The Law Of Psychic Phenomena - online book

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98           THE LA W OF PSYCHIC PHENOMENA.
ing that the symptoms cannot be reproduced in healthy persons except by the aid of suggestion.
Another serious error into which the Charcot school has fallen in its effort to eliminate the effects of suggestion consists in the assumption that subjects in the lethargic state know nothing of what is passing around them, either objectively or subjectively. No greater mistake is possible. The subjective mind never sleeps. No matter how profound the lethargy, it is ever alert, and comprehends instantly, with preternatural acuteness, everything that occurs. Professor Bernheim, in the preface to " Suggestive Therapeutics," makes the same assertion. He says :
" One should first be aware of the fact that in all degrees of hypnosis the subject hears and understands everything, even though he may appear inert and passive. Sometimes the senses are particularly sharp in this state of special concentration, as if all the nervous activity were accumulated in the organ of which the attention is solicited."
The state of lethargy is that in which Charcot supposes his subjects to be incapable of receiving a suggestion. Acting upon that hypothesis, it is not astonishing that he should deceive himself as well as the students and spectators attending his clinic. He believes that they hear nothing when they hear everything. It is easy to see how every suggested phenomenon is promptly produced under such conditions. But there is one phenomenon of which the learned professor fails to note the significance, and that is, that, no matter how profound the lethargy, his subject promptly awakens at the word of command.
The simple truth regarding the experiments of the Paris school is in a nutshell. Its fundamental error lies in the assumption that hypnosis has a purely physical origin, and that the phenomena are explicable on physiological principles. The phenomena which can be produced independently of suggestion are purely physical, and depend upon the physical condition of neuro-muscular hyperexcitability. That this is true is shown by the fact that the physical phe-