130 THE LAW OF PSYCHIC PHENOMENA.
the proposed debauch. Like all such experiments on the stage before a mixed audience, they are passed by as simply amusing, and no lesson is learned from them. The intelligent student, however, cannot fail to see the far-reaching significance of the refusal of a subject to violate his temperance principles. Again, every platform experimenter knows that whilst he can cause a crowd of his subjects to go in swimming in imaginary waters, he can never induce them to divest themselves of their clothing beyond the limits of decency. Some cannot even be made to take off their coats in presence of the audience. Others will decline to accept any suggestion, the pursuance of which would cause them to appear ridiculous.
Again, it is well known to hypnotists that an attempt to contradict or argue with a subject in the hypnotic state invariably distresses him, and persistency in such a course awakens him, often with a nervous shock. A conflict of suggestions invariably causes confusion in the subjective mind, and generally results in restoring the subject to normal consciousness.
Now, what is an auto-suggestion ? In its broad signification it embraces not only the assertions of the objective mind of an individual, addressed to his own subjective mind, but also the habits of thought of the individual, and the settled principles and convictions of his whole life; and the more deeply rooted are those habits of thought, principles, and convictions, the stronger and more potent are the autosuggestions, and the more difficult they are to overcome by the contrary suggestions of another. It is, in fact, impossible for a hypnotist to impress a suggestion so strongly upon a subject as to cause him actually to perform an act in violation of the settled principles of his life. If this were not true, suggestion would mean nothing; it would have no place in psychological science, because it would not be a law of universal application. The strongest suggestion must prevail.
It will thus be seen that the question as to whether hypnotism can be successfully employed for criminal purposes,