by Compiled by Luis S.R. Vas

What is Hypnosis or Power of Suggestion first discovered by Abbe Faria?

We experience hypnosis daily, just never put a name to it. Have you ever driven from point A to point B and not remember how you got there? Your conscious mind simply turns off or gets distracted, while the subconscious continues to function normally. Hypnosis is a science - we simply developed a way to induce it through suggestion. The hypnotic state is natural phenomena and not a supernatural power.

Your mind is like a mental Rolodex that stores your experiences, behavior and beliefs. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. The best way to describe hypnosis is that there are two parts to your mind: conscious and sub-conscious. The conscious mind acts as a guard that reasons and accepts the suggestions. It sorts through these suggestions, and decides if they should pass through or get rejected. The subconscious takes everything blindly and without question. A hypnotist temporarily confuses, distracts or occupies the conscious mind, so that the suggestions that sneak through are accepted without question or reasoning.

In a stage presentation the hypnotist does NOT have ultimate control - the person simply gives them temporary control of their reality. That is why it is often stressed that a person would not do anything against their morals and beliefs.

Your mind acts as a computer program that logically deciphers the root of action. Through hypnosis we can enter new information into this program and re-script your subconscious mind by replacing negative beliefs and way of thinking with a new set of positive and life-improving thoughts that propel you to achieve your goals and desires. When your internal beliefs change, you will transform to lead a positive existence. There is never surrender of mind or control. The hypnotized individual is fully aware of their actions.

Hypnosis is a way of accessing your subconscious that contains your wisdom, intelligence, intuition, instincts and perception. It is your untapped resource for creativity and imagination. Your subconscious mind is the part of your brain responsible for all bodily functions and automatic behavior (blinking, breathing, blood circulation, healing, habits and learnt skills). The sub-conscious directs most of your behavior functions and is also the source of your emotions. Hypnosis is a safe way to issue new instructions to reprogram your mind and create changes in mind and body. Hypnosis is the doorway to your inner world, the realms of your imagination and dreams, which you can enter to improve your well-being and the quality of your life.

Frequently Asked Questions, Answers Revealed

In a show, some people were dismissed from the stage. Doesn't everyone "go under"?

Most people are susceptible to hypnosis and power of suggestion, however in a stage presentation for the sake of the show, volunteers that prove to be the best subjects in the shortest time are selected to remain on stage and participate in the routines.

I want to know more about hypnosis.

Anyone can learn to hypnotize. But like anything else practitioners of any craft you need to study it at length. A great place to start is the library and the internet. Search engine is a good starting place.

Are the people hypnotized asleep?

The subject is normally not asleep, but extra aware, even though the word "sleep" is often used to equate the experience to a restful state. It stems from a Portuguese priest Abbe Faria who dramatically was the first to use the word to induce his subjects outside a monastery achieving a convincing and dramatic effect. The term hypnosis, however, originates from the Greek word "Hypnos", meaning sleep.

Why do hypnotists use a spiral or a pendulum?

It is simply a way to direct attention on one point. It is often not necessary, just used to simplify the procedure for their subject going under the spell of a crafty wordsmith.

How do I know when I am hypnotized? What does it feel like?

Generally you do not feel any different, but are more suggestible. The hypnotist can include "convincers" that will prove to the subjects that the state has been altered. These may include suggestibility tests or imagery altering. Normally, the subject simply gives temporary control of their environment to the hypnotist. The level of awareness is the only real measure, since the hypnotist guides his subject to concentrate on their thoughts and body. External stimuli can trigger a desired response, as in a stage show to achieve hilarious results.

Definitions of hypnosis

Can be defined as: A state of heightened awareness and focused concentration that can be used to manipulate the perception of pain, to access repressed material and to re-program behavior. Not all expert agree on similar definitions. It is up to the practitioner to research the most precise meaning.

Points of Interest, Useful Terms and Explanations

* Hypnosis which includes relaxation through the use of suggestion. It is a guided approach with the help of another person, where the subject reacts to external wording or stimuli. All Hypnosis is Self-Hypnosis, which typically involves an introduction to the procedure during which the subject is told that suggestions for imaginative experiences will be presented. The hypnotic induction is an extended initial suggestion to trigger the imagination and lead a person to explore their mind on the sub-conscious level. When using hypnosis, one person (the subject) is guided by another (the hypnotist or hypnotherapist) to respond to suggestions for changes in subjective experience, alterations in perception, sensation, emotion, thought or behavior. Hypnosis is sometimes referred to as Power of Suggestion.

* Self Hypnosis suggestions are provided mentally and silently or on a recording, eliminating the external guide (the subject autosuggests to himself or herself, instead of an outside source). It is the act of administering hypnotic procedures to yourself.

