HYPNOSIS AND SUGGESTIBILITY
AN EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH
By CLARK L HULL
Professor of psychology of Yale university
Excerpted from pages 3 thru 18 of Chapter 1
HYPNOTISM IN SCIENTIFIC PERSPECTIVE
Phenomena more or less resembling those of the hypnotic trance appear to have been known from very early times, especially among Oriental peoples. For the most part, these states were associated with religious and mystical practices. While of interest to the curious, this phase of the history of hypnosis has left no tangible contribution to science. It is sufficient to observe that hypnotism originated in magic in much the same way that chemistry arose from alchemy and astronomy from astrology.
Mesmer and the Beginnings of Hypnotism
About the time of the American Revolution, Franz Anton Mesmer (1733-1815), a Viennese physician put forward to the scientific world the theory and practice of what he called animal magnetism. Mesmer's medical training naturally made his interests clinical. No doubt the spirit of the times tended to tinge his practice with something of the mystical. In any case, having failed of success in germany, he went in 1778 to Paris where he soon had a tremendous vogue. There he opened a remarkable clinic in which he treated all kinds of diseases.
The clinic was held in a large hall which was darkened by covering the windows. In the center of this room was a large oaken tub, the famous baquet. The tub was about a foot high and large enough to permit thirty patients to stand around it. It was filled with water, in which had placed iron filings, ground glass, and a number of bottles arranged in a symmetrical manner. Over the tub was a wooden cover provided with openings through which projected jointed iron rods. These rods were applied by the patients themselves to their various ailing parts. While at the tub the subjects were commanded to maintain absolute silence, possibly to render them more suscptible to the plaintive music that was provided. At the psychological moment, Mesmer would appear on the scene garbed in a brilliant silk robe. He would pass among the patients, fixing his eyes upon them, passing his hands over their bodies, and touching them with a long iron wand. Individuals apparently suffering from the most varied disorders declared themselves cured after two or three such treatments.
It is difficult at this day to form a just opinion of Mesmer's character. Widely different views have been held. He has been charged, probably not entirely without truth, with being an avaracious charlatan. Bernheim, for example, says (1, 106):2
"In spite of the discredit which the ine interested charlatanism of Mesmer threw upon his practices, magnetism continued to have its followers . . ."3
Somewhat more charitable views have been held by others, Moll, perhaps the most learned and judicious writer on the subject of hypnosis, remarks (10,7):
"I do not wish to join the contemptible group of Mesmer's professional slanderers. He is dead, and can no longer defend himself from those who disparage him without taking into consideration the circumstances or the time in which he lived. Against the universal opinion that he was avaracious, I remark that in Vienna, as well as later in Morsburg and Paris, he always helped the poor without reward. I believe that he erred in his teaching, but think it is just to attack this only, and not his personal character. Let us consider, however---for I deem it right to uphold the honour of one who is dead---more closely in what his alleged great crime consisted. He believed in the beginning that he could heal by means of a magnet, and later that he could do so by a personal indwelling force that he could transfer to the baquet. This was evidently his firm conviction and he never made a secret of it. Others believed that a patient's mere imagination played a part, or that Mesmer produced his effects by some concealed means. Then, by degrees, arose the legend that Mesmer possessed some secret by means of which he was able to produce effects on people, but that he would not reveal it. In reality the question was not at all a secret purposely kept back by him, since he imagined that he excercised some individual force. Finally, if he used this supposititious force for the purpose of earning money, he did nothing worse than do modern physicians and proprietors of institutions who likewise do not follow their calling from pure love of their neighbour, but seek to earn their own living, as they are quite justified in doing. Mesmer did not behave worse than those who nowadays discover a new drug, and regard the manufacture of it as a means of enriching themselves. Let us be just and cease to slander Mesmer, who did only what is done by the people just mentioned, against whos procedure no one raises a word of protest, even when the drugs they extol possess no theraputic properties whatsoever."
No matter what may be the the final verdict on Mesmer's character, his scientific influence must be judged on its own merits. His theories are of very considerable interest to the historian of the growth of science, perhaps not so much because of the amount of truth they contained as because it has taken the world such a long time to separate the grain of truth from its enormous husk of error.
