That the magnetic hypothesis of the mesmerists has many facts to
sustain it cannot be denied. The experience of thousands goes to show
that when passes are made over them, even at a distance of several
feet, a sensation is felt akin to a gentle shock of electricity, which
produces a remarkably soothing effect upon the nervous system, and
eventually produces the mesmeric sleep. It is also known that when
patients are mesmerized for therapeutic purposes, and passes are made
over the affected part, the same soothing effect is produced, and pain
is relieved. In fact, if we consider mesmerism solely as a therapeutic
agent, and study it from that standpoint alone, the fluidic hypothesis
is perhaps as good as any. But when we come to study mesmeric
phenomena as a part, and only a very small part, of a grand system of
psychological science; when we examine it in its relations to other
phenomena of a cognate character,–it is found that the fluidic theory
should be received with some qualification.

The first thought which strikes the observer is that, admitting the
fluidic theory to be substantially correct, the fluid is directed and
controlled entirely by the mind of the operator. It is well known that
passes effect little or nothing if the attention of the operator is
distracted, from any cause whatever. The subject may be put to sleep,
it is true, solely by the power of suggestion; but the peculiar effects
of mesmerism, as distinguished from those of hypnotism, will be found
wanting. The effects here alluded to consist mainly of the development
of the higher phenomena, such as clairvoyance and telepathy.

It is well known that the early mesmerists constantly and habitually
developed telepathic powers in their subjects. Causing their subjects
to obey mental orders was a common platform experiment half a century
ago. These experiments were often made, under test conditions, by the
most careful and conscientious scientists, and the results are recorded
in the many volumes on the subject written at the time. Many of these
works were written by scientists whose methods of investigation were
painstaking and accurate to the last degree. In the light of the
developments of modern science, in the light of the demonstrations,
by the members of the London Society for the Promotion of Psychical
Research, of the existence of telepathic power, we cannot read the
works of the old mesmerists without having the conviction forced upon
us that telepathy was developed by their experiments to a degree almost
unknown at the present day. Why it is that the power to develop that
phenomenon by mesmerists has been lost or has fallen into desuetude,
is a question of the gravest scientific interest and importance. The
hostility and ridicule of the academicians undoubtedly had its effect
on many minds, and caused many scientific investigators to shrink
from publicly avowing their convictions or the results of their
investigations. But that does not account for the fact that mesmerists,
who believe in the verity of the phenomena, are rarely able to produce
it at the present day.

The first question which presents itself is one of dates. When did
the higher phenomena show the first signs of decadence? A moment’s
reflection will fix it at or about the date of the promulgation of the
theories of Dr. Braid. It is a historic fact, well known to all who
have watched the progress of hypnotic science, that as soon as it was
found that the mesmeric or hypnotic sleep could be induced by causing
the subject to gaze upon a bright object held before his eyes, all
other methods were practically abandoned. It was much easier to hold an
object before the subject’s eyes for a few minutes, with the mind at
rest, than to make passes over him for an indefinite length of time,
accompanying the passes by fixity of gaze and intense concentration of
mind. The important point to bear in mind right here is the fact that
in the old mesmeric method, fixity of gaze and concentration of will on
the part of the operator, were considered indispensable to success. It
seems clear, then, that it is to this change of methods that we must
look for an explanation of the change in results. That being conceded,
we must inquire how the conditions were changed by the change of
methods. What effects, if any, either in the condition of the subject
or of the operator, or in both, are missing when the new methods are

It is now necessary to recall to mind the fact (1) that Braid
demonstrated that suggestion is not a necessary factor in the induction
of the hypnotic state; and (2) that steadily gazing upon an object
will induce the condition in a more or less marked degree, whether the
subject is expecting the result or not. The intelligent student will so
readily recall thousands of facts demonstrating this proposition that
it is safe to set it down as an axiom in hypnotic science that intense
gazing upon an object, accompanied by concentration of mind, will
displace the threshold of consciousness to a greater or less extent,
depending upon the mental characteristics of the individual and the
circumstances surrounding him. The subjective powers are thus brought
into play. The subjective mind is released, or elevated above the
threshold of consciousness, and performs its functions independently
of, or synchronously with, the objective mind, just in proportion to
the degree of hypnosis induced. It may be only in a slight degree, it
may be imperceptible to those surrounding him, or it may reach a state
of complete hypnosis, as in the cases mentioned by Braid; but certain
it is that the subjective powers will be evoked in exact proportion to
the degree of causation. The conclusion is obvious and irresistible
that when a mesmerist employs the old methods of inducing the
subjective state,–passes, fixed gazing, and mental concentration,–_he
hypnotizes himself by the same act by which he mesmerizes the subject_.

The far-reaching significance of this fact will be instantly apparent
to those who are aware that telepathy is the normal means of
communication between two subjective minds, and that it is only between
subjective minds that telepathy can be employed. The objective mind
has no part or lot in telepathy until the threshold of consciousness
is displaced so as to enable the objective mind to take cognizance of
the message. It will be understood, therefore, that when the subject is
mesmerized, and all his objective senses are in complete abeyance, and
the operator with whom he is _en rapport_ is in a partially subjective
state, the conditions exist which render possible the exhibition of
telepathic powers.

This is what was meant when it was said in an earlier chapter of this
book that the discoveries of Braid had really served to retard the
progress of hypnotic science; not because his discoveries are not of
the utmost practical value, but because much of their true significance
has been misunderstood. The fact that persons can be hypnotized by his
methods, and that many of the phenomena common to mesmerism can be
produced by that means, is a fact of vast importance; but it is only
one link in the great chain, and not the whole chain, as his followers
would have us believe. The later discovery of the law of suggestion
was also of the most transcendent interest and importance; but it
is not the whole law of psychic science. This, too, has helped to
retard the progress of the science in its higher branches. When it was
discovered that suggestion by itself could induce the hypnotic state,
Braid’s methods were in turn abandoned by students of the science.
This was partly because it was easier than Braid’s method, and partly
because it produced less physical and mental excitement, and hence, for
therapeutic purposes, was less liable to excite the patient unduly. But
the fact remains that neither by Braidism nor by the suggestive method
can the subject ordinarily be made to respond telepathically. It is
true that there might be exceptions to the rule. If, for instance, the
operator in employing either of the methods should come in physical
contact with the subject, and should at the same time happen to
concentrate his gaze upon some object for a length of time, and fix
his mind upon the work in hand, he would be very likely to come into
telepathic communication with the subject. That this has often happened
there can be no doubt; and it constitutes one of the possible sources
of error which lie in the pathway both of the Paris and the Nancy
schools. It is perhaps superfluous to remark that the higher phenomena
of hypnotism can only be developed with certainty of results by
throwing aside our prejudices against the fluidic theory, and employing
the old mesmeric methods.

In this connection it is deemed proper to offer a few suggestions as to
the best methods to be employed for producing mesmeric effects, either
for therapeutic or for any other purposes.

It is recommended, for several reasons, that the mesmeric passes be
employed. First, they are so generally believed to be necessary that
they greatly assist by way of suggestion. Secondly, they are a great
assistance to the operator, as they enable him more effectually to
concentrate his mind upon the work in hand, and to fix his attention
upon the parts which he desires to affect. Thirdly, they operate as a
suggestion to the operator himself, which is as necessary and as potent
to effect the object sought as is suggestion to the subject. Fourthly,
whether the fluidic theory is correct or not, the power, whatever it
is, appears to flow from the fingers; and, inasmuch as it appears to do
so, the effect, both upon the mind of the operator and of the subject,
is the same as if it were so,–the great _desideratum_ being the
confidence of both.

