Home     Boris Sidis Archives     Table of Contents     Next Chapter



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

Boston: R. Badger, 1909



Intermediary States

IN many cases where it is requisite to find the causation of the mental trouble, and hypnotization is not possible, I have for many years employed a method which has been giving excellent results, both theoretical and practical. By means of this method, which I have termed hypnoidization, I have been able to induce states closely allied to sleeping states on the one hand, and to hypnosis on the other. This work may be regarded as established, having since been confirmed by many other investigators, as well as by my assistants and collaborators in my laboratory.

            Basing myself on the conditions which I have elsewhere described for the induction of states of normal and abnormal suggestibility, as well as for the bringing about of dissociated states in general, I have applied the same or similar conditions in cases where hypnosis was not possible. The result was the induction of peculiar states which I termed hypnoidal. The hypnoidal state is of an intermediary character, intermediary between the waking state on the one hand, sleep and hypnosis on the other. Here specially lies our present interest in these peculiar states. The patient or the subject while in this state hovers between hypnosis and sleep. Now he may be in a condition which can only be characterized as light hypnosis, and then again to one’s surprise the person is found to be in his normal waking state. The state evidently is highly unstable. The oscillations of the different states may be followed by variations in respiration. Thus the respiration is somewhat unequal in the waking state, becomes quietened and more uniform in hypnosis. When, again, in the hypnoidal state the respiration is slow and with little or almost, no variations, it becomes disturbed when the patient passes into waking state, and becomes uniform when he passes into hypnosis or sleep.

            The method of hypnoidization shows clearly how the conditions of normal and abnormal suggestibility are utilized and modified in the induction of hypnoidal or intermediary because it is just on such slight states. I say because it is just on such slight modifications and variations of the conditions mentioned above that the whole matter of hypnoidal states hinges. A quotation from a previous work of mine giving a short description of the methods of hypnoidization and of the character of the hypnoidal state will be opportune here. The patient is asked to close his eyes and keep as quiet 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. This should be carried out in a very quiet place, and the room, if possible, should be darkened so as not to disturb the patient and thus bring him out of the state in which he has been put. As modifications of the same method,—the patient or subject is asked to fixate his attention on some object, while at the same time listening to the beats of a metronome; the patient's eyes are then closed, he is to keep very quiet, while the metronome or some other monotonous stimulus is continued. After some time, when the patient’s respirations and pulse are found somewhat lowered, he is asked to concentrate his attention on a subject closely relating to the symptoms of the malady or to the submerged subconscious state. In other words, the patient is in a hypnoidal state favorable for the emergence of subconscious experiences.

            “The patient patient again may be asked to be very quiet to move, or change position as little as possible, and is 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 his symptoms. In other cases it is sufficient to put the patient in a relaxed condition, have his eyes shut and tell him to think hard of the particular dissociated states.”

            Now in working with the method of hypnoidization I have often observed in using it that the patient at first tries to concentrate his attention and seems to fall into slight hypnosis, but pretty soon he is fully awake. In closely watching this condition I found that at first the patient attempted to fixate his attention, then lost control over it. His attention being relaxed he fell into a sleep-state, out of which he emerged again, owing to the partial presence of the idea of the necessity of concentration of the attention, as well as to the partial watchfulness present. It is this alternate and incomplete relaxation and concentration of the attention that keeps the patient on the borderland of wakefulness, hypnosis and sleep. In some cases the hypnoidal state passed into hypnosis. Thus in one of my cases, V. F., at first I obtained only hypnoidal states, but after some time the hypnotic state gained ground and the subject passed into typical hypnosis and finally into a somnambulistic state. In other cases I have observed that preliminary to the passing into the hypnotic state proper a short interval is present which may be regarded as a hypnoidal condition. In many other cases the patient is not in the hypnotic condition, but still there are phenomena present which remind one strongly of the hypnotic state.

            The close relationship of the hypnoidal state and of hypnosis is sometimes forcibly brought to the mind of the experimenter. Some patients while in the hypnoidal state are observed to become unusually quiet, less talkative, relaxed and after a time distinctly cataleptic. The patient has apparently passed into hypnosis. In most of the cases the hypnosis is of very brief duration. On the other hand, in other cases the subject falls into a sleeping state without as much as touching on hypnosis. The hypnoidal state is on the borderland of waking, sleep and hypnosis. Subwaking seems to be an appropriate descriptive term of the hypnoidal state. Like sleep and hypnosis, the subwaking hypnoidal state greatly vanes as to depth and duration: it may range from the full waking consciousness to deep hypnosis. The same patient may at various times reach different levels, so that not all the hypnoidal states are of the same depth; and in that respect they are very much like sleep and hypnosis, which really are not always of the same depth.

            What is specially characteristic of the hypnoidal states is the difficulty of fixing them for any length of time,—they dissolve into mist as soon as an attempt is made to seize them,—they are extremely fleeting and evanescent. What specially interests us is the close relationship of the hypnoidal state with sleep-states. The hypnoidal state is the bridge that connects the waking state not only with hypnosis, but so with sleep. To enter sleep or hypnosis one has to pass through the intermediate state, the hypnoidal state.

            We may also add that this holds true not only in the case of passing into any of the hypnotic or sleep-states, but also in the case of passing out of them. A close observation of cases will show that in awakening from hypnosis, as well as from sleep, there is present a short period occupied by a peculiar condition of consciousness, a condition which, is no other than the hypnoidal state. It is such states between sleeping and waking, whether on the way to or from sleep, that may be designated as subwaking, and are skin to hypnoidal states.

            The subwaking states are characterized by the trait of suggestibility. Suggestions are fully possible “in such conditions. In fact, in all those cases where hypnosis is impossible impracticable the hypnoidal or impracticable the hypnoidal states can be utilized for the same purpose. The subwaking or hypnoidal states are utilized by me and by many other utilized by me any many other investigators in systematic and methodical for the obtaining of submerged subconscious experience. This clearly shows that the subwaking states, while being of the character of sleep-states, are also in close touch with states of dissociation.

            One important characteristic of all subwaking-states is the formation of hallucinations which indicate states of dissociation under which alone hallucinations can take place. On falling asleep hallucinations crowd consciousness, and on awakening a crowd of phantastic percepts, often giving rise to disconnected dreams, haunt “the halls of consciousness.” We may possibly term the intermediary subwaking states leading into sleep as hypnagogic states and the dream-hallucinations formed hypnagogic hallucinations; the intermediary subwaking states which arise on coming out of sleep we may term hypnapagogic states (from upvov, sleep; and apagw, lead away); the dream hallucinations formed may be termed hypnapagogic hallucinations. In passing from waking states into sleep and again from sleep into waking, we pass through those intermediary subwaking states. We may graphically represent those intermediary, transient, subwaking states as follows:


            In other words, in going to sleep or rising out of it as well as in entering into hypnosis and its allied states and coming out of them the transitory, subwaking, hypnoidal states are passed through. The subwaking states may therefore be regarded as truly intermediate. The subject in passing through the subwaking hypnoidal states may either fall asleep or pass into hypnosis. Facts thus clearly indicate that sleep-states are closely interconnected with intermediary subwaking states discovered in my investigation of the subconscious. In the study of sleep then we must devote our attention to the investigation of transitory subwaking states which form the transition between waking and sleeping.


Boris Sidis Archives     Contents    Next