Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 67.djvu/596

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590
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

HYPNOTISM, ITS HISTORY, NATURE AND USE.
By HAROLD M. HAYS,

COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS, NEW YORK CITY.

It is perhaps unnecessary to state that the word hypnotism brings to the mind of the average person timid recollections of many criminal acts. That is because few people hear of hypnotism in its proper sphere. It is clothed with the garb of shame; it is surrounded with all the horror belonging to the age of witchcraft. Newspapers delight in depicting its bad sides, in painting to the world the crimes that have been committed under its influence, the fearful results of its all powerful spell. To most it means a giving up of one's will to another who is superior, the crushing of one's entity by the power of another, the total abstinence of individual self-control, the entire weakening of one's higher intelligence. Vivid imagination supplies the result—suffering, hardship, labor and total subservience.

The question arises, 'Why should hypnotism have been thus derided?' Simply and plainly because the ignorance of people in general has given it no opportunity to show its good sides. Unfortunately people are always looking for the 'eternal gullible' and are not satisfied until they get a taste of it. And as hypnotism was first practised solely and is now practised mostly by men who have made the world their dupes, the world has had to suffer in the advancement of hypnotism on a scientific basis. But it has been so with other sciences. Astrology and alchemy are now things of the past; but astronomy and chemistry are their results—two great and everlasting sciences. There is therefore still great hope for hypnotism; for, although known under different names for so many hundreds of years, it is still in its infancy and the scientific aspect of the subject is yet in embryo.

Before, however, proceeding to cases in point, we may review briefly the history of hypnotism up to the present day. Call it what we may, since the beginning of the world, before Noah ever went on the Ark or the whale swallowed Jonah (much to the discomfort of both), hypnotism has been practised. The influence of one man over another by a certain innate quality or by personal magnetism has always been. Even Eve exerted an influence over Adam which has precipitated the world into misery and kept it there ever since. As time went on, people recognized this influence, gave it a name and called it the influence of the gods, the result being that those who were ordained