The most important point to be gained, however, is self-confidence
in the mind of the operator. Without that no greater results can
be produced by mesmeric methods than by the process of simple oral
suggestion. The latter affects the mind of the subject alone, and
all the subsequent effects are due solely to the action of his mind.
Mesmeric methods, on the other hand, if properly applied, supplement
the effects of oral suggestion by a constant force emanating from the
subjective mind of the operator. In order to evoke that force it is
necessary for the operator to inspire his own subjective mind with
confidence. This can be done by the simple process of auto-suggestion.
The power to do this does not depend upon his objective belief. The
power to control subjective belief is inherent in the objective mind;
and that control can be made absolute, even in direct contradiction
to objective belief. If, therefore, the mesmeric operator doubts his
power over his subject, he can, nevertheless, exert all the necessary
force simply by reiterated affirmation to himself that he possesses
that power. This affirmation need not, and perhaps should not, be
uttered aloud. But it should be constantly reiterated mentally while
the passes are being made; and if in addition to this he concentrates
his gaze upon the open or closed eyes of the subject, or upon any part
of the head or face, the effect will be all the more powerful. Whatever
effect is desired should be formulated in the mind of the operator,
and reiterated with persistency until it is produced. The principle
involved is obvious, and easily understood. The subject is passive, and
receptive of subjective mental impressions. The subjective mind of
the operator is charged with faith and confidence by auto-suggestion.
That faith is impressed telepathically upon the subjective mind of the
patient; and even though his objective belief may not coincide with
the subjective impression thus received, the latter obtains control
unconsciously to the subject, and the end is accomplished.

The power to mesmerize by this method is within the reach of any
one with sufficient intelligence to understand the directions, and
sufficient mental balance to follow them with persistency; provided
always the subject is willing to be mesmerized, and is possessed of
the requisite mental equilibrium to enable him to become passive and

All mesmerists and all hypnotists agree in holding that self-confidence
is a necessary part of the mental equipment of the successful operator.
This is true. It is also true that the possession of the requisite
confidence is the one thing which distinguishes the successful from the
unsuccessful operator. The foregoing remarks show how that confidence
can be commanded, in spite of objective unbelief.

Much has been said by mesmerists about the exertion of “will power;”
but no one has ever explained just how that power is to be exerted, or
in what it consists. Most people seem to imagine that it is exercised
by compressing the lips, corrugating the brows, and assuming a fierce,
determined, not to say piratical, aspect. It is perhaps needless to
remark that the attitude of mind indicated by such an aspect is the
farthest possible from that which is required for the successful
exercise of so-called will power. It requires no mental or nervous
strain to exert that power. On the contrary, a calm serenity of mind
is indispensable. When that is acquired, the only other requisites are
confidence and an earnest desire to bring about the results sought.
That these three requisites can easily be acquired by any one of common
intelligence has already been shown.

From what has been said it seems evident that the force developed by
mesmeric manipulations has its origin in mental action. That that is
the motive power is certain. Whether this mental action creates or
develops a fluid akin to magnetism, is a question which may never be
solved. Nor is it deemed important that it should be; and it may be
as well to class it at once among the many things unknowable, as to
waste valuable time in a vain effort to wrest the secret from Nature.
Electricity is known as a great force in physical nature; and it is
harnessed and made to perform many services to mankind. Like all the
great forces of nature, it is invisible, except through its effects,
and it defies analysis. It will never be known to man except as one
of the great correlated forces. It is equally impossible to know just
what the force is which emanates from the mesmerist and controls his
subject. We know that it exists, and that it can be utilized, and that
is all. Whether it is a fluid or not is as impossible to know with
certainty as it is to know what electricity is made of, if we should
determine it to be a substance.

For some purposes, as has been remarked, the fluidic hypothesis is as
good as any, and for such purposes it may be provisionally accepted.
But the question is, Will that hypothesis apply to all the phenomena?
If that question is answered in the negative, it demonstrates its
incorrectness, and it becomes imperative that it should be abandoned.
When mesmeric passes are made over a patient, a fluid appears to
emanate from the hands of the operator. An effluence of some kind
certainly does come from that source, and one that is perceptible to
the physical senses of the patient. Is it not a fact, nevertheless,
that the passes are principally useful as a means of controlling the
minds both of the subject and the operator? There are many facts which
seem to point unmistakably in that direction. The one fact alone
that persons can be mesmerized at a distance, seems conclusive. No
passes are then made, and yet all the effects of personal contact are
produced. Thousands of persons have been healed at a distance, by
simple concentration of mind on the part of the operator, the patient
knowing absolutely nothing of the proposed experiment. This branch
of the subject will be more fully treated in a future chapter on
psycho-therapeutics. It is sufficient to remark now that the method
of healing here indicated is, when intelligently applied, the most
effective of all systems of mental therapeutics. And the significant
fact is that in the majority of cases the best results are produced
when the patient is kept in absolute ignorance of what is being done
for him. The reason for this will more fully appear as we proceed.

Again, the manner of mesmerizing animals is proof positive that the
successful exercise of mesmeric power is not dependent upon passes made
by the hand of the operator, for the usual method is to gaze steadily
into the eyes of the animal.

And this brings us to the discussion of some important distinctions
pertaining to the mesmerization of animals, which seem not to have
been observed by the investigators of that subject, but which show
more clearly than almost anything else the line of distinction between
hypnotism and mesmerism.

The intelligent reader will not have failed to observe that the effect
produced upon hens, frogs, crayfish, guinea-pigs, and birds is purely
hypnotic. The methods employed are Braid’s. That is to say, they are
purely physical, sometimes produced by sudden peripheral stimulus,
as in flashing a Drummond light in the eyes of a cock (Richer). But
in general the external stimulus used with animals is tactile, as in
seizing them (Moll); or in causing them to gaze upon an object, as in
Kircher’s method of hypnotizing a cock; or in gently stroking the back,
as in hypnotizing a frog or a crayfish. Each of these methods may be
classified as a hypnotic process, and the full equivalent of the method
discovered by Braid. The effect is also purely hypnotic; that is to
say, sleep is induced, varying in degree from a light slumber to a
profound lethargy.

On the other hand, such animals as horses, wild beasts, etc., may be
mesmerized, but not hypnotized. The processes are purely mesmeric, and
generally consist in gazing into the animal’s eyes. The effect is
simply to render the animal docile, and obedient to the will of the
operator. No one was ever able to put an animal to sleep by gazing into
its eyes; but the most ferocious of the animal tribe may be tamed and
subjected to the dominion of man by that simple process. A celebrated
horse-tamer, who travelled through this country a few years ago, was
in the habit of astonishing and amusing his audiences by selecting
the wildest horse present, walking up to him, gazing into his eyes
(apparently) for a few moments, and walking away, when the horse would
follow him wherever he went, apparently as perfectly fascinated as any
hypnotic or mesmeric subject was ever fascinated by a professional
mesmerist. A close observation of the horse-tamer’s methods revealed
the fact that he simply rolled his eyes upward and inward, precisely
as Braid compelled his subjects to do by holding a bright object
before their eyes. He did not gaze into the eyes of the horse at all,
but simply held himself in that attitude for a few moments, in close
proximity to the horse’s head, when the object was accomplished, and
the horse became obedient to every command that it was capable of
comprehending. It is probable that the horse-tamer knew as little of
the secret of his power as did the horse. The tamers of wild beasts
proceed in the same manner, and probably with as little knowledge of
the principles underlying the method.