* Alert hypnosis (there is no relaxation component)

* Stage hypnosis is a theatrical presentation that delivers a hilarious series of silly events achieved through powers of compliance. It is an educational presentation for entertainment purposes, achieved by quick dramatic response to suggestions.

* Neuro Linguistic Programming or NLP is partially derived from careful observation of the patterns in what happens during hypnosis. It is in part an extension of the communications analysis view of hypnosis. NLP borrows its basic concepts largely from cognitive psychology, which views behavior as guided by schemata or strategies. NLP practitioners use a variety of methods to determine strategies for various activities, and then modify them or utilize them for other purposes. Some of the techniques used in NLP also resemble "alert hypnosis," using language patterns similar to a hypnotic induction to elicit cooperation, build trust, and increase the effectiveness of suggestions. An example of that would be a very effective salesman or negotiator.

* An Induction is a series of instructions that is the most common way to induce the state. Inductions traditionally involve suggestions to relax, concentrating attention on the world within us, rather than the world outside. Any situation where we relax and allow ourselves to become absorbed in something can lead to the appropriate trance conditions. These conditions also sometimes occur without relaxation. Most hypnotic inductions involve a cooperative process, rather than a hypnotist having the power to "zap" someone into a trance.

* Hypnotherapy is a profession using hypnosis to achieve therapeutic effect. Hypnotherapists provide a valuable service in guiding others to better themselves.

A misconception about hypnosis is that the patient cannot be told to do something when in a trance which he would refuse to do in his normal state.  If this were true, some of the apprehension about hypnotism would disappear, but unfortunately modern experiments have indicated otherwise.  We still do not know exactly how hypnotism works, but we do know that some surprising cures have resulted from its use.

A modern hypnotist will use a technique very like Liebault's.  He will make sure that the patient is comfortable and relaxed in a warm room.  He may use a mirror or some object like a watch swinging on a chain to focus the patient's attention and to induce physical tiredness of the eyes.  He may, on the other hand, rely purely on suggestion, repeated quietly and monotonously, until the patient lapses into trance.  If the patient is nervous it is unlikely that the suggestion will go as far as trance during the first session.  The hypnotherapist will simply try to build up confidence.  If the patient can simply relax and talk, this will be helpful, and will build up confidence for a future session.

Some doctors today practice hypnotherapy as part of their general medical care.  It is also practiced by hypnotherpists who may have no medical qualifications.  Even stage hypnotists have been credited with cures, however, so the absence of a medical degree does not necessarily condemn a therapist.

There are two main uses of hypnosis today.  The first is to put the patient into a trance so that he will reveal emotional problems that are troubling his subconscious mind.  This is the use Freud made of it.  The psychoanalyst is more likely to use free association of ideas to achieve the same effect without hypnosis.  The second use is to make post-hypnotic suggestions.  This use can even get rid of symptoms, but the danger of that is that whilst symptoms can be got rid of, the underlying condition to which they were a guide may still be there, and then the hypnotist has simply turned off the warning lights.  His patient might be better off with his symptoms, since they would point the way to correct treatment along orthodox lines.

Post-hypnotic suggestion needs special care.   Case is recorded of a stage hypnotist who suggested that his patient would fall asleep every time he hummed a certain tune.  This worked all right on stage, to the audience's delight, but later the patient responded in the same way whilst driving his car, simply because he chanced to hear the tune on his car radio.  Fortunately, others were in the car, and a disaster was averted, but further hypnosis was required to restore the man's functions to normal.

Hypnosis can still be used as an anaesthetic, but patients do not generally like it.  Most people do not want to see or know what is being done to them by a surgeon.  Many are afraid that it may not work, and that they will wake up in the middle of an operation to unendurable pain.  The only use made of hypnosis as an anaesthetic in Britain today is in the case of childbirth.  However, in the United States, dentists sometimes use it.  The curious thing in this case is that not only is pain conquered but there is no bleeding either.

The main conditions that can be helped by hypnotherapy are mental conditions such as stress, hysteria and anxiety.  Some physical disorders such as asthma and insomnia respond.  Excellent results have been obtained in helping patients to overcome addictions, such as smoking, excess use of alcohol, or drugs.  People with weight problems have been enabled to stick to their diets.

Treatment depends, however, on a deep measure of trust between patient and therapist.  It is wise to select a practitioner with great care, and you are unlikely to be helped by anyone unless you have complete confidence in him.

There is another therapy related to hypnotherapy, which can be practiced by the patient himself.  This is autosuggestion.  It is based on the ideas of Coue.  He had his patients say to themselves ever day: "Every day and in every way, I am getting better and better".  Try it, and believe it, and you will.  Thoughts have power to re-vitalise and heal, if we will but use them.

