The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1860

Allan Kardec

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Since it was barred at the main door, Magnetism entered through the window, thanks to a disguise and another name. Instead of saying: I am magnetism, which was not likely to get it through, it then said: My name is Hypnotism (from the Greek “Hypnos”, sleep). Thanks to such a gimmick it finally got in, after twenty long years, but it did not lose much for the wait because it found a way of being introduced by one of the greatest luminaries. He was careful enough to avoid its entourage of passes, somnambulism, and remote visions, and ecstasies which would have been a betrayal. He simply said: you are good and human; your heart is broken by the sight of your neighbor’s agony, in his sickness; you must find a way of mitigating the patient’s pain, hurt by your scalpel; it can be really dangerous. I bring you a simpler way, yet with no drawbacks. I was certain that I would be heard, speaking in the name of humanity. He then wisely added: “I am family; I owe my life to one of you”. He thought, and not without reason, that such an origin wouldn’t do him any harm.

If we lived in the time of the brilliant and poetic Greece, we would say: Magnetism, child of nature and of a mere mortal, was banned from the Olympus because it had hurt Aesculapius privileges, marching by his side, boasting about the ability of healing without his help. It wandered around Earth for a long time, teaching human beings the art of healing in new ways. It unveiled a wealth of wonders to the people, mysteriously hidden in the temples until then, but those whose secrets were revealed, and whose charlatanism was exposed, stone-chased Magnetism, and it was then banned by the gods and abused by people. Nevertheless, it continued to spread its benefits by alleviating humanity, certain that its innocence would be one day recognized, and that justice would be served. It had a child called Hypnotism whose birth was carefully hidden for the fear of persecution. It shared its long exile with the child, a learning period.

When the child was thought to be ready, Magnetism then said:
• Go and present yourself to the Olympus, but be careful not to say that you are my child. Your name and a disguise will facilitate your entry. Aesculapius will introduce you.
• How come father! Aesculapius, your most bloodthirsty enemy! The one who banned you!
• He is the one who will reach out to you!
• But if he recognizes me I shall be expelled.
• Well then! If you are expelled you will come to me and we shall continue our beneficent work amidst human beings, waiting for better days. But, easy now. I have a lot of hope. Aesculapius is not bad. After all, he seeks the progress of Science otherwise he would not deserve to be the god of medicine. As a matter of fact, I might have made a few mistakes myself. Since I felt offended for having my image vilified, I was exalted and insensibly attacked him: I cursed, insulted and called him ignorant. Well, this is not a proper way of treating people and the gods. He was upset with me for a while since his self-love was hurt. Don’t you do what I did my child. Be more sensible and civil, above all. If others are not with you it is their problem and you will be on the right side. Go child and remember that one cannot catch flies with vinegar.

That is how the father spoke. Hypnotism then timidly left to the Olympus; he could feel his heartbeat when he showed up at the sacred door. But, ah surprise! Aesculapius himself shakes his hand and introduces him!

There we have Magnetism in its place then. What to do? Oh! Don’t believe in victory yet; these are still the preliminaries of peace. It is a first hurdle which was taken down, and that is all. An important step, no doubt, but don’t you think that the enemy will acknowledge defeat. Aesculapius himself, the great Aesculapius, who recognized you by your family traces, would greatly impair your defense; hence they would take you to the Charenton. They will say that it is something… but for sure it is not Magnetism… That is fine! We will not play with words. It will be anything that they want but while we wait, it is a fact which will have consequences.

Well, here are the consequences. First they shall deal with the anesthetic point of view only (from the Greek aesthesis, sensitivity, and private, general or partial loss of the ability to feel), and that as a result of the predominance of materialistic ideas, because there are still so many people who insist, for modesty no doubt, to be reduced to the role of a roasting stick, which when broken, is thrown into the scrap yard, without a trace left behind! Thus, they will exam the fact from all angles, even if just out of mere curiosity. They will study the effect of various substances in the production of catalepsy; then, on a given day, they will acknowledge that a finger is sufficient. However, that is not all. Observing the phenomenon of catalepsy there will be the spontaneous occurrence of others. The freedom of thought during the suspension of the organic faculties has already been observed. Thus, thought is independent of the organs and there is in the human being something beyond matter. Strange faculties shall be observed: the vision will acquire unusual amplitude, beyond the boundaries of the senses; all perceptions shall be displaced; in short, a vast field of observations and there will be no lack of observers. The sanctuary is open, and let us keep up with the hope that light will shine from there, unless the Celestial Areopagus denies such an honor to anybody else.

