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SIDIS INSTITUTE, Portsmouth, N. H.

Medical Times, 1919, 47, 245-250.

(Part I: Medical Times, 1917, p. 191, not yet in this archive.)


        Many years ago I discovered a special normal, mental state, widely different from the hypnotic state. I termed the state hypnoidal and the method of its induction I termed hypnoidization. The hypnoidal state is of the utmost consequence in the study, psychognosis, and treatment of functional, psychopathic maladies.

        The hypnoidal state is a state sui generis and is widely different from hypnosis. The hypnoidal state, according to my researches on various representatives of animal life, is essentially a sleep state. Subwaking and twilight states are more appropriate terms and indicate more accurately the real nature of the hypnoidal state. Hypnosis is an abnormal condition while the subwaking, twilight hypnoidal state belongs to the normal sleep states. In fact, according to my work, sleep is a late development in the course of evolution. Sleep developed out of the hypnoidal state. The hypnoidal state is the primordial sleep of all the lower representatives of animal life. The hypnoidal state is really the fundamental sleep state, and may be regarded as more normal than physiological sleep states. We should not confuse the hypnoidal state with light hypnosis since the two are totally and fundamentally different in character and in nature. Light hypnosis is no more hypnoidal than syncope and coma of apoplexy and concussion are like normal physiological sleep. The hypnoidal state is essentially a primitive sleep state, a state of rest repose and relaxation. There is nothing rigid about the method of hypnoidization. The method is quite elastic and adaptable to each person; it admits of an almost infinite variety of modification. The principal object is to observe the conditions requisite for the induction of normal and abnormal suggestibility.

        I give the tables of normal and abnormal suggestibility as well as the few laws formulated by me in my work, "The Psychology of Suggestion."

Normal Suggestibility

 Abnormal Suggestibility

1. Fixation of attention. 1. Fixation of attention.
2. Distraction.  2. 
3. Monotony.  3. Monotony.
4. Limitation of voluntary movements. 4. Limitation of voluntary movements.
5. Limitation of the field of consciousness. 5. Limitation of the field of consciousness.
6. Inhibition. 6. Inhibition.
7. Immediate execution of the suggestion.

        In the same work I come to the conclusion, as the result of investigation, that "the nature of abnormal suggestibility is a disaggregation of consciousness, a slit, a scar, produced in the mind that may extend wider and deeper, ending at last in a total disjunction of the waking, guiding, controlling consciousness from the reflex consciousness.  .  .  . Normal suggestibility is of like nature,—it is a cleft in the mind, only here the cleft is not so deep, not so lasting, as it is in hypnosis or in the state of abnormal suggestibility; the split is here but momentary, evanescent, fleeting, disappearing at the very moment of its appearance."

        We have also shown that the laws of normal and abnormal suggestibility may be stated as follows:

        "Normal suggestibility varies as indirect suggestion and inversely as direct suggestion

        "Abnormal suggestibility varies as direct suggestion and inversely as indirect suggestion."

        The general law of suggestibility is: "Suggestibility varies as the amount of disaggregation, and inversely as the unification of consciousness."

        It is on those general laws and the nature of relation of the personal consciousness to the subconscious that I have based my method of hypnoidization. In order to reach the dissociated mental state we have to lay bare the subconscious, and this can be effected by the conditions requisite for the induction of normal or abnormal suggestibility, conditions which bring about a disaggregation of consciousness. In cases, therefore, where hypnosis is not practicable and the subconscious has to be reached, we can effect a disaggregation of consciousness and thus produce an allied subconscious state by putting the patient under the conditions of normal suggestibility: fixation of attention, distraction, monotony, limitation of the voluntary movements, limitation of the field of vision, inhibition and immediate execution.

