This section is from the book "Handbook Of Suggestive Therapeutics, Applied Hypnotism, Psychic Science", by Henry S. Munro. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of Suggestive Therapeutics, Applied Hypnotism, Psychic Science.
Unquestionably the fine art in applying suggestive therapeutics lies in the employment of suggestion without an effort to induce a sleeplike condition. Yet, if the individual can be induced to act upon and execute your suggestion, either consciously or subconsciously, it is by the use of the same method - call it reasoning, persuasion, advice, preaching, education, suggestion, or hypnotism.
Upon one occasion, when I was standing by a cigar stand with two physicians, and holding in my hand a small vial of water, a third physician, a stranger to me, walked up and asked, "What is that in your hand ?"
"Liquid electricity," was my reply.
"Liquid electricity; why, what is that and what is it for?"
The physician extended his arm, and, rubbing some of the water on the back of it for half a minute, I drew from my pocket a small steel pin, and, holding it between my eyes and his, said to him, "You see this pin. I am going to stick it through a fold of skin on your arm, but you will not feel it. Your arm is perfectly dead, and, if that hurts you in the least, let the physicians present know it. Look at it; here it goes," thrusting the pin through a large fold of his skin.
"Did that hurt you?" asked one of the physicians.
"Not the least bit," was his reply.
Taking me by the arm, the first physician said, "Come back this way, Dr. Munro; come back with us, Dr. Blank." In his office he turned to me and said, Dr. Munro, shake hands with Dr. Blank."
"I want some of that preparation of yours," said he.
When I explained that the medicine was only water, and that I had been talking to the other physicians present about the efficacy of suggestion, he laughed heartily and seemed to appreciate the experience.
Such experiences have been mine in hundreds and hundreds of instances, not only experimental and demonstrative, but also with a direct therapeutic aim. I state this experience in detail to bring out this point - the unconscious use of suggestive methods is the most effective.
In three-fourths of the cases where an individual requests that he be placed in the hypnotic state, we fail to get him into a state of suggestibility sufficiently effective to induce anesthesia by suggestion, but by suggestion in disguise we frequently succeed in a hundred cases consecutively without a failure. A physician in a western city questioned the above statement, as have many other physicians who had to be shown.
On an occasion of my lecture and demonstrations, one physician, after inducing hypnosis, proceeded as usual and induced anesthesia and made other tests. Then another did the same, upon an entirely new subject, to the extent that a large pin was thrust through the fold of the man's face without his evincing the slightest evidence of pain, and he was also made to sustain a weight of two hundred pounds on his body with his head on one chair and his heels on another, to demonstrate the efficacy of suggestion.
At this juncture the physician who had questioned my ability to successfully hypnotize such a large percentage of individuals, asked if I called that hypnotism. "Why," exclaimed he, "you are getting those men to do that through autosuggestion."
" Certainly, Doctor," was my reply.
"Well, why don't you call your work by the right name, and say you are demonstrating and teaching suggestion and autosuggestion ?"
Other physicians present, who were men of the highest professional attainments, assured the physician in question that they had never witnessed more successful demonstrations of the efficacy of suggestion, having seen work both in America and Europe by competent men.
The extreme ignorance manifested by some men in regard to the practical and theoretical phases of psychotherapy is pitiful. They expect to find in hypnotism some uncanny influence by which they can dominate and control people without regard to their wishes or knowledge, as has been claimed by every kind of outlandish faker advertising to teach all sorts of absurdities.
The only class of people that we can dominate, as distinguished from simply aiding them to execute an idea or series of ideas, is those of an unstable nervous organization, in whom a consciousness of self-control has never been evolved. Such people are so suggestible that they readily take suggestions put in the form of positive affirmations in the waking state, but for therapeutic purposes they are the least satisfactory patients, although the very ones that most need our help, and the class of cases for whom suggestion is more useful than any other measure.
I have experimented with hypnotism and suggestion in every possible manner, both for amusement, demonstration, and therapeutic application. The more normal, reliable, and strongest nervous organizations have always produced the most satisfactory results, because they could best exercise self-control, and were better able to act upon and execute a suggestion, both consciously and subconsciously. We can treat by suggestion any individual who seeks our services as a physician.
Never, under any consideration, let a patient suggest to you the kind of treatment you must adopt.
In the case of unstable and degenerative nervous organizations, the problem is to bring about those conditions that increase their protoplasmic energies, as well as to direct those energies into normal, useful, healthful channels. I have often prescribed a placebo to satisfy the patient, while I only too well realized that his benefit and recovery depended altogether upon my influence upon his habits of thought and conduct.
A neurotic lady, for whom I prescribed a teaspoonful of compound rhubarb and soda mixture at bedtime for sleep, and advised to relax, and breathe deeply and rhythmically for ton minutes when she retired, so the medicine could have full effect, complained that she slept so soundly that she felt "dead all over" the next morning.