Mesmer's medical dissertation (1766) was written on the influence of the planets upon the bodies of men. The notion that the planets influence the lives of men was prevalent as a survival of astrology, and the somewhat similar phenomenon manifested by the magnet (action at a distance) was also attracting a great deal of attention. Mesmer, from these two concepts, evolved the hypothesis that the two halves of the human body acted like the poles of a kind of animate magnet. Disease resulted when there was an improper distribution of this magnetism. In 1779 he published to the world his matured theories in the shape of twenty-seven formal propositions. These propositions sound very strange in modern ears. There is, in particular, a conspicuous lack in them of any very obvious relation to hypnosis as it is now known. A number of the more interesting propositions follow (2,5 ff.):
"1. A responsive influence exists between the heavenly
bodies, the earth, and animated bodies.
2. A fluid universally diffused, so continuous as not to admit of a vacuum, incomparably subtle, and naturally susceptible of receiving, propagating, and communicating all motor disturbances, is the means of this influence.
3. This reciprocal action is subject to mechanical laws, with which we are not as yet aquainted.
4. Alternative effects result from this action, which may be considered to be a flux and reflux.
5. This reflux is more or less general, more or less special, more or less compound, according to the nature of the causes which determine it....
9. Properties are displayed, analogous to those of the magnet, particularly in the human body, in which diverse and opposite poles are likewise to be distinguished, and these may be communicated, changed, destroyed and reinforced. Even the phenomenon of declination may be observed....
13. Experiments show that there is a diffusion of matter, subtle enough to penetrate all bodies without any considerable loss of energy.
14. Its action takes place at a remote distance, without the aid of any intermediary substance.
15. It is, like light, increased and reflected by mirrors.
16. It is communicated, propagated, and increased by sound.
17. This magnetic virtue may be accumulated, concentrated, and transported....
23. These facts show, in accordance with the practical rules I am about to establish, that this principle will cure nervous diseases directly, and other diseases indirectly.
24. By its aid the physician is enlightened as to the use of medicine, and may render its action more perfect, and he can provoke and direct salutary crisis, so as completely to control them....
27. This doctrine will, finally, enable the physician to decide upon the health of every individual, and of the prescence of the diseases to which he may be exposed. In this way the art of healing may be brought to absolute perfection."
Animal magnetism was held to be a kind of impalpable gas or fluid as distinguished from the magnetism of minerals. Its distribution and action were supposed to be under control of the human will. Mesmer's followers not only believed that this strange fluid could be reflected by mirrors but that it could be seen. Trained somnambulists were supposed to behold it streaming forth from the eyes and hands of the magnetizer, though they disagreed as to whether the color was white, red, yellow or blue! It was agreed, however, that the fluid could be confined in a bottle, and transported thus to exert its marvelous power in distant places.
Mesmer and the Verdict of the Commissioners
In 1784, owing to a dispute which had arisen between Mesmer and some of his disciples over the right to give public lectures revealing his supposed secrets, the French government intervened by appointing a commission to investigate the truth of his claims. Benjamin Franklin was one of the members of the commission. These hard-headed individuals proceeded to run a series of controlled experiments, which, if performed by Mesmer himself, would have saved the world an immense amount of confusion.
"The commissioners were particularly struck by the fact that the crises did not occur unless the subjects were aware that they had been magnetized. For instance, in the experiments performed by Jumelin, they observed the following fact. A woman who appeared to be a very sensitive subject, was sensible of heat as soon as Jumelin's hand approached her body. Her eyes were bandaged, she was informed that she was being magnetized, and she experienced the same sensation, but when she was being magnetized without being informed of it, she experienced nothing. Several other patients were likewise strongly affected when no operation was taking place, and experienced nothing when the operation was going on. But the most curious experience of this kind was made in Deslon's presence, much to his confusion. According to the theory, when a tree is magnetized, every person who approached it was affected by its influence. The experiment was made at Passy when Franklin was present. Deslon magnetized one tree in an orchard, and a boy of twelve years old, very sensetive to magnetism, was brought towards it with his eyes bandaged. At the first, second, and third tree he turned giddy; at the fourth, when he was still at a distance of twenty-four feet from the magnetized tree, the crisis occurred, his limbs became rigid, and it was necessary to carry him to an adjoining grass-plat before Deslon could recall him to conciousness." (2,15)
Under such conditions the commission had no alternative but to decide against the existence of animal magnetism as a physical force. Moreoever, even at that early day they were dimly aware of the psychological nature of the phenomena in question, as shown by the following section taken from their official report (2,17):
"Finally, they have demonstrated by decisive experiments that imagination apart from magnetism, produces convulsions, and that magnetism without imagination produces nothing. They have come to the unanimous conclusion with respect to the existence and utility of magnetism, that there is nothing to prove the existence of the animal magnetic fluid; that this fluid, since it is non-existent, has no beneficial effect; that the violent effects observed in patients under public treatment are due to contact, to the excitement of the imagination, and to the mechanical imitation which involuntarily impels us to repeat that which strikes our senses..."
