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Boris Sidis, M. A., Ph.D., M.D.
William A. White, M.D., George M. Parker, M.D.

© 1908
Boston: Richard G. Badger




        To test further the intelligence of the subconscious and also the formation of new habits, the patient was put into the hypnotic state, and it was suggested that she would awaken when ten was reached by counting. When Dr. W. began to count, the pneumograph showed a marked disturbance at five. The patient had formed a habit, from previous suggestions, to awake when five was counted. Calculations were carried on during the same time to test the patient's subconscious discrimination. During the time of the waking state as usual she reacted only to the right answer, and fell into the hypnotic state at once as soon as the correct result was given.

        To show how quickly the subconscious forms habits, in the next experiment the suggestion was given her that she wake up when fifteen was reached. The pneumograph showed disturbances at the regular intervals of five and ten―the numbers at which she had been previously awakened. Experiments were then continued in the same line by the method of distraction, and the appreciation of the beautiful by the subconscious was tested. Along with these experiments were also given suggestions while in the hypnotic state to wake up at various numbers, all of which were multiples of five. It was interesting to observe that while there were disturbances when a picture was shown, and also when the patient passed into the hypnotic state, there were marked disturbances in the respirations shown by the pneumographic tracings when the patient was in the process of being awakened on hearing counting. The patient's respiration was in accord with each number pronounced, so that there were as many respiratory acts as there were counts, and when the counting reached five, ten, fifteen, multiples of five, there was a marked disturbance. Thus, for instance, when it was suggested to the patient that she wake up when thirty was reached, by counting, there were thirty respiratory acts and disturbances at five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, and thirty respectively. (Plate V.)

        The patient's subconsciousness formed a habit to react when the number was reached at which she was previously awakened.

        The following are the specific experiments which showed the conditions referred to above:

        In the earlier experiments she had been awakened by Dr. W. counting five or ten. Now he counted to fifteen to awaken her. There was a marked respiratory disturbance at ten. A post-hypnotic suggestion was given her to fall into hypnosis when she should hear a correct calculation. Distraction by reading. Dr. W. makes calculations aloud, and at the first correct one she falls into hypnosis.

        She was again hypnotized, and a post-hypnotic suggestion given to her that she would be shown different pictures, and would fall asleep when she saw a beautiful one. Awakened by counting. Counted to twenty to awake. Pneumograph showed respiratory disturbances at five, ten, fifteen, twenty. (Tracings 4 and 5, Plate V.) Distraction by reading. Pictures shown, and she fell into hypnosis when one was placed at her side. It was not pretty. She was asked to look at it and see if it was pretty, but said it was not. She said, however, that she fell into hypnosis when she saw a bright picture (the former ones were all black tracings; this was a series of photographs on one page).

        She was again hypnotized, and a post-hypnotic suggestion again given to her that she fall into hypnosis when she saw a beautiful picture. Awakened by counting to twenty-five. The pneumograph showed marked respiratory disturbances at five, ten, fifteen, twenty, and twenty-five. Distraction by reading. She was shown pictures, and immediately fell into hypnosis when a beautiful colored plate was produced. (Tracing 5, Plate V.)

        She was again hypnotized and a post-hypnotic suggestion given her to fall into hypnosis when she saw a certain letter that Dr. W. would show her. Dr. W. then counted thirty to awaken her. There were respiratory disturbances at ten, twenty, twenty-five, and thirty. (Tracing 5, Plate V.)

        A tracing was now taken while only counting from one to thirty. Awakened, distraction by reading. Letters were shown her. She fell at once into hypnosis when the right one had been shown twice. In hypnosis could repeat some of letters shown, but while they were being shown she glanced at them.

        Again hypnotized, and a post-hypnotic suggestion given her to fall into hypnosis when Dr. W. would show her the name of a man, and she was told not to glance toward the names. Awakened by counting rapidly from one to fifty; distraction by reading. The names were shown, and she fell into hypnosis at the name of a man, but persisted in glancing towards the names, which were purposely held much to one side. (Tracings 6 and 7, Plate V.)

