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Spiritual Soul Instructions and Observation of the World
GA 52

XIV. The History of Hypnotism and Somnambulism

6 June 1904, Berlin

Today I have to speak to you about a chapter of the newer cultural history which, indeed, repeats an ancient history in a certain form, but in such a peculiar, typical way that perhaps nothing is more suited than this chapter to show how difficult it is to bring certain great phenomena in the life of the spirit, in the life of the human being generally, closer to the official scholarship. Just today some — maybe a little bit harsh — words are necessary with regard to this chapter. Do not accept any word which I say in this direction in such a way, as if passion or emotion dictates it. I can assure you that I have the greatest respect to many a scholar with regard to his researches and his scientific ability, and that to him, nevertheless, some — I would almost like to say — painful word must be said speaking about the chapter of hypnotism in a short historical outline. At the same time we want to give short information of something related, of somnambulism.

A lot of people believe today that hypnotism is something quite new that it is something that science has conquered at most since somewhat more than half a century. You allow me to give you evidence from the 17th century. The evidence which I would like to give you is from a book which one reads today a little, from the book of the Jesuit Father Athanasius Kircher, and comes from the year 1646. I would like to inform of the words of this Jesuit father in fairly modern language. They are in a book with which Goethe dealt in detail in his history of the theory of colours because this father plays a quite important role also in the history of the theory of colours. In this book it is also spoken of that which the Jesuit father calls actinobolism. This would mean approximately: the radiating imagination. “This very big force of imagination appears even with the animals. The chickens have such a strong imagination that they get motionless and a peculiar daze if they only see a string. The following experience shows the truth of this assertion: Miraculous experiment about the imagination of the chicken. Lay a chicken, whose feet are tied together, on any floor, feeling caught it will try in the beginning to throw off the chain in any way, flapping its wings and moving its whole body. But, in the end, it will calm down after vain endeavours, despairing to escape, as it were, and submit to the arbitrariness of the winner. While now the chicken lies there quietly, draw a straight line of the same form as the string from its eye on the soil with chalk or any other paint, then let it alone after you have undone the chains: I say, the chicken, although it is relieved of the chain, does not fly away at all, even if one provokes it. The explanation of this behaviour is based on nothing else than on the lively imagination of the animal which takes that line drawn on the soil for its chain with which it is tied up. I made this experiment often to the surprise of the spectators and I do not doubt that it also succeeds with other animals. Nevertheless, the reader eager to learn may inform himself about it.”

Another German writer, Caspar Schott, gave a similar communication of the condition of animals approximately at the same time in a book entitled Entertainment of the Human Imagination. In it the concerning author who was a friend of Athanasius Kircher says to us that he took the instructions of this book from numerous attempts of a French medical writer. What is reported in this book is nothing else than what we call hypnotism of animals. I have already spoken in a former talk about the relations of hypnotism and somnambulism; hence, I recapitulate this chapter only briefly today.

You know that one understands hypnotism as a state similar to sleep in which the human being is brought artificially by different means to which we still want to point in the course of the lecture. In this sleep-like state the human being shows different qualities he does not show in the waking consciousness and also not in the usual sleep. You can sting a person in the hypnotic trance with needles, for instance; he proves insensitive. You can lay down a person if he is in a certain state of sleep and stretch his limbs; then they become so stiff and solid that you can lay the person on two chairs, and the heaviest man can still stand on this rigid body.

Those who saw the experiments of the really extraordinary hypnotist Hansen in the eighties of the 19th century know that Hansen laid the people, after he had transported them into hypnotic sleep, with a very small under-surface on two chairs and stood then on them, this heavy Hansen! These hypnotised bodies behaved almost like a board.

