A Broad Perspective on Mental Healing

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ix                 SCIENTIFIC HYPNOSIS AND THE OCCULT              363
Prior to modern theories as to the nature of hypnotism, there were beliefs in magnetic fluid, nervous fluid, all-pervading ether, and vital fluid projected by the operator into the subject which has played an extensive part in the phantasy of mankind, and, in an increasingly disguised form, still does so in folk-lore, superstitions, and psychoneurotic symptoms. The magnetic fluid was principally emitted from the operator's eye, and in many modern procedures fixation of the subject by a steady gaze, producing the so-called fascination du regard, still plays an important part. Now, belief in the influence of the human eye, for good or ill, has at all ages been very general, and still lingers in our customs and superstitions. Jones says that ' it can be shewn beyond doubt that this belief takes its origin in the eye and its glance being symbolically regarded as the expression of the male organ and its function II8 (p. 341). Although this symbolical interpretation may be far-fetched, yet the absence of any female hypnotist from record is significant. However, when one turns to language, ' the most reliable guide to psychology \ one finds that the term ' animal magnetism ' itself, for so long applied to hypnotism, is ultimately derived from a more primitive source than the metal magnet, though it was actually taken from the latter. The word ' magnet' comes to us, through the Greek, from two Phoenician words, mag and naz ; the former means * a big, powerful man ', the latter ' that which flows out and influences something else '. It does not need much divining capacity to comprehend what the early conception of human magnetism originally signified; the word has by a devious route come back in the phrase ' a lover's magnetic charm \
Dr. W. Brown reconciles Charcot's theory of dissociation with Bernheim's description of hypnosis as increased suggestibility. At the same time the capacity