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Boris Sidis, M. A., Ph.D.,
LAPSED PERIODS AND HYPNOIDAL STATES
AT this time, one feature began to present itself very forcibly: the state in which the patient awakened from hypnosis became more and more one of confusion. He seemed not to be thoroughly aroused for several moments. His intelligence was confused. The emerged memories were completely dominant; his expression being that of one oblivious to all things about him. It was a question as to what degree these memories were being really reassociated. There remained the additional question as to whether the frequent and deep dissociations produced in hypnosis were not of themselves conditioning further dissociations. For the past month, there usually occurred an attack upon the same day that he had been hypnotized. This was exemplified upon the occasion of his last hypnosis. On the afternoon of this day, when emerging from the theatre, he had fallen in the street. His attack was short, but apparently accompanied by entire loss of consciousness. The content of the attack was later fully recovered. There was no aura.
On the following day, he had a lapse at the clinic, the entire sequence of which was observed. A moment after he had left my room with a prescription, the orderly found him wandering about in the chemical laboratory and asked the patient what he wanted. The patient replied in German, that it was his own business. The orderly recognized his condition, and brought him to me. He came into the room slowly with a confused expression of surprise and inquiry. He appeared not to recognize me, nor a friend of his at that time in the room. I made him sit down and began to question him. He replied in German, which before he had never spoken to me. When asked where he was, he said he knew, but that it did not make any difference. The sensations were hurriedly tested. No apparent change was discoverable. No memories of previous subconscious states could be elicited. After a moment, his head sank to his chest and his eyes closed. He remained thus for but a short time. He then awakened. He remembered only that after leaving the room he had been severely reprimanded by the drug clerk. Further than this he knew nothing. He was now hypnotized. The content could only be partially recovered at this time.
When next seen, upon the 17th of December, he reported as having had frequent attacks for one week, dating from the 7th. No aura was present in any of these attacks, and there was but once slight dizziness. His appearance was exceedingly poor. His eyes and nose were freely discharging; his skin covered with furuncles; he appeared stupid. When accused of taking medicines other than those ordered, he confessed that he had bought some patent cure for epilepsy, which he had been taking for a few weeks. The only medication previously taken had been morning doses of sodium phosphate. It was clear that this patent medicine had produced a state possibly favoring a more ready dissociation. It was equally certain, however, that a method, other than that of hypnotization, must be employed in establishing the reassociation. From this time on, the hypnoidal method was employed.
Dr. Sidis has originated and used this particular means in many different cases. The psychological implications will be found fully established in his work, The Psychology of Suggestion. This method consists in producing a state of abstraction, of mental composure and relaxation. In this state, termed the hypnoidal, "the upper consciousness takes direct cognizance of these states or memories in the moment of their appearance." They are immediately reassociated. There is no deep dissociation, such as is produced during hypnotization. Its effect is radically different as will later be demonstrated. This method was highly efficient in the present case, and the following memories were readily recovered.
He said: "It was in a house where I lived. I was sitting at the table with Horner and Barr, playing cards for two hours, and I just had to deal cards, and I fell in my chair. Horner, he told Barr, ‘Get hold. Don't let him drop down.' Barr, he get hold of my arms and keep me in the chair. I was sitting there for two minutes. They were looking at me. The boss, he say: 'Don't ask him any more to play cards. It don't do him any good.' Then I wake up. After that I try to deal cards, and the boss, he say, 'Just wait a minute, William,' and then I was weak, but in my right mind, and I say 'I have to deal these cards,' and the boss, he say, 'No, William, you don't play no more cards.'" Following this, he continued: "The next time I was in my own room, and I just take my clothes off and I drop down on the floor and I hit my head against the trunk. I was laying there for ten minutes, and I get up on my feet, get a glass and put in it some water and drink it, and sit down on the bed, and then I wake up while I was sitting on the bed, and I have a pain in my head. I look in the glass and see I am skinned, and I wonder whether I have it in my own room, and I go down then and look at the clock, and it was half an hour. I was up in my own room. I remember lying on the floor. My eyes were open, and I was thinking about that letter from the girl that I got in the afternoon, and in it she asked me why I do not write. I had just read the letter in the room again when I fell down. As I sit on the bed, I put my head in my hand and I think about the girl. It was in my mind to give her up. I sit there a few minutes, and then I get up and get a drink of water and sit on the trunk. I was thinking how I got that in my head. This was all after I wake up."
There is to be noted here the markedly increased wealth of detail. There follows the third revival. He said: "I was walking in the saloon up and down. I feel a headache all the morning. Then I feel the bad taste coming up. Then I try to get in the closet before anyone see me, but I couldn't, and I drop down, and the lunchman, he come and say to Theodore, 'Come here, William is down.' Then they get me on my feet, and I start to take off my coat and vest and my shoes, but the lunchman stop me. I had to go out that day, and an hour before I wished to go up and get ready. I think then that I was in my own room. Then two young friends say to the boss, 'We take him to his room.' When I was up two steps I wake up, and as I wake up I say: ‘What is the matter with you? Why don't you leave me alone?'"
When this hypnoidization ceased, there was no confusion in the patient's demeanor, action, or utterance. He said to me: "I feel now very different from the other times. Then when I open my eyes I do not know where I am; I feel lost, and many times that same day I feel lost. Now I feel just the same as ever. When I lay down and am remembering, I feel just as awake as I do now. I know everything. I know what is going on. Before, I knew nothing at all."