        This is precisely what the method of hypnoidization consists in: "The patient is asked to close his eyes and keep as quite as possible, without, however making any special effort to put himself in such a state. He is then asked to attend to some stimulus such as reading or singing (or to the monotonous beats of a metronome). When the reading is over, the patient, with his eyes shut, is asked to repeat it and tell what comes into his mind during the reading, or during the repetition, or immediately after it. Sometimes the patient is simply asked to tell the nature of ideas and images that have entered his mind." This should be carried out in a quiet place and the room, if possible, should be darkened so as not to disturb the patient and bring him out of the state in which he has been put.

        Fatigue, physical and mental, especially emotional, is a favorable condition. A prolonged warm bath with relaxation is favorable. A predisposition to sleep is helpful. It is, therefore, best to make the first attempts at hypnoidization late at night, when the patient is tired and sleepy. In most cases, darkness, quietness, repose, the monotonous buzzing of an inductorium are conditions favorable to the hypnoidal state.

        As modifications of the same method, the patient is asked to fixate his attention on some object while at the same time listening to the heats of a metronome; the patient's eyes are then closed; he is to keep quiet while the metronome or some other monotonous stimulus is kept on going. After some time, when his respirations and pulse are found somewhat lowered, and he declares that he can think of nothing in particular, he is asked to concentrate his attention on a subject closely relating to the symptoms of the malady or to the submerged, subconscious state.

        The patient, again, may be asked to keep quiet, to move or change position as little as possible, and is then required to look steadily into a glass of water on a white background, with a light shining through the contents of the glass; a mechanism producing monotonous sounds is set going, and after a time, when the patient is observed to have become unusually quiet, he is asked to tell what he thinks in regard to a subject relating to his symptoms. He may be asked to write the stray ideas down, if speaking aloud disturbs the induced states favorable to the emergence of the dissociated mental states.

        In some cases it is sufficient to put the patient in a quiet condition; have his eyes shut and command him to think hard of the particular dissociated states.

        Once the hypnoidal state is induced by any of the various methods of hypnoidization, we can either attempt to follow up the history of the development of the malady, or we may chiefly work for the therapeutic effect and treat the present symptoms. It is, however, advisable from a purely practical therapeutic purpose to combine the two procedures, the cure is then effective and far more stable When the history of the origin and development of the disease can not be traced, on account of the age or unintelligence of the patient, the therapeutic effects alone of the hypnoidal states have been utilized.

        The getting access to subconscious experiences, lost to the patient's personal consciousness makes the hypnoidal state a valuable instrument in the tracing of the origin and development of the symptoms of the psychopathic malady.

        From a practical standpoint, however, the therapeutic value of the hypnoidal state is most important. Our experiments have revealed to us the significant fact that the hypnoidal state is the primordial rest-state; sleep is but a derivative form of rest. In many conditions of disease it is advisable to have the patient revert to a simple and primitive mode of life. Similarly, in psychopathic diseases a reversion to a simple primitive state proves to be of material help to the patient. In plunging the patient into the hypnoidal state, we have him revert to a primitive rest-state with its consequent beneficial results. The suggestibility of the state, if skillfully handled, is apt to increase the therapeutic efficacy. Relaxation of nervous strain, rest from worry, abatement of emotional excitement, are known to be of great help in the treatment of nervous troubles of the neurasthenic or of the so-called psychoasthenic variety. That is what we precisely observe in the treatment of psychopathic diseases by means of the agency of the hypnoidal state, the efficacy of which is all the greater on account of the presence of the important trait of suggestibility.

        The most important fact, however, is the access gained through the hypnoidal state to the patient's stores of subconscious reserve neuron energy, thus helping to bring about an association of disintegrated, dissociated mental-systems.

        Dr. John Donley in his article, "The Clinical Use of Hypnoidization" (Journal of Abnormal Psychology for August-September, 1908), gives the following account of the method of hypnoidization and of the hypnoidal state:

        "The treatment of that large group of disorders commonly classed as the psycho-neuroses is sufficiently arduous to warrant the assumption of a receptive mood toward any measure that may increase our efficiency.   .   .   . Such assistance is open to us in the hypnoidization of Dr. Boris Sidis.

