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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/246

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

could have suggested them, save that he had heard when a child of a young woman having been strangled by her lover on the site of his father's barn, out in the country. There was no knife in that case, however, and he was sure it could have nothing to do with the apparitions. I then hypnotized him, and he at once told me the whole story. I had to question him somewhat, but I was keenly alive to the danger of asking leading questions, and am convinced that the story was told spontaneously. The girl had had her throat cut, he said; a coachman had claimed to have seen her ghost in the barn and had told him of it. After that, four or five coachmen in succession declared they had seen the ghost, and left the employ of M——'s father rather than sleep in the barn. M—— was greatly frightened and began dreaming about it. After the lapse of some years the dreams ceased, but about two years ago they began again. He never saw the apparition, he said, except when he had been dreaming about the murder, I told him he would never have such a dream again and would never see the ghosts. That was in August last, and in November he told me he had had no recurrence. I have not seen him recently. Another most interesting fact in this case was that, although M—— had totally forgotten all this in his waking state before being hypnotized, and although after being awakened he had not the slightest recollection of anything that passed while he was hypnotized, he did then remember most of the facts he had just been talking of and told me them again, expressing surprise that he could not do it when I first asked him.

Now, here we have a true posthypnotic phenomenon. It is precisely parallel to those cases in which the hypnotized patient is told that at a certain time and place, while awake, he will see John Smith, who will say this or that to him; the time comes; a phantom John Smith walks into the room and does what is expected of him. But the state which in M——'s case survived the shock of waking was not a suggested state in the common sense, nor was it revived upon the occurrence of some appointed condition or signal. The story is of interest as showing how purely arbitrary is the line which some writers would draw between the "normal" and "abnormal" in this field.

There are three especially interesting problems connected with posthypnotic suggestion: 1. What is the relation of the suggestion to the signal? 2. In what form does the suggestion exist between the time of awaking, when it is usually unknown to the upper consciousness, and the moment of execution? 3. What is its relation to the upper consciousness in which it reappears?

To the first of these questions no very clear answer can be given. We can say that the suggestion is "associated" with the signal, and it of course is, but that does not explain to my mind