It will thus be seen that the question as to whether hypnotism can be successfully employed for criminal purposes, must be determined in each individual case by the character of the persons engaged in the experiment. If the subject is a criminal character, he might follow the suggestions of a criminal hypnotist, and actually perpetrate a crime. In such a case, a resort to hypnotism for criminal purposes would be unnecessary, and no possible advantage could be gained by its employment.
It is obvious that the same rule applies to sexual crimes; and it may be set down as a maxim in hypnotic science that no virtuous woman ever was, or ever can be, successfully assaulted while in a hypnotic condition. This is a corollary of the demonstrated propositions which precede it; and it admits of no exception or qualification.
A virtuous woman is, indeed, in less danger of successful assault while in that state than she is in her normal condition, for the simple reason that hypnotic subjects are always endowed with a physical strength far superior to that possessed in the normal condition. Besides, it is the observation of every successful hypnotist that the moral tone of the hypnotic subject, while in that condition, is always elevated. On this subject we will let the late Professor Gregory speak: -
"When the sleeper has become fully asleep, so as to answer questions readily without waking, there is almost always observed a remarkable change in the countenance, the manner, and the voice. On falling asleep at first, he looks, perhaps, drowsy and heavy, like a person dozing in church, or at table when overcome by fatigue, or stupefied by excess in wine, or by the foul air of a crowded apartment; but when spoken to, he usually brightens up, and although the eyes be closed, yet the expression becomes highly intelligent, quite as much so as if he saw. His whole manner seems to undergo a refinement which, in the higher stages, reaches a most striking point, insomuch that we see, as it were, before us a person of a much more elevated character than the same sleeper seems to be when awake. It would seem as if the lower, or animal, propensities were laid to rest, while the intellect and higher sentiments shone forth with a lustre that is undiminished by aught that is mean or common. This is particularly seen in women of natural refinement and high sentiments; but it is also seen in men of the same stamp, and more or less in all.
In the highest stages of the mesmeric sleep the countenance often acquires the most lovely expression, surpassing all that the great artists have given to the Virgin Mary or to angels, and which may fitly be called heavenly, for it involuntarily suggests to our minds the moral and intellectual beauty which alone seems consistent with our views of heaven. As to the voice, I have never seen one person in the true mesmeric sleep who did not speak in a tone quite distinct from the ordinary voice of the sleeper. It is invariably, so far as I have observed, softer and more gentle, well corresponding to the elevated and mild expression of the face. It has often a plaintive and touching character, especially when the sleeper speaks of departed friends or relations. In the highest stages it has a character quite new, and in perfect accordance with the pure and lovely smile of the countenance, which beams on the observer, in spite of the closed eyes, like a ray of heaven's own light and beauty. I speak here of that which I have often seen, and I would say that, as a general rule, the sleeper, when in his ordinary state and when in the deep mesmeric sleep, appears not like the same, but like two different individuals. And it is not wonderful that it should be so.
For the sleeper, in the mesmeric state, has a consciousness quite- separate and distinct from his ordinary consciousness; he is, in fact, if not a different individual, yet the same individual in a different and distinct phase of his being, and that phase a higher one." 1
Professor Gregory's experience and observation have been those of every hypnotist and mesmerist whose works have been examined. There is, indeed, an ineffable and indescribable something which overspreads the countenance of the virtuous woman while she is in the hypnotic state, which disarms passion, and affects the beholder with a feeling that he has something seen of heaven. He knows that the physical senses are asleep, and he feels that the soul is shining forth in all its majesty and purity, untainted by any thought that is gross, any emotion that is impure.
One of the assertions most confidently made by those who hold that crime is the necessary result of hypnotic experiment, outside of the medical profession, is that a hypnotic subject can be made to commit suicide by suggesting to him the propriety of so doing. There is, if possible, even less foundation for this supposition than there is for any other in the whole catalogue. The reason of this will be obvious when we take into consideration some of the distinctive attributes of the subjective mind. It will not be disputed that the attribute of the subjective mind, which is known as intuition when applied to man, corresponds exactly with what we call instinct when applied to animals. Now, there are three primary functions, or, let us say, instincts, of the subjective mind, which are common to men and the whole animal creation. The first pertains to the preservation of the life of the individual, and is called, in common parlance, the instinct of self-preservation. This is admittedly the strongest instinct of animal nature. The second, in the order of strength and of universality, is the instinct of reproduction. The third pertains to the preservation of human life generally, and of one's offspring particularly. Each pertains to the perpetuity of the race.
The first and second are universal, and the third is practically so; the only exceptions being in rare cases of individual idiosyncrasy, or in a very low order of animal life. The potency of these instincts is too well known to require comment.
1 Gregory on Animal Magnetism, p. 4.