Origins of hypnosis

Hypnosis has acquitted an unfortunate image today, due to its use as an entertainment, and due to a fear that the patient is placing himself too much in the power of the hypnotist.  A high degree of trust will be required before a patient will seek treatment from a hypnotherapist, and equally there must be a high degree of responsibility and professional ethics on the part of the practitioner.

Franz Anton Mesmer (1760-1842)is usually credited as being the father of modern hypnosis. Mesmer, a physician and Doctor of Philosophy, lived in Vienna in the late 18th century. Mesmer was apparently an honest, educated scientist, a representative of the best in the culture of his time. His theory of 'animal magnetism' came to Mesmer , as a young man, when he encountered a woodcutter in a forest who had cut into his leg and was profusely bleeding. As Mesmer came close the man's bleeding ceased. Mesmer was even more intrigued by the fact that the bleeding re-commenced the moment he began to walk away. Mesmer tentatively stretched out his hands over the wound (in a similar fashion to 'Reiki' practiced by alternative medical practitioners today with great success). And the bleeding stopped. When he removed his hand the blood flowed again.

While walking along a street Mesmer witnessed a magician known also as a shaman, who had a group of people from an audience performing some unusual antics on a raised platform. With a wand, which the conjurer claimed was magnetised, he was demonstrating lodestones or magnets. The magician claimed to his audience that everything in nature was full of magnetism - plants, animals, every God-created thing had magnetism. He claimed that because of the magnetism in man's body the flow would change just by the touch of his 'magnetised' wand. After being touched by the wand one man would cry and sob uncontrollably until touched again as predicted. The magician then touched the next person with the accompanied suggestion that this subject would enter into uncontrollable laughter until restored to normality by a second touch of the wand.

It seems Mesmer was witnessing his first connection with a 'stage hypnotist'.

Mesmer's theory was that the Universe was filled with a magnetic fluid; he considered that illness resulted from an imbalance of this fluid; he believed that the patient could be restored to health by bringing about a right balance of the fluid, using magnetic contact to do so.  There are echoes in this theory of both the idea of the etheric, which is met in faith healing and in radionics, and of the balance of yin and yang, which is met in acupuncture.

Mesmer set up a consulting room in Paris.  The main feature of his treatment was a large oak tub containing water and iron filings.  From this tub, called a "baguet", which stood in the center of the room, protruded rods and cords.  Patients would hold these against the affected parts of their body whilst soft music was played to relax them.  Mesmer would then make a dramatic entrance, and moving from patient to patient, he would either fix them with his eyes or sometimes touch them with a wand, as if he were a magician.

Mesmer would invoke convulsions in his entranced patients through suggestion alone. His belief was; when a patient went into physical convulsions, they would throw off whatever ailed them. For the process to be successful, the patient also needed to believe that this would happen. However, he still did not realise that he was using the power of suggestion for his remarkable cures. Mesmer opened up clinics all over France treating as many as 30 patients at a session by immersing them all in a big tub of water called a 'baquet' with everyone making contact with Mesmer by holding hands. He may have believed the water would act as a conductor to transmit the healing magnetic fluids through his patients' bodies from his own.

The majority of his patients were suffering from nervous disorders, and were, particularly susceptible to these methods of treatment, but some claimed to be cured of other things, such as asthma, paralysis, and even deafness and blindness.  Mesmer himself believed that he was able to heal them by communicating a kind of healing magnetism to them.  In time he went on to dispense with the theatrical trappings, as he found that by just staring into their eyes he could establish a rapport and open the way for the healing fluid to flow.

Mesmer's system came to be called mesmerism, after him, but neither Mesmer himself nor any of his contemporaries grasped the idea that the process was a power of the mind.  They all thought of it as a force like magnetism that passed between the practitioner and his patient.

The crowds flocking to his clinics got out of all proportion and it was then that he was investigated and his theory of universal fluids and magnetism was branded as absurd. They declared that Mesmer's cures were only derived from the imagination of his patients and that they had cured themselves. These scientists did not realise that by their findings they had given an insight into the fact that the imagination and subconscious mind could he used as powerful tools, which would eventually revolutionise modern medicine. A French Royal Commission was ordered to investigate him and when the results were known he was branded as a fake. Mesmer returned to Vienna ... in disgrace.

Mesmer died in 1815, and the Marquis de Puysegur and his brother, the Count Maxime, carried on the practice of mesmerism at their chateau in Buzency, France.  It was they who first observed the sleepiness that came over people who were mesmerized, and who saw how easily they were open to suggestions.

