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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/361

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SUGGESTION IN THERAPEUTICS.

van Eeden, Liébeault, Bernheim, Janet, Bérillon, Pitres, de Jong, Bramwell, Lloyd Tuckey, Hamilton Osgood, and others, but I can say a few words as to the troubles in relieving which suggestion has been found useful.

In the first place, it will sometimes overcome insomnia. In the second, it has been used to restore to hysterical patients their lost sensations, but the restoration is usually but temporary. In the third, it may be used to destroy all sorts of disagreeable symptoms, especially neuralgic pains and headaches. It is possible to produce complete anæsthesia for surgical purposes in this way; but, as ether, chloroform, and cocaine are much more reliable, suggestion is seldom used. Dr. Wetterstrand, however, usually hypnotizes slightly before administering an anæsthetic; he has found that he can in this way get along with a much smaller amount of the drug, and also avoid the "violent" stage.

In the fourth place, suggestion is sometimes efficacious in cases of disordered ideation and morbid impulses. Mild melancholia, horror of food and of open spaces, insane doubt, homicidal and suicidal impulses, sexual perversion and inversion, dipsomania, morphinomania, fear of death, and others of the kind have been successfully treated by suggestion. But upon the more serious forms of mental disease it seldom has any effect.

In the fifth place, it is often of aid in motor disorders not dependent upon organic disease of the nervous system. Such are hysterical contractures, paralyses and convulsions, nervousness, chorea, sudden loss of voice, stammering, twitching of muscles, etc.

These are the troubles in which suggestion has been found most useful, but of course no one claims that it is a specific for them all. It often does good and never does harm; but sometimes it does no good, and at other times the improvement is but temporary. There is nothing very surprising in the fact that such troubles have sometimes been found amenable to suggestion. Although the effect ascribed to the mental state may be greater than we usually suppose such a state could produce, the difference is one of degree and not of kind. But I must now turn to a group of phenomena which seem at first glance to differ in kind as well as degree from anything with which we are familiar.

We usually conceive that the processes grouped under the word metabolism depend upon purely mechanical and chemical conditions, modified in some way, to be sure, by the fact that the body is alive and not dead, but still essentially physical and chemical. The word metabolism comes from a Greek word (μετα-βολή) which means "exchange," and it designates the fact that