The Royal Society of Medicine made a very similar report about the same time:
"From a curative point of view animal magnetism is nothing but the art of making sensitive people fall into convulsions. From a curative point of view animal magnetism is useless and dangerous..."
These reports marked the end of Mesmer's popular favor in Paris, and he returned to Germany.
"Artificial Somnambulism" and Related Trance Phenomena
Mesmer did not hypnotize his subjects, although some of them appear to have had spontaneous hysterical convulsions and to have shown other related behavior while at the tub. The sleeping trance, which is a familiar part of hypnotism today, seems to have been discovered accidentally in 1784 by a follower of Mesmer, the Marquis de Puysegur. One day, he attempted to apply Mesmer's magnetizing methods to a young shepard, Victor, who, instead of showing the usual hysterical convulsions, fell into a quiet sleeping trance. From this condition he appeared not fully awake for some time, but went about his duties like a sleep-walker. When he finally awoke from the somnambulistic state, he was unable to recall anything that had happened during the period of its existence. The sleeping or trance condition, with its subsequent amnesia, was quite naturally regarded as an artificially induced somnambulism, and it at once attracted a great deal of attention, partly, no doubt, because of the supposed clairvoyant powers of subjects while in that state. About the same time Petetin, a physician at Lyons, described the phenomenon of hypnotic catalepsy or muscular immobility. The discovery of the remaining major hypnotic phenomena followed rapidly, and by 1825 hypnotically induced positive hallucinations (seeing things which are not present), negative hallucinations (being functionally blind to things really present), hypnotic anesthesias, hypnotic analgesias (insensibility to pain), and the action of post-hypnotic suggestion had all been clearly described.
The century which elapsed since 1925 has been much less fertile in the discovery of hypnotic phenomena than the preceding half-century. Indeed, almost the only noteworthy tendency during this period has been the gradual though still incomplete correction of errors which had accumulated around the pseudo-science of hypnotism previous to that date. One development is the gradual, but only partial, escape of hypnotism from its age-long entanglements with mysticism and magic. a second and more dramatic episode is the struggle centering around the rivalry between the physical theories of animal magnetism and the psychological theory of suggestion as alternative explanations of hypnotic phenomena. It is with events of this latter conflict that we shall now concern ourselves.
Braid and the Revolt from animal Magnetism
The subjective or psychological nature of hypnotic phenomena seems to have been discovered and exploited quite independently by James Braid in England (1843) and by a group of French investigators whose work began with the Abbe Faria (1819) and culminated with Liebeault (1866) and Bernheim (1886). In contrast with the French movement, which seems to have been a somewhat gradual development with several persons contributing, Braid's stroke of insight appears to have been a relatively independent and isolated event. In 1841 he witnessed a mesmeric seance conducted by a French magnetizer named Lafontaine. Braid first went to the demonstrations suspecting fraud, but upon witnessing it a second time, and after making certain tests on the magnetized subjects himself, he became convinced the phenomena were genuine. He was aroused to enthusiasm and later experimented extensively on his own account. These researches very soon led him to the view that the cause of the various phenomena was not a fluid which passed from the body of the mesmerist into that of the subject.Further, Braid developed a special technique for inducing the trance, a method still extensively used. Originally he caused his patients to look at a cork bround to the forehead. His later procedure was to have the subject look fixedly at some bright object, such as his lancet case, which was held near, and slightly above, the eyes in such a way that the eye muscles were under a certain amount of strain. This technique was usually combined with verbal suggestion, (Webmaster note: Recall the position of the "gradation chart" in auditing waiting room, did you not read the 'end phenomenas' all the way to the top?)
though he seems not to have appreciated, at least during his early years of experimentation, the importance of the role played by suggestion in the process. Braid coined the word hypnotism, now in general use, and utilized the trance mainly for painless surgical operations, which he performed in large numbers.
(Webmaster note: Pain free sounds like claims of "clear" - no somatics)
Braid's book, Neurypnology, in which he gives the chief exposition of his views, was written only two years after his first contact with animal magnetism. It contains many long notes in which he replies, often with considerable heat, to the numerous unjust criticisms made by persons now otherwise forgotten. Though the book is very clumsily written, the author's sincerity gleams forth from every page. His rejection of the theory of a magnetic fluid marks a great advance over the magnetizers. he also saw with perfect clearness that hypnosis is not natural sleep. These things are lastingly to his credit, and give Braid a secure place in the history of science. Even so, judged by modern standards, Neurypnology must be considered as psychologically naive, and the experiments reported in it as decidely amateurish. Of the nine points which he regarded as significant and well established by his researches (3, 2160, probably no more than two or three would survive properly controlled repetition.