Father Maximillian Hell(1720-1792)

To add credence to Mesmer's beliefs of magnetic powers a professor, Father Maximillian Hell of the University of Vienna, had inspiring success in curing by placing magnets on his patients. His success rate of 65-70% would be the envy of modern mind therapists. Mesmer was fascinated with Father Hell's use of magnets as it fitted in with his own theory of 'animal magnetism'.

Father Gasner (1727-1779)

Another healer priest was also an influence on Mesmer, was Father Gasner. Like the entertaining conjurers of the era, he dramatised his healing meetings with elaborate, flowing red robes, theatrically speaking Latin he would touch his patients with a large jewelled crucifix which caused them to drop to the floor as if dead. 'The demons' were then cast out by another touch of the huge crucifix and they were restored to a new life.

Mesmer hypothesised that the crucifix was, in effect, a magnetic wand and the 'cures' were magnetic rather than religious. By removing the crossbar Mesmer went on to use a similar wand in many of his own healing sessions. He called his theory 'animal magnetism' and the method of therapy based on it came to be known as 'Mesmerism'.

Marquis De Puysegur

De Puysegur, a former student of Mesmer, for his own amusement hypnotised a young man suffering from a lung complaint. Instead of going into convulsions as did Mesmer's patients, he fell to the ground in a sleep-like state. De Puysegur then experimented by giving the subject suggestions that upon awakening he would be completely relieved of the pain, which persisted in his lungs. When aroused from the trance the subject had no pain and felt like a new man. De Puysegur began to work his sleeping miracles on numerous sick people with great success. The artificially induced 'sleep-like state' was beginning to catch on and eventually  

Abbe Faria (1756-1819)

At the time of Mesmer was a Goan priest, Abbe Faria, who took Mesmerism a step further claiming the phenomenon was caused by concentration, not magnetism. 

Abbe was a mysterious character who had studied yoga in the Orient. He was tall, thin and handsome with a deep, penetrating gaze and a poised, mystical air. He held demonstrations throughout Europe. He would transfix his gaze for a time on his subject. At the right time he shouted 'Sleep!' and amazingly three out of five people would go into presumably the same condition known as 'Mesmeric trance'. He made an interesting observation when he stated "It appears that men can he charmed into illness and charmed into health." Today we know this to be true.

Abbe Faria concluded that there was no such thing as the magnetic fluid that Mesmer had talked about.  He also discovered that if he sent a person to sleep and then told that person to do something on a given signal when he awoke, the patient would obey the command, even though he was no longer under the Abbe's influence.  This phenomenon is now called "post-hypnotic suggestion", though the word hypnotism had not then come into use.  Today post-hypnotic suggestion often forms a part of a treatment by a  hypnotherapist.  At the same time, it is one of the features of hypnotism that most awakens a patient's anxiety and makes him reluctant to entrust himself to this form of treatment.

James Braid (1840)

In the 1840's James Braid, a doctor from Manchester, England, whilst making investigations into the trance state, coined the term 'hypnosis' from the Greek, 'hypnos' meaning sleep.   James Braid conducted the first scientific study. Braid concluded in his investigation that the trance-like state had nothing to do with magnetism and that hypnosis could be induced, merely by fatiguing the subject. By having him gaze at a bright object held in a position so as to strain the eyes (this method of inducing hypnosis is still employed today by many hypnotists).

Braid had accepted that it was not 'magnetism' from the hypnotist that caused hypnosis. They realised it was due to the state of mind of the subject. The hypnotist, by gaining the subject's complete attention, made him more suggestible and a skillfully applied suggestion was the key to making it easier to attain the trance state.  

Hypnotism might have continued to be widely used, but about this time, chloroform and ether were coming into common hospital practice as anaesthetics, and doctors preferred these chemical substances, which they could see and understand rather than some mystical power of the mind that they could not explain.  Braid had, however, prepared a paper on his work, and he read it in the French Academy in 1860.

Liebault (1864)

The next advances came from Lie'beault, a French doctor, who settled in Nance, France, in and practiced hypnotism on the poor people of the area without receiving fees for his services. A professional and eminent French physician named Bernheim from the Medical School of Nance was professionally insulted by Lie'beault who cured one of his patients suffering from sciatica. Bernbeim had been trying for over six months to perfect a cure. Liebeault was branded a quack by Bernheim and he visited his enemy's clinic in the hope of exposing him. He found Liebeault to be somewhat of a genius and he devoted the next 20 years to a serious study of hypnosis. Bernbeim originated the Soft, soothing lullaby type of induction technique most hypnotists use today.