It is also known that somebody who has transported a person into such a sleep-like state can give him so-called suggestive commands. If you have transported a person into such a state, you can say to him: you get up now, go to the middle of the room and stop there like spellbound; you do not go on; you are not able to stir! — He carries out everything and then he stops like spellbound. Yes, you are able to do even more. You can say to the person concerned in a room full of people: here in this room is not one person excepting me and you. — He will say to you: here is nobody, the room is quite empty. — Or you may also say to him: here is no light — and he sees nobody. These are negative hallucinations. However, you can also give him hallucinations of other type. You can say to him, while you give him a potato: this is a pear, take and eat it! — And you can see that he thinks to eat a pear. You may give him water to drink, and he thinks that it is champagne.

I could still give a lot of other examples, but I still want to give some especially strange matters only. If you cause a visual hallucination in such a hypnotised person and say to him, for example: you see a red circle there on the white wall, he sees a red circle on a white wall. If you show him then, after he had this hallucination, the red circle through a prism, this hallucination appears refracted exactly according to the refraction laws of the prism, just like another phenomenon. The visual hallucinations produced with hypnotised people follow the external refraction laws; they still follow other optical laws, but it would go too far if we wanted to give them in detail. Especially significant is to know: if we give a command to such a hypnotised person which he should carry out not straight away, but only after some time, this can also happen. I transport a person into hypnosis, say to him: tomorrow you come to me and say hello to me and then ask me for a glass of water. — If the experiment is carried out so that all preconditions are fulfilled, he knows nothing about the experiment after waking up; but tomorrow he feels in the time which I said to him an irresistible urge and carries out what I posed for him. This is a posthypnotic suggestion. This may apply to strange cases, in particular also to date suggestions. I can suggest to a hypnotised person to carry out a particular action in three times ten days; however, a lot of actions must be carried out before. Do not get a fright from it. Perhaps only an occultist is able to have an overview of the preconditions which are necessary; nevertheless, the person concerned will carry out the command which was given to him in three times ten days on time.

These are phenomena which are not denied by the fewest, also not by scholars who have occupied themselves with these questions. Somebody who studied the matters may hardly deny the information which I have given. However, what goes beyond that is denied by many people. But we have also seen that in the last decades such a sum of matters has been added from the part of the physiologists and psychologists, so that one cannot know how much is still added to the admitted matters.

I have shown you that such abnormal states of consciousness are also found indicated in the books of the 17th century about which I have spoken. I could also explain with regard to other phenomena that knowledge of the hypnotic state has existed with the occultists of all times. However, the proof cannot be produced that the ancient Egyptian, in particular, the ancient Indian priest sages knew only what I have reported to you as the phenomena of hypnotism — and they are the most elementary ones: these sages knew even more. Because they knew even more, they were prevented to inform the big masses of their wisdom. We still see why. However, one thing is strange. The Jesuit Kircher is said to have received his wisdom indirectly from India. Keep in mind this story of the 17th century that this wisdom was transmitted from India.

The following centuries, since the 17th century, were not especially convenient for such matters in the external science. This external science made good progress in particular in the fields of physics, astronomy, and the investigation of the external sense-perceptible facts. I have already explained last time which significance this progress had for the human thinking. I have shown that above all this progress made people used to only look for the real knowable, the truth in the sense-perceptible matters, so that the human being got used to not accepting what cannot be seized with the hands, seen with the eyes, conceived with the inferring reason. It is the age of Enlightenment to which we approach, that age in which the human average mind set the tone in which one wanted to recognise everything in the way as one recognises the physical phenomena. With physical phenomena the experiments must succeed if only the preconditions are properly produced. Everybody can fulfil these preconditions. However, in the field of hypnotism something else is necessary. The immediate influence of life on life is necessary there, yes, the immediate influence of a human being on a human being or of a human being on a living being is necessary. The procedure which the human being has to carry out with the chicken, like in the experiment which already the Jesuit Father Kircher explained to us in the 17th century, this procedure had to be carried out by a human being. Also all the other matters of which I have spoken must be carried out by a human being to another living human being or being. It may be — and this is the most important question — because the human beings are very different from each other that the human beings would have such different qualities that they have an effect of quite different type on other living beings, above all on other human beings. Thus it could probably also happen because the human being is necessary to produce hypnotic phenomena that a person does not have the qualities which are necessary to hypnotise a human being, whereas another person has them. We not needed to wonder if this were that way. We know that an interaction takes place with the concerning matters, comparable to that of a magnet and iron filings. The iron filings remain at rest if you put wood into them; however, if you put a magnet, these filings position themselves in particular way.

