Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/245

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
231
POSTHYPNOTIC AND CRIMINAL SUGGESTION.

curred to me that the attitude in which he was lying was one of the stages through which the patient regularly passes in the course of the hystero-epileptic convulsion—it is known as the opisthotonic position—and that the convulsion might be due to the tactile-motor suggestion given by the feeling of the attitude. As soon as we put him in a sitting posture the symptoms of convulsion disappeared.

The mode in which the suggestion is initiated is not essential to the theory, but it is often important in practice. Commands are usually realized more readily than mere suggestions, but the latter are sometimes the more efficacious. In general, the phenomena differ in degree only and not in kind from those of normal life, and just as a categorical suggestion may be realized at once, so may a hypothetical suggestion be realized under the circumstances indicated by the operator. Most of the illustrations which I have been using belonged to the former type; to the latter belong the still more curious phenomena of deferred and posthypnotic suggestion.

Simple deferred suggestions executed during the state of heightened suggestibility may be dismissed with a mere mention. The really interesting cases are those in which the execution of the suggestion given during a suggestible condition is deferred until the patient has returned to the normal state. As the phenomena have been studied chiefly in hypnotic states, artificially produced deferred suggestions of this kind are termed posthypnotic suggestions.

Analogous phenomena are found, however, as we would expect, under other circumstances. We are familiar, for example, with the effect sometimes wrought by dreams upon the waking life of the succeeding day. A happy mood or its reverse can often be traced to the effect of some vivid dream, and doubtless many of the mornings on which we "get out of bed on the wrong side" have been preceded by nights filled with disagreeable but forgotten dreams. M——, of whom I have before spoken, has given me an excellent illustration of the possible after-effect of a forgotten dream. He once told me that he had been for some months tormented by an apparition. He would wake in the middle of the night to find a hideous man beside him. The man held in his hand a knife, looked at him threateningly, then slowly moved backward, and, when at a considerable distance, vanished. Occasionally he saw in the place of the man a young woman with a black shawl wrapped about her head. He knew that these figures were unreal and had no belief in ghosts, yet they always left him terrified and suffering from nervous shock. I questioned him closely, but could get no clew to their origin. He had never had a dream in which they figured, and had never heard any story that