Perhaps Braid's most remarkable example of bad experimentation was a long series of studies by which he supposed he had confirmed the then current theory of phreno-magnetism. He believed that pressure, when applied to certain points on the heads of hypnotized subjects, would evoke from the behavior characteristic of a corresponding phrenological faculty. Thus, when he pressed the "organ" of veneration,
"an altered expression of countenance took place, and a movement of arms and hands, which later became clasped in addition, and the patient... arose from the seat and knelt down as if engaged in prayer."(3)
But this experimental naivete must have been largely the result of inexperience, for in later years his methods greatly improved. The results obtained from subsequent and better controlled experiments finally led him to abandon his belief in phrenology and its hypnotic correlates. He appears also in his later years to have come gradually to a very adequate realization of the role played by suggestion in producing this phenomena, both of the hypnotic and the waking or "vigilant" condition.
Leibeault and the French Revolt from Animal Magnetism
The parallel movement in France which opposed the theory of a magnetic fluid was much more complicated. It began in 1814-1818, when the Abbe Faria showed by experiments that no special force was necessary for the production of mesmeric phenomena such as the trance, but that the determining cause lay within the subject himself. One of Faria's subjects was a general named Noizet, who became converted to the Abbe's views. He, in turn, passed the teachings on to a physician, Alexander Bertrand, who elaborated them. Both Noizet and Bertrand wrote books upon the subject.
Basing his opinion largely on the striking similarities between the systems of Noizet and Bertrand on the one hand, and that of Liebeault on the other, Pierre Janet has advanced the view that Noizet's book may have fallen into the hands of Liebeault. Bramwell, on the other hand, calls attention to the fact that Braid's anti-magnetic views were being exploited in France through the influence of Azam and others in 1859-1860. At all events, we find Liebeault seriously beginning the study of mesmerism in 1860, but entirely rejecting the theory of a magnetic fluid. Liebeault was a humble physician who began a country practice in 1850. In 1864 he settled at Nancy and practised hypnotism among the poor peasants who came to his clinic. The temper of the man is indicated by his refusal to accept fees for these services. Bramwell, who visited Liebeault's clinic, draws such an inimitable picture of it that it must be quoted:
"His clinique, invariably thronged, was held in two rooms in the corner of this garden...the patients told to go to sleep apparently fell at once into quiet slumber, then received their dose of curative suggestions, and when told to awake, either walked quietly away or sat for a little to chat with their friends, the whole process rarely lasting longer than ten minutes... no drugs were given, and Liebeault took special pains to explain to his patients that all he did was simple and capable of scientific explanation... A little girl, about five years old, dressed shabbily, but evidently in her best, with a crown of paper laurel leaves on her head and carrying a little book in her hand, toddled into the sanctum, fearlessly interrupted the doctor in the midst of his work by pulling his coat, and said, 'You promised me a penny if I get a prize.' This accompanied by kindly words, was smilingly given, incitement to work to work having been evoked in a pleasing, if not scientific way. Two little girls, about six or seven years of age, no doubt brought in the first instance by friends, walked in and sat down on a sofa behind the doctor. He, stopping for a moment in in his work, made a pass in the direction of one of them, and said, 'Sleep, my little kitten,' repeated the same for the other, and in an instant they were both asleep. He rapidly gave them their dose of suggestion and then evidently forgot all about them. In about twenty minutes one awoke, and wishing to go, essayed by shaking and pulling to awaken her companion--her amused expression of face, when she failed to do so, being very comic. In about five minutes more the second one awoke, and hand in hand, they trotted laughingly away." (4,32)
After coming to Nancy, Liebeault began writing a book on hypnotism which was finished after two years of hard work. When it was published, however, only one copy was sold! But Liebeault patiently pursued his gratuitous labors among the poor for twenty years, when, by a kind of accident, his remarkable work was finally recognized. It seems (4,30) that Bernheim, a professor in the medical school at Nancy, treated without sucess for six months a case of sciatica which had lasted six years. The patient was quickly cured through hypnotic suggestion administered by Liebeault. This striking cure led Bernhiem to investigate the novel method of treatment. His initial incredulity soon changed to enthusiastic admiration, and in 1884-1886 Bernhiem published an attractively written book in which he directed the attention of the world to Liebeault's work. Then tardily, twenty years after it had been written, the remaining copies of Liebeault's book were finally sold, and the modest physician at last received recognition. Doctors from all countries now flocked to Nancy to study his methods.
