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.
Memory seems but to be the impress made by previous experiences in life upon the entire brain and nervous system. Aside from conscious objective memory, every experience in your life has left its indelible impress upon your subconscious mind. This is what gives rise to a great many subjective impressions and sensations which haunt the lives of neurotic individuals.
All education and instruction, and experience of any kind, are retained by the subconscious mind. These ideas or impressions here lie dormant until ready to be brought out by the association of ideas. You would say that some of your best prescriptions have been extemporaneously devised upon the spur of the moment; but the skilled surgeon finds every previous experience in the dissecting and operating room and pathological laboratory instinctively forcing itself upon the domain of consciousness as an impelling guidance or impulse to every step of the procedure.
By suggestion, both with and without the aid of hypnotism, we can modify the effect of old impressions and memories which are the result of unpleasant experiences in life, and plant new impressions and ideas that will influence the future life and conduct of an individual both consciously and unconsciously.
The physician who has the happy faculty of getting the confidence of his patients and keeping them feeling good is always a successful therapist. At every visit he lifts his patient out of a morbid self-consciousness of despondency and gloom, and, presenting a roseate hue of life, inspires him with hope and confidence.
That the subconscious mind is the storehouse of memory explains why you can give a patient a suggestion in the hypnotic state at nine o'clock this morning that will give him a good night's sleep, beginning at a specified time, the following evening, and every night afterward. This is the application of post-hypnotic suggestion. I have frequently broken up nervous, wakeful habits of neurotic individuals in a single treatment by suggestion in the hypnotic state, to affect them post-hypnotically.
The nervous element of an acute disease may be aggravated, or a neurasthenic, psychasthenic, or hysterical condition maintained, on account of some morbid emotional condition resulting from an unpleasant experience in the previous life of the individual, rendering the patient nervous, preventing sleep, and proving destructive to all physiological processes. Freud's work in this field is most instructive.
By the use of hypnotic suggestion we can modify the sense impressions causing these depressing emotional disturbances. (Jive such people more plentiful and refreshing sleep, and plant upon the subconscious mind such impressions as will make them more hopeful, more optimistic, more cheerful, and happier in many ways, resulting in a good appetite, good digestion, improved nutrition, and a complete restoration to health. By suggestions properly given in the hypnotic state we can change the individual's point of view in regard to experiences which upset the mental and nervous equilibrium. I cite one case for example:
I once had a patient, a lady, who had a son accidentally killed. She was of an emotional nature, neurasthenic, and rather inclined to be on the hysterical order. Three hours after the accident which caused her son's death I was called. The large bed-room was full of friends who had come to express their sympathy. These people had unconsciously used suggestion to make her feel worse. Her minister had been on the scene to express his sympathy, and unconsciously used suggestion to make her more self-conscious of her bereavement.
As I walked in the door I began to ask each of those present to leave me alone with my patient. By the time I had reached the bed the room was cleared of all present, except her husband. I attempted bravely to talk her into being quiet, but my very presence seemed to have been a signal for an outburst of this emotional condition. At every attempt to reason with her or to soothe and console her, she would cry vehemently and answer, "Oh, you don't know, you don't know."
Seeing that I was making no headway, I prescribed chloral-hydrate 15 grains and potassium bromide 30 grains to each dose, four doses, repeated every two hours. I directed that no company be allowed to come into the room, and instructed her husband to sit by her bedside and place a cold towel upon her forehead. changing it every ten minutes. This was in August and the weather was extremely warm.
After the fourth dose of the prescription just mentioned had been taken I prescribed 15 grains of trional to the dose, four doses, to be given every two hours. Three hours after the last (lose of this was taken 1 administered a hypodermic injection of morphin sulphate 1/4 grain, with hyoseyn hydrobromid 1/100 grain.
Three hours afterward she had still been unable to sleep, was very nervous, had a terrific headache, and I felt that it would be unsafe to administer more medicine. At that juncture I hypnotized her. The medicine previously given apparently had a cumulative effect, as she was very easily hypnotized.
