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CHAPTER VII

EXALTATION OF THE INTELLECTUAL POWERS IN HYPNOSIS

It is acknowledged by practically all observers that the memory for long-past events is much better in hypnosis than in the waking state. Even long forgotten experiences can be revived in that state; in fact, the exaltation of the memory is one of the most pronounced of the attendant phenomena. The conscious memory in most persons is weak and untrustworthy; while the subconscious memory, which is accessible only in abnormal and supernormal states, is both extensive and unfailing.

One of the most remarkable effects of hypnotism is this recollection of circumstances and the revival of impressions, the images of which had been completely lost to ordinary memory, and which are not recoverable in the ordinary state of the brain. Nothing is ever forgotten, though we may not be able to recall it. All the sensations we have ever experienced have left behind them traces in the brain so slight as to be intangible and imperceptible under ordinary circumstances; but by influencing the subconscious mind—that storehouse of memories—by hypnotic technique, they can be recalled at the command of the operator.

In hypnosis, as in dreams, the store of memory is unlimited. Sleep cannot be the cause of it, for the hypnotized subject, as already explained, is not asleep. The true cause, it seems to me, can only be the disappearance of the normal habitual consciousness; for in fever and in the dying, as the ordinary consciousness diminishes, there is often a vivid recollection of events long passed. Possibly also the closure of the eyes may be a factor, the sense of sight, the chief inlet of external impressions, being no longer active.

If in hypnosis and its connected states the subject is carried back, of his own or by suggestion, to a remote period of his life, all the forgotten impressions reappear. Everything learned in normal life can be remembered in hypnosis, even when it has apparently been long forgotten. Benedikt related a case of an English officer in Africa who was hypnotized by Hansen, and suddenly began to speak a strange language. This turned out to be Welsh, which he had learned when a child, but had forgotten. The subject can be made to recite poetry or whole pages of literature, which perhaps he heard only once or a long time ago. Ricard Physiologie et Hygiene du Magnetisme, Paris, 1844) knew a young man with average memory who in hypnosis could recite almost verbally a book that he had read the day before, or a sermon which he had heard. I have repeatedly restored lost memories in hypnosis and made them permanent in the waking state.

I once asked a subject in the somnambulic state to sing something. She replied that she could not sing, for she had never learned to sing. I then asked her whether she could recite, but she said that although she used to recite she had given it up for years, and had forgotten all she had learned. "Try and recollect something," I requested her, but in vain. "Well, tell me a piece you used to know." After some hesitation came the reply, "Tennyson's Maud." "Go on, then, recite it!" "Oh, I don't know it." "Yes, you do! You see, you are recollecting it now! It is coming back to you, word for word." And the good lady recited the poem, until I stopped her, although she got no prompting from me, consciously or unconsciously, for I was ignorant of the words.

The time sense is evidently extraordinarily stimulated in hypnosis; for nearly all experimenters bear witness to this fact. No matter what time is given, and whether days, hours, minutes, or seconds, at which a posthypnotic suggestion is to be carried out, the subject will do so faithfully at exactly that period. It appears wonderful to most people that an event should take place at whatever time we may have suggested to the subject while in the concentrated state, whether one, two, or twenty-four hours, or one thousand or two thousand minutes, or in a month, or more remote periods from the day and hour on which a subject has been hypnotized. No deep hypnosis is necessary; light hypnosis is equally successful.

Milne Bramwell (Hypnotism, 1906) relates many successful experiments of this kind, for example, the following: A woman was told that in so many thousand minutes she was to write her name, the hour of the day, and the date. She was not well educated, and therefore not likely to work out the number of hours and minutes successfully; and yet, at the time appointed, she wrote down her name and put the date and hour, and was surprised to find what she had done.

In another case, he told a young lady, age nineteen, to make the sign of the cross after the lapse of 4,33 5 minutes. In spite of the fact that she had forgotten all about the suggestion, she fulfilled it accurately.

The late Professor Delboeuf, of Liege, also made some interesting experiments on the computation of time by somnambules.

There are numerous cases on record in which a subject has been ordered to go to a certain person's house at a certain time and deliver some message. As the time approaches he is seen to be restless till he sets out for his destination. He pays no attention to the people he may meet, and if they purposely delay or hinder him, he forces his way onwards, delivers his message, and can only say that he felt he had to do so.

The sense of time appears to be an innate mental power, for there have been cases of idiot boys who were able to state the time correctly, no matter how suddenly the question was put to them.

