The Use Of Autosuggestion
Let us now return to the point where I said that we can control and
lead our imagination, just as a torrent or an unbroken horse can be
controlled. To do so, it is enough in the first place to know that this
is possible (of which fact almost everyone is ignorant) and secondly,
to know by what means it can be done. Well, the means is very
simple; it is that which we have used every day since we came into
the world, with
ut wishing or knowing it and absolutely
unconsciously, but which unfortunately for us, we often use wrongly
and to our own detriment. This means is autosuggestion.
Whereas we constantly give ourselves unconscious autosuggestions,
all we have to do is to give ourselves conscious ones, and the
process consists in this: first, to weigh carefully in one's mind the
things which are to be the object of the autosuggestion, and
according as they require the answer "yes" or "no" to repeat several
times without thinking of anything else: "This thing is coming", or
"this thing is going away"; "this thing will, or will not happen, etc.,
etc. . . ." [*] If the unconscious accepts this suggestion and
transforms it into an autosuggestion, the thing or things are realized
in every particular.
[*] Of course the thing must be in our power.
Thus understood, autosuggestion is nothing but hypnotism as I
see it, and I would define it in these simple words: The influence of
the imagination upon the moral and physical being of mankind.
Now this influence is undeniable, and without returning to previous
examples, I will quote a few others.
If you persuade yourself that you can do a certain thing, provided
this thing be possible, you will do it however difficult it may be.
If on the contrary you imagine that you cannot do the simplest
thing in the world, it is impossible for you to do it, and molehills
become for you unscalable mountains.
Such is the case of neurasthenics, who, believing themselves
incapable of the least effort, often find it impossible even to walk a
few steps without being exhausted. And these same neurasthenics
sink more deeply into their depression, the more efforts they make
to throw it off, like the poor wretch in the quicksands who sinks in
all the deeper the more he tries to struggle out.
In the same way it is sufficient to think a pain is going, to feel it
indeed disappear little by little, and inversely, it is enough to think
that one suffers in order to feel the pain begin to come immediately.
I know certain people who predict in advance that they will have a
sick headache on a certain day, in certain circumstances, and on that
day, in the given circumstances, sure enough, they feel it. They
brought their illness on themselves, just as others cure theirs by
I know that one generally passes for mad in the eyes of the world if
one dares to put forward ideas which it is not accustomed to hear.
Well, at the risk of being thought so, I say that if certain people are
ill mentally and physically, it is that they imagine themselves to
be ill mentally or physically. If certain others are paralytic without
having any lesion to account for it, it is that they imagine
themselves to be paralyzed, and it is among such persons that the
most extraordinary cures are produced. If others again are happy or
unhappy, it is that they imagine themselves to be so, for it is possible
for two people in exactly the same circumstances to be, the one
perfectly happy, the other absolutely wretched.
Neurasthenia, stammering, aversions, kleptomania, certain cases of
paralysis, are nothing but the result of unconscious autosuggestion,
that is to say the result of the action of the unconscious upon the
physical and moral being.
But if our unconscious is the source of many of our ills, it can also
bring about the cure of our physical and mental ailments. It can not
only repair the ill it has done, but cure real illnesses, so strong is its
action upon our organism.
Shut yourself up alone in a room, seat yourself in an armchair, close
your eyes to avoid any distraction, and concentrate your mind for a
few moments on thinking: "Such and such a thing is going to
disappear", or "Such and such a thing is coming to pass."
If you have really made the autosuggestion, that is to say, if your
unconscious has assimilated the idea that you have presented to it,
you are astonished to see the thing you have thought come to pass.
(Note that it is the property of ideas autosuggested to exist within us
unrecognized, and we can only know of their existence by the effect
they produce.) But above all, and this is an essential point, the will
must not be brought into play in practising autosuggestion; for, if it
is not in agreement with the imagination, if one thinks: "I will make
such and such a thing happen", and the imagination says: "You are
willing it, but it is not going to be", not only does one not obtain
what one wants, but even exactly the reverse is brought about.
This remark is of capital importance, and explains why results are so
unsatisfactory when, in treating moral ailments, one strives to
re-educate the will. It is the training of the imagination which is
necessary, and it is thanks to this shade of difference that my method
has often succeeded where others--and those not the least
considered--have failed. From the numerous experiments that I have
made daily for twenty years, and which I have examined with
minute care, I have been able to deduct the following conclusions
which I have summed up as laws:
1. When the will and the imagination are antagonistic, it is always
the imagination which wins, without any exception.
2. In the conflict between the will and the imagination, the force of
the imagination is in direct ratio to the square of the will.
3. When the will and the imagination are in agreement, one does not
add to the other, but one is multiplied by the other.
4. The imagination can be directed.
(The expressions "In direct ratio to the square of the will" and "Is
multiplied by" are not rigorously exact. They are simply illustrations
destined to make my meaning clearer.)
After what has just been said it would seem that nobody ought to be
ill. That is quite true. Every illness, whatever it may be, can yield
to autosuggestion, daring and unlikely as my statement may seem;
I do not say does always yield, but can yield, which is a
But in order to lead people to practise conscious autosuggestion they
must be taught how, just as they are taught to read or write or play
Autosuggestion is, as I said above, an instrument that we possess
at birth, and with which we play unconsciously all our life, as a baby
plays with its rattle. It is however a dangerous instrument; it can
wound or even kill you if you handle it imprudently and
unconsciously. It can on the contrary save your life when you know
how to employ it consciously. One can say of it as Aesop said of
the tongue: "It is at the same time the best and the worst thing in the
I am now going to show you how everyone can profit by the
beneficent action of autosuggestion consciously applied. In saying
"every one", I exaggerate a little, for there are two classes of persons
in whom it is difficult to arouse conscious autosuggestion:
1. The mentally undeveloped who are not capable of understanding
what you say to them.
2. Those who are unwilling to understand.