Now, the question arises, What is the effect thus produced on the
animal? It is certainly not hypnotized by being compelled to gaze
into the eyes of the operator, for sufficient time is not given to
“fatigue the muscles of the eye.” Besides, the animal cannot be
compelled to gaze at anything. Is not the primary effect–hypnotic or
mesmeric–produced, not directly upon the animal, but upon the man
himself? It seems clear that this is the true solution of the problem.
Braid has taught us that by steadily gazing at any object a man can
hypnotize himself without knowing, or having it suggested to him, that
it is possible for him to do so. The man, then, is partially hypnotized
by gazing into the animal’s eyes. The threshold of his consciousness
is thus displaced. His subjective powers are brought into play, and
in that condition his subjective mind is _en rapport_ with that of
the animal. The mind of the animal, being almost purely subjective,
is thus dominated by the imperious will of his master,–man. That
telepathy is the normal means of communication between animals cannot
be doubted by any one who has observed their habits with intelligence.
That man has the power, under certain conditions, to enter into
telepathic communication with animals, there are thousands of facts to
demonstrate. In a recent English work on the training of dogs,[19] this
subject is alluded to in the following language:–

“As I before remarked, a man to be a first-rate dog-breaker must
have lots of animal magnetism. Now, I do not doubt that in nearly
every man who is born into the world this faculty exists to a
greater or less extent. It is the force of will that develops it;
and the more it is developed, the stronger it becomes. While, on
the other hand, if the will is naturally weak, and no other pains
are taken to strengthen it, it falls into abeyance, and in time, I
think, is utterly lost,–and that sometimes beyond recall.

“That there is such a power as this, no one who has ever had any
experience with animals will attempt to deny. Take the horse, for
instance. This is the easiest subject on which to exert the power,
simply because the rider, and even the driver, is in closer contact
with it than with any other animal.

“As an example, take two somewhat timid, highly bred young horses,
and put them side by side at the tail of a flying pack of hounds.
Both their riders are equally good men as far as nerve, hands, and
seat are concerned; but the one is a cut-and-thrust, whip-and-spur
sort of fellow, while the other is a cool, quiet, deliberate
customer, of sweet manners but iron will. As they cross the first
half-a-dozen flying fences, side by side, it wants a keen eye to
mark any difference in the execution. The difference, as a rule,
will consist only in the different ways in which the horses land
after their jumps,–the one will pitch a little heavily, a little
‘abroad,’ a little as if he got there somehow, but did not quite
know how; whilst the other will land lightly, exactly in the right
spot, and precisely as if the two partners were one.

“How comes this? One horse is being steered by physical power and
science only; the other by a wonderful force, which joins together
in one two minds and two bodies.

“Now, see the test. Yonder waves a line of willows, and both riders
know that the biggest and nastiest water jump in the county is
ahead of them. Both equally mean to get over; but if they do, it
will be in two different fashions: the one will compel his horse
to jump it by sheer physical force; the other will jump it, if
it is jumpable at all, as the ‘senior partner’ of the animal he
bestrides. Down they go, sixty yards apart, and each, say, has
picked a place which it is only just possible for a horse to
cover; neither horse can turn his head; for, at the last stride,
the velvet hands have become grips of iron. Splash goes Number 1;
he went as far as he could: but that last two feet wanted just an
impetus which was absent. How about Number 2? The rider has fixed
his eye, and his mind with it, on yonder grassy spot on the other
side of the water, and, sure enough, the fore-feet are simply
‘lifted’ into it by something inward, not outward; but only the
fore-feet. Still, the calculation of the strung-up mind has entered
into that, the stirrups have been cast loose in the ‘fly,’ and the
moment the hoofs touch the bank, the rider is over his horse’s
head, with reins in hand; a second more, the horse is beside him;
yet another, and they are away forward, without losing more than a

“Assheton Smith expressed in _some_ manner–but only in _some_
manner–what I mean in his well-known dictum, ‘Throw your heart
over a fence, and your horse is sure to follow.’

“I could give hundreds of instances and anecdotes of this magnetic
power of the rider over the horse, but one will suffice to prove my

“I was out for a ride one day with an argumentative friend along
the road, and was on a very celebrated old hunter that had been
my friend and partner for many a season. We were talking on this
subject, and my friend scoffed at the very idea of such a thing as
a sort of visionary nonsense. A hundred yards ahead there was an
intersecting cross-road, at right angles to that on which we were
riding. I pulled up my horse.

“‘Now,’ I said, ‘look here; I will prove my theory to you. Choose
and tell me which of these roads my horse shall take. You shall
ride three lengths behind me; I will throw the reins on his neck,
and I will bet you a sovereign he goes the way I will him; and
you shall be the judge whether it is possible for me to have
influenced him by any word, touch, or sign,–only, you must keep at
a walk, and not utter a word or a sound.’

“He made the bet, and fixed on the right hand cross-road as being
the one he knew very well the horse had never been before, whilst
the two others were both roads to ‘meets.’

“I simply fixed my eyes and my will on the road, and when the horse
arrived at the spot, he turned down with the same alacrity as if
his stable had been in full view.

“I need not say that I have many times tried the same experiment,
and that with many variations and many different horses, and
hardly ever failed,–indeed, on American prairies I have found the
habit once or twice a dangerous nuisance, inasmuch as the then
involuntary exercise of the power has, when I have been myself
lost, influenced the horse to go the wrong way, because I was
thinking it was the right one, whereas, if he had been let alone,
he would not have made a mistake.

“Now, this magnetic power can be used with dogs, only in an
inferior degree to horses.”

The author then goes on to relate numerous instances, some of them
truly marvellous, in which he demonstrated his power over dogs. He was
evidently intelligently conscious of his power, but did not know the
conditions necessary to enable him to exercise it with uniform potency.

The most striking manifestations of the force under consideration are
by professional tamers of wild beasts. The reason of this lies in the
simple fact that they uniformly employ the means necessary to its
development,–namely, fixing their eyes upon those of the beast. This
is the traditional method. Its potency has been recognized for ages,
although the philosophical principles underlying it have never been

The conditions necessary for the exercise of this power are: first, the
subjective, or partially subjective, condition of the operator; and
secondly, his perfect faith and confidence in his power. The first is
easily attained by the simple process developed by Braid. The second
comes from successful practice, but may be commanded by the power of
auto-suggestion, as I have already shown.

History is full of instances going to show that man, in the subjective
condition, is always safe from harm by wild animals. The subjective
powers of primitive man were undoubtedly far superior to any now
possessed by any one save, perhaps, the East Indian adepts. Before the
development of objective means of communication in the form of speech,
his ideas were conveyed to his fellows by telepathy. And just in
proportion to the development of objective means of communication did
he cease to employ, and finally lose, his primitive methods and powers.
God gave him dominion over the beasts of the field and the fowls of the
air. In his primitive condition he was destitute of effective weapons
of offence or defence, such as have been evolved during the long ages
of a later civilization. He was surrounded by a monstrous fauna,
capable of annihilating the present race of civilized mankind, could it
be suddenly resurrected and turned loose in its old numbers and haunts.
In what consisted the power of primitive man to assert and maintain
his God-given dominion over the monsters of his day and generation? It
must have been the same power which is now exceptionally exercised by
the artificial displacement of the threshold of consciousness, thus
developing in a small degree his long dormant subjective powers. His
dominion was then a true one, all-potent, and far more perfect and
effective than it is to-day, with all the appliances of civilization at
his command.

Facts of record are not wanting to sustain the proposition that man
in a subjective, or partially subjective, condition is safe from the
attacks of wild beasts. One of the first recorded instances, and the
one most familiar, is the story of Daniel. Daniel was a prophet,–a
seer. At this day he would be known in some circles as a spiritual
medium; in others, as a mind-reader, a clairvoyant, etc.,—according
to the conception of each individual as to the origin of his powers. In
other words, he was a man possessed of great subjective powers. He was
naturally and habitually in that state in which, in modern parlance,
the threshold of his consciousness was displaced, and the powers of his
soul were developed. In this state he was thrown into the lions’ den,
with the result recorded. The sceptic as to the divine authenticity of
the Scriptures can readily accept this story as literally true when he
recalls the experiments made in Paris a few years ago. In that city a
young lady was hypnotized and placed in a den of lions. The object of
the experiment is not now recalled; but the result was just the same as
that recorded of the ancient prophet. She had no fear of the lions, and
the lions paid not the slightest attention to her.

The adepts of India, and even the inferior priests of the Buddhistic
faith, often display their power by entering the jungles, so infested
by man-eating tigers that an ordinary man would not live an hour, and
remain there all night, with no weapons of defence save the God-given
powers of the soul.