So keen did Liebault become to develop the techniques that he persuaded patients to let him use hypnotism in their treatment by offering to treat them free if they would accept this as an alternative to drugs.  His technique of hypnosis was virtually the same as that in use today.  He would seat the patient comfortably, or ask him to lie down.  He would ask the patient to close his eyes, and then suggest that he was becoming more and more sleepy, until the patient did in fact sink into what was a hypnotic trance.  When the patient was in this state, Liebault found that he could suggest a patient's disorders were disappearing and they would disappear.

Dr John Elliotson (1838)

  Around the same period, Dr John Elliotson of St Thomas' Hospital in England first demonstrated the use of hypnosis in British medicine. He had always been an innovator - he pursued the technique of 'percussion' in diagnosing chest conditions and advocated the use of the newly invented stethoscope. These activities and his criticism of dirty surgical practices brought the wrath of his conservative colleagues. Before an audience of 200 medical men he cured a dumb epileptic by mesmerism'. He also cured 'lunatics' in the North London Asylum and performed major surgery, using hypno-anaesthesia. Elliotson he was hounded by the establishment until his death in 1868.

Dr James Esdaile

Dr James Esdaile was in the same period working in India using hypno-anaesthesia for about 400 successful operations. His report to a medical journal in Britain earned the rebuff. "Whereas such a procedure may well be applicable to the Indian, we would scarcely consider it appropriate for a European or Britisher".    

He explained the effect in similar terms to Mesmer himself, speaking of a healing fluid that passed from doctor to patient.  It was James Braid, another Scotsman, who finally did away with these ideas.  He introduced the term "neuro-hypnotism", which soon became shortened to "hypnotism", which is the word we use today.

Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (1849-1936)

The Russian physiologist achieved world fame for his researches on blood circulation, the action of the digestive glands and the formation of conditioned reflexes. The Nobel Prize was awarded to him in 1904 for his work in physiology of digestion, however, his name is known beyond scientific circles for his systematic experimental studies of conditioning of dogs and other animals. His studies profoundly influenced the experimental psychology of learning and his discovery of techniques for creating 'mental neurosis' in animals did much to pioneer the scientific approach to the study of mental disorders. Pavlov discovered in his experiments that by conditioning or forming a habit he was able to get an animal to salivate at will. Every time he fed his dogs in his experiments he would ring a buzzer.

He discovered that the dog associated the buzzer sound with food. He then found that if he rang the buzzer even before the food was placed before the animal it would salivate. It then became apparent that at any time the buzzer was activated even without food the dog would salivate. Then, by more conditioning or forming of a habit, a bell replaced the buzzer and this process achieved the same success.

Pavlov's remarkable discoveries have enabled us to have a better understanding of the workings of the mind. Conditioning is one of the valuable tools of hypnosis.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1936)

Some years later, Sigmund Freud, who had gone to France to study under the neurologist Charcot, also went Nancy and was impressed with Liebault's work.  Charcot was teaching that hypnosis was an abnormal state always associated with hysteria, and he brought back Mesmer's idea of a magnetic influence, but Liebault and Bernheim were showing that any patients, and not just hysterical ones, could be open to hypnotic suggestion.

Freud's use of hypnosis was to enable his patients to recall and discuss incidents they had forgotten with their conscious minds.  By bringing these incidents into the open and coming to terms with them, they could be helped towards a cure.  Later, Freud discarded hypnosis as a means of doing this, and favoured the "free association of ideas" method.  In this, the psychologist encourages a completely conscious patient to talk about whatever comes into his head.  This method is sometimes used in psychoanalysis.

Sigmund Freud was the founder of psychoanalysis. Freud's interest in hypnosis was stimulated by some of the aforementioned great men of hypnosis history and he is accredited with the theory that we have a subconscious mind or unconscious mind. However, there were several previous great minds that had similar theories. Today many theories of the mind are attributed to Freud's teachings. But Freud did not utilise hypnosis to probe into the subconscious of his patients simply because he found it very difficult to hypnotise. He was not a good hypnotist and to this day many psychiatrists that follow Freud's doctrines do not use hypnosis.    

Emile Coue (1857-1926)

Emile Coue enjoyed great success in the United States in the 1920s, popularising his famous (affirmations) "Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better." The constant repeating of this affirmation, known as Coueism, became the forerunner to the understanding of the use of affirmations constantly and successfully utilised by many alternative therapists in modem times. His 'Every day in every way' affirmation is world famous and is used by many known speakers on motivation.

Emile Coue was a pharmacist. His great discovery came one day when a customer complained there was nothing in Coue's pharmacy to relieve his chronic complaint. Coue sent the complaining man off with a mystery potion that had no medicinal value, saying "Well, here's something new from Paris that has just arrived. They say it's powerful and I'm sure it will help you. Take it and it will do you good." A few days later the patient came into Coue's pharmacy shouting and dancing with joy announcing that it was the most marvelous medicine he had ever swallowed. He claimed to be completely relieved from the chronic illness.

