The Use Of Suggestion For The Cure Of Moral Ailments And Taints Either Congenital Or Acquired

Neurasthenia, so common nowadays, generally yields to suggestion

constantly practised in the way I have indicated. I have had the

happiness of contributing to the cure of a large number of

neurasthenics with whom every other treatment had failed. One of

them had even spent a month in a special establishment at

Luxemburg without obtaining any improvement. In six weeks he

was completely cured, and he is now the happiest
an one would

wish to find, after having thought himself the most miserable.

Neither is he ever likely to fall ill again in the same way, for I

showed him how to make use of conscious autosuggestion and he

does it marvelously well.

But if suggestion is useful in treating moral complaints and physical

ailments, may it not render still greater services to society, in

turning into honest folks the wretched children who people our

reformatories and who only leave them to enter the army of crime.

Let no one tell me it is impossible. The remedy exists and I can

prove it.

I will quote the two following cases which are very characteristic,

but here I must insert a few remarks in parenthesis. To make you

understand the way in which suggestion acts in the treatment of

moral taints I will use the following comparison. Suppose our brain

is a plank in which are driven nails which represent the ideas, habits,

and instincts, which determine our actions. If we find that there

exists in a subject a bad idea, a bad habit, a bad instinct,--as it were,

a bad nail, we take another which is the good idea, habit, or instinct,

place it on top of the bad one and give a tap with a hammer--in other

words we make a suggestion. The new nail will be driven in perhaps

a fraction of an inch, while the old one will come out to the same

extent. At each fresh blow with the hammer, that is to say at each

fresh suggestion, the one will be driven in a fraction further and the

other will be driven out the same amount, until, after a certain

number of blows, the old nail will come out completely and be

replaced by the new one. When this substitution has been made, the

individual obeys it.

Let us return to our examples. Little M----, a child of eleven living at

Troyes, was subject night and day to certain accidents inherent to

early infancy. He was also a kleptomaniac, and, of course, untruthful

into the bargain. At his mother's request I treated him by suggestion.

After the first visit the accidents ceased by day, but continued at

night. Little by little they became less frequent, and finally, a few

months afterwards, the child was completely cured. In the same

period his thieving propensities lessened, and in six months they had

entirely ceased.

This child's brother, aged eighteen, had conceived a violent hatred

against another of his brothers. Every time that he had taken a little

too much wine, he felt impelled to draw a knife and stab his brother.

He felt that one day or other he would end by doing so, and he knew

at the same time that having done so he would be inconsolable. I

treated him also by suggestion, and the result was marvelous. After

the first treatment he was cured. His hatred for his brother had

disappeared, and they have since become good friends and got on

capitally together. I followed up the case for a long time, and the

cure was permanent.

Since such results are to be obtained by suggestion, would it not be

beneficial--I might even say indispensable--to take up this

method and introduce it into our reformatories? I am absolutely

convinced that if suggestion were daily applied to vicious children,

more than 50 per cent could be reclaimed. Would it not be an

immense service to render society, to bring back to it sane and well

members of it who were formerly corroded by moral decay?

Perhaps I shall be told that suggestion is a dangerous thing, and that

it can be used for evil purposes. This is no valid objection, first

because the practice of suggestion would only be confided [by the

patient] to reliable and honest people,--to the reformatory doctors,

for instance,--and on the other hand, those who seek to use it for evil

ask no one's permission.

But even admitting that it offers some danger (which is not so) I

should like to ask whoever proffers the objection, to tell me what

thing we use that is not dangerous? Is it steam? gunpowder?

railways? ships? electricity? automobiles? aeroplanes? Are the

poisons not dangerous which we, doctors and chemists, use daily in

minute doses, and which might easily destroy the patient if, in a

moment's carelessness, we unfortunately made a mistake in

weighing them out?