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.
It is usually supposed that a man can not hold up his arm for more than five or ten minutes at a time. I once took a class of ten young ladies between twenty-two and thirty years of age, and by suggestion each one was enabled to hold her arm at right angles to her body for one hour. During this experiment I held my own arm at right angles, and, standing in front of a circle that had been formed, I requested that each one of the young ladies look at the bridge of my nose glasses, and positively assured them that as long as their eyes did not lose sight of this object their arms would remain strong.
"Mine is tired, and I can not hold out much longer," said one after about fifteen minutes.
"Then let me touch the point of your elbow, and it will be strong again," I quickly replied. Then going from one to the other who requested it, I kept up that sort of thing until the hour was up.
Each one of the young ladies thought that I had given them the strength to hold their arms out so long. In a sense I had done so, by suggestions to their subconscious selves, though they were wide awake and in no sense hypnotized, as the term is ordinarily employed; yet in reality there was as much hypnotism exerted as if they had been in a state of active somnambulism.
I have frequently taken a group of children, who have always been favorite associates of mine, and begun with them in what I was pleased to call "exercises." I would begin by having all hold out one arm in a prize contest, which they enjoyed immensely. For four out of six to hold out an arm at right angles to the body for an hour and a half after the third or fourth day's exercises was nothing unusual. They could also stand on one foot for more than an hour - still at times and hopping about at other times, with the other foot in hand, either -in front of or behind them. At any rate, I held their attention and constantly kept up a suggestive influence by addressing my suggestion to One and then another, expressing my confidence in his or her ability to hold up an arm or stand on one foot all day long.
In my demonstrations and lectures given to physicians I always have had one or more physicians present take a suggestion, without the slightest attempt to induce sleep, by agreeing to co-operate with me, so that I could show him how he could convey a suggestion to his own subconscious mind and get results that would surprise him. In over five hundred instances have I placed physicians submitting to this experiment across two chairs and jumped upon their bodies with my entire weight of two hundred pounds, and in nine-tenths of the instances they would say that I had apparently placed no more than three or four pounds upon them. They were astonished and frequently incredulous when I informed them that they had sustained my weight.
Any one who believes that he can do so, can easily lie with head in one chair and heels in another, and hold up one hundred and fifty or two hundred pounds. On the other hand, I have frequently witnessed a physician attempt this where he did not believe it possible for a man to sustain even his own weight, and he always proved that what he believed about it was correct. It is simply a question of mental attitude.
For a suggestion to be assimilated as a self-suggestion, there must be confidence that amounts to a conviction before it will reach and influence the subconscious realm. The great realm of subconsciousness, which corresponds to the functionating of at least nine-tenths of an individual's psychic powers, is amenable to the suggestion of the conscious beliefs of the individual. His mental attitude, if it amounts to a conviction, evokes or calls forth latent powers or inherent psychic activities, and renders the reserve energy available or useless as he has confidence or lack of confidence.
But suggestion without hypnotism is effective in its influence not only upon the voluntary nervous functions, but the involuntary functions as well. Through the influence of suggestion upon the physiological processes of the body, even gross structural changes can result.
I walked up to a physician upon one occasion who was holding the hand of a little boy in both of his own, gently manipulating his hand. He was assuring the little fellow that those warts would go away, that they would go away when he did not know anything about it, and in two months would be gone. etc.
The physician had attended my lecture and demonstration the previous evening, and when I discovered what he was doing I exclaimed, "Using suggestion so early, Doctor?"
"Oh, this is my own method of curing waits." he replied. "I enjoy the enviable reputation here among the little boys as being the wart cure doctor, and I have in numerous cases dispersed them by suggestion."