Coue was understandably amazed at the results. He recalled the conversation with the patient a few days previous and came to the conclusion that this miraculous cure was the result of an off-hand remark. This, he believed, produced the result and lead to a major breakthrough in his understanding of hypnosis and the power of suggestion.

Coue, who made a science out of hypnosis, claimed it was not the suggestion that accomplished anything but the suggestion that the mind accepts and that all effective suggestions must be or become 'auto suggestions'. He maintained that hypnosis and self-hypnosis were all autosuggestions. The man in his shop was cured because of what he had told himself, he would have believed Coue's suggestions therefore instilling within his subconscious mind that the non-medication placebo would cure him. He had chosen to be cured by his own choice of accepting Coue's positive suggestions ... self-hypnosis.

Up until the 1930s hypnosis was usually only found in fiction or drama or utilised by the theatrical stage hypnotist. Scientific interest began especially by the medical profession, after being intrigued with demonstrations by the stage hypnotists of that era, even though they believed them to be nothing but rogues or charlatans. Academic scientists and clinical doctors systematically investigated hypnosis, leading to the acceptance by the British Medical Association in 1951 when they gave official approval for the utilisation of hypnosis in treating both physical and psychological disorders. The American Medical Association followed suit three years later.

Prior to these official approvals, the British Medical Association had partly accepted hypnosis as being beneficial to some patients as far back as 1892. They claimed then that it had real value in pain control, insomnia and alleviation of many ailments. However, they believed it could be dangerous if 'carelessly used'. Hypnotism was either ignored or laughed at for several reasons. Many doctors believed they would be branded as 'quacks' if they utilised hypnosis, as the ghost of Mesmer still persisted to haunt in the form of the stage hypnotist. It was imperative that the medical profession discredit stage hypnosis so as to monopolise hypnosis and claim it as a credible therapeutic tool.

Ralph Slater (1952)

The opportunity came in 1952. Ralph Slater, an American stage hypnotist appearing successfully to enormous crowds in London, England, became the scapegoat. A young woman who had been on stage performing as one of his subjects had the misfortune to slip on a stairway outside the theatre, twisting her ankle and eventually finding it to be broken. An attending physician claimed she was still hypnotised despite protests from the young lady. This doctor adamantly explained that she wouldn't even know that she was still hypnotised and badgered her until she reluctantly sued and won a damages case against the stage hypnotist for failing to fully wake her. This gave the minority medical group opposing stage hypnosis the ammunition they needed.

A bill was pushed through Parliament banning stage hypnosis in Great Britain. The tabloid newspapers spread, expanded and sensationalised the case giving ammunition to psychologists in other countries to mislead politicians. They were successful in having stage hypnosis restricted and banned in some states in the USA and Australia. Slater appealed successfully. The results drew a small mention in the London papers. The damage had already been done and so the Hypnotism Act of 1952 came into effect.

Roland John Chester, historian of hypnosis, writes inj 'Hypnotism in East and West': Present-day Western and Western-trained hypnotists almost exclusively use the method of conscious co-operation of the subject, combined with verbal suggestion and the use of the expectancy of the subject.

A large number of less prominent investigators, however, have held that (1) there are physical as well as psychological methods of producing hypnotic states; (2) hypnosis can be produced with or without the co-operation of the subject.

A representative selection of the more unfamiliar methods used or recommended - or noted - by these and other workers is included here in summary, for the purposes of study and comparison. The selection is unusually wide: combining as it does such techniques as the primitive hypnosis of the Tonga islands, the technique known as Mesmerism and the Indian method of hypnosis by command, following expectancy, used by Faria. Virtually all the more common techniques are also included.

Dr. Wetterstand of Stockholm: HYPNOTISING SLEEPING PERSONS

This worker notes that ordinary sleep can be changed into the hypnotic state by a simple process.


Wetterstand laid one hand gently upon the sleeper's forehead, and stroked the body lightly with the other. The subject was told in a low voice to continue sleeping. As soon as the subject replied to the hypnotist's questions, he was in a state of 'rapport' (co-operativeness), and suggestions to deepen the trance could be given. Dr. Wetterstrand indicates that this technique is especially effective with children.

Dr. Pavlov, Fr. Kircher, Dr. Clark: THE HYPNOSIS OF ANIMALS  

A. Kircher, S.J. (c.1646) demonstrated the production of cataleptic states in animals. He placed a hen with its beak touching the ground, and legs tied, and drew a chalk line from the beak. The bird was unable to move. In the 1840s, the mesmerist Lafontaine is said to have mesmerised' lions in London and elsewhere, by fixed gazing and 'magnetic passes' (see Mesmer's Method). Pavlov claims that animals can be hypnotised by holding them rigid and helpless for a time, and cites cases discovered accidentally while working upon conditioned reflexes. 

