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Suggestion during Hypnosis in the Insane: A case, with remarks

  • Edwin Goodall (a1)

John T., æt. 32. Admitted September, 1889. From the history it appears that he was imprisoned for embezzlement two years ago, and subsequently was a patient in Wakefield Asylum. Discharged cured. Has an uncle epileptic, and a sister is at present in this asylum, the subject of melancholia. His state on admission was one of melancholia; he was regarded as suicidal. He was set at work in the grounds, and by the end of October following was more cheerful. At the beginning of November, however, when hypnotism was first employed, he was still depressed, taciturn, and suspicious—particularly of certain attendants. He believed that God was offended with him, that he had done wrong; he became tearful when religious topics were broached. There was very little self-confidence; his manner was humble and his expression “nervous;” habits, solitary and brooding. Hypnosis was produced by inducing him to gaze at a laryngoscopic mirror (reflecting light strongly), held in such a position that the eyes converged upwards and inwards. In all he was hypnotized six times; on four occasions in this manner and twice by means of the ticking of a watch held at his ear. That he was genuinely hypnotized (and this no one seeing him could doubt) the following observations, made on different occasions, tend to show:—He spoke of increasing drowsiness (the voice fading to a whisper); his head sunk, his eyelids closed. The rate of breathing quickened; the whole body became limp. There was complete inability to raise the eyelids when loss of power was suggested. The arms could be rendered completely insensitive by suggestion, and a pin thrust deeply into any part. Similarly hyperæsthesia could be produced. Futile attempts to raise the arms when powerlessness were suggested; also inability to move them out of a given position. He could not retract the protruded tongue; ate a raw potato (suggested apple). Whilst drinking water was told it was ink, when he entirely refused to continue. Drank a nauseous mixture of soap, salt, and water (suggested sherry), but suggestion had to be strongly made. Nursed a couple of shirts when told to “nurse the baby,” but would not kiss the child. [This merely proves that he was not a thorough automaton; as is well known, in somnambulistic and allied states subjects may refuse to carry out orders.] He made a wry face on smelling eau de Cologne when told, with accompanying suggestive sounds, that the odour was a foul one. The original wry face produced by the odour of assafótida gradually relaxed as its pleasantness was insisted upon. He gave his name at request, in an unnatural voice, and slowly. On telling him that he had forgotten his name a remarkable state supervened. His distress was great; he essayed in vain to pronounce the name, and finally sank back sighing. He followed me round the room, taking huge steps over suggested obstacles. He awoke suddenly at a suggested word, but was sometimes aroused by blowing on the conjunctiva. On coming round was confused, emotional, giddy, and disinclined to move. I may add that I could not obtain Charcot's “stages” in the case, though the means prescribed were adopted. The reflexes were normal during hypnosis. No more suggestions of the above-mentioned kind were made than were regarded as necessary to establish the genuineness of the state induced, and to prove the amenability to suggestion.

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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 2514-9946
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Suggestion during Hypnosis in the Insane: A case, with remarks

  • Edwin Goodall (a1)
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