It would appear that our subconsciousness is marking time very accurately, without our being aware of it, and at the suggested moment an impulse arises which arouses our consciousness. Even when we are not hypnotized, but suggest to ourselves certain acts to take place at a particular time, the event will so happen at the time indicated. Many people on going to bed, as already mentioned, can "will" to awake at a certain hour.

When the mind is made up to perform a certain action at a given time, the idea is then dismissed from consciousness; but if the subconscious mind has been properly trained, at the definite time, or reasonably near it, the action will be performed, although neither the thought of the time nor the idea of performing the action may have been in the mind from the moment that the resolution was taken. I have often tested myself in this way, to do a certain thing at a particular time, or, what is more wonderful, to remember something which I could not recall at the moment, on the following day at a definite hour—and exactly at the time suggested to myself— the right ideas came to my mind.

Persons with a gift for music, latent or only feebly manifested from lack of opportunity or insufficiency of training, can have their natural disposition stimulated to a high degree by post-hypnotic suggestion. For example, a boy with a natural talent for music, but who had practised little, was told by me during hypnosis that he would compose during the day a "sonata" of his own, and play it to me when I called the next afternoon. By permission of his parents I brought a distinguished musician with me, and the boy played his composition to us. The approval of my musical friend was a source of great encouragement to the boy to persevere of his own will without further suggestion by me.

Braid had an experience which attracted considerable attention at the time. One of his subjects, a young work-girl, who did not know the grammar of her own language and who had never been taught music, though she must have possessed the gift, correctly accompanied Jenny Lind, the great singer, in several songs in different languages, and also in a long and difficult chromatic exercise, which was specially improvised to test her. (Medical Times, vol. xvi, p. 602.)

Subjects with a talent for mimicry can imitate in hypnosis any variety of characters that are suggested to them; and it will be seen that the gestures and voice, the manner and expression, the whole physiognomical and natural language of the emotions are extremely perfect. The attitudes of pride, humility, anger, fear, kindness, pugnacity, devotion, or meditation, and all the others are, with peculiarities in each case, depending on the idiosyncrasy of the individual, profound studies for the artist.

The attitudes and gestures are equal to or surpass the best efforts of the most accomplished actor, although the hypnotized subject may be a person of limited intellectual cultivation, and show no particular talent for mimicry in the normal state. Everyone knows how difficult it is to place oneself in a particular position so that the expression, the attitude, and the actions should correspond to the idea. To represent such a situation as naturally as possible is the greatest art of the actor, but it is still more difficult to change the mood in a moment and pass from one situation to another in a few seconds. The hypnotized subject, however, does so easily.

The hypnotized subject, in impersonating suggested characters, is really not "acting a part" in the ordinary sense of the words. It is much more than acting, for the subject believes himself to be the actual personality suggested, just as the excellence of a real actor is proportionate in each case to his ability to forget his own personality, and to identify himself with that of the character which he seeks to portray. The subject will impersonate to perfection any suggested character with which he is familiar, and his success is accounted for by the fact that his own personality is completely submerged under the influence of suggestion, and he believes himself to be the actual person suggested.

The essential mental conditions of good acting are therefore present in perfection. It follows that in proportion to the subject's knowledge and intelligent appreciation of the salient characteristics of the suggested personality will the rendition approach perfection.

Not only acting, but dancing can be perfected in the state of hypnosis. Ordinary people of no education sometimes move in hypnosis with the grace of the most accomplished ballet dancer. Braid attributed the perfection of the art of dancing in the ancient mysteries to this state. I knew and examined some years ago at the Palace Theatre in London Mademoiselle Magdeleine, who had an exquisite skill in the portraying of emotions in hypnosis, and though she had never been taught, executed dramatic scenes and dances which were entirely unknown to her, responding to the musical accompaniment and interpreting its themes to the astonishment of all critics. She exhibited her art all over the Continent as well as in London.

In hypnosis all latent talents can be stimulated. Those who are artistically inclined, but unaware of their talent, will want very little training to bring their gift to perfection. I have seen all kinds of art work by persons who had never attempted it before, and I have arranged exhibitions of their products which excited unanimous admiration. The development of innate artistic talents in hypnosis is confirmed by G. de Dubor. {Mysteries of Hynosis, 1922.)

In hypnosis the attention is devoted to one train of ideas. There may be such concentration of the nervous energy on one faculty as to render it exalted, no matter whether the hypnosis is self-produced or induced by another. This matter is of great importance, for if the mental powers by the process of hypnosis can be accentuated in their activity and new or unsuspected capacities manifest themselves in that state, it is possible that certain persons can put themselves in that state by a habit of profound abstraction andmay be capable of higher things than in the ordinary conscious state. Patients of mine, who have been impressed by their rapid recovery, have asked me whether I can show them how to improve their mental powers. In consequence, many of them have solved problems which they had attempted in vain before, and others have had inspirations for their particular work of the utmost practical utility, such as inventing or improving machinery.

The hypnotic state, as I have shown, is a state of abstraction and exaltation. Of exaltation in the normal state the biographies of all men great in the pursuit of their special subjects or objects bear evidence. Ever with an intense purpose, they follow their particular study, devoting the energies of their bodies, the vigour of their minds, to the soul-pervading idea.

The exaltation is due to the intensity of the prolonged self-concentration on one idea or one series of ideas. Their concentrated devotion to one purpose causes one set of ideas to engross them and to exalt the particular faculty with which they are endowed. To the man with exalted faculties a simple suggestion suffices to excite original power, as when Newton conceived the law of gravitation from the incident of a falling apple.

The brain organ for the particular faculty seems to attract all the nervous energy, while the other centres and corresponding activities remain quiescent. That there is some inherent capacity for increased output of nervous energy in all of us may be shown by a simple example. For instance, I may be able to lift a certain weight; but if I will my arm for some reason to lift a heavier weight, or not to get fatigued but at times she goes into ecstasy, has visions of the crucifixion of Christ, claims to feel the sufferings of Jesus, sheds tears of blood, and bleeds from hands and feet.

Therese Neumann resembles in many respects another devout Catholic and well-known stigmatic—Louise Lateau, of Bois d'Haine, near Mons, who was much talked of sixty years ago. She also could bleed from different parts of the body, which she knew corresponded to the wounds of Christ, by concentrating her attention upon them. The Commission appointed in 1874 by the Royal Academy of Medicine of Belgium to inquire into her case took every possible precaution to detect fraud, and came unanimously to the conclusion that "the stigmata and ecstasies are real" and that " they can be explained physiologically." Indeed, there is no need to ascribe the phenomena of stigmatization either to deception or to a miracle, for we have a sufficient explanation in the process of self-hynopsis induced by intense concentration and spiritual exaltation. Many hypnotists— Charcot, Liebault, Delboeuf, Forel, Jendrassik, and Krafft-Ebing—have produced results of a similar kind in subjects they experimented upon.

The psychical phenomena of religious epidemics have uniformly been induced by the intensified attention being concentrated on one idea, one state of emotion, one form of feeling; other mental and physical faculties being dormant. In religious ecstasy the self-absorption may be aided by fixing the gaze upon some holy figure and, as in the hypnotized subject, the limbs may become motionless, breathing slow, pulse low, and there may be insensibility to temperature, pain, and bodily discomfort. After all, what do we mean by saying that a man "seems hypnotized," but that his whole interest is so concentrated on one point that he neglects everything outside himself and every sensation?

The man in ecstasy over his work is also so concentrated upon some grand idea that he notices no sensations, and locomotion is suspended. He is in a state of disinterested absorption, so far as to forget himself and his earthly needs. This is true, not only of men of genius, but more so of saints and mystics, whose minds are freed from earthly concerns. In ecstasy there is the sleep of the senses and the awakening of the higher faculties; and to the extraordinary concentration must be attributed all those strange acts showing apparent or intermittent anaesthesia and analgesia, which are to be found among men of genius. Marini, when writing his Adone, did not feel a serious burn of the foot.

For inspiration, concentration of a passive kind is necessary. The mind must learn to concentrate on the idea of the thing to be realized, without permitting any distraction. And, as in hypnosis, if suitable emotions are aroused, concentration on the desired aim is made easy and the subconscious solution will surge to the surface. The author so concentrated will have his latent ideas from his subconscious store of knowledge penetrate into consciousness. The passion of men of genius for their work enables them to undergo hardship, privation, contumely, and gives them perseverance—that infinite capacity for taking pains which is characteristic of genius. As Schopenhauer said: "genius consists in a pre-eminent capacity for pure contemplation" and "this requires that a man should entirely forget himself." Genius in its own field is most active; while other forms of existence are neglected or temporarily disdained. No energy is left over for other aims and no power remains to be applied in other directions.