The power of idiots, and persons afflicted with certain forms of
insanity, to tame and subdue animals has often been remarked. In such
persons the objective mind is either wholly or partially in abeyance,
and the subjective mind is proportionally active. Their immunity from
harm by animals, however ferocious, is proverbial.

Volumes might be filled with facts showing the power of the subjective
mind of man over animals; but enough has been said to demonstrate
the fact that the power exists, and that under certain well-defined
conditions it can be exercised by any person of ordinary intelligence.

It is believed that enough has been said to show the source of the
power developed by mesmeric processes, as distinguished from the
results of hypnotism. It has been seen that the primary source of power
is in the mesmerist, that it is developed by processes which place him
in the same condition as, or in a condition cognate to, that in which
the subject himself is placed, and that when these conditions exist,
and just in proportion to the perfection of these conditions, can the
phenomena of telepathy, clairvoyance, and all the higher phenomena of
subjective activity be produced.

The difference between the effects of mesmerism on man and animals is
one of degree only; and the difference of degree is determined only
by their difference in intelligence. The laws are the same. When a
man is mesmerized, his subjective mind may be stimulated to activity,
whether his objective mind is completely in abeyance or not. If it is
completely in abeyance, the subjective phenomena will be all the more
pronounced and complete. But when an animal is put to sleep, little
or no subjective phenomena can be exhibited, for the simple reason
that he has not the power of speech, and his intelligence is otherwise
limited. The same law also governs the production of hypnotic phenomena
in men and animals alike. An animal can be put to sleep by hypnotic
processes; but he cannot be made to exhibit subjective phenomena during
that sleep, owing solely to the limitations of his intelligence. He is
not capable of receiving and understanding a suggestion. Besides, in
hypnotism, as has been shown, there is no telepathic rapport existing
between the operator and the subject. Consequently the phenomena which
may be exhibited through or by means of mesmeric processes, which grow
out of telepathic rapport, cannot be exhibited in hypnotism.

It may be thought that the laws governing the production of mesmeric
phenomena show that the law of suggestion is, after all, limited in
its scope and application. This is not true, except in the sense that
suggestion, as has already been shown, is not a necessary element
in the induction of the hypnotic state. The proposition that the
subjective mind is constantly amenable to control by suggestion
is not affected in the slightest degree by mesmeric phenomena. On
the contrary, they distinctly prove the universality of that law.
Suggestion is not necessarily limited to oral communication. Nor is
it necessarily a communication which can be taken cognizance of by
means of any of the objective senses. Telepathic communication is
just as much a suggestion to the subjective mind as is oral speech.
Indeed, telepathic suggestion is often far more effective than
objective language, as will be clearly shown in a future chapter on
the subject of psycho-therapeutics. Hence the power to mesmerize at
a distance. In such cases, however, it seems to be necessary that the
operator and subject should be by some means brought into telepathic
rapport. When that has been done, especially when the rapport has been
established by the subject having been previously mesmerized by the
same operator, it is perfectly easy to mesmerize at a distance. In such
a case no previous arrangement is necessary. The suggestion is then
purely mental. But it is suggestion, nevertheless, and demonstrates
the universality of the law. Numerous instances of the exercise of
this power by purely telepathic methods are cited in the able work on
Hypnotism by Professor Björnstrom, to which the reader is referred for

One further remark should be made regarding the power to mesmerize at
a distance, and that is, that it depends solely upon the faith and
confidence of the operator. Distance, or space, as it is cognized by
our objective senses, does not appear to exist for the subjective mind.
There is, therefore, nothing in distance, _per se_, to prevent the
full effects of mesmeric power from being felt at the antipodes just
as plainly and effectively as it is in the same room. We are, however,
so in the habit of regarding distance as an adverse element that it is
difficult to overcome the adverse suggestion that it conveys. When this
principle is once understood and fully realized, there will be nothing
to prevent an operator from exercising his power at any distance he may

on Near Approach of Death.–A Universal Law.–Illustrative
Incidents.–Suggestive Criminal Abortion impossible.–Premonitions
explained.–The Dæmon of Socrates.–Clairaudience.–The Instinct of
Death.–Hypnotism in Jurisprudence.–Testimony Valueless.–Vital
Secrets impossible to obtain.–Doctors must not monopolize the
Forces of Nature.–The Folly of Adverse Legislation.

Before leaving the subject of hypnotism, I deem it proper to say a
few words on one of its branches which is just now attracting the
attention alike of students of the science and the public at large.
The idea is being very generally promulgated among the people that
the ability of one man to mesmerize or hypnotize another implies the
possession of a very dangerous power, and one which, in the hands of
an unscrupulous man, may be used for criminal purposes. It is perhaps
not strange that such an idea should prevail among those who have not
studied the science except by observation of platform experiments,
which are designed rather to amuse than to instruct. There is something
so mysterious in the whole subject, viewed from the standpoint of an
audience assembled to witness experiments of this character, that it
would be strange indeed if the average man were not impressed with
an indefinable dread of the power of the hypnotist. He sees him, by
means of certain mysterious manipulations, throw his subject into
a profound sleep, and awaken him by a snap of the fingers. He sees
the subject impressed with all manner of incongruous ideas,–made to
believe that he is Diogenes, or a dog, at the will of the operator.
He is made to ride an imaginary horse-race, astride a deal table,
or to go in swimming on the bare floor. He is made to see angels or
devils; to wander in the Elysian fields of paradise, or to scorch
in the sulphurous fires of hell; to feel pain or pleasure, joy or
sorrow,–all at the caprice of the man in whose power he has placed
himself. All this, and much more, can be seen at public exhibitions
of hypnotism, and under conditions that leave no doubt in the mind
of the observer, of the genuineness of the phenomena. He sees his
friends, for whose integrity he can vouch, go upon the platform and
become subject to the same mysterious power. Still doubting, he may go
upon the stage himself, only to find that he is amenable to the same
subtle influence, controllable by some power that is to him agreeable,
yet mysterious, indefinable, incomprehensible. At first he perfectly
comprehends all his objective surroundings, remembers afterwards
all that took place, and very likely fancies that he obeyed the
suggestions of the hypnotist merely to please him and to avoid doing
anything to mar the harmony of the occasion. Later on he learns that
his supposed complacency was really an irresistible impulse to obey
the will of the hypnotist. As the experiments proceed he experiences
the sensation of double consciousness. He is told that in his hand he
holds a delicious fruit,–a strawberry, perhaps. He is still possessed
of sufficient objective consciousness to know that there is really no
strawberry in his hand, and yet he sees it plainly, feels it, smells
it, tastes it, and experiences all the satisfaction incident to having
actually eaten the fruit. He is able to converse rationally on the
subject, and to express his amazement at the vividness and apparent
reality of the subjective sensation. After a few repetitions of the
experiments he loses all consciousness of his objective environment,
yields unquestioning obedience to the suggestions of the hypnotist,
and retains no recollection, after he is awakened, of what occurred
when he was in the somnambulic condition. His friends inform him of
the many wonderful things which occurred, of his ready obedience to
all suggestions,–how he made a speech far transcending his natural
abilities, under the influence of a suggestion that he was Daniel
Webster; how he flapped his wings and crowed when told that he was a
cock; and so on through the _répertoire_ of platform experiments. He
is now strongly impressed with the idea that he was controlled by a
power that he could under no circumstances resist. But, wishing to
pursue his investigations further, he resolves to test the question
whether this power can be employed for criminal purposes. A few friends
are called together, a hypnotist is employed, and a few well-trained
subjects are invited to give a private exhibition for the benefit of
“science.” In order to give the proposed psychological experiment an
undoubted scientific value, a few doctors of physic are invited to
be present,–not because they know anything about psychology or of
hypnotism, but because it is well known that they have heard something
about the latter science, particularly that it has been found to be a
great therapeutic agent, and they are just now deeply interested in
proving that hypnotism, in the hands of any one outside of the medical
profession, must necessarily be employed for the perpetration of crime.

