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Chapter I. - How to Hypnotize
Dr. Cocke's Method -- Dr. Flint's Method -- The French Method at Paris -- at
Nancy -- The Hindoo Silent Method -- How to Wake a Subject from Hypnotic
Sleep -- Frauds of Public Hypnotic Entertainers.
First let us quote what is said of hypnotism in Foster's Encyclopedic
Medical Dictionary. The dictionary states the derivation of the word
from the Greek word meaning sleep, and gives as synonym "Braidism". This
definition follows: "An abnormal state into which some persons may be
thrown, either by a voluntary act of their own, such as gazing
continuously with fixed attention on some bright object held close to
the eyes, or by the exercise of another person's will; characterized by
suspension of the will and consequent obedience to the promptings of
suggestions from without. The activity of the organs of special sense,
except the eye, may be heightened, and the power of the muscles
increased. Complete insensibility to pain may be induced by hypnotism,
and it has been used as an anaesthetic. It is apt to be followed by a
severe headache of long continuance, and by various nervous
disturbances. On emerging from the hypnotic state, the person hypnotized
usually has no remembrance of what happened during its continuance, but
in many persons such remembrance may be induced by 'suggestion'. About
one person in three is susceptible to hypnotism, and those of the
hysterical or neurotic tendency (but rarely the insane) are the most
First we will quote the directions for producing hypnotism given by Dr.
James R. Cocke, one of the most scientific experimenters in hypnotism in
America. His directions of are special value, since they are more
applicable to American subjects than the directions given by French
writers. Says Dr. Cocke:
"The hypnotic state can be produced in one of the following ways: First,
command the subject to close his eyes. Tell him his mind is a blank.
Command him to think of nothing. Leave him a few minutes; return and
tell him he cannot open his eyes. If he fails to do so, then begin to
make any suggestion which may be desired. This is the so-called mental
method of hypnotization.
"Secondly, give the subject a coin or other bright object. Tell him to
look steadfastly at it and not take his eyes away from it. Suggest that
his eyelids are growing heavy, that he cannot keep them open. Now close
the lids. They cannot be opened. This is the usual method employed by
public exhibitors. A similar method is by looking into a mirror, or into
a glass of water, or by rapidly revolving polished disks, which should
be looked at steadfastly in the same way as is the coin, and I think
tires the eyes less.
"Another method is by simply commanding the subject to close his eyes,
while the operator makes passes over his head and hands without coming
in contact with them. Suggestions may be made during these passes.
"Fascination, as it is called, is one of the hypnotic states. The
operator fixes his eyes on those of the subject. Holding his attention
for a few minutes, the operator begins to walk backward; the subject
follows. The operator raises the arm; the subject does likewise.
Briefly, the subject will imitate any movement of the hypnotist, or will
obey any suggestion made by word, look or gesture, suggested by the one
with whom he is en rapport.
"A very effective method of hypnotizing a person is by commanding him to
sleep, and having some very soft music played upon the piano, or other
stringed instrument. Firm pressure over the orbits, or over the finger-
ends and root of the nail for some minutes may also induce the
condition of hypnosis in very sensitive persons.
"Also hypnosis can frequently be induced by giving the subject a glass
of water, and telling him at the same time that it has been magnetized.
The wearing of belts around the body, and rings round the fingers, will
also, sometimes, induce a degree of hypnosis, if the subject has been
told that they have previously been magnetized or are electric. The
latter descriptions are the so-called physical methods described by Dr.
Dr. Herbert L. Flint, a stage hypnotizer, describes his methods as
"To induce hypnotism, I begin by friendly conversation to place my
patient in a condition of absolute calmness and quiescence. I also try
to win his confidence by appealing to his own volitional effort to aid
me in obtaining the desired clad. I impress upon him that hypnosis in
his condition is a benign agency, and far from subjugating his
mentality, it becomes intensified to so great an extent as to act as a
"Having assured myself that he is in a passive condition, I suggest to
him, either with or without passes, that after looking intently at an
object for a few moments, he will experience a feeling of lassitude. I
steadily gaze at his eyes, and in a monotonous tone I continue to
suggest the various stages of sleep. As for instance, I say, 'Your
breathing is heavy. Your whole body is relaxed.' I raise his arm,
holding it in a horizontal position for a second or two, and suggest to
him that it is getting heavier and heavier. I let my hand go and his arm
falls to his side.
