You regular readers will know that I am a collector of very old hypnosis books and texts. One such book I recently purchased is entitled “The Perfect Course of Instruction in Hypnotism, Mesmerism, Clairvoyance, Suggestive Tehrapeutics and the Sleep Cure” by Masters of the Science and published by the Psychic Research Company in 1900. It is a very old book and I had to share with you a technique the book absolutely raves about.
Chapter four of the book offers up the mesmer stare, the method allegedly practiced by English surgeon, Dr. James Esdaile, who according to this book, in the year 1847 made such good use of Hypnotism in his hospital practice at Calcutta, India, that the English government placed at his disposal a hospital specially prepared for the reception of patients to be operated upon in Mesmeric Anaesthesia. I have written about this before.
What I love is that the book gets excited about sharing this technique with us and they even state that “it is a method that is now practically unknown, and one which has never been fully given to the public. Its results, however, are so astounding, especially in the matter of inducing the deepest degrees of Hypnosis that this complete book of methods must give it a place of importance.”
I got excited, though upon reading am slightly less excited and may not be incorporating this process into my professional work and I think you’ll read the reasons why as I share the process with you.
This is exactly as it is in the book (no copyright issues here, the book is in the public domain):
WHAT TO DO TO INDUCE SLEEP BY THIS MEANS.—Have in your room where patients are to be treated a long low couch in which the headrest is not more than six inches higher than the body of the couch. Let your patient lie full length upon the couch and seat yourself at its head. Bend over the couch in such a way that when your patient’s eyes are upturned to yours it is not difficult for him to keep his gaze riveted upon you. To make this more plain to you I should say that there must be in this case no great strain upon the eyesight of the patient. Now bend over the couch so that your face is not more than from four to six inches from your patient’s. Keep your eyes fastened upon his. Instruct him to keep his eyes fastened upon yours. Allow no sound to escape you. There should be no noise of any kind in the room or out of it to disturb you. Maintain this position if necessary for one hour to two hours, keeping in your mind the firm resolve that your patient must sleep. In half an hour or less his eyelids will quiver, but a word from you will redirect his attention to you and he will_ make another effort to keep them open. These efforts will become gradually less and less pronounced, until the sense of weariness is so developed in him that he can no longer resist the sleep influence, and his eyes will close completely.
Do NOT EXPERIMENT IN THIS CASE.—When you have tried this method it will not be necessary for you to try any experiment with your patient with a view to testing whether or not he has passed into the Hypnotic condition. This method, provided your patient is not wilfully deceiving you, is invariably productive of the deeper stages of Hypnosis, and no such thing as a test is here necessary. Your patient is again in the condition known as Magnetic Sleep.
Sounds like a full-on staring competition!! One of which goes on for longer than any of the staring battles I ever managed whilst at school!
I love the importance of the couch levels and that you have to be six inches from their face (you may have needed to deal out the mints before hand) and that you then maintain the position for 1-2 hours. It is more like an endurance test than a hypnotic induction that is useable (in my own consulting rooms anyway!).
Like I said, I had to share. I love reading this stuff and seeing how things were done over 150 years ago in the field of hypnosis. Hope you enjoyed that.
At first I thought, “Oh, eyeroll induction” – but then I got to the “one to two hours”. Hilarious!
I know Mike, I cracked up too! Good to hear from you 🙂
After one or two hours I think I would probably fall asleep and headbutt the client. Surely the writer must have realised that, although this could work as an induction, it would be very uncomfortable for the hypnotist?
Headbutting the client would more than likely be a swift way to exit hypnosis, but I doubt you’d want to repeat it with all your clients every day, eh?
Good to hear from you Robin, A.
Isn’t it funny how we hypnotherapists differ because to me this doesn’t seem strange or peculiar at all. The heights and distances make perfect sense in terms of result sought with maximum comfort of the operator in mind at the same time.
Absolutely as an induction this makes no sense whatsoever but only in the context of the modem view of hypnosis which is all about ccf bypass. That’s not the way to view this because that’s not what’s being undertaken here at all.
This is an inducation for …a different kind of state than the one generally used today which is heavily language dependent. It’s perhaps easiest thought of as a kind of submission rapport which leads to compliance and a trance like state. Hence the term “magnetic sleep”: magnetic often having to do with “charisma” and “personal power” and not magnets (which mesmer initially used) although I agree that’s potentially confusing since the term was carried over for quite some time and used in more than one way. Ive found that these old books often make a great deal of sense but only if one completely abandons the popular 20th century view of what hypnotism is all about whist reading. That’s often not what they’re talking about at all.