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.
A man, aged 50, had had chronic bronchitis for fifteen years, with occasional paroxysms of asthma. He now had acute pneumonia, affecting only the lower lobe of the right lung, but had a temperature of 104.5° P.; pulse, 135; and rapid respiration also. On the fifth day of his acute illness he had slept but little the previous three nights, and was extremely nervous and oversolicitous about his condition. There was a large element of fear about his case, which gave rise to very bad autosuggestions. These were encouraged by an overanxious family and friends. I had done all within my power to reassure him by suggestion without hypnotism, but to no avail.
Seeing his anxiety so pronounced, and the psychic element in his case so adverse to his recovery, I decided that one more day without a change would mean the death of my patient. Taking in my hand a bottle of some placebo, I said to him earnestly, "Mr. Blank, there is a nervous element in your case that I am going to relieve before I leave you. This medicine, used as I am going to use it presently, will put you to sleep, quiet your nerves, strengthen your heart, and help you to get well. Now, it can't hurt you, but will make you stronger. I will stay with you until you awaken, and you will be feeling better and stronger, and take quite a different view of your condition when you awaken."
A patient in that condition is always easy to hypnotize. This man readily consented to the treatment, and while in the hypnotic state I suggested to him that all nervousness was going away, and that his nerves were getting steady, and quiet, and strong. Then I also suggested that his heart was beating stronger and stronger, and that his hands and feet were getting warm, that the blood was circulating freely all over his body, that all congestion and pain about his lungs were going away, and that his fever was cooling, temperature getting more normal, and nerves, and muscles, and heart getting quiet, and steady, and strong. I suggested that every dose of the medicine he was taking would quiet his nerves, strengthen his heart, lessen his fever, aid his digestion, and that whenever he thought of himself he would feel that he was getting better, feeling stronger, and going rapidly on to recovery. I allowed him to sleep for twenty minutes or half an hour. When I awakened him I gave him the answer to my question, which was more an affirmation than a question. "You are feeling better, Mr. Blank? This has done you a great deal of good." "Yes, Doctor," said he, "I feel that I am going to get well and have not felt that way before." I then took his temperature and found it two degrees lower than it was thirty minutes previously, and his pulse beats twenty a minute fewer than before he went to sleep.
He slept well that night, as I suggested he would, and his pulse and temperature were better the next day. His temperature never went any higher than 102.5° F. after that or his pulse above 120 a minute. His lungs cleared up on the ninth day.
Two years afterward that man had not had another attack of asthma, as I had suggested on two or three occasions following the first treatment by hypnotic suggestion that he would never have asthma again, that he would always drink plenty of water, the bowels would move regularly every day, and he would sleep soundly, have a good digestion, and always feel better.
It may be pointed out that in asthma there are always functional disturbances due to deficient elimination, causing a general neurotic condition, of which the asthmatic paroxysm is the predominant manifestation, and attracts the greatest attention.
In regard to the use of hypnotism in very sick people suffering with pneumonia and enteric fever, the acute infectious diseases, etc., I have always felt that if I could get the patient to exercise enough self-control to go into the hypnotic state he would be certain to recover. No possible harm can come from giving a patient suggestions to quiet nervousness, relieve pain, re-establish function, and encourage the action of all the brain centers, turning this energy represented by the cells that compose the cerebral cortex to the strengthening of every cell and every function in the body.
Hypnotism is only an intensified, and therefore more efficacious, form of applying suggestion, and it seems to relieve a very sick patient of a heavy responsibility when you use his psychic powers for him, direct them, and regulate their control over his body rather than keep him on the alert to do this for himself.
There are yet some physicians who believe that suggestion is of value only in hysterical subjects, and that only hysterical people can be benefited. If that be true, then all sick people are hysterical, for there is no acute febrile illness in which the psych it-factor does not play an important role in helping or hindering the recovery of the patient.
Remember that there is such a thing as nervous shock, due to sense impressions which give rise to fear thoughts that hold the attention of a very sick patient. The physician who can change these psychic states changes the mental attitude of his patient, encourages all involuntary physiological processes, and helps his patient to recovery.
It is hard to hypnotize an hysterical patient, while, on the other hand, a normal nervous organization always best responds to suggestion and makes the best hypnotic subject. This I have demonstrated and proved to the satisfaction of several thousand American physicians, notwithstanding the opinion of a few prejudiced neurologists, who are self-hypnotized by their preconceived convictions, to the contrary.