We have to assume that human beings are so different from each other that the one can cause particular effects like the magnet, and the other can cause no effect like the wood. The purely rational clarification does never admit such a view. It supposes that one human being is like the other. The average scale is put onto the human being, and one does never admit that anybody can be a significant scholar, but has no ability, does not have the qualities to produce the hypnotic state. Nevertheless, there may be the case that it depends less on the human being who is hypnotised, but more on that who hypnotises who is active. The qualities may be even caused artificially in a human being who wields such a power on the other that such phenomena happen of which we have spoken, yes that much more important phenomena may happen. The rational clarification that makes no difference between human being and human being does not admit this. Those, however, who have concerned themselves with these matters, were aware of that up to the age of Enlightenment. Somebody who follows the course of history finds another view of science than we have it today. Sometimes these are only oral traditions which were passed on from school to school. There is never spoken about the state of the hypnotised person, about the state of that who should be hypnotised; it does not depend on him at all. However, methods are given to us which enable another person, the hypnotist, to cause such forces in him that he can exert such an influence on his fellow men. In the occult schools particular methods are given with which the person receives such a power over his fellow men. However, one also demands in all schools that that who develops such a power in himself has to go through a certain development occupying the whole human being. There does not help the merely intellectual learning, there does not help only thinking and science. Only those who know and practice the mysterious methods who work the way up to a lofty level of moral development who go through the most different probations in intellectual, spiritual and moral respect rise above their fellow men and become priests of humankind. Their development makes it impossible to use such a power in another way than for the benefit of their fellow men. Because such knowledge gives the highest force because it happens by means of a transformation of the whole human being, it was kept secret. Only when other views gained acceptance, there one also obtained other views about these phenomena, other intentions. Occult traditions form the basis of the question for centuries, and it does not depend on something else than on that: which requirements has anybody to meet whom is given such a power, which methods are necessary, so that a human being can attain such an influence on his fellow men?

Thus this question was till the age of Enlightenment. Only in the daybreak of Enlightenment from such a side like that of the Jesuit father of whom I have spoken something of these phenomena could be divulged in popular scientific way. In former times anybody who knew the case and the way would never have had the audacity to speak about these phenomena in public books. Only by indiscretion something of this matter could come to the general public. Only when one did no longer know what a tremendous importance the saying has: knowledge is a power, only at this point in time, when one played — like the child plays with the fire — with a knowledge rather fateful under circumstances and did not know what to do with it. Only in such a time it was possible to discuss this knowledge, which means nothing else than dominion of the mind over the mind, in popular way. Hence, it is not surprising that the real official scholarship, which is a child of the last centuries, did not know what to do with these phenomena.

In particular, it did not know what to do when it was confronted by Mesmer with these phenomena in a strangely surprising way at the end of the 18th century. Mesmer was a much defamed man, on the other side he was praised to the skies. This person made the question flow freely for the scholarship. The term Mesmerism comes from him. It was a quite peculiar person, a person as they may have appeared in the 18th century in bigger number than this could be the case today; a person who, as we will see, had to be inevitably misjudged by many people, however, who was able to make this question flow freely because of his fearlessness — which admittedly appears to the outsider as adventurousness, as charlatanism.

