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Boris Sidis, Ph.D.

Simon P. Goodhart, M.D.

© 1904





BY the method of hypnoidization, many memories were brought to the surface from the depths of the subconscious. Each time some forgotten experience of the life previous to the accident flashed upon his mind. These experiences were never recognized as in any way familiar; they were to him utterly strange. In these hypnoidal states, names, objects, parts of scenes rose up vividly in Mr. Hanna's mind. It was most interesting to observe him at this time. The experiences that came up before his consciousness stood out completely isolated in his mind, with no conscious relations whatever to any other experiences. It was impossible by getting hold of these experiences that suddenly emerged from his subconscious regions, to obtain by contiguous association more information. He could not recognize the meaning of these emerged mental states, as they had no relation to any others within his upper consciousness.

            The absence of association in hypnoidal states was at times made strikingly manifest when merely isolated names came up to the upper stratum of his consciousness, names which he had not heard since the accident, and which conveyed no meaning to him. It was not only the meaning and import of these ideas that were absent, but all familiarity was likewise lacking.

            We know from a previous examination that he was unable to recognize any experience of his former life. He had no recognition for persons and objects known before the accident. When he came in contact with persons or objects well known to him in his previous state, in spite of all our efforts to impress the experiences strongly on his mind and reproduce their associations in order to bring recognition to the light of conscious memory, in spite of his own intense mental strain to recall the lost memories, not even the vaguest sense of familiarity was awakened in his mind. Events that had played a most important part in his life were recounted to him; persons near and dear to him endeavored to remind him of their close relationship, but all without avail. Father, mother, brother, sister, and the young woman to whom he had been sincerely devoted, all were utter strangers to him, and even daily contact and frequent association awakened no sense of familiarity. No impression coming from the external world could bring up any recognition or sense of familiarity.

            In turning now to the hypnoidal states, we find that when any scene or word or name came up before his mind, it was quite as completely wanting in the two elements, recognition and familiarity. A name, for example, came up before his mind, and when asked of what he was thinking, he would simply give the name, but when we pushed our inquiry further and asked as to the meaning of the word, he replied he did not know. When told it was the name of a person or object, he was surprised that what appeared to him as a combination of “nonsense syllables,” spontaneously arising in his mind, should really have a definite meaning. When he was asked, if he had any vague feeling of ever having heard the word, he invariably replied in the negative. Still more remarkable was the fact that at times, in the hypnoidal states, an entire scene arose before his mind; he could describe the scene immediately, exactly as he saw it in his mind's eye, but that was all he knew of it. He could not connect it with any experiences of a former life.

            As an example of the hypnoidal states, we may mention the psychic condition of Mr. Hanna during the recital of the previously described Hebrew passage. During the repetition of the Hebrew phrase, a flood of Hebrew passages came into the patient’s mind; he expressed them aloud, but when asked what the meaning was, he did not know. They were totally unfamiliar to him, a strange gibberish. When asked why he recited more than was read to him, he could give no reason, and said he himself was frightened at the sudden outburst of a flood of meaningless words.

            Furthermore, while the memory for the part read to him was good, that for the passage brought up in the hypnoidal states was vague and fragmentary. He could remember only a few individual words. It was also of importance to note that his inflection and pronunciation of the passage greatly differed from that of the reader.

            It was most interesting to observe the decided change in tone and manner of the recital of the Hebrew passage which in the hypnoidal state arose from the subconscious to the surface of his mind. His voice became strong and sonorous, and he spoke impressively as though, from the pulpit. It seemed as if the words burst forth spontaneously in a moment of inspiration. The memory subsided as quickly as it rose. It did not, however, completely disappear. He could recall a few isolated words, and he remembered that his inflection and tone had changed, but by no means was it possible to awaken any sense of recognition or familiarity.

            As an instance of another hypnoidal state, we may mention the following: Miss C., a charming young woman, to whom he was greatly devoted in his former life, but whom he did not know in the state of secondary personality, was directed to take his hand and sing a hymn that the young man had heard before, but not since the injury. He was told to remain absolutely quiet and listen attentively. During the song, which was most impressively rendered, he remained passive and his whole attention was concentrated on the song. At the end of the melody he was immediately asked if he had ever heard the song before. He said he had not, and that he had not the slightest recognition or feeling of familiarity. When asked what had come into his mind during the singing, he gave two names, A. and N. He did not know the meaning of the words; he did not even suspect they were names. We learned that the names were those of two lades whom he had met three years before. They had been choir-singers. Here again the names awakened neither familiarity, nor association, even after he was told of scenes and places relating to them.


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