sub-conscious automatisms have a hypnotic influence and can bring about complete somnambulism.
He made the following experiment: While the patient, who was in the completely waking state, was engaged in conversation by a second observer, Janet stationed himself behind her and by means of whispered suggestions made her unconsciously move her hand and by written signs give an answer to questions. Suddenly the patient broke off the conversation, turned round and with her supraliminal consciousness continued the previously subconscious talk with Janet. She had fallen into hypnotic somnambulism.
There is here a state of affairs similar to our patient’s. But it must be noted that, for certain reasons discussed later, the sleeping state is not to be regarded as hypnotic. We therefore come to the question of—
2. The Psychic Stimulation.—It is told of Bettina Brentano that the first time she met Goethe she suddenly fell asleep on his knee.
This ecstatic sleep in the midst of extremest torture, the so-called “witch-sleep,” is well known in the history of trials for witchcraft.
With susceptible subjects relatively insignificant stimuli suffice to bring about the somnambulic state. Thus a sensitive lady had to have a splinter cut out of her finger. Without any kind of bodily change she suddenly saw herself sitting by the side of a brook in a beautiful meadow, plucking flowers. This condition lasted as long as the slight operation and then disappeared spontaneously.
- “Une autre consideration rapproche encore ces deux états, c’est que les actes subconscients ont un effet en quelque sorte hypnotisant et contribuant par eux-mêmes à amener le somnambulisme” (“L’Automatisme,” p. 329).
- Janet, l.c., p. 329.
- In literature Gustave Flaubert has made use of a similar falling asleep at the moment of extreme excitement in his novel “Salambo.” When the hero, after many struggles, has at last captured Salambo, he suddenly falls asleep just as he touches her virginal bosom.
- Perhaps the cases of paralysis of the emotions also belong here. Cf. Baetz, Allg. Zeitsch. f. Psych., LVIII., p. 717.
- Allg. Zeitsch. f. Psych., XXX., p. 17.