A Tribute to Dr. Sidney J. Van Pelt (1976)
1. INTRODUCTION: CHAPLAIN PAUL G. DURBIN, Ph.D.
2. DR. SIDNEY J. VAN PELT: AUTHOR UNKNOWN
3. IN MEMORY OF DR. SIDNEY J. VAN PELT: DR. WILLIAM J. BRYAN, JR:
4. HYPNOTISM AND THE POWER WITHIN PREFACE: by Dr S. J. VAN PELT
5. HYPNOSIS AND ANXIETY: DR. S. J. VAN PELT
6. HYPNOTISM, "RHEUMATISM" AND FIBROSITIS: DR. S. J. VAN PELT
7. MIGRAINE, EMOTION AND HYPNOSIS: DR. S. J. VAN PELT
8. AN ANSWER TO ASTHMA: DR. S. J. VAN PELT
9. MEDICAL HYPNOSIS HANDBOOK "A RATIONAL APPROACH OF HYPNOTISM"
1. INTRODUCTION: CHAPLAIN PAUL G. DURBIN, Ph.D.
A few weeks ago, a friend called me and ask if I would like to look through about 5 boxes of books she been given. Most were on hypnosis, psychology and psychiatry. She told me that I could have any of the books that I wanted. All of the material was from the 60's and 70's and they were found in an office that had not been occupied for several years. Among the boxes was a book of hypnosis journals from various organizations covering dates in the 50s 60s and 70s. Among those were issues of the American Institute of Hypnosis (an organization founded and headed by William J. Bryan, JR. MD) covering several years. One of those was a tribute issue to Dr. Sidney J. Van Pelt. I read the articles with interest. Dr. Van Pelt’s book Medical Hypnosis Handbook was among those books. Hypnotism and the Power Within can be found in its entirety at "Hypnogenesis" http://www.hypnos.co.uk/hypnomag/peltbook/contents.htm With the exception of an article by an unknown author from the internet, the other material from the American Institute of Hypnosis Tribute (Nov 1975) which must have been late in being published because Dr. Van Pelt died in Jan 1976.
2. DR. SIDNEY J. VAN PELT: AUTHOR UNKNOWN
A history of hypnosis would not be complete without mentioning the foremost expert in the field of medical hypnosis of our time. Dr. S. J. Van Pelt, an Australian physician who established practice in London, England over 15 years ago, was the world's first modern full-time medical hypnotist. Limiting his practice to the use of hypnosis in medicine, Dr. Van Pelt built up an enviable reputation at a time when the rest of the world was very suspicious of the new modality. He became the first and lifetime president of the British Society of Medical Hypnotism, and the Editor of the British Journal of Medical Hypnotism, the oldest and most respected journal in the field still in publication. The British Journal of Medical Hypnotism under his guidance from its inception has lived even longer that Elliotson's Zoist and is now the world's undisputed leader in its field. By means of the British Journal and the Journal of the A.I.H., for which he has written a number of articles, the best of the scientific literature on the subject of hypnotism is disseminated throughout the English-speaking medical profession of the world. Dr. Van Pelt participated as lecturer in the first international course in medical hypnotism ever given in November 1959 aboard the M.S. Kungshohm on a Caribbean Cruise, and except for myself, is still today the only other living full-time medical specialist in hypnosis. He has written more books on hypnosis than any other four authors combined if I am not utilized in the combination, and has so many articles on the subject published that they are too numerous to count. If there is any one man of our time who will ascend to greatness via medical hypnosis, it is certainly Dr. S. J. Van Pelt, the foremost authority on the subject in the world.
S. J. Van Pelt with William J. Bryan
3. IN MEMORY OF DR. SIDNEY J. VAN PELT (DIED JANUARY 7, 1976): DR. WILLIAM J. BRYAN, JR:
It is with deepest regret that I turn to the writing of an obituary of my dearest friend, mentor and colleague, Dr. Sidney J. Van Pelt. An Australian physician, only child of a prominent family who graduated from Sydney Medical School answered in the Royal Navy as a commander. While on duty on an aircraft carrier, he began to utilize medical hypnosis in evaluating the performance of the pilots under his care. Realizing its tremendous potential, he established the first full time medical practice in medical hypnosis in London, England following the war and married his wife Bobbie, who was his constant companion, the love of his life and his only wife during his lifetime. He was elected President of the British Society of Medical Hypnotists, a position he held until his death, and founded the British Journal of Medical Hypnotism and was its Editor in Chief from its inception in September of 1949 until it ceased publication after 17 complete volumes at the close of 1966. At that time, it was the oldest publication on medical hypnosis still in circulation; it was the most respected medical Journal on hypnosis in the world appearing in over 150 major medical libraries and also the longest running publication of its kind having outlived its nearest competitor "Zoist" a medical Journal dedicated to hypnotism and developed in the late 1800's, edited by Dr. Sir John Elliotson.
As the world's first modern full time medical hypnotist, Dr. Van Pelt built up an enviable reputation at a time when the rest of the world was very suspicious of new modality. He was largely responsible for the banning of stage hypnotism in Britain as well as the acceptance by the British Medical Association in 1955 of the use of hypnotism in medicine. It was this acceptance which caused the American Medical Association to begin a three-year exhaustive study by the Council on Mental Health, leading to the American Medical Association acceptance in 1958. Dr.
Van Pelt participated a number of times as a guest lecturer for the American Institute of Hypnosis including the first international course in medical hypnotism ever given in November 1959 aboard the M.S. Kungsholm on a Caribbean cruise, at a special international course given in Hawaii and at various courses given in Europe.
At the time of his death on Wednesday, January 7, 1976, by embolism, Dr. Van Pelt had written more scientific articles on hypnotism than any other doctor in the world, living or dead, and had written more books on hypnosis than any other four authors combined (if I am not included in the combination).
I am personally grateful for having had the pleasure of studying under such a great man and for his timely advice, for it was his encouragement which led me to open up an office March 1, 1960 in a ful1-time specialization practice of hypnosis in the United States. He further lent encouragement in the establishment of this Journal, and was always a great counselor and dear personal friend who repeatedly had me as his house guest at his lovely estate in Maidenhead, Berkshire, England on the Thames.
In the last few years, he retired from his practice at 150 Harley Street in London and spent his time reading scientific literature on hypnosis, guest lecturing, and was able to give some time to his two special hobbies: boating on the Thames and the care and feeding of his dogs. In his last years, he developed a gambling system on roulette based upon hypnosis.
It is with great sadness we note the passing of the foremost authority on medical hypnosis in the world. As a tribute to Dr .Van Pelt, this entire issue will be composed of some of Dr. Van Pelt's most famous articles, including three editorials. I am sure the reader will be astounded at the breadth of understanding and extreme farsightedness of Dr. Van Pelt who wrote about such things as hypnosis and space travel in 1955, hypnosis in the brain barrier in 1956 and his most famous article (delivered before the Fourth International Psychiatric Congress in Barcelona in 1958) on the role of hypnotic suggestion in the etiology and treatment of psychoneurotic and psychosomatic disorders. He also coined phrases to describe new disease entities which he identified, - such as the "slipped personality ." He wrote of hypnosis and panic, describing the correct treatment of anxiety neurosis and fears of traveling. His famous theoretical lectures showing the way hypnotic suggestion works and how fear begins a vicious cycle leading to hobo phobia are included.
His last editorial and his last article entitled "Peace of Mind and Hypnosis," each only one page long, are included. A master of brevity, Van Pelt could put more meat into a one-page article than other physicians could in 20 pages of printed material. Permission was received by Dr. Van Pelt before his death to reprint some of his most famous articles in our Journal and also to reprint the entire Journal of British Hypnotism, all 17 volumes, for anyone who wishes it. Dr. Van Pelt passed away leaving no relatives.
4. HYPNOTISM AND THE POWER WITHIN: PREFACE: by Dr S.J.VAN PELT
This book has been written to show that hypnotism is a rational Christian procedure which, when properly used, provides a simple solution to the problem of nervous and allied complaints.
If the greatest possible number of sufferers is to benefit in the shortest possible time, the only really practical method is that of light hypnosis, which fully 95 per cent, of people can achieve, and suggestion. This demands a somewhat different conception of mental disorder from the orthodox point of view. Briefly, it is regarded as a form of self-hypnosis resulting from the implantation of a dominant idea in a brain sensitized to hypnosis by an emotional circumstance. Bodily symptoms, such as trembling due to fear, arise as the result of action on the autonomic nervous system. Fear of these symptoms in turn gives rise to further anxiety, and so establishes a vicious circle.
For example, a surgeon performing an eye operation remarked to his assistant, ‘‘Be careful, or you will break the needle.’’ The patient, under local anaesthetic, as is usual in operations of this kind, heard the remark, and had an immediate fear of blindness. Fear caused the heart to palpitate, and, as this continued, the fear of heart disease developed. Worry over this led to headache and insomnia, and the patient soon presented the typical picture of anxiety neurosis.
