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Remarks in regard to a review of
The Psychology of Suggestion

Science, 1898, 8, 162-3.


To THE EDITOR OF SCIENCE: Permit me to make a few remarks in regard to the review of my book, 'The Psychology of Suggestion' by Professor Wm. Romaine Newbold in SCIENCE for June 24, 1898.

Professor Newbold contends against the truth of my second law, that of abnormal suggestibility. He brings the phenomena of rapport. "In states of heightened suggestibility," he writes, " suggestibility to suggestion has no significant relation to the mode in which the suggestion is administered, but rather to the source whence it comes." (The italics are his own.) "Rapport," he says further on, "although not an inevitable, is perhaps one of the more constant traits of heightened suggestibility, and this Dr. Sidis' second law ignores." Now this is not true. Rapport is not a characteristic spontaneous trait of the advanced stages of hypnosis, it is itself due to a suggestion forced on the subconsciousness of the subject. Where the personal element is considered important. there the phenomena of rapport will naturally be frequent. Where, however, it is realized that hypnosis has little to do with the personality of the experimenter, rapport is absolutely absent even in the very last stages of hypnosis. Thus in none of my best subjects have I found the phenomena of rapport. Rapport had to be specially induced by most emphatic suggestions. This is simply due to the fact that in my experiments I have taken precaution to guard against all unconscious suggestions in general, and particularly against the ‘personality suggestion.' The importance of the personal element, ‘the source' in hypnosis is a widely spread, but an unjustified belief due, no doubt, to some lingering remnants of mesmeric theories. As a matter of fact, rapport is not spontaneous in hypnosis, it is induced by suggestion, and, like all other suggestions, depends on the conditions and laws of suggestibility.

Professor Newbold finds fault with my preliminary definition of suggestibility. I wonder Professor Newbold does not see that the definition given in the first chapter is only provisional to start the work with, that the nature of suggestion and suggestibi1ity is worked out in the course of the first part, and that the final definition is not arrived at before the end of the eleventh chapter.

A few words before I conclude. Professor Newbold finds my physiological theory rather incorrect when confronted with Apathy's investigations, I do not find that my theory is to any extent shaken by Apathy's 'anastomosis.’ Apathy’s work may hold good for the nervous system of the lower invertebrates, but not of the cerebro-spinal nervous system and especially of the association areas. Apathy himself admits it. I am happy to say that the eminent pathologist Professor Ira Van Giesen, accepts the same physiological theory, and in a special work will take up this point about Apathy and will furnish of the position taken by me in the book 'The Psychology of Suggestion.’

Professor Newbold’s criticism is fair and candid, and one cannot help contrasting it with the virulent, almost personal, onslaught of those academic psychophysicists, especially of the Wundtian fold, who lack and neglect all knowledge of mental pathology and who attack bitterly any one who has the courage to proclaim openly the poor and sterile state, the trivial nature of the scholastic laboratory science of normal ‘student psychology.'



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