        "Hypnoidization has two things to recommend it, facility of induction and successful results. The technique is simple; there need be no mention of hypnosis, and hence no stirring up of apprehension in the mind of even the most timorous patient.

"  .  .  .  . Many variations of this particular procedure are of course possible, and the one which the writer has found quite generally useful is the following: The patient is first placed at ease by a few minutes' conversation, during which he is instructed regarding what is about to be done. He is then requested to lie upon the couch, the head of which has been placed close to a faradic wall plate. With his eyes closed he is directed to listen to the monotonous vibration of the ribbon rheotome, and to concentrate attention either upon nothing at all or upon the particular idea or group of ideas or images suggested to him by the physician. At the beginning of the experiment the patient may be somewhat tense and ill at ease, but a few minutes suffice to render him relaxed and to place him in the mental state to which Sidis has given the name 'hypnoidization.' It is during the continuance of this state that one may obtain information valuable for diagnosis, and give suggestions useful for therapeusis.

        "  .  .  .  . During a psychotherapeutic conversation one will often notice a certain attitude of criticism and resistance upon the part of a patient, whereas if the same patient be placed in the hypnoidal state there is voluntary conversation with the physician, yet a greater readiness to give credence to his remarks. For the purpose of psychotherapy, it is often useful to place the patient in a condition of hypnoidization during which a greater influence may possibly be exerted upon subconscious mental processes. There is then a more direct avenue of approach to those subconscious factors that are so potent in determining and influencing self-conscious attitudes; for it has seemed to me that the mental and physical relaxation that characterize the hypnoidal state are precisely the conditions requisite for imprinting ideas on the minds of neurotic patients

        "The beneficial effects of hypnoidization are to be seen not alone in those cases where submerged, forgotten memories and emotions are operative in the production of mental disaggregation, but also in those numerous instances where the experience causing the obsessive idea or emotion is well known to the upper consciousness.

        "In hypnoidal states they were made to reproduce their obsessive thoughts and images and then to describe them in words. When this had been accomplished and they had received further assurance and persuasion from the experimenter, although the purely intellectual content of their obsessions remained known to them, the insistent automatic character and disturbing emotional factors had disappeared. In this metamorphosis of emotional reaction we may observe one of the most interesting and useful attributes of the hypnoidal state."

        Dr. Donley gives then a series of cases which he treated successfully from psychognositic and psychotherapeutic standpoints.

        The reader is referred to the original article.

        "The value of hypnoidization," says Dr. T. W. Mitchell, "in the resurrection of dissociated memories is that which is perhaps best established. And this applies not only to the restoration of the forgotten experiences of ordinary amnesia, but to the recovery of dissociated memories that are of pathogenic significance.  .  .  . Sidis himself has insistently taught that the reassociation of dissociated complexes effects a cure of psychopathic disease.  .  .  .  My own experience, so far as it goes, tends to corroborate in every respect the claims put forward by Sidis.  .  .  ."

        While in the hypnoidal state the patient hovers between the conscious and the subconscious, somewhat in the same way as in the half-drowsy condition one hovers between wakefulness and sleep. The patient keeps on fluctuating from moment to moment, now falling more deeply into a subconscious condition in which outlived experiences are easily aroused, and again rising to the level of the waking state. Experiences long submerged and forgotten rise to the full light of consciousness. They come in bits, in chips, in fragments, which may gradually coalesce and form a connected series of interrelated systems of experiences apparently long dead and buried. The resurrected experiences then stand out clear and distinct in the patient's mind. The recognition is fresh, vivid, and instinct with life, as if the experiences have occurred the day before.

        It cannot be insisted too much that the hypnoidal state is not a slight hypnosis. The hypnoidal state is a sleep state. The hypnoidal state is the anabolic state of repose characteristic of primitive life.