All cases are not so obvious, but careful investigation will always reveal an emotional incident. Those who object to this theory complain that it is too simple, yet there is much evidence to support it. That neurosis can be deliberately produced by hypnosis is a proved fact. Likewise it cannot be denied that cases of apparently permanent cures have been brought about using only hypnosis and suggestion. Variation in degrees and types of nervous disorders can be accounted for by the fact that people vary in their susceptibility to hypnosis. Those capable of entering a deep trance can, under certain circumstances, develop the more serious types of nervous disorder, while the less susceptible are only mildly affected. This explains those not infrequent cases of severe nervous illness which follow stage performances of hypnotism where only selected and highly susceptible subjects who can enter a deep trance are used.
Emotion is such a tremendously powerful factor that when it enters the picture reason is relegated to the background, and conditions favorable to the onset of hypnosis are established. In even the lightest stage of hypnosis the power of suggestion, which is strong enough in the waking state, is enormously increased.
Modern life is full of such examples. Even the most mediocre singers reduce their admirers to a condition bordering on hysteria by wallowing in false sentiment and emotion. Wealthy politicians living in the lap of luxury are able to arouse their followers to a frenzy of enthusiasm by playing on the emotions associated with class hatred, as they expound on the evils of wealth!
In these days, when one man can address the whole world, it is more necessary than ever to understand the real nature and power of hypnosis and suggestion. Let those who doubt reflect that approximately one third of the world today is ruled as the direct result of the suggestions of one man - Karl Marx!
Hypnosis, like all good things, can be abused. In the past it has been consistently opposed and given a bad name chiefly as the result of extravagant claims by stage and amateur performers, together with wildly improbable, sensational stories of the Svengali -Trilby type.
Certain groups of people, notably Christian Scientists, have been especially active in condemning it. These cults have been examined in some detail, and in the light of what is revealed, the reader will be able to assess the real value of their objections to hypnotism.
Particular attention has been paid to the theories of Freud. A few of the more intelligent psychiatrists and analysts, realizing the hopelessly impractical nature of psycho-analysis, have endeavored to use hypnotism as a short cut, and have developed the method of hypno-analysis. Apart from the theoretical incompatibility, this method demands a deep trance, which relatively few people can achieve, and is still dependent upon the doctrines and philosophy evolved from Freud.
"No man can serve two masters,:" and mankind must choose between the anti-Christian and materialistic views of Freud, no matter how elaborated and disguised they may be; and the simple, inspired teachings of Christ. In hypnotic treatment it is the suggestion which cures, not the hypnosis. It is essential, therefore, that the suggestions should be based on Christian principles, which have stood the test of time, and will still survive when the works of Freud and his disciples have long since been forgotten.
Hypnotism is no substitute for real religion; but it can, when used on simple Christian lines, enable the patient to call upon the wonderful reserve of power within himself, and, by achieving perfect harmony of mind and body, realize the truth of Christ’s words: ‘‘The Kingdom of God is within you." To read the entire book go to "Hypnogenesis" http://www.hypnos.co.uk/hypnomag/peltbook/contents.htm
5. HYPNOSIS AND ANXIETY: DR. S. J. VAN PELT
THE JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF HYPNOSIS: NOVEMBER 1995
At a time when the National Health Service is strained to breaking point both from lack of funds and shortage of hospital beds and doctors' surgeries are filled to overflowing, it is more important than ever to realize the part played by anxiety in the production of illness.
This is even more essential when it is considered how many gallons of medicine were poured down the throats of patients more than half of whom had no real need of drugs at all and were suffering merely from the effects of anxiety.
It was recently reported that an official of the Health Ministry had appealed to the public to avoid wasting the time of doctors in unnecessary calls and had complained of the "appalling national bottle habit."
Statistics were given showing that 202 million prescriptions had been issued in 1949 which, allowing for a population of 45 million, worked out at nearly five each for every man, woman and child in the Country! In 1950 the figure had risen to 218 million and this did not include medicine prescribed during the influenza epidemic! The expense involved in providing unwanted spectacles and other appliances with needless investigations such as X rays, electrocardiograms and pathological tests together with the famous "bottle of medicine" pales into insignificance when the economic loss to the country resulting from the effects of anxiety is considered.
It is no exaggeration to say that much of the "absenteeism" and industrial strife so prevalent today is due to anxiety and, as this condition is no respecter of persons, it makes itself felt among all classes of society from bus conductors to Cabinet Ministers.
Although it is probably quite true to say that anxiety has always existed, there is no doubt that the stresses and strains of modern conditions have brought about an enormous increase in the incidence of this complaint, so that it bids fair to become the outstanding and most prevalent illness of the 20th century.
Unfortunately, as will be seen later, the symptoms resulting from anxiety often mimic those of real organic disease and, until recently, the importance of the mental element has been little realized. The tendency has always been to give the patient a "bottle of medicine" and every doctor knows quite well that very often a bottle of colored water, or some equally chemically and therapeutically inert substance has "worked wonders." However, for every success resulting from such crude "hit or miss" methods of suggestion, there are literally hundreds of people who have had their neuroses firmly fixed and even aggravated by useless "bottles of medicine" and needless investigations.
Those who hold themselves up as "champions of the people" and base their claims to fame on the number of bottles of "free medicine" they have caused to be poured down the throats of their supporters would be well advised to consider this fact very carefully.
How then does anxiety show itself? Typically the patient is subject to attacks of panic for apparently no reason at all. There may be periods of complete freedom in the earlier stages but gradually the patient becomes more and more subject to vague fears with irritability and depression.
Physical symptoms such as palpitations, breathlessness, headache, trembling, sweating, intestinal or bladder upsets are very common and cause great distress. Insomnia is nearly always present and worries the patient while failing memory and loss of the power of concentration make it more and more difficult for the patient to cope with his work. Inability to relax and excessive "tension " are common complaints.
What then is the cause of this anxiety? Everyone is familiar with certain circumstances which have on occasion given rise to worry and some anxiety. There are few people who have not experienced feelings of fear on occasions. However, in such cases the cause of the worry or fear is usually very obvious and when removed the unpleasant feelings have disappeared.
The patient suffering from anxiety does not recognize the cause of his fear and feels quite helpless as a result. Typically such a patient will complain, "I have such terrific feelings of panic" but when asked what it is he fears he will reply, "I don't know. " This is generally considered to be due to the fact that there is a "subconscious conflict" between impulses which the patient has found so fearful that he has had to "repress" them. Based on practical experience, the writer considers that the condition may be best explained by likening the mind to apiece of elastic (see diagram). Stretching the elastic by pulling in opposite directions creates tension. Similarly if the mind is "stretched" or "pulled apart" or "strained" by two opposing ideas, then terrific tension will be developed. The energy resulting from this tension upsets the autonomic nervous system and causes unpleasant physical symptoms. These symptoms such as palpitation, shortness of breath, trembling, sweating and others of an equally distressing nature give rise to fear. This fear in turn gives rise to more symptoms and so a vicious circle is established.
The patient becomes afraid of the symptoms of fear and in the process of concentrating on these forgets the original cause of the trouble.
It is commonly believed that years of analysis are required to bring to light these "deeply buried conflicts," but in the writer's experience it has been found relatively simple to discover these conflicting and opposing ideas by taking a careful history in the waking state without any deep "subconscious probing" or prolonged analysis. A few adroit questions soon bring to light the salient facts and patients are often amazed as the interview proceeds to find themselves remembering details of significant incidents which they thought they had forgotten.
After all, Bemheim was able to recall lost memories by persistent questioning in the waking state and it was Freud's observation of this fact which eventually led to psychoanalysis.
In nearly every case it has been found that, although many would deny it at first, the patients, from inability to understand the cause of their condition, have finally developed the greatest fear of all the fear that there was "something wrong with their minds "
Treatment has been aimed at discovering the cause of the conflict, explaining it to the patients, first in the waking state and then under hypnosis, demonstrating their ability to dispel symptoms by controlled relaxation and instilling confidence in their ability to follow a, 'one way" course of approved action which eliminates any "conflicts."
Before describing typical cases, it might be as well to consider a few reasons why anxiety is becoming so prevalent in the modern world. Depending as it does upon a "conflict" between two opposing ideas, it is easy to find conditions in our present state of civilization which favor its growth. For years now it has been scarcely possible to open a newspaper without being confronted with alarming headlines such as "Will there be war or not." The unsettled condition of the world today is bad enough and when presented sensationally day after day, it is quite sufficient to have a bad effect on susceptible people. This trend is reflected in the popular taste for entertainment, so that we find the cinema and theater reveling in "psychological" themes portraying "conflicts" in the mind. Even the radio is not immune and in one popular serial which has been running for years the central character is daily presented with a difficult problem to which she seldom fails to respond with "I'm so worried." This phrase enters more and more into the conversation of everyday life and betrays the uncertainty of mind which forms a favorable breeding ground for anxiety. Again there has been a distinct falling off in the moral values and the moral fibre of the people in general. There is no longer the clear cut distinction between right and wrong, and for many people there is no longer any real ideal or guiding principle. As a result, when something important comes up, they are uncertain what to do and waiver first one way and then the other and finally develop anxiety.