We will now suppose that the guests are assembled and the experiments
are about to be made. The question is freely discussed in the presence
of the subjects, each one of whom is duly impressed with the idea that
he is about to become the instrument of science for the elucidation
and definite settlement of the great problem of the age. The subject
is now duly hypnotized, and the inevitable paper dagger is placed in
his hands. An imaginary man in a distant part of the room is pointed
out, and the subject is informed that the said man is his mortal
enemy; and he is duly advised that the best thing he can do under the
circumstances is to proceed to slaughter the enemy aforesaid. This
he has no hesitation in doing, and he proceeds to do it with great
dramatic effect. He sneaks up to his victim in the style of the last
heavy villain he has seen on the stage, and plunges the imaginary
dagger into the hypothetical man, amidst the applause of the assembled
village wisdom.

The next subject is duly hypnotized, and informed that he is a noted
pickpocket. The guests are pointed out as a good crowd to work for
“wipers,” or whatever is thieves’ slang for pocket-handkerchiefs. The
subject accepts the suggestion at once, and, with much show of cunning,
proceeds to relieve the guests of whatever is within his reach.

The next subject is advised that he is an accomplished burglar, and
that a neighboring house is overflowing with plunder. He enters into
the spirit of the suggestion with great alacrity, and a committee is
duly appointed to accompany him to the scene of pillage. The neighbor
is, meantime, apprised of the proposed burglary, and every facility
is afforded, in the interest of “science.” (The reader will remember
that actual occurrences are being described.) The burglary is completed
with great skill and promptitude, and a miscellaneous collection of
valuables is brought away and equitably divided with the hypnotist.

The above are fair samples of the “scientific” experiments which
are just now being largely indulged in, and which are believed to
demonstrate the possibility of employing hypnotism as an instrument of
crime. “If the average subject,” it is argued, “in a state of profound
hypnotic sleep, is so amenable to the power of suggestion as to plunge
a paper dagger into an imaginary enemy at the bidding of a hypnotist,
it follows that a criminal hypnotist possesses unlimited power to
cause any one of his subjects to plunge a real dagger into any victim
whom the hypnotist may select for slaughter.” If the conclusions
were correct, the power would be indeed formidable, and, in the hands
of unscrupulous men, dangerous. Much has been written on the subject
of the possibility of sexual outrage by means of hypnotism, and a
few cases are reported in the books. None of them, however, bear the
unmistakable stamp of genuineness, and most of them bear internal
evidence of fraud. The best authorities on the subject are now free to
confess to very grave doubts, at least, of the possibility of crime
being instigated by this means. Thus, Moll,[20] one of the latest and
certainly one of the ablest writers on the subject, has the following:–

“There are important differences of opinion about the offences
which hypnotic subjects may be caused to commit. Liégeois, who
has discussed the legal side of the question of hypnotism in a
scientific manner, thinks this danger very great, while Gilles de
la Tourette, Pierre Janet, Benedikt, and others, deny it altogether.

“There is no doubt that subjects may be induced to commit all
sorts of imaginary crimes in one’s study. I have made hardly any
such suggestions, and have small experience on the point. In any
case, a repetition of them is superfluous. If the conditions of
the experiment are not changed, it is useless to repeat it merely
to confirm what we already know. And these criminal suggestions
are not altogether pleasant. I certainly do not believe that they
injure the moral state of the subject, for the suggestion may be
negatived and forgotten. But these laboratory experiments prove
nothing, because some trace of consciousness always remains to tell
the subject he is playing a comedy (Franck Delboeuf), consequently
he will offer a slighter resistance. He will more readily try to
commit a murder with a piece of paper than with a real dagger,
because, as we have seen, he almost always dimly realizes his real
situation. These experiments, carried out by Liégeois, Foreaux, and
others in their studies do not, therefore, prove danger.”

Such experiments prove nothing, simply because they are experiments.
The subject knows that he is among his friends. He has confidence
in the integrity of the hypnotist. He is most likely aware of the
nature of the proposed experiments. He enters into the spirit of the
occasion, resolved to accept every suggestion offered, and to carry
out his part of the programme in the best style, knowing that no
possible harm can befall him. Moreover, he knows that if he performs
his part to the satisfaction of his auditors, he will receive their
applause; and applause to the subjective mind is as sweet incense. For,
be it known, the average hypnotic subject is inordinately vain of his

All those considerations are, however, merely negative evidence
against the supposition that the innocent hypnotic subject can be made
the instrument of crime, or the victim of criminal assault against
his will. These experiments prove nothing, that is all. Nor do they
disprove anything. We must, therefore, look elsewhere for positive
evidence to demonstrate the impossibility of making the innocent
subject the instrument or the victim of crime. This evidence is not
difficult to find.

It will be unnecessary to travel outside the domain of admitted,
recorded, and demonstrated facts in order to prove the utter
impossibility of victimizing virtue and innocence by means of
hypnotism. Indeed, it is difficult to understand how any one who
recognizes the law of suggestion, and its universal application to
psychological phenomena, can believe for one moment that hypnotism can
be made the instrument of crime. Yet we find disciples of the Nancy
school who seem to imagine that to hold that it cannot be so employed
is equivalent to an admission that the law of suggestion is not of
universal application. The fact is that just the contrary is true. It
is one of the strongest demonstrations of the universality of the law
that hypnotism cannot be so employed.

The first proposition in the line of the argument is that when two
contrary suggestions are offered to the hypnotic subject, the strongest
must prevail. It needs no argument to sustain this proposition; it is

The next proposition, almost equally plain, is that auto-suggestion as
a factor in hypnotism is equal in potency, other things being equal,
with the suggestion of another.

Auto-suggestion is now recognized as a factor in hypnotism by all
followers of the Nancy school. Professor Bernheim mentions it as an
obstacle in the way of the cure of some of his patients. One case that
he mentions was that of a young girl suffering from a tibio-tarsal
sprain. “I tried to hypnotize her,” says Bernheim; “she gave herself
up to it with bad grace, saying that it would do no good. I succeeded,
however, in putting her into a deep enough sleep two or three times.
But the painful contracture persisted: she seemed to take a malicious
delight in proving to the other patients in the service that it did
no good, _that she always felt worse_…. The inrooted idea, _the
unconscious auto-suggestion_, is such that nothing can pull it up
again. When the treatment was begun, she seemed to be convinced that
hypnotism could not cure her. Is it this idea, so deeply rooted in her
brain, which neutralizes our efforts and her own wish to be cured?”[21]

Moll, more distinctly than Bernheim, recognizes the power of
auto-suggestion as a potent factor which must always be taken into
account in conducting experiments; although he, like Bernheim,
strangely forgets to take it into account when he discusses hypnotism
in its relations to crime. The following passage, for instance, should
have been incorporated in his chapter on the Legal Aspects of Hypnotism:

“Expressions of the will which spring from the individual character
of the patient are of the deepest psychological interest. The
more an action is repulsive to his disposition, the stronger is
his resistance (Forel). Habit and education play a large part
here; it is generally very difficult successfully to suggest
anything that is opposed to the confirmed habits of the subject.
For instance, suggestions are made with success to a devout
Catholic; but directly the suggestion conflicts with his creed,
it will not be accepted. The surroundings play a part also. A
subject will frequently decline a suggestion that will make him
appear ridiculous. A woman whom I easily put into cataleptic
postures, and who made suggested movements, could not be induced
to put out her tongue at the spectators. In another such case I
succeeded, but only after repeated suggestions. The manner of
making the suggestion has an influence. In some cases it must
be often repeated before it succeeds; other subjects interpret
the repetition of the suggestion as a sign of the experimenter’s
incapacity, and of their own ability to resist. Thus it is
necessary to take character into account. It is often easier to
induce some action by suggesting each separate movement than by
suggesting the whole action at once (Bleuler). For example, if
the subject is to fetch a book from the table, the movements may
be suggested in turn: first the lifting, then the steps, etc.

