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The Somnambulistic Stage

This is the stage or phase of hypnotism nearest the waking, and is the

only one that can be produced in some subjects. Patients in the

cataleptic state can be brought into the somnambulistic by rubbing the

top of the head. To all appearances, the patient is fully awake, his

eyes are open, and he answers when spoken to, but his voice does not

have the same sound as when awake. Yet, in this state the patient is

e of all the hallucinations of insanity which may be induced

at the verbal command of the operator.

One of the most curious features of this stage of hypnotism is the

effect on the memory. Says Monsieur Richet: I send V---- to sleep. I

recite some verses to her, and then I awake her. She remembers nothing.

I again send her to sleep, and she remembers perfectly the verses I

recited. I awake her, and she has again forgotten everything.

It appears, however, that if commanded to remember on awaking, a patient

may remember.

The active sense, and the memory as well, appears to be in an exalted

state of activity during this phase of hypnotism. Says M. Richet:

M----, who will sing the air of the second act of the Africaine in her

sleep, is incapable of remembering a single note of it when awake.

Another patient, while under this hypnotic influence, could remember all

he had eaten for several days past, but when awake could remember very

little. Binet and Fere caused one of their subjects to remember the

whole of his repasts for eight days past, though when awake he could

remember nothing beyond two or three days. A patient of Dr. Charcot, who

when she was two years old had seen Dr. Parrot in the children's

hospital, but had not seen him since, and when awake could not remember

him, named him at once when he entered during her hypnotic sleep. M.

Delboeuf tells of an experiment he tried, in which the patient did

remember what had taken place during the hypnotic condition, when he

suddenly awakened her in the midst of the hallucination; as, for

instance, he told her the ashes from the cigar he was smoking had fallen

on her handkerchief and had set it on fire, whereupon she at once rose

and threw the handkerchief into the water. Then, suddenly awakened, she

remembered the whole performance.

In the somnambulistic stage the patient is no longer an automaton

merely, but a real personality, an individual with his own character,

his likes and dislikes. The tone of the voice of the operator seems to

have quite as much effect as his words. If he speaks in a grave and

solemn tone, for instance, even if what he utters is nonsense, the

effect is that of a deeply tragic story.

The will of another is not so easily implanted as has been claimed.

While a patient will follow almost any suggestion that may be offered,

he readily obeys only commands which are in keeping with his character.

If he is commanded to do something he dislikes or which in the waking

state would be very repugnant to him, he hesitates, does it very

reluctantly, and in extreme cases refuses altogether, often going into

hysterics. It was found at the Charity hospital that one patient

absolutely refused to accept a cassock and become a priest. One of

Monsieur Richet's patients screamed with pain the moment an amputation

was suggested, but almost immediately recognized that it was only a

suggestion, and laughed in the midst of her tears. Probably, however,

this patient was not completely hypnotized.

Dr. Dumontpallier was able to produce a very curious phenomenon. He

suggested to a female patient that with the right eye she could see a

picture on a blank card. On awakening she could, indeed, see the picture

with the right eye, but the left eye told her the card was blank. While

she was in the somnambulistic state he told her in her right ear that

the weather was very fine, and at the same time another person whispered

in her left ear that it was raining. On the right side of her face she

had a smile, while the left angle of her lip dropped as if she were

depressed by the thought of the rain. Again, he describes a dance and

gay party in one ear, and another person mimics the barking of a dog in

the other. One side of her face in that case wears an amused expression,

while the other shows signs of alarm.

Dr. Charcot thus describes a curious experiment: A portrait is

suggested to a subject as existing on a blank card, which is then mixed

with a dozen others; to all appearance they are similar cards. The

subject, being awakened, is requested to look over the packet, and does

so without knowing the reason of the request, but when he perceives the

card on which the portrait was suggested, he at once recognizes the

imaginary portrait. It is probable that some insignificant mark has,

owing to his visual hyperacuity, fixed the image in the subject's