Personal relationships naturally play an important part and under modern conditions of housing, or rather lack of it, people whose personalities clash are often thrown together and the conflicting feelings aroused predispose strongly to anxiety. In particular this is noticeable where people have to live with their "in-laws." The old "mother-in-law" joke is a favorite one of the music halls, but consideration of some of the following cases will show that the "in-law" problem is a real one and a fertile cause of anxiety neurosis under modern conditions. The following cases are all listed under their presenting symptoms but, as will be seen, were all cases of anxiety neurosis which responded favorably to medical hypnotism.
1. Insomnia. Mrs. . . ., a young married woman, complained of intractable insomnia of several years' duration. She complained that she was "going mad " for want of sleep and suffered from violent attacks of panic for no reason that she could see. Her doctor had given her very heavy doses of sleeping drugs with little or no effect. A simple history showed that she lived with her mother-in-law whom she disliked intensely. The thought had come into her head that she would be unable to stand living with her and that she might "run away ." This she knew would break up her marriage. These conflicting ideas naturally caused worry and insomnia. Somebody told her she would go mad if she didn't sleep properly. She worried over this so much that soon even sleeping drugs could not help. This convinced her she must be "going mad" and gave rise to feelings of panic. These feelings terrified her even more and gave rise to a vicious circle. Being absorbed in her unpleasant feelings, she had lost sight of the original simple cause. Explanation and reassurance with a few sessions of hypnosis enabled her to see things in their true light, removed her fears and allowed her to sleep naturally. Incidentally she developed sufficient confidence to explain matters to her husband and solved the problem of her mother-in-law by finding somewhere else to live.
2. Asthma. Mrs. . . ., an elderly woman, reported with a complaint of severe asthma for over ten years. The patient suffered especially badly at night so that sleep was greatly disturbed. She was terrified of her condition and showed all the symptoms of fear. Ordinary medical treatment had been unable to help. A simple history revealed the fact that the patient greatly resented the behavior of her son-in-law who had treated her daughter very badly. The thought crossed her mind "I'd like to kill him." Naturally she did not attempt such a thing, but the idea frightened her, and the conflict in her mind generated so much tension that her nervous system was upset, and she began to suffer from Asthma. Fear of the distressing symptoms caused more anxiety with symptoms of panic, so that a vicious circle was established. The patient in her distress had long forgotten the original cause, but a few simple questions soon brought the facts to light. A course of hypnotic treatment extending over half a dozen sessions enabled her to relax and dispel her nervous tension with consequent disappearance of the Asthma and panic attacks.
3. Migraine. Mrs. . . ., complained of frequent attacks of migraine extending over many years, together with feelings of panic. Panic attacks were especially likely to occur if she attempted to go anywhere alone. Investigation revealed the fact that she bitterly resented the behavior of her sister-in-law with whom she had to live. This was aggravated by the fact that her husband was inclined to take his sister's part in any argument. The patient admitted that the thought had entered her head that she would like to "run away from it all. " This terrified her, as she loved her husband. The conflict had given rise to tension which expressed itself as migraine and panic attacks. Fear of these symptoms set up a vicious circle and the patient had lost sight of the original cause of her trouble until it was uncovered by a few simple questions. Several hypnotic sessions enabled her to relax and adopt a more reasonable attitude towards the differences with her sister-in-law, as a result of which she reported the complete cessation of her migraine and panic attacks.
4. Alcoholism. Mr. . . ., complained of inability to resist taking excessive quantities of alcohol. The condition had become steadily worse over a number of years and threatened to lose him his position. He stated that he did not know why he drank. Enquiry revealed t hat he " could not stand " his mother-in-law who lived with him. She had had a habit of criticizing him and he had refrained from saying what he wanted to say for his wife's sake. He stated that he had noticed himself getting tense and irritable and had first begun to have mild attacks of panic shortly after his mother-in-law had first come to live with them. He freely admitted that he had often felt like "clearing out" and would have done so had it not been for the fact that he was deeply in love with his wife. These conflicting ideas set up considerable tension and to relieve this he had taken alcohol. This had resulted in further criticism from his motherin-law and more resentment on his part. Thus a vicious circle was set up and the patient had to resort to ever increasing doses of alcohol. When he noticed this, he developed a fear of becoming an alcoholic. His worst fears were realized when he found he could not stop drinking although he had long forgotten the original cause of his trouble. He was shown that it was quite possible to relax and calm his nerves naturally by means of hypnosis and so render himself independent of alcohol. The patient rapidly developed confidence in himself and was able to give up drink. Furthermore he was able to adopt a more "don't care" attitude towards his mother-in-law and stated later that her criticisms now just "bounced off him like water off a duck's back."
These cases are typical of the wide variety of conditions, the basic cause of which is anxiety. More and more the influence of the mind in producing physical illness is being recognized.
Recently in a report on the results of a four-year investigation, the British Medical Association is quoted as saying "the patient aches in his limbs because, in fact, he aches in his mind. " The pains of the "chronic rheumatic" it was considered may be due to "emotional stress " or neurosis.
Over a period of four years, 109 cases were investigated and although all complained of severe pain, X ray and pathological investigations revealed no evidence of active rheumatic disease. In 79 percent, there was evidence of neurosis and half the cases showed anxiety state, usually linked with considerable tension. It was stated that frustration and resentment in a disturbing environmental situation were common. Now that the overwhelming weight of evidence has shown quite clearly the part played by anxiety in producing illness of all kinds, we may hope that the quickest and most effective method of dealing with the problem will receive official approval on a wider scale and medical hypnosis will come into its own. Hypnosis cannot, of course, eliminate the possibility of troublesome relatives, personal misfortunes or world wars, but it can enable people to face up to such problems as are likely to beset them in this modern world instead of running in panic to doctors for pills and potions to subdue their anxiety. It is to be hoped that in future, as this fact is realized more and more, cases will be referred for medical hypnosis first instead of as a "last resort" when the neurosis has become firmly fixed by the "bottle of medicine" technique, and then it may be confidently expected that results will be even more striking than those obtained at present.
6. HYPNOTISM, "RHEUMATISM" AND FIBROSITIS: DR. S. J. VAN PELT
This article may be entitled " Are Your Screws Screwy?" For the benefit of American readers, "the screws" is a popular term in England for the twinges of pain which accompany fibrositis and rheumatism.
At least 6,000,000 people in Great Britain suffer from some form of severe rheumatism. A much larger number suffer from disabling aches and pains which are commonly attributed to "rheumatism" or fibrositis.
Research in hypnotherapy has revealed that many cases of so-called rheumatism or fibrositis have a psychological origin. The mechanism is probably very simple.
Anxiety, worry or fear create tension. Tension creates strain, with resulting pain. If, for instance., muscles contract in preparation for "fight or flight," and the condition is maintained for any length of time, then obviously aches and pains will result. It is not inconceivable that prolonged strain may even cause changes in the bones.
This can easily be practically tested. If the fist is clenched tightly, as if to punch an opponent, and the arm kept outstretched and tense, as if to fend off an attacker , then not only will the arm ache, but the tension will create pain in the shoulder, back and neck muscles, and pain may even be referred over the head, and cause headache. The so-called "fibrositic nodule," or "trigger spot," has always been a mystery. Easily felt, and extremely painful, it has always mysteriously vanished when surgeons cut down upon it to see of what it was made. No wonder; the anaesthetic simply relaxed the muscles, and therefore caused it to disappear!
The success of massage, radiant heat, diathermy, and a host of other physical methods, is similarly explained. They simply relax the tensed muscles. Unfortunately, all such methods afford only temporary relief as the soothing effect of the massage wears off, for instance, the tension returns, and with it, the pain. Hypnotherapy, by discovering the cause and correcting it, can produce a permanent cure, because the tension does not return.
There is a well-known case recorded in the history of hypnotism. Liebeault, a poor country physician, quickly cured a case of "sciatica" which had defied months of effort by Professor Bernheim, one of the foremost medical men of France. Bernheim was so struck by the cure, that he visited Liebeault and took up hypnotism himself!
The following cases are typical:
Case 1. Mother-in-law Malaise. Mrs. A. complained of persistent "rheumatic" backache, which had defied all sorts of orthodox treatment, diathermy, massage, and even manipulation. It prevented her traveling. Hypnotherapy revealed the cause. Her husband was all the world to his mother, but a "pain in the back" to his wife! He was always wanting to go visit his mother , whom his wife could not stand. "Rheumatic backache" was the excuse her mind invented. Hypnotherapy enabled her to realize that if cured, she did not necessarily need to visit her mother-in-law, and, as a result, the mysterious backache disappeared.