May our readers kindly read the remarkable article published by Mr. Victor Meunier, editor of the Ami des Sciences (Friend of Sciences), about this interesting subject, in the weekly scientific Review Siècle, on December 16th, 1859:

“Animal magnetism, taken to the Academy by Mr. Broca; introduced to the illustrious Society by Mr. Velpeau; experimented with by Messrs. Follin, Verneuil, Faure, Trousseau, Denonvilliers, Nélaton, Azam, Ch. Robin, etc., all medical surgeons, is the great news of the day.”

“The discoveries, like the books, have their destinies. The one we are going to talk about is not new. It is about twenty years old, with no lack of publicity in England, where it was born, nor in France, where at the moment they don’t talk about anything else. A Scottish doctor, Dr. Braid, who discovered it, wrote the book: Neural-hypnotism or the rationale of the nervous sleep, considered in relation to the animal magnetism.” 3

“A renowned English doctor, Dr. Carpenter, carefully analyzed Dr. Braid’s findings in the article “Sleep” found in the Encyclopedia of Anatomy and Physiology. An illustrious French scientist, Mr. Littré, reproduced Dr. Carpenter’s analysis in the second edition of the Manuel de Physiologie, by J. Mueller. Finally, we have dedicated one of our newspapers in the Presse, on July 7th, 1852 to Hypnotism, name given by Dr. Braid to the set of facts which are discussed. The most recent publication regarding this subject is then seven years old. When it all seemed forgotten, it finds this huge repercussion.”

“There are two things in Hypnotism: a group of nervous phenomena and the process by which they are produced.”

“The process formerly employed by Abbot Faria, if I am not mistaken, is of great simplicity.”

“It consists of keeping a shiny object before the eyes of the subject, close to the root of the nose, so that the subject can only see it by crossing the eyes inwardly; the subject must stare at the object in that way. In the beginning the pupils will contract, later they dilate significantly and soon after the cataleptic state is produced. Once the limbs of the subject are raised they remain in that position. This is only one of the phenomena which are produced. We shall talk about the others in due time.”

“Mr. Azam, a substitute professor at the Surgical Clinic of the Bordeaux School of Medicine, having successfully repeated Dr. Braid’s experiments, exchanged ideas with Dr. Paul Broca, who thought that hypnotized patients would be insensitive to the pain of surgical procedures. The letter he has just sent to the Academy of Sciences contains the summary of his experiments in that regard.”

“First he had to be assured about the reality of Hypnotism, which he did without difficulties. Visiting a patient, a lady about forty years old, somewhat hysterical, who had fallen ill due to a light indisposition, Dr. Broca pretended to be examining her eyes, holding a golden flask at about fifteen centimeters from the root of her nose, asking her to stare at it. About three minutes later her eyes were reddish, her facial traces immobile, her answers slow and difficult, but perfectly rational. Dr. Broca raised the patient’s arm and it remained in that position; he moved her fingers to the most extreme positions and those fingers would stay there; he pinched her skin at several points, with certain force, and as it seems the patient felt nothing. Catalepsy, insensitivity! Dr. Broca did not continue since he had already learned from that patient what he wanted to know. A scrub of the eyes and some cold air blown on the forehead brought the patient back to her normal state. She had no recollection of what had just happened. The information about the hypnotic insensitivity to surgical procedures was still missing.”