        The hypnoidal state is an intermediary state between waking and sleep. Subwaking is an appropriate descriptive term of the character of the hypnoidal state. The subwaking hypnoidal state, like sleep and hypnosis, may be of various depth and duration; it may range from the fully waking consciousness and again may closely approach and even merge into sleep or hypnosis. The same patient may at various times reach different levels, and hence subconscious experiences which are inaccessible at one time may become revealed at some subsequent time, when the patient happens to go into a deeper hypnoidal state.

        On account of the instability of the hypnoidal state, and because of the continuous fluctuation and variation of its depth, the subconscious dissociated experiences come up in bits and scraps, and often may lack the sense of familiarity and recognition. The patient often loses the train of subconscious association; there is a constant struggle to maintain this highly unstable hypnoidal state, and one has again and again to return to the same subconscious train started into activity for a brief interval of time One must pick his way among streams of disturbing associations before the dissociated subconscious experiences can be synthesized into a whole, reproducing representatively the original experience that has given rise to the whole train of symptoms.

        The hypnoidal state may sometimes reproduce the original experience which, at first struggling up in a broken, distorted  form and finally becoming synthesized, gives rise to a full attack. The symptoms of this malady turn out to be portions, bits and chips of past experiences which have become dissociated, giving rise to disaggregated subconsciousness. The method of hypnoidization and the hypnoidal states induced by it enable us to trace the history and etiology of the symptoms and also to effect a synthesis and a cure. The hypnoidal state may not be striking and sensational in its manifestations, but it is a powerful instrument in psycho-pathology and psychotherapeutics.

        For many years my investigations of the hypnoidal state were carried out on subjects and patients, adults and children. The work was entirely limited to the study of such states as found in man. Having found that during the hypnoidal state the condition of mental plasticity is quite pronounced for therapeutic purposes, and having effected many cures of severe psychopathic maladies, ranging throughout the whole domain of so-called hysterical affections, neurasthenia, obsessions, drug habits, especially alcoholic ones, the hypnoidal state has become, in my practice, quite an important therapeutic agent. Lately, others have obtained excellent results with the hypnoidal state in their treatment of various functional, psychopathic maladies.

        Perhaps it may be opportune here for the sake of further elucidation to give a few extracts from the Presidential address on "The Hypnoidal State of Sidis" given by Dr. T. W. Mitchell before the Psycho-Medical Society of Great Britain, January 26, 1911.

        "The history of science," says Dr. Mitchell in his address, "affords us many instances in which the neglect of residual phenomena in experimental research has led to the overlooking of important facts, and prevented investigators from making discoveries which, had they paid attention to their residues, they could hardly have missed. The great chemist, Cavendish, probably missed the discovery of argon, because in his estimate of nitrogen of the air he neglected a residue which his experiments showed him could not be more than 1/120 part of the whole. More than a hundred years afterwards this residue was accounted for by the discovery of argon.

        "Now in the history of psychotherapeutics, from its earliest beginning down to our own time, we find many cases where the circumstances under which curative results have been obtained render it difficult for us to range these results under the category of the therapeutics of suggestion.

        "Such cases as these may be regarded as the residual phenomena of the therapeutics of suggestion, and just as Cavendish and his successors too readily assumed that all the so-called nitrogen of the air was the same as the nitrogen of nitre, so we may be missing some important truth, if we too readily assume that all these therapeutic results are due solely to suggestion. The value of suggestion during hypnosis is well attested, and the possibility of effecting physiological and psychological change by its means is supported by a large amount of experimental evidence. But evidence of this kind is lacking in regard to suggestion without hypnosis, and until it is forthcoming we are justified in receiving with some suspicions account of the therapeutic efficacy of suggestion in the waking state. We seem bound to consider whether some state of consciousness intermediate between waking and hypnosis may not be artificially induced and utilized for the purpose of giving therapeutic suggestion.