Case 2. 7 League Legs. Mr. B. complained of sciatica and "rheumatic" pains in the legs if he tried to travel by train, drive a car , or go out on social occasions. Hypnosis revealed the cause: he really had "7 league legs" instead of "7 years' itch." Secretly he had a fear that he could not trust himself not to "go off the rails" if he went out socially, as he was rather bored with his wife. Hypnotherapy enabled him to see that he did not need pains in the legs to stop him from "going wrong," and consequently the pains disappeared.
Case 3. Job Joints. Mr. C. complained of "rheumatic" aches and pains and "stiffness" of the joints. Hypnosis revealed the cause: he was "bored stiff" with his work. Work, he said, was a "bind." Hypnotherapy gave him the courage to make a change, and take a real interest in his new work, so that his stiffness and pains were soon things of the past.
Case 4. Status Stiffness. Mr. D. complained of "rheumatic" pains in the neck and stiffness of the shoulder muscles, which made it impossible for him to look straight ahead. Investigation under hypnosis revealed that he could not bear to face up to his difficulties. He had been living above his means, and had spent more than his income permitted on cars, radio, television, an expensive house, and entertainment. Hypnotherapy enabled him to adjust his outlook, and see that he could cut down on these status symbols and live within his income. Naturally, the pains and stiffness disappeared, and he could face things normally.
Case 5. Boss Bother. Mr. E. complained of pains in the neck, and stiffness of the jaw, which was so bad that he could hardly talk or eat. The cause came to light under hypnosis. His boss was "a pain in the neck" to him, but he could not voice his resentment. Hypnotherapy showed him that he did not need his symptoms to prevent him from making a fool of himself, taught him to control his feelings so that the boss could not irritate him, with the result that his pains disappeared.
Case 6. Conscience Cramps. Mr . F. complained of "rheumatic" aches and pains, and "twinges" all over. Hypnosis revealed that he really suffered from twinges of conscience. He had been "keeping company" with a girl for years. She expected him to marry her. He did not want to, but did not have the courage to tell her. At the same time, he felt a cad for making use of her. Hypnotherapy gave him the courage to tell her the truth, and make a clean break, with the result that his twinges disappeared.
Doctors should be on the lookout for psychological causes in mysterious cases of "rheumatism" which do not respond to orthodox treatment, and if a psychological cause is suspected, then hypnotherapy is the treatment of choice.
7. MIGRAINE, EMOTION AND HYPNOSIS: DR. S. J. VAN PELT: THE JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF HYPNOSIS: NOVEMBER 1975:
Migraine, or sick headache, is probably costing Great Britain the loss of over 100,000,000 working days a year. It has been estimated that some 2,000,000 people in his country are martyrs to this mysterious complaint, each attack of which may incapacitate the patient for two or three days, and recur as often as every two or three weeks. The seriousness of the situation is increased by the fact that it is almost always the intelligent, brainworker type of person in a responsible position who is most frequently affected. Although conscientious and thorough, such people appear unable to carry their responsibilities lightly, and invariably take their office worries home with them.
It used to be thought that the "megrims," like "the vapors," were only for women, but in point of fact men and women are equally affected. A real attack of migraine will "flatten out" even the toughest man, in much the same way as even some Commandos were prostrated by seasickness.
Although the condition has been known for centuries, modern medical science freely confesses that "nothing is known With certainty as to the essential cause of migraine."* From the number of different treatments in vogue it is obvious that there is no specific remedy for the complaint either!
It is thought that spasm, or dilation of the cerebral blood vessels, may be tile cause of the actual attack, but what starts this cycle of events remains a mystery. Psychological factors such as worry, it is admitted, may .playa part, but the mechanism of just how this works is not explained.
It is certain that no change can take place in the cerebral vessels, either spasm or dilatation, without a nervous impulse being directed towards this end. In the writer's opinion migraine is due to an overflow of nervous energy to tile brain from a state of tension. Some emotional incident or idea causes the patient to tense himself in readiness either to "fight or run away ." The surplus energy is directed towards the head, as the patient is usually a brain worker. As he is unable to "shed the load," migraine results from the overloading.
Once the patient has experienced the unpleasant feelings of migraine he becomes afraid of a recurrence. The fear, however, merely builds up more tension, which eventually spills over and provokes another attack. Repeated attacks set up a vicious circle. One thing is common to all migraine sufferers - they fear the next attack!
When the patient comes for treatment it is this fear of migraine which is keeping tile condition going. Treatment consists in breaking this vicious circle by teaching the patient to relax naturally under hypnosis. When the patient's mind is calmer it is easy to get him to recognize and deal with the original emotional idea which started the complaint. Hypnosis, used in this way, gets at and treats the root cause of the trouble.
The writer has found that, in spite of being intelligent, migraine sufferers are invariably "emotional squander bugs." Instead of "blowing their tops," however, they turn their emotional tension inward and give themselves sick headaches. Anger, jealousy, fear, envy or frustration can all start the vicious circle which leads to migraine. The "big head" boss, the "other woman," "other woman," "trying to keep up with the Joneses" and similar themes often figure prominently in the stories of migraine patients. A frustrated desire to "take the mickey out of mother-in-law" is a potent cause of sick headache.
Case I. Mrs. X Mrs. X, a pretty young housewife, complained of frequent and severe attacks of migraine. The attacks started five years before, and shortly after her marriage when she gave up her office job. Apparently she became intensely jealous of her husband. Her husband stated that he could not even read the newspapers without being accused of looking at the "pin up girls." "Those 'pin ups' certainly give her the 'needle,' doctor," he said. Mrs. X had prudish ideas on sex which prevented a happy marriage. When her views were adjusted by explanation under hypnosis she lost her absurd jealousy, and her migraine.
Case 2. Mr. y Mr. Y, a middle aged married man, complained of severe migraine attacks extending over 10 years. The trouble had started when, after working hard with the promise of a partnership, he had been passed over for a younger, less experienced man related to the owner. He imagined also that the newcomer rather flaunted the "old school tie." His bottled up frustrated feelings soon led to migraine. Fear of this kept it going even after he had been promoted himself.
Hypnosis enabled him to see things in proportion, lose his resentment, and his migraine.
Case 3. Mr. Z Mr. Z, a young married man, reported with a history of severe migraine attacks for five years. He was happily married, but thought his wife extravagant. Brought up to be thrifty, he worried over their expenses. "My wife's idea of 'keeping up with the Joneses,' doctor," he said, "will land me in Carey Street." Hypnosis enabled him to take a firmer stand with his wife. Living within his means removed his worry and his migraine. It is not always so easy to find the cause but careful investigation will always reveal an emotional basis in cases of migraine.
From these and other cases it becomes obvious that migraine is not a disease in itself, but merely a symptom of nervous tension. The scientific method of treatment is to get at the root cause of the tension and remove it. Modern hypnotherapy- NOT the old fashioned mere suppression of symptoms - is a logical means of achieving this end.
8. AN ANSWER TO ASTHMA: DR. S. J. VAN PELT: JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF HYPNOSIS:1962
At first sight the title of this article may appear a little strange when it is remembered that allover the country doctors are frequently called upon, by both day and night, to relieve the sufferings of distressed patients with injections of adrenalin or other powerful drugs. When practically every medical journal, daily newspaper and magazine carries an advertisement for "So & So's Asthma Cure," and chemists' windows are tastefully decorated with gaily labeled bottles of medicine all guaranteed to relieve the anguish of the asthmatic, one might well be excused for displaying a little skepticism in accepting any statement which suggests that there is an answer to asthma.
To the harassed sufferer, anxiously sniffing at his inhaler with its latest antispasmodic compound, the suggestion must appear well nigh incredible. The reason that an answer to asthma has been delayed so long however is that asthma is merely a symptom of an underlying neurosis and does not really exist as a disease. Let it be made quite clear that by the term "asthma" in this article is meant the ordinary common type of the spasmodic variety, and that the rarer conditions such as cardiac and renal asthma are not included.
How, it may be asked, can there be any doubt about the existence of asthma when it would be difficult indeed to find anybody who did not either have a relative who suffered from the complaint or know of a friend or acquaintance similarly afflicted ? Again, to simplify matters, let it be stated that it is not disputed that a condition known as asthma does occur. What is denied is that it is a disease. In fact this article put!; forward the view that spasmodic asthma is nothing more than a symptom-a symptom of underlying nervous disorder. On what then is such a revolutionary claim based? Let us examine the clinical evidence.
Case 1. The Man Who Escaped Death: Consider, for instance, the case of Mr.X. "Doctor" he said, "Since I had a talk to you three weeks ago, I have had no asthma! " Three weeks before he had come for a consultation and gave a history of having suffered from asthma for over 17 years. Now, a "miracle worker" or "faith healer" may have been satisfied to "call it a day" for there is much that is dramatic and satisfying in the achievement of such a quick "cure." The interest of medicine, however, demand a scientific explanation for this apparent "miracle." What then had happened? The patient, over 60 years of age, had stated at the first consultation that his original attack occurred at about the age of 45 when he woke up one night "Choking for breath." The doctor who was called by his alarmed relatives stated that he had "asthma," and the patient had gone on having asthmatic attacks periodically every day and night since then.