Charcot and the Revival of Animal Magnetism
But suggestion as an explanation of hypnotic phenomena was yet to encounter a severe struggle. Quite independently of Liebeault, Charcot, an anatomist and neurologist of Paris had around 1880 attracted considerable attention by his courageous experiments and lectures on the subject of hypnosis. Warned by the unscientific extravagances which had very properly brought the magnetizers into disrepute, Charcot resolved that his experiments, at least, should be ultra- scientific and technically above reproach. It is largely because of this that the controversy which eventually grew up between the Paris and Nancy schools merits our attention. Nevertheless, despite Charcot's scientific intentions, no one has ever fallen into more grievous experimental errors or gone more widely astray in experimental method than he.
Charcot seems to have been especially fearful of being deceived by his subjects. He therefore sought in their behavior for signs of magnetic influence which could not be simulated. Apparently he never hypnotized any one himself but depended upon his assistants, who brought the subjects to him. These subjects were mainly three hysterical young women. With these three mentally pathological subjects, he sought diligently for objective signs characteristic of the hypnotic sleep. Quite naturally he employed the same general methods that he had recently applied with successs to the study of locomotor ataxia and lateral sclerosis. When his subjects were stimulated, their muscles seemed to show characteristic reactions following definite laws.
"All these phenomena could be succesfully linked to Charcot's earlier studies. They could be examined with the guidance of the same anatomical ideas. The same method and the same instruments could be used. The same little hammer could be used for testing the reflexes. As of old, demonstrations could be made by the chief to an admiring circle of pupils. It was still possible to seek upon the bared limb of the subject a place where a blow with the hammer would readily induce a well-marked contracture, and one plainly visible to all beholders. To Charcot this was irresistible. He declared that the study of such phenomena could be conducted by a perfectly sound method; that the method sufficed to exclude the possibility of fraud, which had invalidated the old experiments upon somnambulists; and that it was in the light of the data acquired by this method that a critical review of all the recorded phenomena of animal magnetism must be undertaken."(8,168)4
Pursuing the methods just described, Charcot reported a number of supposed discoveries. Major hypnotism, as it was now called, was said to show three sharply marked stages: lethargy, catalepsy, and somnambulism. In the lethargic stag, induced by closing the subject's eyes, the subject could hear nothing and could not speak; but when certain nerves were pressed, remarkable and uniform contractures resulted. If, while in the lethargic state, the subject's eyes were opened, she at once passed into the cataleptic stage, in which the limbs remained in any position they were placed by the experimenter, though she was still unable to hear or speak. Lastly, if friction were applied to the top of the head, the subject passed into the somnambulistic condition, which was substantially that of the ordinary trance. Sometimes these contractures, catalepsies, and other hypnotic manifestations appeared only on one side of the body. In such cases, if a large magnet were brought close to the limbs in question, the particular symptoms would be displaced at once to the other side of the body. This phenomena was called transference.
The Paradox of Alfred Binet
Binet and Fere, loyal and admiring pupils of Charcot, elaborated his views in their book Animal Magnetism. In regard to the phenomena of transference, they remarked (2,117):
"In subjects sensitive to the magnet, the transfer of unilateral contractures may be effected by means of this agent; thus, when the ulnar attitude has been produced in the right hand, and a magnet is brought close to the subject's fore-arm when he is asleep, and even when he is awake, both his hands become agitated with slight jerking movements; then the contracture of the right hand ceases, and is transferred to the left hand, without losing any of its characteristics or of its precise localization."
Thus we find magnetism reappearing in the history of hypnotism, this time in respectable, scientific garb, though quite as fallacious as when existence of a magnetic fluid was advanced by the old magnetizers. Animal Magnetism was published in 1888, two years after the appearance of the first edition of Bernheim's Suggestive Theraputics. Possibly motivated by the opposing tendencies of Bernheim's book, Binet and Fere performed a series of control experiments which, if properly executed, would have removed the element of suggestion as a constant error from their technique and have corrected their mistake. At the present time it is ironical to read their account of these experiments (2,262):
"We need not in this place prove the reality of aesthesiogenic influence, in order to reply to those who only see in these agents the effects of suggestion and of expectant attention, since we have already had occasion to explain this point. It only remains to show that in the following experiments we took sufficient care to eliminate suggestion and expectant attention. These were the points on which we insisted: 1. Since these researches were new to us, we were in many cases unable to forsee what would occur, and especially with respect to the polarization of emotions, so that suggestion on our part was impossible 2. We repeated the experiments on absolutely fresh subjects, and obtained the same results. 3. The same effect was produced when the magnet was concealed under a cloth. 4. This was also the case when the magnet was made invisible by suggestion. 5. We made use of a wooden magnet, and nothing occurred, although if there had been any results they could not have afforded a counterproof, since they might have been explained by recollection of a previous peripheral excitement..."
