316 THE LAW OF PSYCHIC PHENOMENA.
ease or nervous exhaustion. In such cases, suggestion can hardly be considered as an initial cause, although, as we shall see further on, it is a potent factor in deepening, prolonging, and terminating the condition.
I have said that catalepsy marks the crisis in certain diseases. It is, in fact, the supreme effort of nature to give the exhausted nerves their needed rest. When this fact is once appreciated, and the patient is intelligently treated on its basis, much needless alarm will be saved, and many fatal errors will be avoided. The patient in that condition is enjoying absolute rest. All the vital processes are practically suspended. He is free from all pain, and is enjoying a refreshing sleep, a sleep so profound that it may be truly likened to its " twin-brother, death." The depth and duration of the trance will depend upon the necessities of the case. That is to say, it will be proportioned to the severity of the patient's illness, and his consequent need of rest and recuperation.
The primary mistake which many physicians make in managing cataleptic patients consists in seeking, by heroic treatment, to hasten restoration to consciousness. No greater mistake is possible. If the attempt is successful, it causes a fearful shock to the nerves, and the effort is thwarted which nature is making to relieve the patient and give rest to his already overstrained nervous system. If it is unsuccessful, the patient is threatened with the danger of being buried alive, or of an autopsy. These dangers are ever present; and as long as physicians fail to recognize the pregnant fact that an advanced stage of decomposition is the only infallible test of death, just so long will the human race be menaced with the horrors of premature burial.
The most important branch, however, of the subject of catalepsy is that pertaining to its psychological features. I have said that catalepsy belongs to the domain of hypnotism. I mean by this, not only that the phenomenon is identical with the condition which can be produced by the ordinary hypnotic processes, but that the cataleptic patient