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.
The physician, then, in the light of such indisputable facts, is a factor either for good or harm in the sick-room. How often is it the case that his training in the pathological laboratory so fills him subconsciously with fear of pathogenic germs that it completely offsets his confidence in the natural resistive powers of his patient; like a dog frightened and cowed, he goes into the fight with a drooped head and his tail tucked in, exercising a most depressing influence upon his patient, rather than with a sufficient faith in the potentialities inherent in the living cells that comprise the physical organism to encourage them into action.
Has it not often been your experience to see a patient very sick, so that, from the pathological condition there existing, reason would cause you to doubt the possibility of his recovery? But he had faith in you, expected to get well, was hopeful and optimistic, and that encouraged you both to encourage him and to do your best for him. Later on, when he was safely on the road to recovery, when he was thanking you for what you had done for him, you gratefully reminded him that he was getting well on account of his courage and bravery, and that had it not been for his will power and determination he never would have recovered. You really felt that your services played a small part in his recovery.
On the other hand, you have had patients who were not at all seriously sick, so far as their apparent pathological conditions would indicate, yet from the very first visit you realized that you had failed to get en rapport with them. You realized that you "did not make good," and upon your return the next morning you found that he was nervous and had not slept well that night; there was an increase in pulse rate, his respirations were quickened, and he was overanxious about himself, and from this condition he continued to go on from bad to worse until, finally, upon your last visit, when you realized that he would not recover - chagrined, humiliated, and mortified - you could not but feel that he had failed to recover on account of the morbid mental attitude taken toward his condition in its incipiency. He died for the lack of the will to get well.
The experience of hundreds and hundreds of physicians coincides with the cases just cited. Why is it that the mental attitude of an individual plays such an important part either toward recovery or nonrecovery? For this reason: everybody's subconscious mind is constantly amenable to the influence, suggestion, and control of his conscious mind, and, when you fully comprehend this proposition, you see very plainly that every one is treating himself by selfsuggestion all the time, whether he realizes it or not. Your own thoughts, your own beliefs, your own predominating mental characteristics, whether you will it or not, whether you believe it or not, whether you know it or not, are the suggestions that are ever influencing your subconscious mind either for good or harm.
much so is that true, that you can put it down as a safe proposition that the individual who is hopeful, optimistic, and cheerful, constantly looking on the bright side of life, carrying sunshine and cheer into the lives of others - that such an individual. by his mental attitude, conduces to the health and strength and well-being of his own physical organism as well.
On the other hand, the individual who is pessimistic, despondent, and blue, having morbid fears about his own physical condition, worrying over the affairs of life, unduly emotional, pining and complaining - such an individual, by his mental attitude, has a wrecking, weakening, ruinous effect, not only upon his own physical organization, but upon that of others.
As we pointed out in a previous chapter, emotional conditions of a hopeful, optimistic, and cheerful kind encourage anabolism, or constructive metamorphosis, a building up of the cells of the body; while depressing emotional conditions - worry, fear, envy, anger, jealousy, and such like - encourage catabolism, or destructive metamorphosis, a tearing down of the cells of the body.
In the study of the etiology of neurasthenia and allied conditions, including all functional disturbances - and their name is legion - selfsuggestion enters into these cases as a causative factor that is of a far deeper import than is generally recognized; and in treating this class of cases, as well as for the nervous element of any disease, acute or chronic, surgical or otherwise, it is our duty as physicians to make such impressions upon the conscious minds of our patients in our daily association with them as would indi-rectly influence the subconscious mind through autosuggestion. At least we must make the patient feel that we understand his case; that we are especially interested in him; that we are giving him due consideration, and as far as possible we should hold out a Strong belief or expectancy that he will get well. Just in proportion as we keep him cheerful, hopeful, and optimistic, just so far shall we help him on the road to recovery.
Think of these two minds as two sets of men upon a war vessel. The men upon the upper deck give their attention to the fleet over yonder. They give their attention to the objective world. These are performing the function of the conscious mind. The men below deck give their attention to the internal machinery of the ship, paying no attention whatever to the outside world. They represent the subconscious mind. Their respective duties are entirely separate and independent, yet the men below stand ever ready to obey the dictates, or orders, or signals from the men above.
Every human being is giving orders that will encourage the performance of every organic function every minute and hour of his life, or he is giving orders that will inhibit, retard, and weaken the involuntary psychic activities or nervous functions. So you see that suggestion is used both with and without hypnotism, and that any influence brought to bear upon the conscious mind of your patient indirectly reaches his subconscious mind. We are using it every day of our lives for the good or harm of ourselves and for the good or harm of our patients.
To show you the influence of the mind upon the bodily functions, I will cite one illustration. I was once talking to a physician about hypnotism or suggestion when a band stopped in front of his office and began to play. In a jocular way he remarked, "I should like to see you hypnotize that band and stop it from playing." "All right," said I, "come and watch the procedure." I procured three lemons, and gave a half of each to as many little boys on the street, instructing them to walk round and round the band, sucking the lemons and making faces at the musicians. The result was such an increase in the secretion of their salivary glands that the men were compelled to stop and swallow or empty their instruments of saliva. They were unable to continue their music and the little boys were put to flight.
An individual with a large "bay window" is usually a man who gives full appreciation to the thought of the dinner hour, the breakfast hour, the lunch hour. This pleasurable anticipation of the approaching meal time encourages the free flow of blood to his gastric mucous membrane, with a result that he has a plentiful supply of gastric juice, a good appetite, a good digestion, and a healthy physique.
On the other hand, our cadaverous-looking brother usually approaches his meal hours with pessimistic forebodings, and goes to his home at meal time more as a matter of duty than otherwise; thus he unfortunately fails to encourage this passive organ sufficiently to enable it to secrete sufficient gastric juice to give him an appetite or to secure a perfectly digested meal.
By suggestion we can influence man's conscious and subconscious psychic activities, and thus every organ and every cell in the body can be stimulated. The daily visit of the physician to his patient is one of the most important therapeutic factors at his command through the very influence of his own personality.
Before going into the practical application of the theories of hypnotic or therapeutic suggestion, I desire to briefly call your attention to other phases of this subject, which, though they may not appear to you perfectly scientific, have a bearing upon the subject at hand of such importance that it can not be ignored.
We remarked in the outset that the subconscious mind perceived by intuition - that it was the storehouse of memory, the seat of the emotions, and presided over the functions, conditions, and sensations of the body. So far we have been elaborating the influence of the subconscious mind over the functions, conditions, and sensations of the body, having made it clear that when the conscious mind was inhibited the subconscious mind was more amenable or susceptible to suggestion, and that suggestions given in the hypnotic state were more effective and lasting in certain selected cases than suggestions without hypnotism. We also made it plain that the conscious mind of every individual was amenable to influence by suggestion, and that any influence brought to bear upon the mind of an individual by any means whatever came under the broad domain of suggestive therapeutics. -