        It was now desirable to see what was the influence of mere counting in both waking and hypnotic states.

        While the patient was awake, Dr. W. counted up to ten; then up to fifteen, and it was found that the patient's respiration was but little affected, keeping pace in a very irregular way with the counting. It showed slight disturbances at five and ten.

        The patient was then put in the hypnotic state, and the same experiments were repeated. The respiration kept more accurately in pace with the counting, and disturbance was distinctly marked at multiples of five.

        For these experiments see tracings 1, 2, and 3, Plate VI.

        Experiments were again made by counting to awaken her, and the disturbances at multiples of five were marked. (Tracing 2, Plate VI.)

        Experiments were further made by counting to produce hypnosis, tracings being taken during the process of hypnotization. There were no disturbances at the multiples of five. (Tracing 3, Plate VI.)

        Experiments were then made during hypnosis to show the influence of counting by a person with whom she was not en rapport. The tracings showed that there were regular intervals of respiration in accord with the counting, and the patient manifested the same tendency to respiratory disturbances at five, ten, etc. This counting was slow. Rapid counting was then tried from one to fifty; the respiration was very rapid, keeping pace with the counts. Further experiments were varied, counting slow and fast from one to ten and from one to fifty, and in all of them the patient dearly manifested a tendency to keep pace in her respiration with the counts of Dr. S., with whom she was not en rapport and whom apparently she did not hear. When the counting was very fast there was no marked disturbance at multiples of five; it became manifest, however, as soon as the rate of counting became slower. (Tracings 3 and 4, Plate VI.)

        When the fast counting was stopped suddenly, there was also a sudden marked stop of the respiration. These last disturbances can be clearly seen in tracings 5, 6, and 7, Plate VI. The regularity of keeping pace with rhythmical sounds was especially well manifested when the metronome was used, the respirations keeping pace with the beats of the metronome. (Tracing 7, Plate VI.)

        The subconscious forms habits easily which are as easily broken. In fact, in the remarkable plasticity of the subconscious, in the great ease of subconscious habit formation, lies the secret of hypnotic suggestion. Once a habit has been subconsciously formed and permitted to persist and develop, it is very difficult to eradicate it. It is, however, nigh impossible to eradicate the habit of personality suggestion or so-called "rapport," if it is permitted to be formed, and herein lies the danger of suggestion, whether in the waking or hypnotic state. Thus it was impossible to change the subconscious habits formed by the patient in their relation to Dr. W., who had been experimenting with her since her entrance into the hospital, and with whom she had formed the habit of standing en rapport during hypnosis. It was attempted to have her awakened from the hypnotic sleep by a person other than Dr. W., and by one with whom she was not en rapport, but to whom she was nevertheless habituated by a long series of experiments, viz., Dr. S. The results showed that the hypnotic memory was so persistent that it was impossible to overcome it by the ordinary suggestions coming from a source with which she had not formed the habit of being en rapport. Thus, in one of her hypnotic states, Dr. S. made an attempt to have her count to ten and awaken. She positively refused to wake up, saying that she could not wake up because he had not hypnotized her.

        Dr. W. suggested to her that on awaking she should allow Dr. S. to hypnotize her. Dr. W. awoke her and Dr. S. hypnotized her. Dr. S. made a suggestion to her that she could not hear Dr. W., but she did not take the suggestion; she answered Dr. W. each time he spoke to her. Dr. S. made a post­hypnotic suggestion that on awaking she could not see nor hear Dr. W. He awoke her, but the suggestion was not acted upon.

     So strong was this personality suggestion, that in one of her automatic writings under distraction, she wrote spontaneously the following: "I will do any thing Dr. White (tells) me to (do)," emphasizing it with an affirmative" yes"; and at another time she wrote, "and no one else will be able to hypnotize me only Dr. White." These writings are reproduced above, Figure 11, and on page 97, Figure 14. Chap. XII


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