Braid relates another circumstance equally demonstrative of the proposition that suggestion is not a necessary factor in the induction of the hypnotic state. He says: -
"After my lecture at the Hanover Square Rooms, London, on the 1st of March, 1842, a gentleman told Mr. Walker, who was along with me, that he was most anxious to see me, that I might try whether I could hypnotize him. He said both himself and friends were anxious he should be affected, but that neither Lafontaine nor others who had tried him could succeed. Mr. Walker said, ' If that is what you want, as Mr. Braid is engaged otherwise, sit down, and I will hypnotize you myself in a minute.' When I went into the room, I observed what was going on, the gentleman sitting staring at Mr. Walker's finger, who was standing a little to the right of the patient, with his eyes fixed steadily on those of the latter. I passed on and attended to something else; and when I returned a little after, I found Mr. Walker standing in the same position, fast asleep, his arm and finger in a state of cataleptiform rigidity, and the patient wide awake and staring at the finger all the while." 2
This is a clear case of the induction of the hypnotic condition without the aid of suggestion. Mr. Walker had no thought of going into the state himself, but was intent on hypnotizing the patient. The suggestion in his mind was, therefore, in the opposite direction. He had, however, inadvertently placed himself in the proper attitude, and so concentrated his gaze as to induce the state, and that directly contrary to his auto-suggestion.
These two instances have been cited from Braid for the reason that (1) he was the discoverer of the method of hypnotizing by causing the subject to gaze steadily upon an object; and (2) he was not attempting to prove or disprove the theory of suggestion. His testimony is obviously all the more reliable for that reason, for one is prone to distrust the verity of experiments made for the purpose of sustaining a theory. Many facts have been recorded which demonstrate the proposition that by Braid's method the hypnotic state can be induced independently of suggestion. One class only of such facts needs to be cited to convince the most sceptical.
1 Neurypnology, p. 19.
2 Ibid., p. 39.
I allude to religious devotees, who are often thrown into the hypnotic state, even to the degree of ecstasy, by gazing upon the crucifix, or upon pictures of the Holy Virgin or of the saints. The Catholic clergy would seem to have a dim perception of the principle involved when they elevate the cross above the eyes of those in whom they wish to excite devotional enthusiasm. Be that as it may, the fact is of scientific value to the investigator of psychological phenomena. The natural attitude of prayer - the eyes raised towards heaven - is certainly not only conducive to devotional feeling, but, in emotional natures, to a state at least cognate to hypnotism, if not identical with it. Hence the subjective hallucinations which often result from the long and earnest prayers of religious enthusiasts.
More conclusive still is the fact that animals can be hypnotized. Albert Moll, who is one of the ablest, and certainly one of the most unprejudiced, of modern scientific writers on the subject of hypnotism, writing from the standpoint of the Nancy school, makes the following observations on the subject of hypnotizing animals: -
"States resembling, or perhaps identical with, hypnosis, are also found in animals, and can easily be experimentally induced. The first experiments of this kind are referred to by the Jesuit Kircher, - the so-called experimentum mzrabile Kircheri. Kircher described these experiments in 1646; but according to Preyer, the experiment had been made by Schwenter several years earlier. The most striking of these experiments, which are being continued in the present day, is as follows: A hen is held down on the ground; the head in particular is pressed down. A chalk line is then drawn on the ground, starting from the bird's beak. The hen will remain motionless. Kircher ascribes this to the animal's imagination; he said that it imagined that it was fastened, and consequently did not try to move. Czermak repeated the experiment on different animals, and announced in 1872 that a hypnotic state could be induced in other animals besides the hen. Preyer shortly after began to interest himself in the question, and made a series of experiments like Czermak's. Preyer, however, distinguishes two states in animals, - catalepsy, which is the effect of fear; and the hypnotic state.
Heubel, Richet, Danilewsky, and Rieger, besides the authors mentioned above, have occupied themselves with the question.
"Most of the experiments have been made with frogs, crayfish, guinea-pigs, and birds. I have made many with frogs. This much is certain: many animals will remain motionless in any position in which they have been held by force for a time. There are various opinions as to the meaning of this. Preyer thinks many of these states are paralyses from fright, or catalepsy, produced by a sudden peripheral stimulus. In any case they vividly recall the catalepsy of the Salpetriere, also caused by a strong external stimulus." 1
The experiments of Kircher, above mentioned, were undertaken with a view of demonstrating his theory that animals possessed great powers of imagination. The chalk mark, he held, represented to the imagination of the hen a string with which she supposed herself to be bound. In his day, of course, nothing was known of hypnotism. It has since been demonstrated that the chalk mark has nothing to do with the production of the phenomenon. The same result follows when the chalk mark is omitted. The writer has hypnotized a pet rooster by Braid's method without using any violence whatever, or even touching the fowl. He was exceedingly tame, and it was only necessary to hold a small object directly before his eyes; when his attention was attracted, he would gaze steadily upon it, and in a very few minutes would go fast asleep. This could not have been a catalepsy caused by fright, nor could it have been the result of a belief in his inability to move, nor a peripheral stimulus caused by friction against the skin, nor could it have been suggestion.
In fact, there is no legitimate conclusion apparent except that it was a true hypnosis, identical with that produced on human beings by Braid's methods.
1 Moll on Hypnotism, p. 213.