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How The Subject Feels Under Hypnotization








The sensations produced during a state of hypnosis are very interesting.
As may be supposed, they differ greatly in different persons. One of the
most interesting accounts ever given is that of Dr. James R. Cocke, a
hypnotist himself, who submitted to being operated upon by a
professional magnetizer. He was at that time a firm believer in the
theory of personal magnetism (a delusion from which he afterward
escaped).

On the occasion which he describes, the operator commanded him to close
his eyes and told him he could not open them, but he did open them at
once. Again he told him to close the eyes, and at the same time he
gently stroked his head and face and eyelids with his hand. Dr. Cocke
fancied he felt a tingling sensation in his forehead and eyes, which he
supposed came from the hand of the operator. (Afterward he came to
believe that this sensation was purely imaginary on his part.)

Then he says: A sensation akin to fear came over me. The operator said:
'You are going to sleep, you are getting sleepy. You cannot open your
eyes.' I was conscious that my heart was beating rapidly, and I felt a
sensation of terror. He continued to tell me I was going to sleep, and
could not open my eves. He then made passes over my head, down over my
hands and body, but did not touch me. He then said to me, 'You cannot
open your eyes.' The motor apparatus of my lids would not seemingly
respond to my will, yet I was conscious that while one part of my mind
wanted to open my eyes, another part did not want to, so I was in a
paradoxical state. I believed that I could open my eyes, and yet could
not. The feeling of not wishing to open my eyes was not based upon any
desire to please the operator. I had no personal interest in him in any
way, but, be it understood, I firmly believed in his power to control
me. He continued to suggest to me that I was going to sleep, and the
suggestion of terror previously mentioned continued to increase.

The next step was to put the doctor's hand over his head, and tell him
he could not put it down. Then he stroked the arm and said it was
growing numb. He said: You have no feeling in it, have you? Dr. Cocke
goes on: I said 'No,' and I knew that I said 'No,' yet I knew that I
had a feeling in it. The operator went on, pricking the arm with a pin,
and though Dr. Cocke felt the pain he said he did not feel it, and at
the same time the sensation of terror increased. I was not conscious of
my body at all, he says further on, but I was painfully conscious of
the two contradictory elements within me. I knew that my body existed,
but could not prove it to myself. I knew that the statements made by the
operator were in a measure untrue. I obeyed them voluntarily and
involuntarily. This is the last remembrance that I have of that hypnotic
experience.

After this, however, the operator caused the doctor to do a number of
things which he learned of from his friends after the performance was
over. It seemed to me that the hypnotist commanded me to awake as soon
as I dropped my arm, and yet ten minutes of unconsciousness had passed.

On a subsequent occasion Dr. Cocke, who was blind, was put into a deep
hypnotic sleep by fixing his mind on the number 26 and holding up his
hand. This time he experienced a still greater degree of terror, and
incidentally learned that he could hypnotize himself. The matter of
self-hypnotism we shall consider in another chapter.

In this connection we find great interest in an article in the Medical
News, July 28, 1894, by Dr. Alfred Warthin, of Ann Arbor, Mich., in
which he describes the effects of music upon hypnotic subjects. While in
Vienna he took occasion to observe closely the enthusiastic musical
devotees as they sat in the audience at the performance of one of
Wagner's operas. He believed they were in a condition of self-induced
hypnotism, in which their subjective faculties were so exalted as to
supersede their objective perceptions. Music was no longer to them a
succession of pleasing sounds, but the embodiment of a drama in which
they became so wrapped up that they forgot all about the mechanical and
external features of the music and lived completely in a fairy world of
dream.

This observation suggested to him an interesting series of experiments.
His first subject was easily hypnotized, and of an emotional nature.
Wagner's Ride of Walkure was played from the piano score. The pulse of
the subject became more rapid and at first of higher tension, increasing
from a normal rate of 60 beats a minute to 120. Then, as the music
progressed, the tension diminished. The respiration increased from 18 to
30 per minute. Great excitement in the subject was evident. His whole
body was thrown into motion, his legs were drawn up, his arms tossed
into the air, and a profuse sweat appeared. When the subject had been
awakened, he said that he did not remember the music as music, but had
an impression of intense, excitement, brought on by riding furiously
through the air. The state of mind brought up before him in the most
realistic and vivid manner possible the picture of the ride of Tam
O'Shanter, which he had seen years before. The picture soon became real
to him, and he found himself taking part in a wild chase, not as witch,
devil, or Tam even; but in some way his consciousness was spread through
every part of the scene, being of it, and yet playing the part of
spectator, as is often the case in dreams.

Dr. Warthin tried the same experiment again, this time on a young man
who was not so emotional, and was hypnotized with much more difficulty.
This subject did not pass into such a deep state of hypnotism, but the
result was practically the same. The pulse rate rose from 70 to 120. The
sensation remembered was that of riding furiously through the air.

The experiment was repeated on other subjects, in all cases with the
same result. Only one knew that the music was the Ride of Walkure. To
him it always expressed the pictured wild ride of the daughters of
Wotan, the subject taking part in the ride. It was noticeable in each
case that the same music played to them in the waking state produced no
special impression. Here is incontestable evidence that in the hypnotic
state the perception of the special senses is enormously heightened.

A slow movement was tried (the Valhalla motif). At first it seemed to
produce the opposite effect, for the pulse was lowered. Later it rose to
a rate double the normal, and the tension was diminished. The impression
described by the subject afterward was a feeling of lofty grandeur and
calmness. A mountain climbing experience of years before was recalled,
and the subject seemed to contemplate a landscape of lofty grandeur. A
different sort of music was played (the intense and ghastly scene in
which Brunhilde appears to summon Sigmund to Valhalla). Immediately a
marked change took place in the pulse. It became slow and irregular, and
very small. The respiration decreased almost to gasping, the face grew
pale, and a cold perspiration broke out.

Readers who are especially interested in this subject will find
descriptions of many other interesting experiments in the same article.

Dr. Cocke describes a peculiar trick he played upon the sight of a
subject. Says he: I once hypnotized a man and made him read all of his
a's as w's, his u's as v's, and his b's as x's. I added suggestion after
suggestion so rapidly that it would have been impossible for him to have
remembered simply what I said and call the letters as I directed.
Stimulation was, in this case impossible, as I made him read fifteen or
twenty pages, he calling the letters as suggested each time they
occurred.

The extraordinary heightening of the sense perceptions has an important
bearing on the question of spiritualism and clairvoyance. If the powers
of the mind are so enormously increased, all that is required of a very
sensitive and easily hypnotized person is to hypnotize him or herself,
when he will be able to read thoughts and remember or perceive facts
hidden to the ordinary perception. In this connection the reader is
referred to the confession of Mrs. Piper, the famous medium of the
American branch of the Psychical Research Society. The confession will
be found printed in full at the close of this book.





Next: Self Hypnotization

Previous: Fascination



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