"'Your eyes,' I continue, 'feel tired and sleepy. They are fast closing'
repeating in a soothing tone the words 'sleepy, sleepy, sleep.' Then in
a self-assertive tone, I emphasize the suggestion by saying in an
unhesitating and positive tone, 'sleep.'
"I do not, however, use this method with all patients. It is an error to
state, as some specialists do, that from their formula there can be no
deviation; because, as no two minds are constituted alike, so they
cannot be affected alike. While one will yield by intense will exerted
through my eyes, another may, by the same means, become fretful, timid,
nervous, and more wakeful than he was before. The same rule applies to
gesture, tones of the voice, and mesmeric passes. That which has a
soothing and lulling effect on one, may have an opposite effect on
another. There can be no unvarying rule applicable to all patients. The
means must be left to the judgment of the operator, who by a long course
of psychological training should be able to judge what measures are
necessary to obtain control of his subject. Just as in drugs, one person
may take a dose without injury that will kill another, so in hypnosis,
one person can be put into a deep sleep by means that would be totally
ineffectual in another, and even then the mental states differ in each
individual -- that which in one induces a gentle slumber may plunge his
neighbor into a deep cataleptic state."
That hypnotism may be produced by purely physical or mechanical means
seems to have been demonstrated by an incident which started Doctor
Burq, a Frenchman, upon a scientific inquiry which lasted many years.
"While practising as a young doctor, he had one day been obliged to go
out and had deemed it advisable to lock up a patient in his absence.
Just as he was leaving the house he heard the sound as of a body
suddenly falling. He hurried back into the room and found his patient in
a state of catalepsy. Monsieur Burq was at that time studying magnetism,
and he at once sought for the cause of this phenomenon. He noticed that
the door-handle was of copper. The next day he wrapped a glove around
the handle, again shut the patient in, and this time nothing occurred.
He interrogated the patient, but she could give him no explanation. He
then tried the effect of copper on all the subjects at the Salpetriere
and the Cochin hospitals, and found that a great number were affected by
At the Charity hospital in Paris, Doctor Luys used an apparatus moved by
clockwork. Doctor Foveau, one of his pupils, thus describes it:
"The hypnotic state, generally produced by the contemplation of a bright
spot, a lamp, or the human eye, is in his case induced by a peculiar
kind of mirror. The mirrors are made of pieces of wood cut prismatically
in which fragments of mirrors are incrusted. They are generally double
and placed crosswise, and by means of clockwork revolve automatically.
They are the same as sportsmen use to attract larks, the rays of the sun
being caught and reflected on every side and from all points of the
horizon. If the little mirrors in each branch are placed in parallel
lines in front of a patient, and the rotation is rapid, the optic organ
soon becomes fatigued, and a calming soothing somnolence ensues. At
first it is not a deep sleep, the eye-lids are scarcely heavy, the
drowsiness slight and restorative. By degrees, by a species of training,
the hypnotic sleep differs more and more from natural sleep, the
individual abandons himself more and more completely, and falls into one
of the regular phases of hypnotic sleep. Without a word, without a
suggestion or any other action, Dr. Luys has made wonderful cures.
Wecker, the occulist, has by the same means entirely cured spasms of the
Professor Delboeuf gives the following account of how the famous
Liebault produced hypnotism at the hospital at Nancy. We would
especially ask the reader to note what he says of Dr. Liebault's manner
and general bearing, for without doubt much of his success was due to
his own personality. Says Professor Delboeuf:
"His modus faciendi has something ingenious and simple about it,
enhanced by a tone and air of profound conviction; and his voice has
such fervor and warmth that he carries away his clients with him.
"After having inquired of the patient what he is suffering from, without
any further or closer examination, he places his hand on the patient's
forehead and, scarcely looking at him, says, 'You are going to sleep.'
Then, almost immediately, he closes the eyelids, telling him that he is
asleep. After that he raises the patient's arm, and says, 'You cannot
put your arm down.' If he does, Dr. Liebault appears hardly to notice
it. He then turns the patient's arm around, confidently affirming that
the movement cannot be stopped, and saying this he turns his own arms
rapidly around, the patient remaining all the time with his eyes shut;
then the doctor talks on without ceasing in a loud and commanding voice.