In hypnosis there is singleness of aim, so there is in genius. As in hypnosis, so in many men of genius hallucinations are easily induced. Dickens, for example, "amid silence and darkness heard voices and saw objects, of which the revived impressions to him had the vividness of sensations, and the images his mind created in explanation of them had the coercive force of realities. Every word said by his characters was distinctly heard by him." (George Henry Lewes.)

In hypnosis a person is emotionally fired to do what he has not the energy to do in the waking state. The emotional state facilitates attention. The stronger the emotion or passion, the greater the attention. The man of genius is generally a man of powerful emotions, which stir and inspire him. We might just as well attempt to run a steam-engine without fuel or water as to make a genius out of a being without passion.

It is this absorption in things, which the man of genius has set himself to do, and the emotional drive to insistent effort and hard work, by means of which he supplies his subconscious mind with a plenitude of raw material that enables him to have flashes of insight and moments of inspiration.

Like the hypnotized subject, so does genius often find solitude a source of power. No one can create thoughts. The process of thinking consists in holding the mind still and allowing thoughts to arise into it from the depths. If the mind is not kept in the correct state for the matter in hand, it will wander to all kinds of irrelevant matters. Inspiration does not come from effort; on the contrary, it comes often when least expected, and especially when the mind is at ease. Inspiration is nothing more than the sudden awareness of the effects of subconscious thinking, of the silent voice within. It is a process that may be developed by appropriate training.

Inspiration simply fertilizes effort and reduces it to a minimum. Effort, however, cannot dispense with inspiration, and it is in the collaboration of both that the highest and best work is produced. Without rationalized effort and conscious control, even the inspiration of genius is liable to stray. Disordered and uncontrolled inspiration may result in fine work disfigured by lack of proportion, by want of order, by redundance, or other errors.

Subconscious work does not produce weariness like conscious work, that is why men of genius do not tire easily. Bodily energy may give way; but there remains the nervous energy to carry a man over his difficulties and give him the right inspiration.

The inspirations of a man of genius vary according to his natural gift. He has an intuitive appreciation of some hitherto undiscerned or unexploited significant aspect of life—practical, aesthetic, theoretical, or ethical —to inventive application, philosophical thought, or creative action; and what makes him a genius is the adequate response, with no deviating purpose, to the stimulus constituted thereby. When the moment of inspiration is over, the man of genius becomes an ordinary man. Ovideo justly remarked concerning the contradictions in Tasso's style that "when the inspiration was over, he lost his way in his own creations, and could no longer appreciate their beauty or be conscious of it."

Ecstasy helps inspiration by bringing the subconscious ideas to the surface. The work of genius is nearly all subconscious. Genius divines facts before completely knowing them. For instance, poets create, as Socrates said, not by virtue of inventive science, but just as diviners predict beautiful things, not having consciousness of what they say. As already mentioned, the man of genius often sees the objects which his imagination presents to him. Dickens and Kleist grieved over the fates of their heroes. Painters often visualize the pictures they imagine, reproducing on their canvas what they have thus seen.

Ecstasy is merely a superlative degree of attention. It is a state in which all sensations and thoughts are suspended, except the one which forms the subject of contemplation. The whole mind becomes absorbed in, and concentrated upon, some grand idea. It is a complete detachment of the mind and resembles hypnosis in almost every particular. Indeed, it is brought about by self-hypnosis. As Paul Richter wrote: "The man of genius is in many respects a real somnambulist. In his lucid dream he sees farther than when awake, and reaches the heights of truth."

Many poets have composed their poems in a dream or half-dream. Goethe often said that many of his poems were composed in a state bordering on somnambulism. Klopstock declared that he had received several inspirations for his poems in dreams; so did Seckendorf and La Fontaine. Voltaire conceived one of his books during sleep, and Coleridge, his poem Kubla Khan. Tasso, during composition, was like a man possessed. Newton resolved mathematical problems in dreams. Mozart confessed that musical ideas were aroused in him, even apart from his will, like dreams. Hoffman often said to his friends: "When I compose I sit down at the piano, shut my eyes, and play what I hear." Lamartine repeatedly remarked: "It is not I who thinks; my ideas think for me." In Alfieri, Goethe, and Ariosto creation was instantaneous, often being produced just on awakening.

Thus we see that the man of genius manifests many of the phenomena common to hypnosis. His best productions are created in a state resembling self-hypnosis.



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