In 1766, a treatise appeared by Mesmer about the Influence of the Planets on Human Life which the modern scholar must regard as a quite fantastic thing. Darwin’s biographer, Preyer, esteemed by me — take this word seriously, because it concerns not a prejudice, but characterises him — showed an enormous impartiality just of this question what I have to appreciate, and, hence I choose him as a particular example of how little the changed science of the 19th century can do justice to that which was written from quite different preconditions in the 18th century. Preyer dealt with Mesmer’s works with all good will and could find nothing else than empty words in them. Who does not assess such matters fantastically but with expertise, understands it, and he will even meet somebody with mistrust who believes to be able to protect Mesmer against Preyer. If one wants to judge correctly, the preconditions of such a judgment are more profound than one normally believes. However, this first treatise should not occupy us, because it shows to the insightful person nothing else than that Mesmer understood to master the science of his time from a lofty point of view and with a comprehensive look. I want to emphasise this, so that the faith does not appear that he dealt as a dilettante with such matters. No doubt, Mesmer was a perfect young scholar when he wrote his doctor thesis, and you can find what he wrote in countless theses of people who became quite well-behaved and competent scholars of the 18th and still the 19th centuries.

Mesmer appeared with the so-called magnetic cures in Vienna in the last third of the 18th century. He made use of certain methods to these magnetic cures at first which were common practice at that time, actually. It was in those days the tradition which never completely has died down that one can achieve healings by means as I will mention them. This tradition has come to life in that time. He made use of a method which had nothing captious: steel magnets were put on the ill part of the body or were brought near to it, supposedly or really they caused relief or healing of pains. Mesmer made use of such magnets in his institute for a longer time. Then, however, he noticed something particular. Perhaps he has not noticed that at this time, perhaps he has also already known it and wanted to use a more usual method only as a hiding means. He threw the magnets aside and said that the force went out from his own body that it is merely transferred as a healing force from his own body to the ill body in question, so that the healing is an interaction between a force which he develops in his body and another force which is in the ill body of the other. He calls this force animal magnetism. I tell this roughly; if I explained it in detail, it would take too much time. He had differences in Vienna very soon — about the results of his cure we do not want to talk. He had to leave the city and turned to Paris. At first he had quite extraordinary results there. He was unusually popular. However, the scholars could not get over that Mesmer earned 6,000 Francs monthly what is something awkward from a doctor's viewpoint if anybody earns so much. This should go without saying on the part of science striving for progress and tending to materialism.

You know that we are in the 18th century in the age of Enlightenment that in France the emotions were running high and that one wanted to accept nothing that one cannot see with eyes, cannot touch with hands, and cannot deduce with reason. You understand that the official science, which was influenced more or less by the materialistic school of thought, took offence at matters which one could not understand. Hence, Mesmer’s healings became a public scandal. People said to themselves: these must be no real, but only imaginary illnesses, so that hysterical people are cured only in their imagination, or that sick people were relieved of pains in their imagination. In any case, one denied Mesmer’s method. The result of the fact was that by order of the king two corporations were asked to give an expert opinion about Mesmerism. I would like to state that to you, so that you see how in those days science really faced these things; so that you see that one must not look at these matters with passion, but also see at the same time how in those days one had to misjudge the stance necessarily which one had to take toward Mesmer.

A woman was blindfolded, and one said to her that one has got Monsieur d'Elon who would magnetise her. Three of the representatives of the commission were attending: one to ask, one to write, one to mesmerise. The woman was not mesmerised. After three minutes the woman felt the influence, became stiff, stood up from the chair and stamped with the feet. Now the crisis was there. One spoke of this crisis also with Mesmer’s healings, one ascribed the success to it.

One brought a hysterical woman before the door and said to her that the mesmerist were in the room. She started shivering, and the crisis came.

The commission had stated that there is something strange, something that the commission could not expect. It had stated something after which it could make no other judgement, as that the whole procedure of Mesmer were a swindle. Everybody who understood a little bit of it had been able to forecast that they would come with a probability of 95 to hundred to this result, and that they could come with their preconditions to no other explanations. But, nevertheless, the commission was able to come to other results! Is this nothing at all that a woman only grasps the thought of a person, gets to all the states which are told to us here about the woman inside in the room like about the woman outside? Above all we have to ask, and this commission should have asked itself in those days also honestly and sincerely: could they expect such an effect of the thought according to their rationalistic point of view? Would have they had any possibility with their materialistic means to explain the effect of the thought on the bodily states? Even if we concede the right to the commission to condemn Mesmer, one never can concede the right to it that it left this case. The case had to be investigated further, just by the commission, because there is a particular scientific question without doubt.