“It is interesting to observe the way in which resistance is
expressed, both in hypnotic and post-hypnotic suggestion. I myself
have observed the interesting phenomenon that subjects have asked
to be awakened when a suggestion displeased them.

“Exactly the same resistance is sometimes offered to a
post-hypnotic suggestion. It is possible in such a case that the
subject, even in the hypnotic state, will decline to accept the
suggestion. Many carry out only the suggestions to which they have
assented (Pierre Janet).

“Pitres relates an interesting case of a girl who would not allow
him to awake her, because he had suggested that on waking she would
not be able to speak. She positively declared that she would not
wake until he gave up his suggestion. But even when the suggestion
is accepted as such, a decided resistance is often expressed during
its post-hypnotic execution. This shows itself as often in slow
and lingering movements as in a decided refusal to perform the act
at all. The more repugnant the acting, the more likely is it to be

Thousands of experiments are daily being made which demonstrate the
impossibility of controlling the hypnotic subject so far as to cause
him to do that which he believes or knows to be wrong. A common
platform experiment is that of causing subjects to get drunk on water,
under the suggestion that it is whiskey. It frequently happens that
one or more of the subjects are conscientiously opposed to the use
of strong drink as a beverage. Such persons invariably decline, in
the most emphatic manner, to indulge in the proposed debauch. Like
all such experiments on the stage before a mixed audience, they are
passed by as simply amusing, and no lesson is learned from them. The
intelligent student, however, cannot fail to see the far-reaching
significance of the refusal of a subject to violate his temperance
principles. Again, every platform experimenter knows that whilst he can
cause a crowd of his subjects to go in swimming in imaginary waters, he
can never induce them to divest themselves of their clothing beyond the
limits of decency. Some cannot even be made to take off their coats in
presence of the audience. Others will decline to accept any suggestion,
the pursuance of which would cause them to appear ridiculous.

Again, it is well known to hypnotists that an attempt to contradict or
argue with a subject in the hypnotic state invariably distresses him,
and persistency in such a course awakens him, often with a nervous
shock. A conflict of suggestions invariably causes confusion in the
subjective mind, and generally results in restoring the subject to
normal consciousness.

Now, what is an auto-suggestion? In its broad signification it embraces
not only the assertions of the objective mind of an individual,
addressed to his own subjective mind, but also the habits of thought
of the individual, and the settled principles and convictions of his
whole life; and the more deeply rooted are those habits of thought,
principles, and convictions, the stronger and more potent are the
auto-suggestions, and the more difficult they are to overcome by
the contrary suggestions of another. It is, in fact, impossible for
a hypnotist to impress a suggestion so strongly upon a subject as
to cause him actually to perform an act in violation of the settled
principles of his life. If this were not true, suggestion would mean
nothing; it would have no place in psychological science, because it
would not be a law of universal application. The strongest suggestion
must prevail.

It will thus be seen that the question as to whether hypnotism can be
successfully employed for criminal purposes, must be determined in
each individual case by the character of the persons engaged in the
experiment. If the subject is a criminal character, he might follow
the suggestions of a criminal hypnotist, and actually perpetrate a
crime. In such a case, a resort to hypnotism for criminal purposes
would be unnecessary, and no possible advantage could be gained by its

It is obvious that the same rule applies to sexual crimes; and it may
be set down as a maxim in hypnotic science that no virtuous woman
ever was, or ever can be, successfully assaulted while in a hypnotic
condition. This is a corollary of the demonstrated propositions which
precede it; and it admits of no exception or qualification.

A virtuous woman is, indeed, in less danger of successful assault while
in that state than she is in her normal condition, for the simple
reason that hypnotic subjects are always endowed with a physical
strength far superior to that possessed in the normal condition.
Besides, it is the observation of every successful hypnotist that
the moral tone of the hypnotic subject, while in that condition, is
always elevated. On this subject we will let the late Professor Gregory

“When the sleeper has become fully asleep, so as to answer
questions readily without waking, there is almost always observed
a remarkable change in the countenance, the manner, and the voice.
On falling asleep at first, he looks, perhaps, drowsy and heavy,
like a person dozing in church, or at table when overcome by
fatigue, or stupefied by excess in wine, or by the foul air of a
crowded apartment; but when spoken to, he usually brightens up,
and although the eyes be closed, yet the expression becomes highly
intelligent, quite as much so as if he saw. His whole manner seems
to undergo a refinement which, in the higher stages, reaches a
most striking point, insomuch that we see, as it were, before us
a person of a much more elevated character than the same sleeper
seems to be when awake. It would seem as if the lower, or animal,
propensities were laid to rest, while the intellect and higher
sentiments shone forth with a lustre that is undiminished by aught
that is mean or common. This is particularly seen in women of
natural refinement and high sentiments; but it is also seen in
men of the same stamp, and more or less in all. In the highest
stages of the mesmeric sleep the countenance often acquires the
most lovely expression, surpassing all that the great artists have
given to the Virgin Mary or to angels, and which may fitly be
called heavenly, for it involuntarily suggests to our minds the
moral and intellectual beauty which alone seems consistent with our
views of heaven. As to the voice, I have never seen one person in
the true mesmeric sleep who did not speak in a tone quite distinct
from the ordinary voice of the sleeper. It is invariably, so far
as I have observed, softer and more gentle, well corresponding
to the elevated and mild expression of the face. It has often a
plaintive and touching character, especially when the sleeper
speaks of departed friends or relations. In the highest stages it
has a character quite new, and in perfect accordance with the pure
and lovely smile of the countenance, which beams on the observer,
in spite of the closed eyes, like a ray of heaven’s own light and
beauty. I speak here of that which I have often seen, and I would
say that, as a general rule, the sleeper, when in his ordinary
state and when in the deep mesmeric sleep, appears not like the
same, but like two different individuals. And it is not wonderful
that it should be so. For the sleeper, in the mesmeric state, has
a consciousness quite separate and distinct from his ordinary
consciousness; he is, in fact, if not a different individual, yet
the same individual in a different and distinct phase of his being,
and that phase a higher one.”[23]

Professor Gregory’s experience and observation have been those of every
hypnotist and mesmerist whose works have been examined. There is,
indeed, an ineffable and indescribable something which overspreads the
countenance of the virtuous woman while she is in the hypnotic state,
which disarms passion, and affects the beholder with a feeling that he
has something seen of heaven. He knows that the physical senses are
asleep, and he feels that the soul is shining forth in all its majesty
and purity, untainted by any thought that is gross, any emotion that is

One of the assertions most confidently made by those who hold that
crime is the necessary result of hypnotic experiment, outside of the
medical profession, is that a hypnotic subject can be made to commit
suicide by suggesting to him the propriety of so doing. There is, if
possible, even less foundation for this supposition than there is for
any other in the whole catalogue. The reason of this will be obvious
when we take into consideration some of the distinctive attributes of
the subjective mind. It will not be disputed that the attribute of
the subjective mind, which is known as intuition when applied to man,
corresponds exactly with what we call instinct when applied to animals.
Now, there are three primary functions, or, let us say, instincts,
of the subjective mind, which are common to men and the whole animal
creation. The first pertains to the preservation of the life of
the individual, and is called, in common parlance, the instinct of
self-preservation. This is admittedly the strongest instinct of animal
nature. The second, in the order of strength and of universality, is
the instinct of reproduction. The third pertains to the preservation
of human life generally, and of one’s offspring particularly. Each
pertains to the perpetuity of the race. The first and second are
universal, and the third is practically so; the only exceptions being
in rare cases of individual idiosyncrasy, or in a very low order of
animal life. The potency of these instincts is too well known to
require comment.

