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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/789

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HYPNOTISM IN DISEASE AND CRIME.

may be profitable to consider this subject, which is indeed entitled to further development.

Somnambulist subjects often display a kind of attraction for the experimenter who has hypnotized them by touching the scalp. As soon as the experimenter has pressed upon the scalp with his hand, or has breathed upon the subject with his mouth, the latter is attracted toward the experimenter; if the experimenter withdraws to a distance, the subject displays uneasiness and discomfort; he sometimes follows the experimenter with a sigh, and can only rest beside him. It is probable that the phenomena of electivity have their origin in the experimenter's contact with his subject. Bain, in his work on the emotions, remarks that animal contact and the pleasure of an embrace are the beginning and end of all the tender emotions.

The dangers of this attraction with respect to morality were pointed out in the secret report presented to the King of France in 1784, by a commission which had been appointed to investigate the practice of magnetism by Deslon, Mesmer's chief pupil. The following is extracted from this report:

Women are always magnetized by men; the established relations are doubtless those of a patient to the physician, but this physician is a man, and whatever the illness may be, it does not deprive us of our sex, it does not entirely withdraw us from the power of the other sex; illness may weaken impressions without destroying them. Moreover, most of the women who present themselves to be magnetized are not really ill; many come out of idleness, or for amusement; others, if not perfectly well, retain their freshness and their force, their senses are unimpaired, and they have all the sensitiveness of youth; their charms are such as to affect the physician, and their health is such as to make them liable to be affected by him, so that the danger is reciprocal. The long-continued proximity, the necessary contact, the communication of individual heat, the interchange of looks, are ways and means by which it is well known that nature ever effects the communication of the sensations and the affections. The magnetic treatment must necessarily be dangerous to morality. While proposing to cure diseases which require prolonged treatment, pleasing and precious emotions are excited—emotions to which we look back with regret and seek to revive, since they possess a natural charm for us, and contribute to our physical happiness. But morally they must be condemned, and they are the more dangerous as it becomes more easy for them to become habitual. A condition into which a woman enters in public, amid other women who apparently have the same experience, does not seem to offer any danger; she continues in it, she returns to it, and discovers her peril when it is too late. Strong women flee from this danger when they find themselves exposed to it; the morals and health of the weak may be impaired.

It is possible to suggest to a subject in a state of somnambulism fixed ideas, irresistible impulses, which he will obey on awaking with mathematical precision. The subject may be induced to write down promises, recognitions of debt, admissions and confessions, by which he may be grievously wronged. If arms are given to him, he may also be induced to commit any crime which is prompted by the experi-