I would still like to emphasise a fact which is significant for that who knows answer which has been assessed, however, only disparagingly. A big sum was offered to Mesmer, so that he hands over his secret to other people. It was also said that the sum was paid to him, but he would have kept the secret for himself and would not have informed others. This is understood by many as a swindle. But short time after so-called hermetic societies appeared all over France in which the same arts were used to a certain degree. One did not say that he had betrayed the secret, but there were found those who exercised his methods. Who knows something about these matters understands that he only informed trustworthy persons of his secrets. It says nothing at all that he did not publish his secrets in the newspapers. Associate this statement with the fact that those who really know something of such matters do not inform of them, because it does not depend on informing but on developing certain qualities which produce these phenomena.

You understand now where the societies came from. It does not depend at all on the experiments; the experiments are still to be forbidden if they are carried out by unauthorised people. It depends merely on developing the hypnotist. Actually, the scientists could hardly give themselves any explanation of these phenomena at that time. Hence, these phenomena were thrown to the dead at first, as by the French Academy and also by the whole science. However, they appeared over and over again. In Germany such phenomena were discussed perpetually. Newspapers were founded specially for it. People who believe that such an influence can be exerted from person to person explain the fact assuming a fluid, a fine substance that goes from the hypnotist to the hypnotised person and exerts the influence. But even those who do not deny the influence cannot exceed materialism. They say to themselves: substance remains substance, no matter whether it is coarse or fine. — One could imagine the spiritual-effective as nothing else than something material. It is a result of the fact that one tried to interpret them in the materialistic age that these phenomena were interpreted that way

I cannot describe the different decades which followed Mesmer in detail. I only want to mention that the phenomena have never been forgotten completely, that even again and again people appeared who took these phenomena very seriously. There were also university professors who have described these phenomena in detail and already knew different matters, which we today subsume under the concept of hypnotic phenomena. They knew of the so-called verbal suggestion. They stated, for example, a lot more than what modern science wants to admit. One asserted of a scholar that he could read a book very well with shut eyes; that he could read with the heart and could read the words in such a state merely touching a book page. One asserted that one could also get to artificial somnambulism to see distant events, that is to become a clairvoyant.

All these phenomena were revived — and it is the strange fact that the scholars of the 19th century were forced to encounter it — by wandering hypnotists like Hansen who wandered in America during the forties who showed phenomena before the big audience and were paid for it. They often caused tremendous effects in their spectators. One called them soul tamers. In particular Justinus Kerner calls these people soul tamers because they produced soul effects by means of mere staring and looking. However, calling attention to the phenomena has dangerous aspects because on one side dangers exist for the experimental subjects, on the other side, certain swindlers fooled the audience in the most unbelievable way.

I would like to speak of an experiment which was often made and of which I am convinced personally that it perplexed and cheated souls in big public gatherings again and again. The experiment consists in the following: here sits a blindfolded medium. It can see nothing. The concerning impresario walks around in the audience and says at the end of the hall: say something in my ear or put a question, and we want to see whether the medium can know something of it. Or write down a word or a sentence to me on a piece of paper. The one or the other happens, and after a short time the medium at the table, very far from the impresario, says the word which is whispered or is written down. Nobody excepting the two human beings knows anything about it, and the concerning impresario can show the piece of paper or allow the person concerned to ask whether the information of the medium is right. In truth nothing else than the following happened in many cases where I was present: the man who walked around was a very skilful ventriloquist. The medium moved the lips at the moment at which it should pronounce the word. The whole audience looked at the lips of the medium, and the impresario himself said the word or sentence in question. I have experienced again and again that in each case hardly two human beings were in the hall who could explain this experiment. Of course, such cases were mixed up repeatedly with flawless facts. One must be in the know there to be not fooled by wandering mesmerists. Hence, it is unfortunate that this case has to be pointed out to the scholars. There are ventriloquists who can produce whole melodies, piano playing et cetera by ventriloquism. Who knows these matters is not easily fooled concerning these questions.