There is one peculiarity, however, pertaining to subjective activity
when the life of the individual is in danger, or that of offspring
is imperilled, that is not so generally appreciated. In such cases
the subjective mind takes prompt possession of the individual, and
every act is subjective as long as active exertion is required to
preserve the imperilled life. That this is true is shown, first, by
the preternatural strength with which the person is endowed under such
circumstances; second, by the total absence of fear; and third, by the
wonderful presence of mind displayed in the instantaneous adaptation
of every means to its proper end, and in doing exactly the right thing
at the right time. Comment is often made on the wonderful “presence of
mind” displayed by persons in great peril when instantaneous action is
required, and there is no time for reflection or reasoning out a plan
of action or defence. This presence of mind, so called, is nothing
more or less than subjective activity, or, in other words, instinctive
action, the objective faculties being in almost complete abeyance for
the time being. That this is true is further shown by the fact that a
person in imminent and deadly peril will often emerge from the very
jaws of death with nerves unshaken, the coolest and most collected
person present. This is often mistaken for courage. It has, however,
nothing whatever to do with the question of personal bravery. The
veriest coward will, under circumstances of unavoidable danger, act
with the same coolness, and evince the same presence of mind, as the
bravest man. The most timid woman will fight like a demon, and display
preternatural strength and courage, for the preservation of her own
life or that of her offspring. The action is instinctive. In other
words, it is the normal function of the subjective entity.

The condition of the person at such times is akin to, if not identical
with, the state of hypnotism or partial hypnotism. It may be that
the objective and subjective faculties act at such times in perfect
synchronism; but certain it is that every evidence of subjective
activity is present, even the phenomenon of anesthesia. This is shown
by the fact that at such times the body feels no pain, no matter how
severe the injury. The universal testimony of soldiers who have been
in battle is to the effect that the time when fear is experienced is
just before the action commences. When the first gun is fired, all fear
vanishes, and the soldier often performs feats of the most desperate
valor and evinces the most reckless courage. If wounded, he feels
nothing until the battle is over and all excitement is gone. It is a
merciful provision of nature that the nearer we approach death, the
less we fear it. This law is universal. It is only in the vigor of
youth and manhood that death is looked upon with horror. The aged view
its near approach with calm serenity. The convicted murderer, as long
as there is hope of pardon, reprieve, escape, or commutation of the
death-penalty, evinces the utmost dread of the scaffold; but when the
death-penalty is pronounced, and all hope has fled, he often evinces
the utmost indifference, welcomes the day of his execution, and marches
to the scaffold without a tremor. The newspapers speak with wonder and
admiration of his courage, and the universal verdict is that he was
a brave man, and “died game.” The truth is that the universal law of
which we speak, that merciful provision of nature which nerves alike
the brave man and the coward, steps in to his defence, his objective
senses are benumbed, and he submits to the inevitable change without
fear and without pain.

The testimony of Dr. Livingstone is to the same effect. He was once
seized by a lion when hunting in the jungles of Africa, and carried
some distance, his body between the lion’s jaws. When death seemed
inevitable, he testifies that all fear left him, and a delicious
languor stole over his senses. The grasp of the lion’s jaws caused no
pain, and he felt fully resigned to his fate. A fortunate shot from the
gun of one of his companions released him, and he was rescued.

This, however, is a digression. The main point which it is desired to
enforce is, first, that the strongest instinct in mankind is that of
self-preservation; and second, that this instinct, this strong desire
to preserve the life of the body, constitutes a subjective, or an
instinctive, auto-suggestion of such supreme potency that no suggestion
from another, nor any objective auto-suggestion, could possibly
overcome it. The inevitable conclusion is that suicide is certainly not
a crime which can be successfully instigated by means of hypnotism.

Criminal abortion is another of the crimes which, the people are
told, can be performed by means of hypnotic suggestion. The inherent
absurdity of this statement is almost as great as that suicide can
be successfully instigated by such means. It is here that another
strong instinct prevails against a suggestion of that character,
namely, the desire inherent in the soul of the mother to preserve her
offspring. It is possibly true that conception could be prevented by
hypnotic suggestion, and it may be true that barrenness is sometimes
caused by unconscious auto-suggestion; but a very different state
of affairs exists after the foetus is once formed. The instinctive
desire to preserve the life that exists, constitutes an instinctive
auto-suggestion which no suggestion from another, nor even the
objective auto-suggestion of the mother, could prevail against.

It may be safely set down, therefore, as a fundamental truth of
hypnotic science that the auto-suggestion most difficult to overcome
is that which originates in the normal action of the subjective
mind,–otherwise, instinctive auto-suggestion.

The same line of reasoning applies, though with somewhat diminished
force, to the commission of other crimes. We will suppose the most
favorable condition possible for procuring the commission of a capital
crime; namely, a criminal hypnotist in control of a criminal subject.
The disposition of the subject might not stand in the way; there might
be no auto-suggestion against the commission of crime in the habits
and principles of the life of the subject; and yet the instinct of
self-preservation would have its weight and influence in suggesting to
him that the commission of a murder would imperil his own life. Such a
consideration would operate as potently in the hypnotic condition as it
would in the normal state. It would be an instinctive auto-suggestion,
just the same as in the case of suicide, although it would operate
indirectly in one case, and directly in the other. The deductive
reasoning of the subjective mind, as we have seen in preceding
chapters, is perfect; and in the case supposed, the subject would
instantaneously reason from the proposed crime to its consequences to
himself. The same law would operate in preventing the commission of
crimes of less magnitude, with a resistance decreased in proportion
to the nature of the offence. But it would, in all cases, be a factor
of great importance in the prevention of crime; for the subjective
mind is ever alert where the safety and well-being of the individual
are concerned. This law is universal, and has often been manifested
in the most striking manner. Premonitions of impending danger, so
often felt and recorded, are manifestations of the constant solicitude
of the subjective entity for the welfare of the individual. It is
comparatively rare that these subjective impressions are brought above
the threshold of consciousness; but this is largely due to the habits
of thought of mankind at the present day. Generally such impressions
are disregarded, and in this sceptical and materialistic age are often
relegated to the domain of superstition. When they are felt and acted
upon, they are generally attributed to a supernatural source. The dæmon
of Socrates is a strong case in point. He believed himself to have
been constantly attended by a familiar spirit, whose voice he could
hear, and whose admonitions were always wise. That he did hear voices
there can, in the light of modern science, be little doubt. It is
noteworthy, however, that the voice was generally one of warning, and
that its strongest manifestations were made when his personal safety
or his personal well-being was involved. The explanation, in pursuance
of the hypothesis under discussion in this book, is not difficult.
He was endowed with that rare faculty which, in one way or another,
belongs to all men of true genius, and which enabled him to draw from
the storehouse of subjective knowledge. In his case the threshold of
consciousness was so easily displaced that his subjective mind was able
at will to communicate with his objective mind in words audible to his
senses. This phenomenon is known to spiritists as clairaudience. As
before remarked, this voice was generally one of warning, and was the
direct manifestation of that strongest instinct of the human soul,–the
instinct of self-preservation.

To this the classical student will doubtless interpose the objection
that the dæmon failed to warn the philosopher in the hour of his
direst need; it failed to admonish him against that course of conduct
which led to inevitable death. Socrates was accustomed to construe
the silence of the dæmon as an approval of his conduct; and when the
decisive moment arrived when he could have saved himself had he chosen
to do so, the divine voice was silent. Only once did it interpose its
warning, and that was to prevent him from preparing a speech which
might have saved him from the hemlock.

The explanation of this failure may be found in the experience of all
mankind. This instinctive clinging to life weakens with advancing
years, and appears to cease altogether the moment a man’s career of
usefulness in life has ended. This is the experience of every-day life.
Men grow rich, and in the full vigor of a green old age retire from
business, hoping to enjoy many years of rest. The result is, generally,
death in a very short time. An old man thrown out of employment,
with nothing to hope for in the future, lies down and dies. Another,
losing his aged companion, follows within a few days or weeks. Another
lives only to see his children married and settled, and when that is
accomplished, cheerfully lets go his hold on life. In fact, it seems to
be as much an instinct to die, when one’s usefulness is ended, as to
cling to life as long as there is something to do to contribute to the
general welfare.