Dr. Franklin Chase Clark believes that this state occurs through fear (being 'rooted to the spot') and cites the serpent's apparent power over some animals. The victim fears that he can not move: and thus can not.


Voisin claimed that he could produce the hypnotic state - including trance - without the co-operation of the subject. Working with insane people (maniacs) he hypnotised them by having their eyes held open for up to three hours, and compelling them to gaze into a magnesium lamp. He was able to exercise curative suggestions, and has recorded cases in which virtually hopeless patients were kept asleep for very long periods and to all intents and purposes, cured.


The subject was given an account of the sensations which he could expect under hypnosis: that he would feel tired, would obey the operator, would respond to suggestions. Then he had to look at the hypnotist and think of sleep. Suggestions were now given that his eyelids were heavy and his eyes tired; that his eyes were closing; that they had closed. In most cases, the imagination and expectancy plus attention to what was being said produced the hypnotic state. Those who did not actually 'sleep' were assured that sleep was not necessary: and proved susceptible to suggestion while in the waking state.


Dr. Burcq of Paris carried out extensive experiments which he claimed proved that cataleptic trance states could be produced in hysterical subjects by brass applied to the surface of the skin. Different metals produced, he contended, varying results, some of them curative. He was supported by the neurologist Dr. Charcot in this contention. Working at the Salpetriere, in Paris, the workers inspired by Burcq followed up his researches (known as 'Metaloscopy') and were themselves convinced that this method of hypnosis could be exercised by the mere application of metals to the hysterical. This method has been energetically attacked by modern workers, as illusory.


Charcot believed that hypnosis was allied to hysteria. It was, he stated, induced by: intense and unexpected noise, looking fixedly at any object, or a brilliant light. This produced Catalepsy. The subject becomes 'fascinated' (according to this School) when the eyes are forcibly opened at this stage. The Lethargic State was produced by (i) fixed gazing at a distant object; (ii) after the cataleptic state, by closing the eyelids, or merely subjecting the patient to darkness. 

The Somnambulistic State (very deep automatism) was created by fixed gazing or by pressure upon the scalp of a subject in one of the first two states. Charcot, a noted neurologist at the Salpetriere in Paris, was energetically opposed by the School of Nancy, who believed that all hypnosis was caused by suggestion. Charcot, on the other hand, believed that hypnosis could be produced by physical methods (as above), with or without the co-operation of the subject. His system is generally thought to be based upon faulty observation and an insufficient number of patients.


Known as the 'stroking doctor', Valentine Greatrakes was an Irishman who dreamt that he could heal by the 'laying-on of hands'. Working in Ireland and London, he 'stroked the illness' from the body, by 'working' it towards the extremities: merely by massage. The many cures which are authentically recorded make it unlikely that he was an impostor. It is noted that the extremities often lost their sense of feeling for a time. Similar techniques and results are reported by workers in Central America and Persia. The true mechanism may well have been the expectancy of the subject.


Mesmer used a tub (the 'Baquet') filled with bottles of water and iron-filings. A rope reaching from a lid on the Baquet was placed loosely around the patient's limbs. Both the bottles and ropes had been 'magnetised' by holding them between the hands and 'willing' power into them. Music was played during public sessions of healing. The subjects were touched with an iron rod. Fits were engendered, including convulsions (the 'crisis' after which the illness was said to disappear). Mesmer. . . "gazing steadily into their eyes, while he held both their hands in his, bringing the middle fingers in immediate contact, to establish the 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". Mesmerism became a tremendous vogue, and fell into disuse only when Braid introduced the simpler technique of hypnotism. At the same time, many of the phenomena reported by the mesmerists cannot be duplicated by hypnotists. Among them are included: clairvoyance, telepathic hypnosis and community of sensation. In the latter the subject feels, tastes, etc., everything that is experienced by the operator. Virtually no modern or controlled research has been done in this field.


Braid first showed that some of the phenomena produced by the mesmerists could be duplicated by a process which he called hypnotism. Method: 

A highly-polished object was held 10 to 15 inches from the face, above the forehead. The subject had to concentrate upon it. As soon as the pupils were seen to contract, dilate and oscillate, the fingers were held before the eyes, and opened and closed. The lids then closed with a vibratory movement. This occasioned the hypnotic state. Present-day hypnotists claim that these phenomena are all produced merely because of the expectation of the subject, and cannot be obtained in someone who does not know what is expected of him.