        "The scientific investigations of states of consciousness intermediate between waking and hypnosis is a contribution to psychology and psychotherapy which we owe practically to one man—Dr. Sidis. A research into the nature of suggestion carried out by him some 14 years ago (Dr. Mitchell 1911) (22 years ago) led him to formulate certain laws and conditions of normal and abnormal suggestibility.  .  .  . By keeping the patient for a short time under the conditions of normal suggestibility we induce a peculiar mental state which Sidis named hypnoidal state. The process by which it is induced is, Sidis calls, hypnoidization.

        "By the use of various methods a state of consciousness is induced which differs from full waking, but is not hypnosis or ordinary sleep.

        "The hypnoidal state is an intermediary territory, on the border land of waking, sleep and hypnosis. In the course of a valuable experimental investigation of sleep in man and the lower animals, Sidis discovered that the hypnoidal state is a phase of consciousness which is passed through in every transition from one of these states to another. In passing from the waking state to ordinary sleep or hypnosis, there is always a longer or shorter hypnoidal stage. In the practice of hypnoidization the patient sometimes drops into hypnosis, or he may fall asleep without touching on hypnosis. And so also in awakening from sleep or from hypnosis, the hypnoidal state has to be passed through. Sidis found that the further we descend in the scale of animal life, the more important does the hypnoidal state become in relation to bodily rest and recuperation, and he concludes that it is the primitive rest-state out or which both sleep and hypnosis have been evolved.

        "The relation to each other of waking, sleep, hypnosis, and the hypnoidal state may be represented in a diagram in which the primitive hypnoidal state is represented as a nucleus from which the segments of the larger circle, waking, sleep, and hypnosis, have arisen. The transition from one of these segments to another can take place through the central territory with which they each have relations.

        "The spontaneous occurrence of the hypnoidal state in man is as a rule merely a transitory stage in the alternation of waking and sleep. Prom the point of view of evolution it is a vestige derived from a long race of ancestors, a rudimentary function which has been superceded by the more highly specialized rest-state, sleep. But it can be artificially induced and maintained by the methods which have been described, and it can be utilized with effect in the treatment of psychopathic disorders.

        "The therapeutic use of the hypnoidal state is a somewhat complex subject, for hypnoidization may be employed as an adjunct to other methods or as a curative measure in itself.

        "The full record of hypnoidization is in the account of the well known Hanna case, given in his (Sidis and Goodhart's) Multiple Personality. This was a case of total amnesia, following a severe injury (to the head). The patient, a cultured clergyman, was reduced to the mental condition of a new-born child. All his former acquisitions and memories have entirely disappeared, and he had to start learning everything again from the beginning. When he (the patient) was put into the hypnoidal state various fragmentary experiences of his past life emerged into consciousness, demonstrating to his observers that his lost memories were merely dissociated, and not destroyed. This same method (hypnoidization) was made use of in other cases of amnesia, and it was found to be of great assistance in effecting the resurrection of dissociated mental material and its reintegration in consciousness.

        "With the progress of his studies in Psychopathology, the reintegration of consciousness became, for Sidis, the aim of all therapeutic endeavor in connection with maladies that are associated with, or produced by, mental dissociation. The recurrent psycho-motor states of functional psychoses, insistent ideas, imperative concepts persistent, or periodically appearing emotional states, so called psychic epilepsy, and other states of dissociation all lent themselves to treatment by hypnoidization. By its means the dissociated complexes could be recovered, the psychogenesis of the malady could be traced, a synthesis of consciousness effected, and the patient thereby cured. As his confidence in his method increased, Sidis gradually extended its employment, until at the present time he seems to use it in every kind of disorder in which psychotherapy is indicated.

        "I have no doubt that Dr. Bramwell induces in his patients a state of consciousness which is identical with the hypnoidal state of Sidis.

        "Sidis expressed his opinion that some of Freud's success may be due to the unconscious use of  the hypnoidal state; and the conditions under which Freud (and the psycho-analytic disciples) conducts his analysis render this supposition not improbable.

