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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/369

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351
SUGGESTION IN THERAPEUTICS.

Among the most extraordinary and best authenticated cases of suggested modification of the metabolic processes are those in which burns have been so produced. The first of these was, I believe, produced by M. Focachon, an apothecary of Charmes, in

France, on a patient named Elisa F—— He succeeded in doing it several times, and the details can be found in Prof. Beaunis's Le Somnambulisme provoqué, pages 72-84. I will describe one or two. On the 12th of May, 1885, at 11 a. m., she was hypnotized, and eight postage stamps were placed on her left shoulder, with the suggestion that a blister was being applied. She was then watched and kept asleep. At 8.15 a. m. next day, she was examined in the presence of MM. Bernheim, Liégeois, Liébeault, Beaunis, and others, and the bandages were removed. All were satisfied that they had not been disturbed. "Within an area of about four by five centimetres the epidermis was found thickened and deadened, of a yellowish color, but it was not raised and had not formed blisters. It was thickened, a little wrinkled, and in a word presented the appearance of the period which immediately precedes true blistering, with the formation of fluid. This region was surrounded by a zone of intense redness, with swelling about half a centimetre in extent." A year later M. Focachon succeeded in neutralizing the effect of a Spanish fly blister on the same patient.[1] One piece was put on the left forearm and the other on the corresponding region of the other arm. She was hypnotized and told that the one on the left arm would not burn her. She was then watched nine hours and a half and examined. The left arm was almost absolutely unaffected; on the right a blister was forming. The bandages were replaced for forty-five minutes and then examined again. On the right arm was a blister from which a serous fluid was got; the left was intact.

Another such case was reported by Dr. J. Rybalkin, of the Hôpital Marie in St. Petersburg.[2] The patient, a house painter, sixteen years of age, was hypnotized at 8.30 a. m., and was told he would burn himself on the arm by touching a stove—in which, by the way, there was no fire. He uttered a cry of pain when he touched it, and within a few minutes a red, painful mark appeared on the arm. The physicians then watched this develop into a complete burn. By 10 a. m. next day blisters had developed, these formed a scab, and the wound healed as an ordinary burn would have done.

With such extensive control of the metabolic processes of the skin experimentally demonstrated, it is not surprising to meet with remarkable cures of skin diseases. Thus Dr. Hamilton Os-


  1. Liégeois, De la Suggestion, § 278.
  2. Cf. Revue de l'Hypnotisme, iv, 361, and Myers, op. cit., 338.