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Boris Sidis, Ph.D., M.D.




        The principle of reserve energy, developed independently by Professor James and myself, 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 kinetic or circulating energy, while the energy stored away is reserve energy. There must always be a supply of reserve 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 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, tending 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 breach in the continuity of association. The affected systems 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. In case of disjunction or break of continuity we must stimulate the dormant reserve energy of the systems, and thus assist the process of repair and bridge the breach of associate continuity. A new, fresh, active life opens to the patient. He become a "reformed" personality, free and cheerful, with an overflow of energy.

        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 of 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 transformation 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 expression of the gratitude which wells up from my inmost heart it would 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 wonderous 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 friends 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 she now finds a delight in the doing of them, and of her husband's and friends' joy in the transformation that he been wrought in her. . . . 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 she now finds a delight in the doing of them, and of her husband's and friends' joy in the transformation that has been wrought in her."

        A patient writes: "Your treatments cut a deep channel in my subconscious life, one from which if I do happen to wander astray is for only a short time; then I am carried right back in the trend. In fact, there exists a deep indelible, happy and cheerful impression incorporated in my subconscious life that it is impossible to eradicate. . . .You have laid a concrete foundation upon which I am building, little by little, a structure that some day you will be proud of, and for which words are insufficient to express my profound gratitude."

        Another patient writes: "The big result of your treatment was restoring my faith and arousing my ambitions. I never think of suicide. I only want to live and work and redeem myself. I have never been so happy and I have never worked harder. . . . I feel the most extraordinary eagerness; a strange, irrepressible enthusiasra; and an absolute conviction of the truth and beauty of work, of my work. I dare not think of failure, and yet success as I conceive it is too wonderful ever to come. The brave will of life in me permitting, I shall some day approximate my prayer, my dream, my vision; and then I must let the earth know you are responsible."

        The following extract of 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 valuable, both on account of his medical training and his 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 kindly and sympathetic hands. I remember that you once told me that the seed sown by you would probably take this length or 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 of I my trouble. . . ."

         These extracts are typical of many others, and clearly show the enjoyment of new strength, and powers until now unknown to the patient. Fresh reservoirs of reserve energy have been tapped and 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 liberation of dormant reserve energy. The patient feels the flood of fresh energies as a "marvelous transformation," as a "new light," as a "new life," as "something worth more than life itself."

        The hypnoidal state helps us reach the inaccessible regions of dormant, reserve energy, helps to break down inhibitions, to liberate reserve energies and to repair the breaches or dissociation of 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 banishment of credulity, the cultivation of the upper, critical consciousness, the rational control of the subconscious, the moderation of the self-impulse, the regulations of the fear-instinct, and the access to the vast stores of subconscious reserve energy, all go to the formation of a strong, healthy-minded personality, free from fear and psychopathic maladies.


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