“Among the patients from Necker Hospital, under Dr. Follin’s responsibility, there was a 24 year-old poor lady victimized by extensive burns on her back and on both sides of her inferior limbs, presenting an extremely painful abscess in one leg. Any minor movement would produce excruciating pain. Worn out by the pain and afraid of the treatment, the unfortunate lady was horrified by the prospects of the required surgery. She was the one, according to Dr. Follin, that Dr. Broca decided to use as the subject to complement the test of hypnotism.”

“She was placed on a bed by the window, informed that she would fall asleep. After two minutes her pupils were dilated. Her left arm was raised, almost vertically above the bed, remaining still in that position. After four minutes her responses were slow and almost painful, but perfectly reasonable. Fifth minute: Dr. Follin pinches the skin of the left arm and the patient does not react; a new and more profound pinch, leading to some bleeding, still with no reaction. Then the right arm was lifted, remaining in the air. The blankets are then removed and her inferior limbs separated, allowing access to the seat of the abscess. The patient consents, and calmly says that they are going to hurt her. The abscess is open and she releases a weak scream. It was the only indication of reaction, lasting less than a second. Not the slightest shake of facial muscles or limbs, not a single agitation of arms, always vertically raised above the bed. The eyes somehow deep, always wide open, the face showing the immobility of a mask…”

“Once raised, her left foot remains in the air. The shiny object is removed, and the catalepsy persists. She has her left arm pinched for the third time, blood runs and she feels nothing. The arm is in that position for thirteen minutes already.”

“Finally, a rub of the eyes and some fresh air blown or her forehead and the young lady is almost immediately awake. Once relaxed, her arms and the left leg immediately fall on the bed. She rubs her eyes, recovers consciousness, recalls nothing and is surprised for having had gone through the surgical procedure. The experience had lasted between 18 to 20 minutes. The period of anesthesia lasted between 12 to 15 minutes.”

“These are, in short, the essential facts reported by Dr. Broca to the Academy of Sciences. Those are no longer isolated facts. A large number of surgeons from our hospitals had the honor of repeating it, and have successfully done so. Dr. Broca’s objective and that of his illustrious colleagues was, and should be, surgery related. We hope that hypnotism may have every advantage of the anesthetics, not showing their inconveniences. However, Medicine is not in our domain and to avoid moving beyond its boundaries, our Review should not consider the fact but under the physiological point of view.”

“After verifying Dr. Braid’s veracity about the essential point, one must certainly verify everything that may be related to such a singular state, called Hypnotism. The phenomena attributed to that state might be classified as:”

“Exaltation of sensitivity – The sense of smell is raised to a degree of sensitivity at least equal to that observed in animals of best sensitivity. Hearing also becomes far reaching. The tactile ability, particularly with respect to temperature, assumes an incredible subtleness.”

“Suggested feelings – Once the face, the body or limbs of the patient are placed in a given position, adequate to the expression of a particular feeling and soon the corresponding mental state is induced. Thus, having the hand of the subject placed on top of the head the subject spontaneously stretches, inclining the body backwards; the attitude is of pure pride. If at that point in time the subject’s head is bent forward, slightly bending the body and the limbs, pride is then replaced by the most profound humbleness. Slightly spreading the corners of the mouth as in a smile, the subject quickly shows happiness. Bad mood overcomes all that state immediately after the eyebrows are made to converge downwards.”

“Provoked ideas – Take the subject’s hand above the head; fold the fingers over the palm of the hand and the idea of climbing, swinging or pulling a rope is suggested. If, on the contrary, the fingers are folded but the arm is let down, the idea of lifting a weight is suggested. If the arm is stretched horizontally and the fist is made, the idea of boxing is suggested (the scene takes place in London).”

“Increase in muscular strength – If one wishes to suggest an extraordinary strength onto a group of muscles it is enough to suggest to the patient the idea of an action which requires such strength, ensuring the subject that the action can be easily performed, if the subject so wishes. Dr. Carpenter says: - We saw a patient hypnotized by Dr. Braid, showing a remarkable lack of muscular development, lifting a fourteen kilograms weight with his pinky, turning that weight around his head, certain that it was as light as a feather.” We stop for now with the indication of that program. Let the facts speak; the reflections will follow.

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