinary water.

Moll says: "That a magnetized person may at times discern 'magnetized' water is correct. It has, however, nothing on earth to do with magnetism. In the first place, it is often impossible to prevent a slight rise in the temperature of water that has just been magnetized. Secondly, it is highly probable that in the act of magnetizing, which is generally accompanied with the gesture of flourishing something in the direction of the water, chemical substances may be introduced into the latter, and may bring about an alteration in its taste. But chemical dissociations have nothing in common with magnetism, which is supposed to represent a physical force. This intentional confusion between chemical agencies and the magnetic force is a good proof of the want of clearness prevailing on the subject amongst most mesmerists."

Why should Moll assume there is a "gesture of flourishing something in the direction of the water" or the still more abominable insinuation that "chemical substances may be introduced" surreptitiously into the water? These are genuine scientific experiments not done for profit but from the mere desire for knowledge, and surely no scientific man is either such a fool as to make flourishes or signs to spoil his own experiments, or such an impostor as wilfully to deceive his audience. Scientific men may differ as to their explanation of such phenomena, but they should not bring accusations against one another without some shade of evidence.

The experiments upon hysterical patients with different medicines in sealed tubes performed by Bourru, Burot, and Luys, producing the effects of the drugs they contained—sleepiness in the case of opium, drunkenness in the case of alcohol—are said to be due probably to suggestion. Not having tried the experiment, I can offer no opinion.

Not merely the senses, but all the mental qualities are highly accentuated in the state of hypnosis—probably in consequence of an increased sensibility of the brain centres. In some manner, which we are still unable to explain, we can, by touching different regions of the head, standing behind a subject (previously hypnotized, but now awake), and without any "willing" or suggestion, excite expression of different thoughts and emotions and various dispositions.

By touching symmetrical points on the cranium of a subject in deep hypnosis, various manifestations are elicited, both in word and gesture, such as devotion, anger, benevolence, meanness, kleptomania, repentance, conceit, vanity, anxiety, hunger, etc., as well as combinations of these states when two or more centres are touched at the same time.

Such an experiment naturally suggests collusion. To prove that there is no previous arrangement between the operator and subject, the latter should be perfectly ignorant of what is expected, or a new subject should be chosen. The subject who has been operated on before is occasionally too anxious to excel and guesses what he has to say or do. Moreover, it is not at all necessary that the operator should touch the particular centres: he may let any stranger do so. When the expression is not spontaneous the subject should be asked: "What are you thinking of? What do you see? What do you feel?"

I have never produced any effect by mere "willing," or even thinking of the expected manifestation. Frequently, when I have touched another centre than the one I intended, the manifestation would vary accordingly.

I have excited the same centres by applying a feeble galvanic current, and found that if the right side alone will not respond the left will do so, but the best results are produced by stimulating the identical points on both hemispheres of the brain.

It is argued that mere pressure cannot possibly produce such results even on a highly sensitive brain, for the skull is intervening. Quite so, but it must not be forgotten that the skull is not inanimate matter, but a living substance permeated by nerves and blood-vessels. Mere argument will not upset the fact. Let physicians who practise hypnotism experiment as I have done, without preconceived notions as to what is or is not possible. Thus, by touching one particular region of the head, the subject will exhibit a beautiful picture of devotion. Humility is intensely pre-eminent in his gesture. Sometimes he will kneel and pray with a fervour and intensity of expression which it would be difficult to surpass. The moment the finger is removed, he will leave off abruptly, sometimes at a syllable, breaking the word, and when we put the finger down again, he will continue at the same syllable, where he had left off. When another part is touched, he will exhibit pride and hauteur to a most ludicrous degree. In another part, the expression changes to compassion; while in another the most appalling mimicry of fear and misery is produced. Touching another region, the subject can be made to steal, but the moment we shift the finger to the top of the head, the stolen object is returned with expressions of remorse, as if there were a moral region in the brain. The expression of the emotions thus roused is simply wonderful, and I have a collection of photographs reproducing them.

Many of the old mesmerists and hypnotists, such as Gregory, Elliotson, Braid, etc., about whose honesty there can be no question, have obtained the same results; but the experiment is criticized severely by modern investigators who have never attempted to repeat it. There is only one hypnotist, Dr. Pitres, who has made a similar investigation and recorded certain zones ideogenes. Braid's acknowledgment should certainly be accepted, since he was not a supporter of that school which believed in a multiplicity of centres in the brain.

Silva, Binet, Fere, and Heidenhain claimed that they could move single limbs of the hypnotized person by stimulating the parts of the head which correspond to the motor centres of the limbs concerned. Challender even proposed to study the physiology of the brain in this way. On the other hand, Boris Sidis, the well-known American psychologist {Psychology of Suggestion, 1910), denies the possibility of exciting mental zones. He tells the patient: "Now I am going to touch that part of the cranium which corresponds to the movement of the left arm, and this arm will go into convulsions." He then touches the part, and immediately the left arm is convulsed. I can only repeat that verbal suggestion is stronger than any physical influence.

No one who has ever seen these wonderful manifestations can suppose that the state of the subject is a mere reflection of the operator's mind. For while the latter is tranquil, the former may be heaving with emotion; on the other hand, accidental emotions in the operator are not communicated to the subject, who may be acting some passion or feeling to the life, while the operator is convulsed with laughter, and yet the subject is not thereby affected at all.

I have never seen reason to believe that I have heightened the effect of my processes by exerting the strongest will, or lessened them by thinking intentionally of other things. So far from willing, I have at first had no idea of what would be the effect of my processes.

Again, I would remark, that I have taken all precautions to avoid the possibility of deception.

Firstly, the subject is absolutely unacquainted with what is expected of him, and ignorant of any brain-theory. Yet he will, if a good medium, respond to the touch instantly wherever it may be made.

Secondly, the same results are produced, and have been produced by a stranger, equally ignorant as the subject, being put en rapport with him while I was talking to somebody in the room. Yet here also the manifestation has come out as well as before.

Again, it often happens that a wrong result is produced, for example, when an operator knows what to expect and intends to touch a particular part of the head, but turning to speak to someone, touches a wrong centre.

It may be held that this experiment of exciting brain centres to activity taxes the credulity over much. But there is no obligation on anyone to accept my statement. All I wish is to record my observations— made with every precaution possible—in the full belief that future investigators will acknowledge them at some time or other.



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