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 use of suggestion is but the art of employing spoken words for the purpose of persuading an individual to act upon or execute an idea or a series of ideas, either consciously or subconsciously. A suggestion is an impression conveyed by any means whatsoever from one mind to another, or the impress received by the human brain by impressions from without.
When we remember that the nervous system faithfully conserves and reproduces its impressions or experiences, then only do we realize the significance and importance of a clear comprehension of the term "suggestion" in the study of psychotherapy; for the tool of psychotherapy is suggestion, and all of the suggestions received by the individual in any manner whatever are the factors determining his actions and beliefs.
There is nothing new in the conception of the term "suggestion." What constitutes a decided advance is the more thorough comprehension of its potency as a therapeutic agent and its influence upon the development of human character, and also of its influence in encouraging the normal functions of the nervous system. It has been used by every human being, profession, sect, school of learning, "ist" or "ism" that ever existed. All education is the result of repeated and accumulated suggestion - of the impress conserved by the brain cell elements resulting from past experiences. All theological sermonizing, dogmas, and religions make employment of suggestion upon the mind, and the impressions made by these various experiences are conserved by the neuron elements in such a way that the ideas instilled into the individual become for all future time, unless altered by other processes of experience, a part of his or her personality. Our beliefs upon any subject are the result of dominant suggestions, the impress being retained as physiological residue of past experiences which have been conserved by the neuron elements.
By our use or abuse of our powers of suggestion do we become a force for good or evil. So receptive is the human being to suggestion that we become a part of all with which we have associated during our existence. Our beliefs or convictions upon any subject are the sum of suggestions that we have received, either consciously or unconsciously, and which have been conserved by our brain cells. These impressions are conserved as psychophysiological centers for all future time, unless altered or modified by other processes of experience, and all experience of whatever sort signifies brain cell alteration, change, growth, or development.
By suggestion, then, we are enabled to implant ideals, concepts, viewpoints, convictions, and beliefs by which individual life and conduct is guided. In this way character is developed. In this manner also are ideas instilled into the mind of the individual for the correction of vice, the cure of evil habits, and for the prevention and cure of certain forms of insanity. Intellectual acquisitions, of whatever sort, are obtained by the individual as the result of the influence of suggestion. The experiences by which such impressions are made upon the neuron elements leave permanent structural modifications by which such knowledge is conserved, which forever afterward becomes a part of the individual's personality. By the employment of suggestions in such manner as to be effective, the will power is strengthened, latent talents are developed, and inherent capabilities of mind and body brought into activity. Virtue can be instilled and vice eradicated; purity or impurity, confidence or fear, love or hate, joy or grief, can be made the dominant quality of the mind.
It is through the employment of suggestion that personal influence, of whatever sort, is exerted by which human activities are stirred, and by which we express our power for good or evil. By suggestion every center of activity in the brain can be strengthened, and every organic function in the body increased or encouraged to new activity. Indeed, new physiological centers can be established, resulting from the employment of suggestion, the process of experience being conserved as physiological residue of the passing mental states induced and retained by the neuron elements. War and bloodshed, theft, and wreck and ruin of manhood and character, are the result of evil suggestions that have been allowed to dominate the mind of an individual or a nation.
The most sacred shrine of the soul itself may be invaded, dominated, and profaned by suggestions from malicious and designing creatures intruded upon the mind of the unfortunate in whom the ideal ego, for the lack of the right heredity, education, and environment, has not been awakened and evolved. Evil suggestions on the part of low and degraded persons, operating upon the mind of the imperfectly developed or mentally incompetent individual, is accompanied by effects that are as sure and unfailing as the law of gravitation itself, and domestic unhap-piness, divorce, suicide, murder, or death are not infrequent results. Such suggestions, when accompanied by deep-feeling tones, operating upon an unstable nervous organization, convert its victim into a mere automaton. Suggestion upon the normal individual is often malicious, but, cloaked in the garb of truth, is the dominant force that rules the life of every human being, of every nation, of the very world itself.
By the use of suggestion in disguise on the part of the "mother of Christian science," thousands of innocent, but conscientious, followers are being robbed of their individuality and selfhood. By its use on the part of dishonest and designing men, the markets are flooded with spurious wares of all kinds, and honest money is paid for worthless trash. Here is the stronghold of the patent medicine vender, the health food manufacturer, and advertising medical quack, as they play upon the ignorant credulity of those whose inexperience has not developed the intelligent use of their own thought powers..