“Je n'ai jamais rien vu survenir de grave”∗ wrote M. Richet to Professor Heidenhain, giving the results of the experiments he had made in hypnotism; and no doubt he was fully justified in doing so, since only one individual tested by him suffered any inconvenience, and that in a very slight and passing degree. Putting this evidence with his own observations, Heidenhain not unnaturally asserts that “there is no ground whatever for objection to hypnotic experiments,” † and again he says “it must be remembered that the necessity for precaution has not arisen as the result of unfavourable experience, but merely because it is our duty, for the sake of the person experimented on, to be over careful rather than not careful enough.” † The case under present consideration is, however, calculated to shake our confidence in such assurances of complete immunity from danger in hypnotic experiments, especially when conducted by unskilled persons; and indicates, moreover, that Professors Richet and Heidenhain owe their happy results as much to good fortune as to the
perfect freedom from risk they calculate on with so much certainty. Still further, it confirms the remarks of Binet and Féré, who say “with respect to the performance of such experiments in public, it should be condemned just as we condemn public dissections of the dead body, and vivisection in public.”∗ But this note of warning, though important, is perhaps the least interesting of the many considerations to which a study of this case gave rise, since it was particularly rich in the various psychological and physiological manifestations appertaining to the hypnotic and stuporose states. For this reason I desire to bring it under notice, and, owing to the kindness of my chief, Dr. Conolly Norman, who placed the man under my immediate charge for observations and treatment, I am enabled to do so. My grateful acknowledgments are also due to Surgeon-Major Martin, A.M.S., who kindly furnished me with the notes made by him on the patient's condition during his period of treatment at the Royal Infirmary, Dublin, prior to his removal to this asylum.