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
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
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?