He could not remember anything which might have caused it. However, it was explained to the patient that hypnosis would be able to help by teaching him to relax. All that his drugs and inhalations could do was to relax the muscular spasms of the bronchioles which caused his asthma, and it was pointed out that if he could learn to relax them naturally there would be no more asthma. He was given a simplified explanation of his condition. Fear and anxiety, he was told, caused nervous tension and made the patient hold himself tight and tense - literally tensed and ready to "fight or run away ."
Holding the chest and lungs "tight" resulted in asthma and fear of this caused more tension than ever which in turn brought on more asthmatic attacks and so created a vicious circle. Now it was stated he was afraid of his asthma and it was only the fear which kept it going. If he could learn to give up being afraid and cease holding himself tensed and ready to fight it then the asthma would go away. Nevertheless something had first started him being afraid, and although he could not remember any such incident now, he was told that he would be able to so during the course of hypnotic treatment and that he would see that he did not have to be afraid any more.
The patient left with the promise to return later for a short course of treatment. As we have seen, when he did return in three weeks' time he was apparently cured. What had happened? First of all, the patient was highly suggestible, and although no attempt was made to hypnotize him in the ordinary sense of the word, he had, nevertheless, been greatly impressed by the simple, positive, direct explanation of his hitherto mysterious and dreaded complaint to such an extent that it had amounted to almost hypnotic suggestion. He had accepted the idea that he had no real disease at all and that his "asthma " was only due to nervous tension resulting from fear and that if he gave up being afraid it would be unable to attack him. The hope raised, and the feeling of relief which followed, had indeed dispelled much of his nervous tension and the relaxation had brought about his apparent "miracle cure".
During the course of treatment, which consisted of four sessions of light hypnosis and suggestion, he was informed that the memory of what had first frightened him and caused difficulty in breathing would come into his mind sometime on its own account. As a result he would see where his "asthma" had come from and so would understand that things were different now and that he did not have to be afraid any more.
A week or so later the patient reported that a "thought had flashed into his mind" - and something he had not thought of for many, many years. Apparently, just before the onset of his "asthma" several years ago, he had been involved in a traffic accident from which he had been lucky to escape death. He had seen the danger approaching but had felt "paralyzed with fear." A few nights after the incident and seemingly after he had recovered from the shock to all outward appearances, he had awakened in the night sweating with fear and "choking for breath."
This then was the origin of his asthma and the mechanism was no doubt as fol. lows. First of all the accident ( which might be likened to the Initial Sensitizing Event described by Boswell) gave rise to fear and anxiety. This by acting on the autonomic nervous system gave rise to tension. The tension expressed itself mainly in the lungs (by co-incidence the patient happened to have a bronchial cold at the time so that attention was drawn to the lungs) and difficulty in breathing resulted in "asthma." Fear of "asthma" created more nervous tension which in turn caused more asthmatic attacks and so created a vicious circle. The patient's whole attention being concentrated on his alarming and distressing condition, it is small wonder he forgot the precipitating incident. When he could relax as the result of hypnosis he ceased to occupy all his mind with the vicious circle and so could by means of age regression techniques2 be made to remember the incident easily. Full understanding of the cause removed the fear of the unknown, and so consolidated the cure.
This case illustrates several points of considerable importance.
(a) That an initial sensitizing event or incident (or idea) of sufficient emotional importance can by acting on the nervous system give rise to serious symptoms such as asthma. These may occur at any age and not necessarily in early childhood as the Freudians believe.
(b) That "asthma" is not a disease but only a symptom of underlying nervous disorder.
(c) That the usual, ordinary medical measures in a case such as this are only symptomatic and completely unscientific - a criticism incidentally which is often leveled quite unjustly at hypnotism! It is not much good giving injections and inhalants to relax the musculature of the bronchioles when all the time the thought which is causing the spasm lies festering in the mind.
(d) That a cure can be brought about even in a severe case of 17 years' standing by means of light hypnosis and suggestion.
(e) That the cure to be complete does NOT consist of merely inducing a trance an saying "Now you are well." Undoubtedly an apparent "cure" was brought about by the first consultation, but unless this had been consolidated by bringing to light the underlying cause it would have quite likely been of only temporary duration. The correct method of treatment is outlined exceptionally well by Bryan in his 5R methods an adaptation of the 3 R's of Hypnotherapy which I advocated earlier.
(f) That forgotten memories of events which have caused trouble can be brought back to mind very simply and easily without years of psychoanalytical treatment or any so called "deep" hypnosis.
It might be maintained that the case described was an isolated one but the following was somewhat similar yet even more extraordinary.
Case 2. The Man who wanted to "Get it off his chest": Dr. ...... wrote to say that he had a patient, a married man of over 60 years of age, who suffered so badly from "asthma" that he feared for his life. Apparently the patient spent hours and hours leaning over the side of the bed gasping for breath, coughing and bringing up vast quantities of frothy material, and could never manage to get out of bed until late in the afternoon. Many years of this complaint had reduced him to a mere skeleton of little more than seven stone, his normal weight having been well over 12 stone. Injections and drugs such as Ephedrine now caused such alarming attacks of tachycardia owing to the patient's weakened and exhausted condition that the doctor feared to continue with them. The patient, said the Doctor, was a very obstinate man who "did not believe in hypnotism or any of that rubbish" but he had agreed to see a hypnotist as a last resort, ostensibly to please the doctor, although the real reason was probably because he was at last frightened of dying.
When he arrived for consultation he announced quite bluntly that he "wasn't going to let anybody control his will" and promptly turned his back, steadfastly refusing to look at the hypnotist! He agreed, however, that there could not be much danger in discussing his case and with many promptings proceeded to unfold the following remarkable story.
Apparently during the First World War he had conducted himself with such bravery and distinction that after it was over he had been asked to train the armed service of a Foreign Power. This he had done, and had enjoyed a very distinguished career. When the Second World War began he immediately offered his services, but had been turned down as "too old." Apparently this had been done in a particularly tactless fashion by a much younger man, evidently ignorant of the distinguished career of the patient, and he had been dismissed with some such flippant remark as "Run along, Grand-dad, we’re not using bows and arrows now, you know!" The patient had gone home "choking with sup- pressed rage" and matters were not improved when his wife voiced her opinion that the young man was probably quite right and he was far too old to think about going to war anyway!
Within a few days the patient was having "typical asthma attacks" which, in spite of all the doctor's efforts rapidly progressed to the stage where he spent most of the day in bed vainly trying to "get something off his chest."
It was pointed out to the patient that what hp was really trying "to get off his chest" was his resentment at having been turned down. Bottling up his anger at the time had created nervous tension -this had expressed itself in his lungs. The resulting "asthma" at- tacks had frightened him, created more tension and so led to the establishment of a vicious circle.
The patient appeared to be much relieved at this explanation and made as dignified an exit as possible under his self-made conditions which demanded that he should not look at the hypnotist! He agreed, however, that a little relaxation and concentrated suggestion might be advisable and promised to come back later for a course 0£ treatment.
A few days afterwards, however, he wrote a most amazing letter. "Since my my visit to you, he wrote, "there has been such an amazing improvement that I feel I am cured and do not need any more treatment. In fact I felt so well the day after JIsaw you that I got up and went for a walk --a thing I have not done for many years."
Bearing in mind that the patient had a rooted fear of hypnotism, it was considered possible that he was only making up this story in order to escape treatment. His doctor was therefore asked to report upon his condition and his reply confirmed the patient's story in every particular. "I don't know what cured him," he wrote, "and I don't profess to understand how it happened, but as long as he is better I don't suppose it matters."
It did, however, matter very much for it showed that the patient's own thoughts or imagination was quite capable of causing a serious condition which had been labeled "asthma" and which had resisted all orthodox treatment. It show- ed equally clearly that the patient's own imagination was quite capable of bringing about a cure once it could be directed along the right lines.
All cases of "asthma" cannot be expected to respond in such a dramatic manner as these two extraordinary examples, In most cases at least ten sessions of hypnotic suggestion at weekly intervals are required to bring about a cure, but the same underlying principles can be detected in all of them. The following cases are typical of many in which the condition diagnosed as "asthma" has proved to be no real disease at all but merely a symptom of underlying nervous anxiety, and readily amen-able to treatment by hypnotic suggestion. This has been directed towards finding the cause of the anxiety and then removing it by appropriate suggestion, re-educating the patient jn the process so that he is able to face up to and overcome conditions which previously upset him. Treatment does NOT consist of merely attempting to suppress the symptom of asthma by direct suggestion. It is submitted that hypnotic suggestion properly used is far more scientific than the usual "orthodox" method of merely treating symptoms only by means of injections and sprays.
Case 3. The Girl Who was "let down": Miss ----- a young single woman of 25 reported with a history of severe attacks of spasmodic "asthma" for over eight years. Her doctor wrote that she had all the usual investigations and was apparently sensitive to various things such as house dust, etc., but that treatment had no real effect. She still called him out at night to give her injections and she carried an inhaler with her on all occasions.
