Suggestion And Autosuggestion

According to the preceding remarks we can compare the

imagination to a torrent which fatally sweeps away the poor wretch

who has fallen into it, in spite of his efforts to gain the bank. This

torrent seems indomitable; but if you know how, you can turn it

from its course and conduct it to the factory, and there you can

transform its force into movement, heat, and electricity.

If this simile is not enough,
we may compare the imagination--"the

madman at home" as it has been called--to an unbroken horse which

has neither bridle nor reins. What can the rider do except let himself

go wherever the horse wishes to take him? And often if the latter

runs away, his mad career only comes to end in the ditch. If however

the rider succeeds in putting a bridle on the horse, the parts are

reversed. It is no longer the horse who goes where he likes, it is the

rider who obliges the horse to take him wherever he wishes to go.

Now that we have learned to realize the enormous power of the

unconscious or imaginative being, I am going to show how this self,

hitherto considered indomitable, can be as easily controlled as a

torrent or an unbroken horse. But before going any further it is

necessary to define carefully two words that are often used without

being properly understood. These are the words suggestion and


What then is suggestion? It may be defined as "the act of imposing

an idea on the brain of another". Does this action really exist?

Properly speaking, no. Suggestion does not indeed exist by itself. It

does not and cannot exist except on the sine qua non condition of

transforming itself into autosuggestion in the subject. This latter

word may be defined as "the implanting of an idea in oneself by


You may make a suggestion to someone; if the unconscious of the

latter does not accept the suggestion, if it has not, as it were,

digested it, in order to transform it into autosuggestion, it

produces no result. I have myself occasionally made a more or less

commonplace suggestion to ordinarily very obedient subjects quite

unsuccessfully. The reason is that the unconscious of the subject

refused to accept it and did not transform it into autosuggestion.