        "My own experience, so far as it goes, tends to corroborate in every respect the therapeutic claims put forward by Sidis. I have observed the good effects of the hypnoidal state apart from any other measure."

        "In his later writings Sidis insistently maintains that the use of hypnoidization alone is sufficient to cure certain morbid conditions. He bases this claim on the fact that he has found the hypnoidal state effective towards this end, and he interprets his results as being due to a release of reserve energy which has been locked up in the inhibited and dissociated systems or complexes.

        "The PRINCIPLE OF RESERVE ENERGY is based upon a wide generalization of facts, namely, that far less energy is utilized by the individual than is actually at his disposal. In the struggle for existence, those forms of life which have accumulated a store of reserve energy that can be drawn upon in emergencies, have the best chance for survival."

        The PRINCIPLE OF RESERVE ENERGY is of the utmost importance to abnormal psychology. The principle is based on a broad generalization of facts—psychological, physiological and biological—namely, that far less energy is utilized by the individual than there is actually at his disposal. A comparatively small fraction of the total amount of energy, possessed by the organism, is used in its relation with the ordinary stimuli of its environment.

        The energy in use may be regarded as the kinetic or circulating energy, while the energy stored away is the reserve energy. There must always be a reserve supply of energy requisite for unusual reactions in emergency cases. Those organisms survive which have the greatest amount of reserve energy, just as those countries are strong and victorious in the world-market which possess the largest amount of reserve capital to draw upon in critical periods.

        As life becomes more complex, inhibitions increase; the thresholds of stimulations of a complex system rise in proportion to its complexity. With the rise of evolution there is a tendency to increase of inhibitions, with a consequent lock-up of energy which becomes reserve. Now there are occasions in the life of the individual, under the influence of training and emotional trauma, when the inhibitions become unusually intense and tend to smother  the personality, which becomes weakened, impoverished in its reactions and is unable to respond freely to the stimuli of its environment. The inhibited system becomes inactive and may be regarded as dissociated from the cycle of life.

        In case of an emotional trauma there is often a breach in the continuity of association. The affected system becomes dissociated from the rest of the personality and is like a splinter in the flesh of the individuality. Its own threshold, when tapped, may be very low, but it is not directly accessible through the mediacy of other systems; hence its threshold appears unusually or pathologically high. When the inhibitions are very high they must be removed. This removal of inhibitions brings about an access to the accumulated energy of the inhibited systems.

        The hypnoidal state is essentially a rest-state characterized by anabolic activity. There is a restitution of spent energy; inhibitions become removed, and access is gained to "dormant" systems and complexes. The awakened "dormant" complex systems bring with them a new feeling-tone, a fresh emotional energy resulting in an almost complete transformation of personality.

        As an illustration of the transformations effected, I take at random the following extracts from some of the letters written to me by patients who have experienced this welling up of reserve energy: "Indeed were I to fill this entire sheet with the expressions of gratitude which wells up from my inmost heart it would surely be only a beginning of what I feel. Surely the darkness of the world has been dispelled since this new light has illuminated my soul, and I feel that this wondrous light will never fail me. It were vain to attempt to thank you for this wonderful transformation.

        A letter from a patient reads, "You will be glad to know that all is well with me. Life is one happy day. I am a marvel to my friends in the way of happiness and cheer. I have to confess that I feel almost wicked to be so happy."

        Another letter runs as follows: "Next to the gladness in my own restoration, I am rejoiced at the wonderful transformation that has come to my dear friend T— from your treatment. She writes me most enthusiastically of her steady and sure progress toward the goal of perfect health, of her strength to take up the home duties which had been so burdensome and which she now finds a delight in the doing of them; and of her husband's and friend's joy in the transformation that has been wrought in her."