Socrates was an old man. He had lived a long and useful life, but his
career of usefulness was ended; for the authorities of the State had
decided that his teachings were impious, and corrupting to youth. Had
he lived, it would have been at the price of dishonor, his compensation
a miserable old age. Besides, his doctrine that death is not an evil,
together with his lofty sentiments regarding the duty of the citizen to
the commonwealth,–a duty which he maintained could be performed in his
case only by submitting to its decrees and carrying into execution its
judgments,–constituted a potential element of auto-suggestion which
must be considered in estimating the psychological features of his
case. He felt that the principles of his whole life would be violated
by any attempt to escape or evade the penalty which had been decreed
against him; and he spent his last hours in an effort to convince
his friends that the death of the body is not an evil, when life is
purchased at the price of dishonor. He felt that the philosophy which
it had been the business of his life to teach, could only be vindicated
by his death, at the time and in the manner decreed by the State. The
supreme moment had arrived; the instinct of death was upon him; and,
in philosophical communion with his followers, he calmly drank the
hemlock, and died the death of a philosopher.

The value of testimony in criminal cases, obtained by means of
hypnotism, has been very freely discussed by those who have given
their attention to the legal aspect of the question. Assuming that a
person has been hypnotized, and caused to commit a crime, the question
naturally arises, What means are at hand to convict the guilty party?
How is evidence to be obtained, and what is its value when obtained?
As it has been shown to be a practical impossibility to procure the
commission of crime by means of hypnotic suggestion, it will be
unnecessary and unprofitable to discuss the question at great length,
and it will be dismissed after the presentation of the vital point. It
is obvious that when it is demonstrated that evidence is unreliable,
and necessarily unworthy of credence, it is useless to discuss the ways
and means of obtaining such evidence for use in a court of justice. The
intricate maze of metaphysical disquisition in which this question has
been so ably obscured by writers on the subject, will not be entered.
It is sufficient to know that no testimony obtained from a subject in
a state of hypnotism, relating to any vital question which involves
the guilt or innocence of himself or his friends, is of any value
whatever. It is a popular belief, handed down through the ages, that
a somnambulic subject will always tell the truth, and that all the
secrets of a sleep-walker can be obtained from him for the asking. This
belief has also been held regarding the hypnotic subject; and it is
upon this assumption that the hypothetical value of his testimony in
criminal jurisprudence depends. It is true that, on ordinary questions,
the truth is always uppermost in the subjective mind. A hypnotic
subject will often say, during the hypnotic sleep, that which he would
not say in his waking moments. Nevertheless, he never betrays a vital
secret. The reason is obvious to those who have followed the line
of argument in the preceding pages of this chapter. The instinct of
self-preservation, always alert to avert any danger which threatens
the individual, steps in to his defence. Instinctive auto-suggestion
here plays its subtle _rôle_, and no suggestion from another can
prevail against it. If the defence involves falsehood, a falsehood will
be told, without the slightest hesitation; and it will be told with
preternatural acumen, and with such plausible circumstantiality of
detail as to deceive the very elect. Neither will there be any variance
or shadow of turning after repeated experiments, for the memory of the
subjective mind is perfect.

This rule holds good, not only with regard to secrets which involve
the personal safety of the individual, but in all matters pertaining
to his material interests, his reputation, or the interests of his
friends, whose secrets are confided to his care. That this is true is
presumptively proved by the fact that in all the years during which the
science of hypnotism has been practised, no one has ever been known to
betray the secrets of any society or order. The attempt has often been
made, but it has never succeeded. The truth of this assertion can be
demonstrated at any time by experiment.

Such an experiment has a greater evidential value in establishing the
rule than almost any other laboratory experiment. A subject might
plunge a paper dagger into an imaginary man, or he might draw a check,
sign a note, a contract, or a deed, in obedience to experimental
suggestions, when he would not commit a real crime, or sign away his
birthright, in obedience to criminal suggestion. But when a subject
is asked to betray the secrets of a society to which he belongs,
it is quite a different matter. In the one case a compliance with
the suggestion proves nothing, simply because it is a laboratory
experiment. In the other case his refusal to comply with the suggestion
proves everything, because his betrayal of such a secret in the
laboratory is just as vital as to betray it elsewhere.

It is obvious, therefore, that the testimony of a hypnotized subject in
a court of justice can possess no evidential value whatever. Not one of
the conditions would be present which give weight to human testimony.
The subject could not be punished for perjury if he swore falsely. In
matters of indifference to him he would be in constant danger of being
swayed by the artful or accidental suggestion of another. A false
premise suggested to him at the start would color and pervert his whole
testimony. A cross-examination would utterly confuse him, and almost
inevitably restore him to normal consciousness. On questions of vital
interest to himself, auto-suggestion would cause him to resort to
falsehood if the truth would militate against him.

It is thought that enough has been said to show that the dangers
attending the practice of hypnotism have been grossly exaggerated, and
that the sources of danger, which the people are so persistently warned
against, have no existence in fact. The premises laid down will not be
gainsaid by any who understand the law of suggestion. The conclusions
are inevitable. The law of auto-suggestion has been recognized by
Continental writers, as has been shown by extracts from their books;
but they have failed to carry it to its legitimate conclusion when
treating the subject of the legal aspects of hypnotism. It is perhaps
not strange that they should fail in this respect, in view of the
vital interest which physicians have in hypnotism as a therapeutic
agent. But they should remember that the subject is also of vital
interest to students of psychology, and that it is only by a study of
its psychological aspects that hypnotism can be intelligently applied
to the cure of disease. That the phenomena displayed through its
agency possess a significance which far transcends that which attaches
to it as a substitute for pills, is a proposition which will not be
disputed, even by those who seek to monopolize its forces. It is hoped,
therefore, that the psychological student will be graciously permitted
to pursue his studies at least until it is shown that physicians enjoy
such a monopoly of the cardinal virtues that it is unsafe to intrust
the forces of nature in the hands of others.

In the mean time the world at large will continue to believe that the
laws of hypnotism are no exception to the rule that the forces of
nature, when once understood, are designed for the highest good of
mankind; and they will continue to demand that those forces shall not
be monopolized by any man, or set of men, body politic, or corporation.

From what has been said, the supreme folly of legislation to prohibit
experiments in hypnotism is manifest. No one will deny that when a
hypnotist permits himself to exercise his art in private he is in
possession of opportunities which, under other conditions, might give
him an undue advantage over a subject of the opposite sex; but, from
the very nature of things, that advantage is infinitely less than
that enjoyed by physicians in their habitual intercourse with their
patients. Until it is shown that physicians never take advantage of
their confidential relations with their patients; until it is shown
that physicians are exempt from human passions and frailties; or,
at least, until it is shown that physicians are more platonic in
their emotions than the ordinary run of human beings,–the world
will continue to regard their demand that the study of experimental
psychology shall be restricted by legislation to the medical
profession, as an exhibition of monumental impudence. It cannot be
forgotten that it was the medical profession that drove Mesmer into
a dishonored exile and a premature grave for the sole reason that
he healed the sick without the use of pills. The faculty ridiculed,
proscribed, and ostracized every medical man who dared to conduct an
honest investigation of mesmeric phenomena. And now that the scientists
of Europe are compelled to admit the therapeutic value of the science,
they are instant in demand that no one but physicians shall be
permitted to make experiments. It is perhaps natural and right that the
treatment of disease by means of drugs should be restricted to those
who are educated in the proper use of drugs; but the employment of
psychic powers and remedies rests upon an entirely different footing.
Their demand that hypnotism be reserved for their exclusive use rests
not upon their knowledge of its laws, but is founded upon their wilful
ignorance of the fundamental principles which underlie the science.

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