The suggestions begin:
"'You are going to be cured; your digestion will be good, your sleep
quiet, your cough will stop, your circulation will become free and
regular; you are going to feel very strong and well, you will be able to
walk about,' etc., etc. He hardly ever varies the speech. Thus he fires
away at every kind of disease at once, leaving it to the client to find
out his own. No doubt he gives some special directions, according to the
disease the patient is suffering from, but general instructions are the
"The same suggestions are repeated a great many times to the same
person, and, strange to say, notwithstanding the inevitable monotony of
the speeches, and the uniformity of both style and voice, the master's
tone is so ardent, so penetrating, so sympathetic, that I have never
once listened to it without a feeling of intense admiration."
The Hindoos produce sleep simply by sitting on the ground and, fixing
their eyes steadily on the subject, swaying the body in a sort of
writhing motion above the hips. By continuing this steadily and in
perfect silence for ten or fifteen minutes before a large audience,
dozens can be put to sleep at one time. In all cases, freedom from noise
or distractive incidents is essential to success in hypnotism, for
concentration must be produced.
Certain French operators maintain that hypnotism may be produced by
pressure on certain hypnogenic points or regions of the body. Among
these are the eye-balls, the crown of the head, the back of the neck and
the upper bones of the spine between the shoulder glades. Some persons
may be hypnotized by gently pressing on the skin at the base of the
finger-nails, and at the root of the nose; also by gently scratching the
neck over the great nerve center.
Hypnotism is also produced by sudden noise, as if by a Chinese gong,
HOW TO WAKE A SUBJECT FROM HYPNOTIC SLEEP.
This is comparatively easy in moot cases. Most persons will awake
naturally at the end of a few minutes, or will fall into a natural sleep
from which in an hour or two they will awake refreshed. Usually the
operator simply says to the subject, "All right, wake up now," and claps
his hands or makes some other decided noise. In some cases it is
sufficient to say, "You will wake up in five minutes"; or tell a subject
to count twelve and when he gets to ten say, "Wake up."
Persons in the lethargic state are not susceptible to verbal
suggestions, but may be awakened by lifting both eyelids.
It is said that pressure on certain regions will wake the subject, just
as pressure in certain other places will put the subject to sleep. Among
these places for awakening are the ovarian regions.
Some writers recommend the application of cold water to awaken subjects,
but this is rarely necessary. In olden times a burning coal was brought
If hypnotism was produced by passes, then wakening may be brought about
by passes in the opposite direction, or with the back of the hand toward
The only danger is likely to be found in hysterical persons. They will,
if aroused, often fall off again into a helpless state, and continue to
do so for some time to come. It is dangerous to hypnotize such subjects.
Care should be taken to awaken the subject very thoroughly before
leaving him, else headache, nausea, or the like may follow, with other
unpleasant effects. In all cases subjects should be treated gently and
with the utmost consideration, as if the subject and operator were the
most intimate friends.
It is better that the person who induces hypnotic sleep should awaken
the subject. Others cannot do it so easily, though as we have said,
subjects usually awaken themselves after a short time.
Further description of the method of producing hypnotism need not be
given; but it is proper to add that in addition to the fact that not
more than one person out of three can be hypnotized at all, even by an
experienced operator, to effect hypnotization except in a few cases
requires a great deal of patience, both on the part of the operator and
of the subject. It may require half a dozen or more trials before any
effect at all can be produced, although in some cases the effect will
come within a minute or two. After a person has been once hypnotized,
hypnotization is much easier. The most startling results are to be
obtained only after a long process of training on the part of the
subject. Public hypnotic entertainments, and even those given at the
hospitals in Paris, would be quite impossible if trained subjects were
not at hand; and in the case of the public hypnotizer, the proper
subjects are hired and placed in the audience for the express purpose of
coming forward when called for. The success of such an entertainment
could not otherwise be guaranteed. In many cases, also, this training of
subjects makes them deceivers. They learn to imitate what they see, and
since their living depends upon it, they must prove hypnotic subjects
who can always be depended upon to do just what is wanted. We may add,
however, that what they do is no more than an imitation of the real
thing. There is no grotesque manifestation on the stage, even if it is a
pure fake, which could not be matched by more startling facts taken from
undoubted scientific experience.
Links to Additional Media for Complete Hypnotism: Mesmerism, Mind-Reading and Spiritualism by A. Alpheus such as audio and ebooks are located at the bottom of this web page.