The patient stated that she got an attack "whenever she thought of it" and if by chance she forgot her inhaler or forgot to fill it up, she would have an attack immediately the moment that she noticed it, From her story it appeared that she had fallen in love with her first real "boy friend" at about the age of 17. Everything had gone smoothly for a short time but evidently the young man had had a roving eye and she became more and more jealous. This led to rows and arguments during and after which she felt "worked up" and "unable to get her breath properly ." Finally he became tired of her accusations and went off with another girl. The patient stated that she felt "heart broken" and "wanted to die."
Shortly after this, she began to have attacks of breathlessness which the local doctor diagnosed as "asthma." This terrified her because she had seen a relative suffer from this complaint. The fear caused' nervous tension which in turn created more "asthma" and the patient was soon in the grip of a vicious circle. Six sessions of light hypnosis and suggestion at weekly intervals were sufficient to teach her to relax completely, realize that she had no real disease to fear at all, and re-educate her mind so that it could adopt an adult attitude to an adolescent affair. As a result, at the end of the course, she was able to report herself completely free of the dread disease "asthma." Words and ideas had done what medicine could not.
Case 4. The Man who was "browned 0ff": This young single man of about 32 reported with a history of frequent and severe "asthma" attacks over several years. Apparently after active service in the war he had been sent abroad to the tropics and kept there although the war was over. He began to get more and more irritated and "fed up" with the heat and boredom. Shortly after he became "properly browned off' as he put it, he began to wake up at night "struggling for breath." This rapidly became worse and he was soon invalided out of the Service with "asthma." By now he was afraid of his "asthma" and far from getting better on leaving the Service as he had expected, he became steadily worse. Again the same principles of treatment were applied. The patient received an explanation of how his trouble had started and an assurance that if he followed instructions and learned to relax naturally, he would have no more asthma to fear. Six sessions at weekly intervals were sufficient to readjust his attitude to life in general and dispel all his ''asthma."
Case 5. The Woman who was afraid of sickness: Mrs. ------------a happily married woman of about 45, reported with a history of severe asthma attacks since the age of 20 or so. Apparently she had a lot of worry and anxiety as her parents had both died of distressing illnesses when she was about 20. This left her to bring up the rest of the family. She had a great fear of becoming ill and unable to look after them properly. Soon she noticed herself getting attacks of breathlessness. These worried her excessively and soon developed into typical attacks of spasmodic "asthma." For years she tried all sorts of injections, drugs and inhalations without any real relief. Yet after several sessions of hypnosis she developed sufficient confidence to undertake a long trip abroad and later, on her return, was able to report that she had been free from her once dreaded "asthma."
Case 6. The Man who had an operation. This middle aged man reported with a history of severe asthmatic attacks over many years. The attacks were particularly severe on first waking up. An examination of his history revealed the fact that he had first experienced trouble with breathing after an operation. First of all he had hated the "choking sensation" of having the "mask" put over his face. Then apparently he had the bad luck to develop a chest complaint after the anaesthetic, as does sometimes occur. He had, indeed, awakened from the anaesthetic with an irritating cough which soon led on to some degree of breathlessness.
Unfortunately the operation had not been a success, and in all he had to have three operations. He dreaded each one and on each occasion he awakened from the anaesthetic with a cough and "breathlessness." Soon after leaving hospital he began to awaken in the night with attacks of breathlessness which the doctor diagnosed as "asthma." He became frightened of these and indeed, feared to go to sleep at night. The condition was not improved by the fact that he had seen his father "suffer terribly with asthma" and finally die of it.
Because he at first confused hypnosis with sleep ( of which he was afraid) he proved to be a difficult subject, but after half a dozen sessions he was able to report a disappearance of his fears and freedom from "asthma." Cheek. and Bryan. have also published cases developing asthma after accidentally becoming hypnotized during surgery and accepting harmful suggestion.
These, and hundreds of similar cases, show that there is a very real place for medical hypnotic suggestion as a means of manipulating the patient's imagination scientifically in order to free him of a complaint which has been brought about more often than not accidentally by the wrong use of that same imagination. Asthma is not a disease at all but merely a symptom - a symptom of an underlying nervous irritation - and the patient is far more likely to be sensitive to an irritating mother-in-law, an unfaithful spouse, a broken love affair or an impending bankruptcy than the usual substances such as feathers house dust or various pollens which are invariably blamed by the orthodox believers in allergy. Even these will admit a fact, which has been often proved, that an asthmatic alleged to be sensitive or "allergic" to say, a rose, will have an attack if shown an artificial rose providing he thinks it is real. To what else then can asthma be due except suggestion ? This article then is an answer to that question - An Answer to Asthma.
9. MEDICAL HYPNOSIS HANDBOOK S.J. VAN PELT, WILSHIRE BOOK, HOLLYWOOD CA.1957: "A RATIONAL APPROACH OF HYPNOTISM"
Although hypnotism has been known and practiced for centuries in one form or another, and has been most frequently associated with the healing art, it is a curious fact that to day the real truth concerning the subject is as little understood by the general public and the majority of the medical profession as it as in bygone primitive ages.
Even in these enlightened days we find otherwise intelligent and educated people who still associate hypnotism with witchcraft and magic and picture the hypnotist as a Svengali-like creature with piercing eyes and "indomitable will" who reduces his shivering victims to mere puppets by his extraordinary "gift" or "powers".
This is all the more remarkable when for the last 175 years or so many highly respected and fully qualified medical men have made extensive use of hypnotism and recorded their findings in a vast scientific literature covering many thousands of works.
The exact origin of hypnotism is lost in the mists of time, but undoubtedly it was used in the "sleep temples" of ancient Egypt, from where, no doubt, it spread to Greece. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, certainly knew of it when he said, "the soul sees quite well with shut eyes the affections suffered by the body", but it was not until 1774 that Mesmer, a Viennese physician, created a furor by introducing it to Europe in the form of "mesmerism". Since then the popularity of mesmerism or its later form, hypnotism, has periodically waxed and waned, yet it has never quite managed to attain a sufficient aura of respectability to enable it to live down its entirely undeserved reputation as the "harlot of the sciences". "Does he himself [Dr. Elliotson] treat the harlotry which he dares to call science with any respect?" thundered the Lancet of (p 9) July, 1846, speaking of probably the most brilliant man in English medicine-for Elliotson, Professor of Medicine at London University, President of the Royal Medical and Surgical Society and founder of University College Hospital, London, introduced the stethoscope to England and the methods of examining the heart and lungs which are used to this day.
The history of hypnotism reveals one long, heart-breaking struggle by courageous men against the blind forces of ignorance and superstition which have, for want of real understanding of the subject, condemned hypnotism as something "not quite nice" and so deprived mankind of one of its most valuable methods of medical treatment.
Hounded from Vienna, Mesmer quickly became the rage of Paris, but his brilliant cures availed him nothing, for a Commission appointed by Louis XVI condemned him as a quack without allowing him to demonstrate his methods personally.
From France "mesmerism" spread to England, where Dr.Elliotson experimented with it in University College Hospital and published a quarterly journal, Zoist, in 1843 following which mesmeric hospitals were set up in London, Edinburgh, Dublin and other large cities. Nevertheless, Elliotson was forced to resign his position because he had dared to experiment with hypnotism, or "mesmerism", as it was then known.
In 1845, Esdaile, a young Scottish surgeon in India, took up the practice of mesmerism and during his career performed several thousand minor, and nearly three hundred major , operations quite painlessly under its influence, incidentally reducing the mortality rate from 50% to 5%, yet the medical journals in England refused to print details of his painless operations.
Dr. Braid of Manchester, in 1841, seeking a scientific explanation of the phenomenon, found that he could induce the mesmeric trance by fixed gazing at an object and coined the word "hypnotism", writing a book called Neurypnology or the Rationale of Nervous Sleep, in which he described his methods and cures. Yet the British Medical Association contemptuously refused his offer to demonstrate his methods and read a paper on the subject.
From England, hypnotism spread to France, where Liebeault, a simple country doctor, added suggestion to Braid's method and so evolved the technique most commonly used to-day. He published a book, Du Sommeil, after twenty years or so of hypnotic (p 10) practice and sold exactly one copy, being regarded as either a I fool or a knave by his fellow practitioners.
When, however, the great professor Bernheim adopted his methods and published De la Suggestion ( 1884) and Suggestive Therapeutics ( 1886) , hypnotism became firmly established as a most important form of psycho-therapy.
Hypnotism, however, was to suffer its greatest blow when Freud, a Viennese physician, like Mesmer, who had become interested in hypnosis in 1884, resolved to give up hypnotism for the reason given in Origin and Development of Psychoanalysis:
"When I discovered that, in spite of all my efforts, I could not hypnotize by any means all of my patients, I resolved to give up hypnotism." By hypnosis, as we shall see later, Freud meant deep hypnosis, which was necessary for his method and which few people can achieve. He failed to realize the possibilities of other degrees of hypnosis and other methods of using it.
