The Law Of Psychic Phenomena - online book

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HYPNOTISM AND CRIME.                141
everything, because his betrayal of such a secret in the laboratory is just as vital as to betray it elsewhere.
It is obvious, therefore, that the testimony of a hypnotized subject in a court of justice can possess no evidential value whatever. Not one of the conditions would be present which give weight to human testimony. The subject could not be punished for perjury if he swore falsely. In matters of indifference to him he would be in constant danger of being swayed by the artful or accidental suggestion of another. A false premise suggested to him at the start would color and pervert his whole testimony. A cross-examination would utterly confuse him, and almost inevitably restore him to normal consciousness. On questions of vital interest to himself, auto-suggestion would cause him to resort to falsehood if the truth would militate against him.
It is thought that enough has been said to show that the dangers attending the practice of hypnotism have been grossly exaggerated, and that the sources of danger, which the people are so persistently warned against, have no existence in fact. The premises laid down will not be gainsaid by any who understand the law of suggestion. The conclusions are inevitable. The law of auto-suggestion has been recognized by Continental writers, as has been shown by extracts from their books; but they have failed to carry it to its legitimate conclusion when treating the subject of the legal aspects of hypnotism. It is perhaps not strange that they should fail in this respect, in view of the vital interest which physicians have in hypnotism as a therapeutic agent. But they should remember that the subject is also of vital interest to students of psychology, and that it is only by a study of its psychological aspects that hypnotism can be intelligently applied to the cure of disease. That the phenomena displayed through its agency possess a significance which far transcends that which attaches to it as a substitute for pills, is a proposition which will not be disputed, even by those who seek to monopolize its forces. It is hoped, therefore, that the psychological student will be graciously permitted to pursue his studies at least until