Tuckey believes that the method of gazing steadily into the subject's eyes produces deep hypnotic sleep, but warns that it may cause the hypnotist himself to succumb, and become hypnotised himself. Some authorities state that this procedure causes the subject to become a helpless automaton. Method:

"Practised by looking fixedly and pertinaciously into the subject's eyes at a distance of a few inches, and at the same time holding the hands. In a few minutes all expression goes out of the face, and the subject sees nothing but the operator's eyes, which shine with intense brilliancy."


Esdaile, when working in the Government  established 'mesmeric' hospitals in India, used third parties to mesmerise his patients. He discovered that anyone could apply his methods. He claimed that the subject needed to know nothing of mesmerism. The subject lay down in a darkened room. The operator (in most cases Indian youths recruited by Esdaile) sat at the head of the bed, and made passes, without contact, from the head to the epigastrium, breathing upon the head and eyes all the time, and occasionally resting his hands for a minute upon the pit of the stomach. "This often induced the coma deep enough for the severest surgical operations in a few minutes" though the patient was examined for depth of trance in an hour.


Esdaile (who pioneered a form of mesmerism in India) states that the hypnotic state can be produced even in the blind: and when they are not aware that they are being influenced. This is how he describes his technique: "....I have also entranced a blind man, and made him so sensitive, that I could entrance him however employed (eating his dinner for instance), by merely making him the object of my attention for ten minutes. He would gradually cease to eat, remain stationary a few moments, and then plunge, head foremost, among his rice and curry". Esdaile does not believe that there is any inherent or cultivated ability in this and other processes: anyone, he thought, can do it.


In the Paris of 1813, Father Faria operated a simple yet most effective method, which he was said to have imported from India. He closed his subject's eyes, and made him sit in complete quiet. In a few moments, he loudly commanded the subject to "Sleep!" This, it is claimed, invariably worked upon people in a state of physical fitness. This method very possibly depended for its success upon the suspense and expectancy of the subject. The technique was formerly much used by travelling hypnotists in rural areas.


Sandby, one of the expounders of mesmerism, claims that the 'mesmeric' state can be produced merely by using the willpower and by placing the hand before the patient's face for a few minutes. He cites cases in which this was successful in treating illness. The patients were completely ignorant of hypnotism, or even that they were being influenced.


Dr. Luys of Paris used the revolving mirror method. The subject was told that this apparatus would make him enter an hypnotic trance - and it did. The mirror was essentially composed of revolving arms upon which were mounted small pieces of looking glass. This very effective method is believed to have proved efficient because it excited the imagination of the subject, concentrated his attention, and held him in a state of expectancy: the three essentials for success.


The subject reclined on a chair or sofa. Tuckey held two fingers about twelve inches from the eyes, at such an angle as to strain the gaze upwards. The subject had to look steadily at the tips of the fingers, making his mind as nearly blank as possible. After staring thus for about half a minute, the expression was seen to change: a far-away look coming into the eyes. The pupils contracted and dilated several times, eyelids twitching spasmodically. If the eyes did not close spontaneously, Tuckey closed them gently. The progress of sleep was helped by verbal suggestion: "You will be fast asleep in a few minutes".

"In ordinary cases, the operator will find that the hypnotic condition has by this method been induced in from one to three minutes."


That massage and/or tapping can cause sleepiness leading to the hypnotic state appears from the opinions of many observers of primitive peoples. Captain J. Cook's Voyages describes the 'Tooge-Tooge' system of the Tongas: Method: 

Two women beat briskly the body and legs with both fists until the subject falls asleep. They continue all night, with short intervals. Once the person is asleep, the strength and rapidity of the pounding is reduced. If he appears to be waking, however, the operation is resumed.


Unusually deep trance, it has been found, may be engendered by repeatedly hypnotising and rousing a subject. He is put to sleep by any of the conventional methods; then immediately roused by being told to wake up. Now he is hypnotised again. It has been found that people who are resistant to the induction of deep hypnosis may react favourably to this technique.


Oriental storytellers are said to exercise, in some cases, mass-hypnosis by concentrating their attention and suggestions on one member of the audience at a time. Hitler was reputed to use this method in conferences: never ceasing to project his words and ideas at a person until he seemed to agree with what was being propounded. Mass hypnosis is often possible in an audience which has already seen several persons hypnotised: their suggestibility is greatly enhanced by this experience. Mass-hypnosis depends for its efficacy upon attracting attention, holding it, directing it to some subject or idea, producing expectancy of some 'change' in the individual: and commanding the hearer to 'see or feel something. 

It is probably by this means that most of the strange mass-delusions and illusions of history have been engendered. Each practitioner uses a routine best adapted to the audience with which he is working; playing upon their susceptibilities, credulity, prejudices, etc. An ingredient common of some forms of oratory.

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