With the development of Freud's method of psycho-analysis, hypnotism became more and more neglected. Nevertheless, in Collected Papers (Vol. 2, Hogarth) he admits that if psychotherapy is ever to become widely available to the public, a partial return to hypnotism as a short cut would be necessary.
In this he has proved to be an excellent prophet" for hypnosis has always become popular during and after periods of great strain-such as wars-when quick methods of treatment are required.
Unfortunately, experience shows that such waves of popularity are invariably followed by periods of acute and profound disillusionment, which have brought unwarranted discredit on hypnotism. This, as a study of the history will show, is primarily due to the fact that, for reasons to be seen later, it is only too easy for medically ignorant and often irresponsible people to gain a superficial knowledge of hypnotism and obtain occasionally spectacular results in a few highly suggestible subjects.
Such hypnotists are, more often than not, concerned mainly with obtaining personal publicity and promoting their own advantages, either as stage showmen or medical "quacks", rather than furthering the course of true science. As a result they loudly claim to possess extraordinary "powers" and "gifts", while proclaiming hypnotism as a panacea for all human ills, mental, physical and spiritual. Not all are charlatans, for there are a few well-meaning but misguided souls who are so incredibly (p11) naive and ignorant concerning the real nature of hypnotism as honestly to believe they have special "powers" denied ordinary mortals. The phenomena of the deep trance are so weird to those who do not understand them as to lend credence to the belief in their supernatural origin.
Naturally, as will be seen later, since only a small proportion of people can develop a deep trance, it is only a matter of time before the increasing number of failures greatly outnumbers the occasional apparent "miracle cure" and the wildly extravagant claims and abuses of hypnotism result in little but derision and distaste, so that the subject falls into disfavor once more and history repeats itself.
Only when hypnotism has been stripped of all the superstitious nonsense and mystery which has surrounded the subject for centuries, and can be presented as a rational medical procedure will it be sufficiently accepted by the medical profession and public alike to provide the answer to the ever-increasing modern problem of nervous and allied complaints.
What is Hypnotism? As is the case with electricity, sleep and many other phenomena which are real enough the exact nature of hypnosis or the trance state is unknown. Theories concerning it are legion, but the majority have been exploded by the developments of modern science. The oft-quoted Charcot, although a great neurologist, was probably the worst hypnotist who ever lived, and, as the result of working only with two or three hysterical paid subjects, accumulated a mass of pseudo-scientific nonsense about hypnotism that Bernheim had little difficulty in disproving. Charcot's theory that hypnosis is pathological and a mere symptom of hysteria is not supported by the facts, for 80% to 95% of people can be hypnotized to one degree or another and it is not reasonable to regard this high percentage of the apparently normal population as hysterical.
Another favored theory, that of Janet, supposed that in hypnosis dissociation occurred and that a dissociated memory or group of memories might develop into a kind of second personality. That is, the sub-conscious mind comes more to the surface as the conscious is suppressed and eventually takes over completely. This explanation is very popular with the (p 12) "psychologically" minded, but it does not get over the difficulty that consciousness is not lost in the trance, for patients can think and reason; and amnesia, which one would expect, although common is not always present even in the deepest trance.
Physiological theories have attempted to account for hypnosis by anything from cerebral anremia to a special function of the autonomic nervous system, while psychological theories ascribe it to a projection of the subject's desire for magical power on to the hypnotist, whom he regards as a stern father or kind mother-or even merely a desire to act like a hypnotized person!
Pavlov believed that sleep and hypnosis were identical, and this is by far the most common and popular belief to-day, in spite of the fact that all scientific tests show that the trance is more like the waking state than sleep. This false belief is fostered by the fact that stage, lay and even some medical men induce hypnosis by suggesting "sleep". Further, as hypnotized patients are usually seen with closed eyes, they appear to be asleep, and if amnesia is present after the trance they forget what happened and so imagine they were "asleep" and "didn't know anything about it".
Even the briefest consideration of the following points will reveal that hypnosis has nothing to do with ordinary sleep:
(1) A person who is asleep will not respond to stimuli, obey commands and perform complicated actions in response to orders in the way a hypnotized person will do.
(2)In ordinary sleep consciousness is lost, but in the trance the subject is quite capable of thinking and reasoning.
(3) Scientific recordings showing the action of the heart and lungs in hypnosis are more like those obtained, in the waking state than ordinary sleep.
(4) Special reflexes, such as the knee-jerk, are diminished or abolished completely in sleep, but are present in hypnosis as in the waking state.
(5) Brain waves recorded in the trance are the same as those in the waking state.
(6) The psycho-galvanic reflex is the same in hypnosis as in the waking state.
In addition to all this is the fact that hypnosis can easily be induced without any mention of sleep and that the phenomena of hypnosis can be elicited in the waking state." (P 13)
This misunderstanding between the relationship of sleep and hypnosis has probably done more to prevent a rational approach to hypnosis than anything else. Doctors have thought: "How can I tell the patient to go to sleep and go on talking to him as if he were awake?" Brill, for instance, describes in his book, Psycho-analytic Psychiatry, how he tried to hypnotize a young woman by telling her to "go to sleep", but felt like "five cents" when she sat up and told him she was not asleep at all! Patients have thought: "How can I be asleep and yet hear the hypnotist giving suggestions? How can I go to sleep in obedience to his instructions yet listen to his suggestions?" Only a theory which can reconcile these apparent contradictions and explain how the patient can pay attention to the hypnotist while being, for all practical purposes, oblivious to everything else-even physical pain or discomfort-can satisfy both doctor and patient that hypnotism, which is the art and science of inducing the trance state of hypnosis, is a rational procedure in which any normal intelligent person can believe.
The theory that hypnosis is a state of exaggerated suggestibility has long been favored by many authorities. Even in the ordinary waking state suggestion is very powerful, and very often even a single word or phrase can make a person happy, sad, angry or afraid and evoke the bodily symptoms which accompany these feelings. Yawning and fainting are notoriously infectious and frequently occur in those in whom the idea has been implanted by seeing one of their number so affected. A suggestion tends to realize itself in action unless it is definitely inhibited, and while in the waking state a subject can often use the inhibiting influence to veto a suggested idea, in hypnosis this restricting influence tends to be abolished and the power of suggestion is greatly increased.
The best theory for practical purposes is one which regards hypnosis as a peculiar psychical state where the mind is particularly susceptible to suggestion. In the author's point of view, the mechanism of this change is best explained in the following way. Consider that the mind in the ordinary waking state contains a certain number of "units of mind power" which are capable of carrying suggestions. Normally these may be imagined to be jumping about "like a thousand monkeys in a cage" in the case of nervous people and moving in a somewhat more orderly fashion in those better adjusted. (p 14)
A stream of suggestion in this ordinary waking state can be expected to hit only a few of these "units of mind power". As a result, the power of suggestion is correspondingly weak as the affected "units" are far outnumbered by those containing the original ideas.
In hypnosis, however, the "units" are considered to be concentrated so that the stream of suggestion hits every unit. In the case where the "units" are concentrated 100%, obviously the subject will be paying attention to the hypnotist only and will disregard or be completely oblivious to other things-even physical pain, while still being able to think and reason. Following the hypnosis, all units will carry a "dose of suggestion" and the patient will, for reasons to be seen later, get the feelings that go with the suggestion.
Essentially, as reference to Diagram I will show, the mechanism is in the nature of a concentration of mind power. Incidentally, it explains why normal healthy people with good powers of imagination and concentration make the best subjects, while "scatterbrained", nervous people are difficult at first but can be trained by repeated sessions. Also, 100% concentration is not essential to obtain good therapeutic results, for, providing sufficient "units of mind power" are affected, good results will follow.
In the writer's opinion, such a simple theory does much to strip the nonsense of superstition from hypnosis and render hypnotherapy acceptable to both doctor and patient. The doctor is simply setting out to give the patient intensified suggestion, while the patient has only to concentrate his mind and listen to good advice. There is no mention of "gifts" or "magic powers", and no hint of the supernatural, only a straightforward rational procedure to which even the most bigoted and prejudiced critic of hypnotism could not legitimately object. After all, patients are accustomed to seeking the advice of their doctors, so what can be the objection to a little concentrated counsel?
Doctors for their part are accustomed to giving helpful advice and use suggestion all day long-even if it is only the homely advice, "This will do you good"-so they should welcome with open arms a simple method of ensuring that their words of wisdom are fully accepted.
An approach to hypnotism in this spirit, in which the patient as a pupil eager to overcome his difficulties seeks the aid of, and willingly co-operates with, the doctor as friend and teacher, eliminates (p 15) the objections and disadvantages associated with the usual approach to the subject in the past where the hypnotist was expected, and often attempted, to overcome the patient by bombastic methods and force him reluctantly to give up the very symptoms of which he complained. No matter how much patients may say they desire hypnosis there are few indeed who relish the idea of acting like automatons and "letting someone else control their mind".