I then suggested that she would sleep soundly all night; that her sleep would be quiet and refreshing; that while she slept a perfect spirit of resignation would come over her, and she would wake in the morning feeling perfectly resigned to the accident and bereavement; that she would sleep soundly until eight o'clock the next morning, at which time her husband should awaken her by placing his hand upon her forehead and commanding her to wake up; that she would be feeling perfectly resigned to the accident, and would eat her breakfast, and give her attention to her domestic relations, and feel proud that she had ever been permitted to be the mother of so worthy a son.
On my return the next morning I found that she had slept soundly all night, and she at once began to tell me what she had decided - giving me the very ideas that I had suggested to her the night previous.
I feel quite sure that a greater change in her mental and nervous condition had taken place during this one night's sleep, together with the influence of the suggestions given, than would have resulted under normal conditions after a period of several months had elapsed.
My experience with this patient fully corroborates the conclusions of Morton Prince when he says: "When the hysterical manifestations are due to the functionating of dissociated subconscious ideas, it is not always necessary, as some writers insist, to recall those ideas to the personal waking consciousness. It is enough to break up the subconscious complex, or to suggest antagonistic ideas, or to resynthesize the ideas into a healthy complex, which gives true appreciation of the facts which they represent. This can be done in hypnosis. After waking, though amnesia for the previous subconscious ideas may persist, the symptoms disappear, for those harmful subconscious ideas which caused the trouble have ceased to exist."
I am furthermore convinced that there is much insanity, the etiology of which is obscure, where, in many cases, if the timely administration of hypnotic suggestion had been used to give those people good, sound sleep, to change their mental attitude toward the conditions that were worrying them, to make new impressions upon their cerebral cells, and substitute more wholesome mental states, a large proportion of these cases could have been prevented, upon the principle that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
The proof that all insanity is dependent upon diseased states of the brain has never yet been rendered in its entirety. Organic pathological changes are found in paresis, senile dementia, alcoholism, and probably in epilepsy, dementia praecox, and climacteric insanity, and this leaves out of consideration the condition of a large proportion of those adjudged as insane. The correlation between mental symptoms and pathological anatomy is as yet largely to be determined, at least in a considerable part of the acknowledged field of insanity.
Many people are incapable of thinking and reasoning for themselves as the result of false training, education, and environment. You can give them advice and make all the appeal to reason within your power, and yet they seem unable to execute your ideas. The physician who has that spirit of altruism sufficient to enable him to appropriate these methods can here apply hypnotic suggestion and obtain results that can not be obtained in any other way.
There are others upon whom the cares of life have borne heavily, whose involuntary nervous system has received many a hard blow; it has been shocked and wrought upon by cruel impressions or experiences which take possession of a patient and torment his life. These are found among all classes, from the highest bred college graduate to the most ignorant working class.
Many nervous and mental symptoms are what are designated by Boris Sidis as recurrent mental and psychomotor states - that is, according to Morton Prince, dissociations of the personality and the reproduction of systems of ideas which were originally an emotional mental accident that the patient once upon a time experienced. These experiences have been conserved as brain residue, or complexes, which functionate again from time to time as psychoneurotic symptoms.
When they are sick, there is no time for re-educating and retraining them. Like miners buried in a deep, dark hole in the earth, where huge piles of shale and debris have caved in upon them, they need help. Like a man in jail, they want to get out. They expect you to do something for them. To give them narcotics and sedatives but temporarily benumbs their psychic activities, interferes with all functional processes, weakens their powers of resistance, interferes with elimination, and is actually destructive and weakening to both mind and body. The judicious, intelligent application of suggestion, both with and without hypnotism, in this class of cases is a boon to these unfortunate sufferers who rely upon us for help. A rearrangement of these conserved experiences by the neuron elements can be brought about, and the distressing nervous and mental symptoms relieved in perfect accord with the physiological mechanisms of the nervous system.