What is auto-suggestion and what is hypnosis?
We will lump these two together, for auto-suggestion is just an elementary form of self-hypnosis. The word ‘hypnosis’ came into existence during the last century and was substituted for mesmerism, or animal magnetism, when these terms fell into disrepute. Before then the words used for this phenomenon were ‘enchantment’, ‘fascination’, ‘spellbound’ or ‘glamourized’. It will be seen that since then these words have taken on quite a different meaning. It should be understood that there is more than one form of hypnotism, but the phenomenon may be divided roughly into two aspects. One is the common type displayed in stage shows and other forms of entertainment, as well as the therapeutic type which is used to cure such things as smoking, alcohol addiction, bad habits and so on. This form of hypnosis requires the conscious or subconscious co-operation of the subject and generally speaking the hypnotist manipulates forces within the subject to achieve results. Success in this type of hypnosis is considerably less than 100% and there can be patient resistance. The other, less common aspect is where the hypnotist uses certain powers of his own, not possessed by all practitioners, and in this case subject co-operation is less important and can be non-existent. The success rate is nearly 100%. Hypnotism is something little understood and most of us are subjected to minor hypnotic influences quite frequently. It is not so much the overbearing personalities and consciously noted events and situations which influence us, but the things said and experienced, of which we take little conscious note. Most habits, good or bad, originate in this way. Just as there are various types of hypnotism so are there several states or degrees, varying from a light trancelike state to one of complete but suggestible unconsciousness. The words ‘trance’, ‘sleep’ and ‘unconsciousness’ are actually not applicable, for hypnosis is none of these, the subject being suggestible at all times. In fact, in some forms of hypnotism it is not even necessary for the subject to close his or her eyes and to all intents and purposes he or she is wide awake, yet the reaction will be similar to that of a hypnotic ‘sleep’. The mechanics of hypnotism are simple enough. For convenience we will say That the mind may be divided into three parts: the conscious, the subconscious and the superconscious. The last one plays very little part in hypnosis and so need not be considered here. The conscious mind is used and displayed in our everyday working life; it is the one that reasons logically (or otherwise) and may be considered the guardian of the subconscious. The subconscious mind cannot reason, it accepts everything conveyed to it
directly without question, and automatically assumes it to be correct. Hypnotism consists in removing the guardianship of the conscious mind, so that suggestions are fed directly into the subconscious. Thus, when this is achieved the hypnotized person can be told to do the most ridiculous things and he or she will immediately comply. A hypnotized subject can be given a glass of water, told it is whisky and that he will get drunk on it, and he will act on the suggestion and become, to all intents and purposes, drunk. If told that a person present in the room is not there the subject will be quite unable to see that person. Teeth can be extracted under hypnosis, the suggestion being given that there will be no pain. Post hypnotic suggestions can be given, in which a subject is told that he will do such and such some hours or even days after he is brought out of the hypnotic state, and he will comply. Subliminal advertising (now banned in most countries), uses the same principle. The message to be conveyed it flashed on the screen in the middle of a commercial or otherwise, so fast and for such a short duration that the viewers’ conscious mind cannot become aware of it, but he subconscious misses nothing.