        The following extract from a letter, written to me by a patient, an experienced English surgeon now in charge of a hospital in England, whose case was severe and chronic, dating from early childhood, is extremely valuable, both on account of his medical training and mental abilities which make him an excellent judge as to the fundamental change and cure effected:

        "It is now exactly two years since I was undergoing treatment at your kind and sympathetic hands. I remember that you one told me that the seed sown by you would probably take this length of time to come to fruition. Therefore, it may not be without interest to you to receive a supplement to many other letters in which I will endeavor to summarize my progress—for the last time.

        "I have no longer even the least lingering doubt that you can count me among your most brilliantly successful cures. I say this after many—too many—heart searchings which are probably characteristic of my somewhat doubting temperament At first, I was disappointed with the whole business: I suppose I looked for strange and dramatic events to occur which would change my whole personality and temperament in a short time. Nothing so exciting happened: I left Portsmouth still feeling that I owned the same name, and very much the same 'ego' that I arrived with. I was unaware that any profound psychological operation had taken place. To be candid, I did not think it had—the beginnings, no doubt, were there—but no more. But now when I carry my mind back to the type of obsession which used to assail me—is there any change? Good God! I behold a miracle, although it has come about so silently that I can only realize the difference by comparing the present with the past. "In conclusion I can only send you my undying gratitude.  .  .  . You have saved me from what, I honestly believe, would have one day resulted in deliberate suicide which I often contemplated as the one solution for my trouble."

        These extracts are typical of many others, and clearly show the enjoyment of new strength of powers until now unknown to the patient. Fresh reservoirs of reserve energy have been tapped a have become available in an hour of dire need. The patient has light and strength where there were darkness and depression. We are confronted here with the important phenomenon of  reserve energy. The patient feels the flood of fresh energies as a "marvelous transformation," as a "new light," as a "new life," as a something "worth more than life itself."

        The hypnoidal state helps us to reach the inaccessible regions of dormant, reserve energy, helps to break down inhibitions, to liberate reserve energies and to repair the breaches or dissociations in mental life. The painful systems become dissociated, disintegrated and again transformed, reformed and reintegrated into new systems, full of energy and joy of life. The whole process is one of disintegration and reintegration of psycho-physiological neuron systems with the awakening of dormant, reserve energy, resulting in a complete and permanent cure of the patient.



* "The processes," T. Brailsford Robertson writes, "which underlie and condition the various activities of the central nervous system are, primarily, autocatalysed chemical reactions. The catalization hypothesis of Exner can now be expressed in a much more definite and concrete form. Each incoming stimulus carves out for itself or deepens a preexisting channel in the central nervous system, but the channel is not a trough formed by the physical displacement of particles, it is a chemical channel, a thread or trace of the autocatalyst of central nervous activities, a thread which need not necessarily be supposed to be more than a few times the diameter of 'the sphere of the molecular influence' in width.

"Supposing that the stimuli which impinge upon the central nervous system through the agency of the senses, or, indeed, through the spontaneous diffused activity of the central nervous system itself, be by some means so limited and suppressed that for all practical purposes all impulses arriving through the senses are for some time discharged along one pathway only; there will obviously he a tendency for that pathway to become deeply catalysed, while at tile same time other pathways leading from the sense-organs will be becoming progressively fainter are forcibly channelled out, for the activities of the nervous system (field of consciousness) to become limited and narrowed to this single channel.

"We are led to enquire whether the circumstances attending the formation of these idées fixes correspond in any way with the theoretical conditions just outlined.

"According to Sidis, whose genius for experimental investigation has done so much to enlarge our knowledge of this difficult field, the conditions leading to hypnosis (which he defines as a condition of abnormal suggestibility), are the following:

1.Fixation of attention.


3.Limitation of voluntary movements.

4.Limitation of the field of consciousness.

5.Inhibition (of the diffused activity of the central nervous system).

"The exact correspondence between the theoretical conditions which should, ex hypothesi, lead to a condition of relative automatism and the experimental conditions which are found to lead to the condition of hypnosis are patent."



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