The patient was seen two days later. He reported that for the first time certain attacks had been recalled, other than those reassociated in hypnosis. He cannot develop these fully, some of the material being missing. These memories emerged as he lay upon his bed, after reading a paper, when in a state of abstraction. These additional revivals were due to no post-hypnotic suggestion. They were entirely derivative from the hypnoidal states.
Under the same methods of hypnoidization work was continued.
"I was sitting on a chair in the saloon, close to the door. I feel heavy in my head, and I drop from the chair on to the floor, sideways. A fellow stood alongside of me, and he called the boss: 'Come here. Give me a hand. Lift William up.' They put me back on the chair, six more men standing around me. The boss, he says: 'It is getting worser with William all the time. He must go and see a doctor.' Then the other fellow says, 'When he wakes up he must go to the dispensary.' The boss says, ‘Bellevue is good.' Soon after this I wake up and the boss is standing in front of me, and he asked whether I knew I had had an attack, and I say, 'No, I did not.'" The next revival followed rapidly.
He said: "It was in the afternoon of the same day, about four o'clock. I had an argument with a man who worked on the coal at the dock. I was looking at him. I fall down in front of the lunch bar. The lunchman put me on the chair that stands in front of the bar. The fellow that had the argument, and the lunchman said to him: 'You stay away. What for you make trouble with him?' And I was sitting there another minute, and the lunchman in front of me, and more people, but they keep them back, and then I woke up. After I woke up I was a little bit tired."
In the succeeding attack the increasing detail is to be noted. He said: "It was in Battery Park. I was walking along the water side. A fellow was with me. I say, 'I feel bad,' and he say, 'Come along with me,' and I drop down right away, and some fellow come to the bench and ask what is the matter, and my friend, he say, 'It is nothing'; then one of the fellows ask, if he had it before, and my friend say, 'Yes.' Then the policeman come and ask if he is drunk, and my friend say, 'No, he has had no drinks.' The policeman asks where he live, and my friend he gave my address. Then the policeman drive the others back and say, ‘Give him air,' and he say to my friend, 'Come, help to put him on the bench.' The police, he ask, ‘Do you think he get better?' My friend say, 'Yes, in two or three minutes.' Then I begin to look through my pockets for some cigars I had, and then I wake up. After I wake up, the policeman tell me I had better go home."
Attention should be directed in the following attack to the character of the motor phenomena present as he lay upon the floor.
He said: "I was standing in front of the lunch bar, and I feel a bad taste in my mouth, and I try to get in the closet, but I could not, and I fall in front of the lunch bar. There was a couple of people there, and they get hold of me and lift me up, and the lunchman say, 'Leave him lay there.' One of the fellows say, 'I never see that in William before.' The lunchman say, 'He get it very often now.' And then I start to hit around with my arms and legs. I want to get room around me. I kick with my feet. Some white stuff come out of my mouth, and the lunchman wipe it off with the towel, and then they put me on my feet and I walk up and down for a few minutes. I walk to the front door and then back, and then look in the closet. It was in my mind that I want to go to my own room, and I go to the door that goes up, and two fellows get hold of me, and the lunchman say, ‘Don't let him go'; and then I go to the lunch bar and get a piece of bread and smoked fish, and, eat and start to walk again. Then the boss's brother come out and walk alongside of me. The boss say: 'Watch him good. Don't let him drop down.' Then I wake up. I felt very tired after I awake."
The lunchman, a person of more than average intelligence and experience, spoke of this attack: "A very bad one, where his arms and legs worked and he frothed at the mouth." This was a very fair description of the so-called grand mal. It was evidently marked and was clearly of a purely functional psychic nature.
The hypnoidal states were continued upon the next day. Their content follows:
He says: "I was sitting in a chair and I fall back, and a brother of the boss, he say, 'What is the matter with him?' and he get alongside of me and hold me, and I come to myself. I was listening as I lay back to some one talking about the boss. Four men were in the saloon. They said nothing, but looked at me. The next time, I was standing with a friend of mine at the bar. He asked what I want. I say, ‘Nothing,' and then he take a drink, and then I have the bad feeling and he carry me back to the chair, and he say to the boss: 'What is the matter with William? I know him for a long time, and I never see this before.' The boss, he say, 'He get it a good many times.' Then the man say: It is just the thing I had in the German Navy. I had mine from the drink.' Then I wanted to stand up from the chair, and they come and want to keep me in the chair, and I sat there another moment, and then I wake up. While I was sitting in the chair, I was looking at them and thinking about the man. I think to myself, he is a great drinker, only he keep himself good and well all the time."
We pass rapidly to the succeeding states.
He said: "I was sitting in the chair, with the boss. Two men were playing pinochle. I watched them play, and as I watched them I feel bad in my head and lean back in my chair. The bartender he say: ‘Look at William. He got it again.' The boss, he stand in front of me and pull my fingers straight. I had some money in my hand, and I want to keep hold of it. Then the boss, he tell his brother not to let me go on the St. Paul,―to keep me here. Then I fall asleep and sleep a few minutes, and open my eyes, and I did not know I had it."
"In the next, I was lying in the bed and sleeping, and then I get up and walk up and down the hallway. The boss's brother come out and say, 'What is the matter with you, William?' I gave him no answer, for we had trouble the night before. Then he get hold of my arms and say, 'Go to bed, William,' and push me in the room and lay me on the bed, and I lay there another minute, and then I wake up and see I have no blanket on me. I think I have an attack. I walked in the hall, because I was hot and sweaty. I was thinking that I told the boss to give me a front room."
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