As a result, the average induction, due to faulty conceptions of the subject on both sides, has usually resembled a battle royal between patient and hypnotist, with the subject resisting to the last gasp either from fear of being overcome or a desire to make sure that he could be subdued only by "hypnotism of the most powerful variety", while the hypnotist, on the other hand, has felt it necessary, if somewhat nerve-racking, to overcome and impress the subject with his own omnipotence.
Once this naive but popular idea which conceives of hypnotism as a "trial of strength and a battle of wits" between the operator and subject is abandoned, then there is no reason why any doctor who cares to master the technique should not become a hypnotist, or any patient who is prepared to adopt an intelligent adult attitude to the matter should not benefit by hypnotism.
Who can become a Hypnotist? Nothing could be further from the truth than the popular idea that the hypnotist must possess some mysterious "gift" or "hypnotic power". Actually, any "power" there is lies within the patient and is, as will be seen later, merely the patient's own imagination. All that is required of the hypnotist to induce a trance is the technical knowledge of how to manipulate this potent force. The technique of hypnotism is so simple that practically anybody can master it with ease, but mere induction of the hypnotic trance is not sufficient for the practice of hypnotherapy.
It is suggestion which cures, not hypnotism, for the trance state merely enables the patient to absorb the suggestion in concentrated form. The medical hypnotist will therefore require a thorough knowledge of the technique and laws of suggestion, a good practical working knowledge of psychology, unbounded enthusiasm, infinite patience and considerable confidence in his (p 17) own ability, in addition to a good all-round medical knowledge.
While anybody can hypnotize a few easy, highly suggestible subjects, the majority of nervous patients do not come within this category and often many hours of patient, painstaking effort may be required to influence them to any significant degree.
Naturally, some doctors will make better hypnotists than others, just as is the case with other specialties, and, in view of this, and the time required in many cases, the practice of medical hypnosis is best left to those who have sufficient time and enthusiasm to make a study of the subject and specialize in the method.
As all other branches of medicine, it is obvious that much better results can be expected from those who specialize in the subject than those who occasionally "dabble", and as hypnotism becomes more widely accepted as a rational therapeutic procedure there is no reason why it should not take its place as a recognized medical specialty.
Who can be Hypnotized? Just as anyone can acquire the technique of hypnosis, so anyone can be hypnotized, and while people vary in their susceptibility to hypnosis, In much the same way as they may react differently to drugs and other medical treatment, statistics show that fully 95% of all people can be influenced to one degree or another .
Contrary to the popular belief that a person must be "weak-willed" to be hypnotized, it has been established that the "will power" has nothing to do with hypnotism at all, for the force used is the patient's own imagination. The imagination is stronger than the will, and In any contest between the two the imagination will always win. Anybody can walk along a plank of wood placed on the floor, and if it is raised up in the air a few feet on supports few people can do it, because the majority think (or imagine) they would get giddy and fall. When a person thinks for instance that he will be unable to sleep, no matter how much he may grit his teeth and will himself to sleep, he will suffer from insomnia. The imagination used extensively in the so-called "suggestibility tests (to pick out "good subjects") without which few self-respecting hypnotists of the old school would proceed to operate.
Obviously, if a person who is told to clasp his hands together (p 18) and think or imagine they are "locked" is unable to undo them when challenged, he is highly suggestible and will most likely make a "good subject". This, and other tests such as "swaying" and "eye-closure", while widely used to pick "easy" subjects for the purpose of demonstrations-especially on the stage-are no longer really necessary if the rational approach to hypnotism already outlined is adopted. Although it is true that a successful test no doubt impresses the patient, the number of failures will greatly outnumber the successes, and the element of "challenge" destroys the desired pupil-teacher relationship which is so essential if hypnotherapy is to be made available to the majority of patients, instead of being restricted to a few "good subjects".
Generally accepted figures show that people respond to hypnotism as follows:
(I) Uninfluenced, 5% or less.
(2) Hypnoidal state (very light), 10%.
(3) Light trance, 25%.
(4) Medium trance, 35%.
(5) Somnambulistic (deep) trance, 25%.
It must be realized that these figures may not be reached at the very first attempt, but people who can be only lightly influenced at first can usually be trained over a number of sessions to improve their performance. Experience shows that the maximum depth of hypnosis it is possible to reach will come in eight to twelve sessions. Once again, if the rational approach to hypnotherapy is adopted, there is no need for anything but a light trance which the majority of patients can easily achieve, and the old, frantic striving after "deep hypnosis" is eliminated.
As might be expected, when the "power" used is the patient's own imagination, the best hypnotic subjects are ordinary, normal people; the more intelligent and imaginative they are, the better .
Children, who are well endowed with highly fertile imaginations, usually make excellent subjects.
Nervous and "scatter-brained" people are usually difficult, for their imaginations are already directed along entirely wrong channels. Young people between the ages of eighteen and twenty-six make better subjects than old people, for they are not so set in their ways, and there is little difference between the races and sexes.
Imagination is often the undoing of skeptical people because, (p 19) while openly expressing doubts, they secretly believe in hypnotism and ?re thus easily influenced. On the other hand, many resist hypnotism while seeking its benefits because they believe ( or imagine) secretly that to be hypnotized would show they were "weak-minded".
Finally it is useless to attempt to cure a patient by hypnosis unless the motive to get well is far greater than the motive to keep his symptoms. Those who really desire a cure (as opposed to just saying they do) can easily benefit from medical hypnotism if they are prepared to approach it in the proper spirit. (p 20)
Indeed "relaxation", "realization" and re-education may be regarded as the three "R’s" of hypno-suggestion therapy. (p 43)
With regard to the actual suggestions themselves these will naturally vary with different cases and individual patients, but there are certain well-known principles and laws of suggestion which should be observed if good results are to be expected.
First of all it must be realized that the hypnotized person is not an automaton, and, although in a state of increased suggestibility, is quite capable of thinking and reasoning, and therefore able to reject any suggestion with which he does not agree.
Domineering suggestions which seek to "order" the patient to give up his symptoms and which may easily arouse antagonism sound be avoided. Instead, calm, logical and persuasive suggestions should be repeated over and over, together with reasons and explanations which make them more and more acceptable to the patient. Once the patient can be persuaded to accept the idea, it is practically certain that It will be carried out later on and an idea will be much more readily accepted if it is a reasonable one. Suggestions should be positive rather than negative and time should be allowed for them to act. Instead of saying: "You will not be nervous," for instance, it may be suggested that ''as you learn to relax better and better your nerves will feel more and more calm and peaceful", etc.
As the Chinese say, a single picture is worth a thousand words and the power of suggestion can be greatly increased by painting a word-picture to arouse emotion. Thus the nervous young man who is afraid of company may be persuaded to see himself as he would like to be-laughing and joking and mixing with people, feeling perfectly at ease and enjoying himself. I t has been said that "only words which come from the heart can reach the heart" so that the mere mouthing of stereotyped suggestions is no sufficient for the successful practice of hypnotherapy. Suggestions should be kept as simple and straightforward as possible, for the patient cannot be expected to follow suggestions couched in language he does not understand.
There are certain well-known laws of suggestion which it is essential to bear in mind for the practice of hypnotherapy. The law of reversed effect, for instance, is responsible for the phenomenon by which the harder a person tries to do a thing, the less he can do It If he thinks he cannot. For instance, no matter how hard a patient suffering from insomnia may grit his teeth and "will" himself to sleep, he will remain wide awake. Indeed, most people who suffer with insomnia keep themselves awake by their (p 44) frantic efforts to go to sleep! This phenomenon is of importance in the induction of hypnosis, because patients who "try hard" to "go under" seldom succeed, as they prevent the induction of the trance by their own frantic efforts.
Another law of considerable importance is the law of dominant effect. The mind cannot think of two opposite things at once. It is impossible to think "I am well" and "I am ill" at the same time.
It is possible to think one after the other, or one more than the other, but one is always dominant. One emotional feeling can be replaced by a stronger one, so that when danger comes on the scene pleasurable feelings are soon forgotten.
When being chased by a tiger, a man is unlikely to experience the thoughts and feelings of love, for Nature has arranged that in times of danger the instinct of self-preservation replaces that of sex. This phenomenon, as will be seen later from a study of the cases, provides the explanation for many of the disturbances of sex function. If suggestion is allied to an emotional instinct stronger than the one which is present in the patient's mind, and which is causing the trouble, it will be able to overcome it and induce the desirable "feelings". The painting of success pictures in the patient's mind by suggestion is a means of achieving this end.
Another law is that of concentrated attention, and 'if an idea can be firmly implanted in a patient's mind, and accepted, then it will automatically tend to realize itself. In the cases described in the following chapters, it will be seen how the principles so far expounded can be applied in practice, but it should be remembered that there is no "rule of thumb" method for success in hypnotherapy, and that the intelligent application of fundamental laws is of far greater importance than the mere slavish imitation of ideas. (p 45)