This section is from the book "Applications of Psychology to the Problems of Personal and Business Efficiency", by Warren Hilton. Also available from Amazon: Psychology and Achievement - Applied Psychology 12 Volume Set.
THERE is scarcely any strictly functional derangement of mind or body, from neuralgia, paralysis and diabetes to alcoholism, kleptomania and moral perversions, that has not yielded to treatment by hypnotic suggestion.
Every kind of innate mental aptitude, such, for example, as the talent for public speaking, for music, painting and literature, has also been aided and stimulated to expression by this means.
Advanced scientific men have employed it and are today employing it in countless ways for the improvement of the mental and physical well-being of their patients, and its value and importance are recognized today in the medical and psychological departments of all great universities.
It must be confessed that this friendly attitude of scientific medical men toward the study and practice of hypnotism is a matter of very recent years. The earlier exponents of the subject among physicians were mostly ignored by their medical brethren or were openly denounced as impostors.
Many reasons conspired to bring this about. One was the disparaging attitude of the patient himself, who could hardly be expected to realize at once the vast resources of energy and power stored within so familiar a part of himself as his own mind.
Another may possibly have been a spirit of commercialism that saw in the new methods a vastly increased efficiency of the individual and a corresponding decline in the business of the prescriber of medicines.
A third reason was the fact that the new science had first to be taught in the medical schools and to revolutionize their methods before it could hope to be accepted by the great body of physicians, with many of whom their graduation from the medical school marked the end of their delving into first principles.
Yet all the literature of medicine, whether of ancient or modern times, abounds in illustrations of the power of the mind over the body in health and in disease. And medical science has always, though perhaps unconsciously, based much of its practice on this principle. No reputable school of medicine ever failed to instruct its students in practical applications of the principle of mental influence at the bedside of their patients. A brisk and cheery manner, a hopeful countenance, a supremely assured and confident demeanor -these things have always been regarded by the medical profession as but second in importance to sanitation and material remedies; while the value of the sugar-coated bread pill when the diagnosis was uncertain, has long been recognized.
The properly trained nurse has always been expected to supplement the efforts of the attending physician by summoning the mental forces of the patient to his aid. She, therefore, surrounds the patient with an atmosphere of comfortable assurance. And by constantly advising him of his satisfactory progress toward speedy recovery she seeks to instil hope, confidence and mental effort.
To quote Dr. Didama, "The ideal physician irradiates the sick chamber with the light of his cheerful presence. He may not be hilarious - he is not indifferent - but he has an irrepressible good-nature which lifts the patient out of the slough of despond and places his feet on the firm land of health. In desperate cases, even a little harmless levity may be beneficial. A well-timed jest may break up a congestion; a pun may add pungency to the sharpest stimulant." Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes reduced this principle to its cash equivalent when he said that a cheerful smile might be worth five thousand dollars a year to a physician. Today, psychotherapy, or the healing of bodily disease by mental influence, has the unqualified endorsement of the American Therapeutic Society, the only national organization in America devoted exclusively to therapeutics. It has the enthusiastic support of men of such recognized international leadership in the scientific world and in the medical profession as Freud, Jeung, Bleuler, Breuer, Prince, Janet, Babinski, Putnam, Gerrish, Sidis, Dubois, Miinsterberg, Jones, Brill, Donley, Waterman and Taylor. A vast array of specific cases of the successful employment of hypnotic suggestion for the cure of functional diseases or for the development of latent mental powers and abilities may be found in the published works of these men.
The present attitude of reputable science toward the principle that the mind controls all bodily operations is, then, one of positive conviction. The world's foremost thinkers accept its truth. The interest of enlightened men and women everywhere is directed toward the mind as a powerful curative force and as a regenerative influence of hitherto undreamed-of resource.
Bear in mind this is not intended as a practical study of hypnosis. The value of the subject for us lies in its illustration of the possibilities of mental control and in its indication of how that control may be achieved.
The remedial effects of hypnotic suggestion are so startling, so like magic, that it is no wonder the popular mind looks upon hypnotizing as a phenomenon bordering on the miraculous. To pass one's hands for a few moments in front of a man's face, and then banish a severe pain or cure serious illness by mere words is to apparently violate all natural laws of cause and effect. The untutored observer sees no limit to the possibilities of such an agency and classes it with the practice of the " black art."