In point of fact, that which, for convenience, I have chosen to designate as the subjective mind, appears to be a separate and distinct entity; and the real distinctive difference between the two minds seems to consist in the fact that the "objective mind " is merely the function of the physical brain, while the "subjective mind " is a distinct entity, possessing independent powers and functions, having a mental organization of its own, and being capable of sustaining an existence independently of the body. In other words, it is the soul. The reader would do well to bear this distinction clearly in mind as we proceed.
One of the most important, as well as one of the most striking, points of difference between the two minds, relates to the subject of suggestion. It is in this that the researches of the modern hypnotists give us the most important aid. Whether we agree with the Paris school in giving to suggestion a secondary place among the causes of hypnotic phenomena, or with the Nancy school in ascribing all the phenomena to the potentiality of suggestion, there can be no doubt of the fact that when suggestion is actively and intelligently employed, it is always effective. The following propositions, therefore, will not be disputed by any intelligent student of hypnotism:-
1. That the objective mind, or, let us say, man in his normal condition, is not controllable, against reason, positive knowledge, or the evidence of his senses, by the suggestions of another.
2. That the subjective mind, or man in the hypnotic state, is unqualifiedly and constantly amenable to the power of suggestion.
That is to say, the subjective mind accepts, without hesitation or doubt, every statement that is made to it, no matter how absurd or incongruous or contrary to the objective experience of the individual. If a subject is told that he is a dog, he will instantly accept the suggestion, and, to the limit of physical possibility, act the part suggested. If he is told that he is the President of the United States, he will act the part with wonderful fidelity to life. If he is told that he is in the presence of angels, he will be profoundly moved to acts of devotion. If the presence of devils is suggested, his te'rror will be instant, and . painful to behold. He may be thrown into a state ot intoxication by being caused to drink a glass of water under the impression that it is brandy; or he may be restored to sobriety by the administration of brandy, under the guise of an antidote to drunkenness. If told that he is in a high fever, his pulse will become rapid, his face flushed, and his temperature increased. In short, he may be made to see, hear, feel, smell, or taste anything, in obedience to suggestion.
He may be raised to the highest degree of mental or physical exaltation by the same power, or be plunged by it into the lethargic or cataleptic condition, simulating death.
These are fundamental facts, known and acknowledged by every student of the science of hypnotism. There is another principle, however, which must be mentioned in this connection, which is apparently not so well understood by hypnotists generally. I refer to the phenomenon of auto-suggestion. Professor Bernheim and others have recognized its existence, and its power to modify the results of experiments in one class of hypnotic phenomena, but apparently have failed to appreciate its full significance. It is, in fact, of coextensive importance with the general principle, or law, of suggestion, and is an essential part of it. It modifies every phenomenon, and sometimes seems to form an exception to the general law. Properly understood, however, it will be seen, not only to emphasize that law, but to harmonize all the facts which form apparent exceptions to it.
The two minds being possessed of independent powers and functions, it follows as a necessary corollary that the subjective mind of an individual is as amenable to the control of his own objective mind as to the objective mind of another. This we find to be true in a thousand ways. For instance, it is well known that a person cannot be hypnotized against his will. As the hypnotic condition is usually induced by the suggestion of the operator, his failure is due to the contrary auto-suggestion of the subject. Again, if the subject submits to be hypnotized, but resolves beforehand that he will not submit to certain anticipated experiments, the experiments are sure to fail. One of the finest hypnotic subjects known to the writer would never allow himself to be placed in a position before a company which he would shrink from in his normal condition. He was possessed of a remarkable dignity of character, and was highly sensitive to ridicule; and this sensitiveness stepped in to his defence, and rendered abortive every attempt to cause him to place himself in a ridiculous attitude. Again, if a hypnotic subject is conscientiously opposed to the use of strong drink, no amount of persuasion on the part of the operator can induce him to violate his settled principles.
And so on, through all the varying phases of hypnotic phenomena, autosuggestion plays its subtle role, often confounding the operator by resistance where he expected passive obedience. It does not militate against the force of the rule that suggestion is the all-controlling power which moves the subjective mind. On the contrary, it confirms it, demonstrates its never-failing accuracy. It shows, however, that the stronger suggestion must always prevail. It demonstrates, moreover, that the hypnotic subject is not the passive, unreasoning, and irresponsible automaton which hypnotists, ancient and modern, have believed him to be.
As this is one of the most important branches of the whole subject of psychological phenomena, it will be more fully treated when the various divisions of the subject to which the principle is applicable are reached. In the mean time, the student should not for a moment lose sight of this one fundamental fact, that the subjective mind is always amenable to the power of suggestion by the objective mind, either that of the individual himself, or that of another who has, for the time being, assumed control.