In the forties and fifties the attention of the scholars was called to it once again by wandering soul tamers. In particular, it was a certain Stone who caused great sensation and became a talking point. Already some time before, however, such a showman had induced a scholar to scrutinise these phenomena once again. This scholar gave us scholarly treatises about these phenomena from the forties. They referred chiefly to the method of fixation, to staring at a brilliant object. This scholar has drawn attention straight away to the fact that with all these phenomena no specific influence goes out from the hypnotist to the persons to be hypnotised. Just this experiment of fixation was so significant to him because he wanted to show that these phenomena concern an abnormal state of the experimental subject. He wanted to show that no interaction takes place, but that everything that happened is nothing else than a physiological phenomenon caused by a cerebral process. He wanted to show that Mesmerism is absurd with which the concerning person must have the particular qualities. Thus the tone was given basically in which from now on these questions were treated by the official science for the second half of the 19th century. Only with few exceptions this question was understood in such a way as if it could be treated like an everyday scientific experiment, as if it concerned nothing else than a fact which has significance only if it can be brought about again like another scientific experiment which can be performed and repeated any time. This requirement was also put to this experiment. Under this condition science also deigned to study the phenomena. However, the study was carried out in a rather unfavourable age. To characterise to you how unfavourable the age of the fifties, sixties was, I want to state something else that is the most significant for the observer of the development of the 19th century that is ignored, however, by the official science as a rule.

Long time before Stone, before the academic scholarship, a man appeared in Paris who was a Catholic priest before, who had gone then to the Brahmans to India, and who used the methods which he had got to know in India, hypnotism and suggestion, also the inspiration of person to person, to his healings. This man, called Faria, explained all the phenomena in another way. He said that it would depend only on one matter; it would depend on the fact that the hypnotist can cause a particular mental condition in the person to be hypnotised that he was able to transport the masses of ideas of the person to be hypnotised into a state of concentration. If this concentration is achieved if the whole mass of ideas of the person concerned is concentrated upon a particular point, the concerning state must happen. Then the other phenomena must also happen, and also the more intricate ones, which Faria shows.

There you have an explanation and interpretation from somebody who understood the case really. But he was not understood. He is simply overlooked. This is also explicable. — I have said that the Jesuit Father who discussed this case first and who got his wisdom from India indicated the explanation in the heading. However, the scholars did not understand a lot of it, so that the learnt Preyer said still in 1877 if the church attributes these phenomena to imagination, this shows only how much imagination the church has. He got personal about the Catholic priest to have become a Brahman. However, one always finds that hypnotism was used to healings and to soothe the pain with operations. Those who had relationship to Faria managed that a person to be operated did not perceive pains by means of mental influence. In 1847, chloroform was discovered; a means of which the materialistic researchers could believe and also said rightly that it prevents pain with operations. Thus the understanding of the other analgesic had got lost for long time. Only single, really thinking researchers also dealt with these phenomena in the next time. Who observes more exactly finds again and again that the doctors know the appropriate methods very well, but here and there they let it show that behind the phenomena is something that they do not understand. And those who are more reasonable expressly warn generally about dealing with these phenomena, with this field which is so subjected to deception that even great scholars can be fooled; hence, it cannot be warned enough about it.

