PSYCHOTHERAPY SCIENTIFIC AND RELIGIOUS

A Broad Perspective on Mental Healing

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x                SUGGESTION AND THE FACTOR OF FAITH            373
falling off at all, or to think about it without any strong emotion, his danger of falling off would be less. The law of reversed effort may be illustrated by the observation of the fact that his voluntary efforts to retain his balance are not only useless but tend to defeat that end.
Reflective autosuggestion has as its objects the combating of noxious spontaneous autosuggestion, and the deliberate attainment of the good mental effects accidentally produced by desirable spontaneous autosuggestion. The difficulty in the practice of reflective autosuggestion is to find an efficient substitute for spontaneous autosuggestion. A voluntary effort to think and realize the object of the desired suggestion is found not to be successful, and this failure is accounted for by the law of reversed effort. It is for this reason that most people fail when they try to follow the directions of one of the systems of autosuggestion. They are told to concentrate on an idea. For them concentration means an intense voluntary effort to think of it; and intense voluntary effort is the condition under which autosuggestion is most certain to fail. Those who have experienced the effects of intense voluntary effort to go to sleep know the condition of hopeless wakefulness which such an effort induces. The practical difficulty is the discovery of some condition in which voluntary effort is as small as possible, but in which the mind can be kept occupied with the particular thought which is to be the object of the suggestion.
The condition between sleeping and waking, which has already been noticed as one of high suggestibility, is a state in which spontaneous autosuggestions are stated to be particularly liable to realize themselves. All writers on autosuggestion seem to be aiming at the willed production of a similar state in which there is a certain emptiness of mind and suspensions of the mental