This insistence of Binet and Fere upon such gross error in the face of Bernheim's experiments and criticisms is especially surprising when one recalls the well-deserved scientific fame to which Binet later attained. Only two years after the publication of Animal Magnetism, Binet published La Suggestibilite, an extremely original and thoroughly scientific work on an intimately related subject. And all the world knows that still later, in collaboration with Simon, he devised the intelligence tests which bear his name and thus made to the science of psychology one of the greatest contributions of its entire history. Even so, the fact remains that there has rarely been written a book containing a greater aggregation of results from wretched experiments, all put forward with loud protestations of impeccable scientific procedure and buttressed by the most transparent sophistries, than this work by Binet and Fere.
Bernheim and the Eclipse of Animal Magnetism
To these claims of Charcot and his followers Berheim replied in the second edition of his book:
"If, in our researches, we failed to take as our starting-point the three phases of hysterical hypnotism described by Charcot, this was because we were unable by our observation to confirm their existence. We were unable to ascertain that the action of opening or closing the subject's eyes, or friction of the vertex, modified the phenomena in any way; or that in the subjects who were not disposed to manifest certain phenomena under the sole influence of suggestion, such phenomena could be induced by any physical stimuli just mentioned.
(Webmaster Emphasis - Bold)
"...Conversely, all the phenomena can be readily obtained when they are described in the subject's presence, and when the idea of them is allowed to permeate the mind. Not only can all the classical effects of the magnet induced in this way, but the same thing applies to all the varieties of transference. I say, 'I am going to move the magnet, and when I do so there will be a transference from the arm to the leg.' A minute later the arm falls and the leg rises. Without saying any more to the subject I next move the magnet back to the leg; thereupon there is a fresh transference from the leg to the arm !!! If, without disclosing the fact to the subject, I substitute for the magnet a knife, a pencil, a bottle, a piece of paper, or nothing at all--still the phenomena are witnessed." (I, 182)5
The salutary manner in which Bernheim thus exposed the basic error in the experimental technique of the Paris school, by means of an adequate control experiment, should be pondered long and well by all who essay esperimentation in the field of hypnosis.
Coue and Autosuggestion
The conflict with Paris having been won, there was yet another chapter in the history of hypnosis and suggestion to emanate from Nancy. In 1885 the good Liebeault met at Troyes a young druggest named Emile Coue. The two men at once found much in common. For a time Coue studied and practiced hypnotic suggestion according to Liebeault's technique. Meanwhile, in his profession, he observed the influence of waking suggestion in effecting cures when associated with the use of drugs, the latter often quite ineffective in themselves. Coue studied and brooded over the matter for a period of twenty-five years. In 1910, at the age of fifty-three, he established what has sometimes been called the "neo-Nancy" school. Following the example of his predecessor, Dr. Liebeault, Coue held his clinique in his own home and gave gartuitously his healing suggestions to the many who flocked to receive them. But his technique was different. Coue abandoned the trance entirely and depended wholly upon waking suggestion. This he called autosuggestion, insisting that all suggestion is in reality nothing but autosuggestion. What Coue meant by the term autosuggestion may best be understood from his quaint directions to a person suffering from pain:
"Therefore every time you have a pain, physical or otherwise, you will go quietly to your room...sit down and shut your eyes, pass your hand lightly across your forehead if it is mental distress, or upon the part that hurts, if it is pain in any part of the body, and repeat the words: "It is going, it is going," etc., very rapidly, even at the risk of gabbling....The essential idea is to say: 'It is going, it is going,' so quickly, that it is impossibe for a thought contrary in nature to force itself between the words. We thus actually think it it going, and as all ideas that we fix upon the mind become a reality to us, the pain, physical or mental, vanishes. And should the pain return repeat the process 10, 20, 50, 200 times if necessary, for it is better to pass the entire day saying: "It is going!" than to suffer pain and complain about it." (5,82)
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