Thus, the students of the science of hypnotism are, and since the days of Mesmer have been, hopelessly divided into schools which wage war upon each other's theories, and dispute the correctness of each other's observations of facts. Mesmer's theory of fluidic emanations, which he termed "animal magnetism," seemed to account for the facts which he observed, and is still held to be substantially true by many votaries of this science. John Bovee Dods' electrical theory - positive lungs and negative blood - was sufficiently plausible in its day to attract many followers, as it afforded a satisfactory explanation of many phenomena which came under his observation. Braid's physiological explanation of certain classes of the phenomena afforded, in his time, much comfort to those who believe that there is nothing in man which cannot be weighed in a balance or carved with a scalpel. In our own day we find the school of the Salpetriere, which holds that hypnotism is a disease of the nervous system, that its phenomena are explicable on physiological principles, that the suggestions of the operator play but a secondary role in their production, and that they can be produced, or successfully studied, only in diseased persons.
On the other hand, the Nancy school of hypnotists holds that the science can be studied with profit only in perfectly healthy persons, and from a purely psychological standpoint, and that suggestion is the all-potent factor in the production of all hypnotic phenomena. All three of the last-mentioned schools agree in ignoring the possibility of producing the higher phenomena of hypnotism, known as clairvoyance and thought-transference, or mind-reading; whilst the earlier hypnotists demonstrated both beyond the possibility of a reasonable doubt. Indeed, a committee of the ablest scientists of the Royal Academy of Medicine of France, after an investigation extending over a period of six years, reported that it had demonstrated the existence of such powers in the human mind.
Another large class of psychological phenomena, which has been productive of more conflicting theories than any other, and which from time immemorial has puzzled and appalled mankind, is by a large class of persons referred to the direct agency of the spirits of the dead. It would require a volume to catalogue the various theories which have been advanced to account for this class of phenomena, and when done it would serve no useful purpose. It is safe to say, however, that no two individuals, whether believers or unbelievers in the generic doctrine of spiritism, exactly agree as to the ultimate cause of the phenomena. The obvious reason is that no two persons have had exactly the same experience, or have observed exactly the same phenomena. In the absence of a working hypothesis applicable to all the infinite variety of facts observed, it follows that each investigator must draw his own conclusions from the limited field of his own experience. And when we take into consideration the important role which passion and prejudice ever play in the minds of men when the solution of an undemonstrable problem is attempted, it is easy to see that a bewildering hodge-podge of heterogeneous opinions is inevitable.
Another class of phenomena, about which an infinite variety of opinions prevails, may be mentioned under the general head of mental therapeutics. Under this generic title may be grouped the invocations of the gods by the Egyptian priests; the magic formulas of the disciples of Esculapius; the sympathetic powder of Paracelsus; the king's touch for the cure of goitre; the wonderful cures at the tomb of Deacon Paris and at Lourdes; the miraculous power supposed to reside in the relics of the saints; the equally miraculous cures of such men as Greatrakes, of Gassner, and of the Abbot Prince of Hohenlohe; and the no less wonderful healing power displayed by the modern systems known as mind cure, faith cure, Christian science, animal magnetism, and suggestive therapeutics.
One fact, pregnant with importance, pertains to all these systems; and that is that marvellous cures are constantly effected through their agencies. To the casual observer it would seem to be almost self-evident that, underlying all, there must be some one principle which, once understood, would show them to be identical as to cause and mode of operation. Yet we find as many conflicting theories as there are systems, and as many private opinions as there are individuals who accept the facts. Some of the hypotheses gravely put forth in books are so bizarre as to excite only the pity or the ridicule of the judicious. One notable example is found in that system, the basic theory of which is that matter has no existence, that nothing is real but mind, and that, consequently, disease and pain, suffering and death, are mere hallucinations of morbid intellects. Other theories there are, which, if not equally absurd, are probably equally remote from the truth; and each treats the persons as well as the opinions of the others with that virulent contumely which is the ever-present resort of him who would force upon his neighbor the acceptance of his own undemonstable article of faith.
Nevertheless, as before remarked, the fact remains that each of these systems effects some most wonderful results in the way of curing certain diseases.
What is true of the phenomena embraced under the general head of mental therapeutics is also true of the whole range of psychological phenomena; namely, the want of a working hypothesis which shall apply to all the facts that have been observed and authenticated.
No successful attempt has heretofore been made to sup-ply this want; nor has success been possible until within a very recent period, for the simple reason that previous to the discovery of certain facts in pyschological science, the scientific world was without the necessary data from which a correct hypothesis could be formulated. The researches of Professor Liebault in the domain of hypnotism, seconded by those of his pupil, Professor Bernheim, have resulted in discoveries which throw a flood of light upon the whole field of psychological investigation. Their field of observation being confined to hypnotism, and chiefly to its employment as a therapeutic agent, it is not probable that either of those eminent scientists realized the transcendent importance of their principal discovery, or perceived that it is applicable to psychological phenomena outside the domain of their special studies. The discovery is this: that hypnotic subjects are constantly amenable to the power of suggestion; that suggestion is the all-potent factor in the production of all hypnotic phenomena. This proposition has been demonstrated to be true beyond the possibility of a reasonable doubt.
In subsequent chapters of this book it will be shown that this fact supplies the missing link in the chain of propositions necessary for a complete working hypothesis for the subject under consideration.
The general propositions applicable to all phases of psychological phenomena are here only briefly stated, leaving the minor, or subsidiary, propositions necessary for the elucidation of particular classes and sub-classes of phe-nomena to be stated under their appropriate heads.
The first proposition relates to the dual character of man's mental organization. That is to say, man has, or appears to have, two minds, each endowed with separate and distinct attributes and powers; each capable, under certain conditions, of independent action. It should be clearly understood at the outset that for the purpose of arriving at a correct conclusion it is a matter of indifference whether we consider that man is endowed with two distinct minds, or that his one mind possesses certain attributes and powers under some conditions, and certain other attributes and powers under other conditions. It is sufficient to know that everything happens just as though he were endowed with a dual mental organization.
Under the rules of correct reasoning, therefore, I have a right to assume that man has two minds; and the assumption is so stated, in its broadest terms, as the first proposition of my hypothesis. For convenience I shall designate the one as the objective mind, and the other as the subjective mind. These terms will be more fully explained at the proper time.
The second proposition is, that the subjective mind is CONSTANTLY AMENABLE TO CONTROL BY SUGGESTION.
The third, or subsidiary, proposition is, that the subjective MIND IS INCAPABLE OF INDUCTIVE REASONING.