x SUGGESTION AND THE FACTOR OF FAITH 379
General relaxation, if sufficiently advanced, is characterized by reduction of reflex irritability. It is progressive in three respects : (i) The patient relaxes a group of muscles the biceps-brachial of the right arm, for instance further and further each minute.
(2) He learns consecutively to relax the principal muscle-groups of his body, with each new group simultaneously relaxing such parts as have previously received practice.
(3) As he practises from day to day he progresses towards a habit of repose, toward a state in which quiet is automatically maintained. In contrast with this Jacobson found that the individual who indulges in unrestrained excitement renders himself susceptible to further increase of excitement, as a consideration of the phenomena of * augmentation or summation ' would lead him to expect.
In addition to this, he uses the term ' differential relaxation y by which he means the absence of an undue degree of contraction in the muscles employed for an act, while other muscles, not so needed, remain flaccid. Clinical relaxation, as a rule, is called systematic, habitual or cultivated, the meaning of which is obvious ; but they do not apply in many cases where relaxation is briefly used to aid in overcoming some acute or transitory disturbance. Relaxation, whether general or local, is defined as complete if it proceeds to the zero point of torus for the part or parts involved, and incomplete if it falls short of this. In extreme relaxation the knee-jerk becomes less pronounced.
Like many other therapeutic procedures, the technique of progressive muscular relaxation aims at securing the co-operation of the patient. It has many forms, depending upon the condition to be met, whether acute or chronic, its previous duration, and the ability of the patient to follow directions. In acute conditions, treatments may be made very brief and few in numbers: