A Broad Perspective on Mental Healing

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ix                 SCIENTIFIC HYPNOSIS AND THE OCCULT              357
instances these functional disabilities remain when the initiating cause no longer exists. The disability remains as a habit. In such circumstances suggestion will effect a permanent cure. Unless the doctor is sure that the initiating cause no longer remains, it is not advisable to treat symptoms by suggesting they no longer exist; the next symptom may easily be more malignant. With the aged and the very sick, on the other hand, when ' symptomatic ' treatment may give relief for a time and may make the remaining days more comfortable, while successful treatment of the initial cause is impracticable, suggestion, under hypnosis or otherwise, may be employed with benefit.
One point which must be emphasized is that by hypnotic suggestion an individual's desires can be strengthened and freed from inhibitions; with more difficulty, but still with comparative ease, he can be made to do what he should but lacks the strong desire to perform ; but he cannot be made to do what is repugnant to him. There is little doubt, however, that, if a subject is repeatedly hypnotized and made to entertain all kinds of absurd delusions and to carry out posthypnotic suggestions very frequently, he may be liable to some ill-defined harm ; also, that an unprincipled hypnotist might secure an undue influence over a naturally weak subject. But there is no ground for the belief that hypnotic treatment, applied with good intentions and reasonable care and judgment, does or can produce deleterious effects, such as weakening of the will, or liability to fall spontaneously into hypnosis. McDougall says that ' all physicians of large experience in hypnotic practice are in agreement as to this point \
As has been mentioned in Chapter V, Breuer and Freud's first explorations, which subsequently led to the development of the psychoanalytic method, were carried