Certain scholars, for whom one had to have, otherwise, the highest respect, had this standpoint. I only mention the Viennese researcher Benedikt, much appreciated by me, who pointed to these phenomena again and again, already during the seventies. He is the same researcher who established the idea of the so-called moral insanity which is normally not understood. One does not need to agree to the theory, also not to that which he speaks about hypnotism and magnetism. Already as a young man he paid attention to Mesmerism and thought that something is behind it; but he never dealt with it in such a way as for example Liébeault and Bernheim of the Nancy school. Benedikt was that who sharply opposed and emphasised that even Charcot warned about attempts of interpreting these phenomena. You can nowhere find a plausible reason with Benedikt for his opposition against the whole theory of hypnosis, but his instinctive utterances are moving in a strangely correct line. He always says only: who carries out experiments in this field must realise that the persons, with whom he carries out such experiments, may fool him as well, maybe without knowing it, as they can also provide something true for him. — He emphasised on the other side that in the way as science wants to take hold of the matters no results can be got.

After again a wandering hypnotist, Hansen, had demonstrated the most horrendous experiments to the people which scholars copied in the laboratory and were partly successful, we see magazines taking hold of the case. Thick books are written which are cannibalised by journalism, and these matters become questions of the day and popular writings are published, so that everybody can have instructions of these matters in his vest pocket. These were in particular the scholars of the Nancy school, Liébeault and Bernheim, who interpreted these phenomena scientifically. A quality had to be ascribed to these phenomena which makes them synonymous and belonging to the other scientific phenomena. Thus we see then that the exterior which is not denied by the materialists should be decisive for causing hypnosis. Bernheim has managed to exclude all methods and admitted the verbal suggestion only: the word which I speak to the person concerned has an effect in such a way that he gets to this state. Hypnosis itself is an effect of suggestion. If I say: sleep! — Or: lower the eyelids! — Et cetera, the corresponding image is caused and this causes the effect.

Thus materialism had happily put the phenomena of hypnosis in a coffin; thus that retreated into the background which all those know who know a lot about these matters: that it depends on the effect of a person on the other person; that a person has either the natural disposition or develops it using particular methods and develops to a powerful person important for his fellow men.

It was completely disregarded that this personal influence had an effect. The point of view of the average mind should be applied with which all people are on a par which does not want to accept a development of the human being to a certain height of moral and intellectual education. That which is important was put in a coffin.

From this point of view the whole modern literature is written. In particular it is the philosopher Wundt who knows nothing to do with it who says that a particular part of the brain becomes ineffective. Also a friend of mine whom I hold in high esteem, Hans Schmidkunz, wrote a psychology of suggestion in which he explains in detail that these processes are only an increase of phenomena to be observed in the everyday life which are caused naturally that one does not yet know, however, where the explanation must be searched for.

While we have considered the history of this fact, we have entered a kind of dead end. Nobody can find anything else in the contemporary literature about this chapter than a more or less big aggregation of simple, elementary facts. The effect of a person on another person is explained more or less insignificantly in a materialistic way. But one will convince himself of the fact above all that the official science did not cope with these facts, and that nothing is more unjustified than if today medicine presumes to put these phenomena in a coffin for itself if it claims that it should be the field of medicine only, that it should be a privilege of medicine to deal with these facts. To any really reasonable person it is clear that modern medicine knows nothing to do with these facts and that, above all, those are right who point to the danger of these matters. Not without reason people like Moritz Benedikt warned about a scientific study of these matters. Not without reason they said that even Charcot has to pay attention because these states which he causes as an objective observer could overcome him subjectively. Not without reason they wanted to protect science against the treatment as the Nancy school has usually done which has achieved nothing for the really reasonable person but worthless attempts of registration or explanation which basically mean nothing. Quite rightly Benedikt pointed to the fact that one cannot distinguish in the whole literature of the Nancy school which is a superficial or a positive performance and whether one has abandoned himself to self-deception or has been cheated.

This is the instinctive judgement of Benedikt whom certain, in particular deeper medical minds of today appreciate. This judgement is typical because it reproaches us instinctively with the true facts. Instinctively Benedikt points to that which it depends on. The first one is that these matters — and Benedikt expresses this with clear words — must not be lumped together with other to experiment with them. Hence, he only investigates those facts which approach him without his help. If anybody gets to natural hypnosis and suffers no change by the hypnotist, we have investigated these phenomena scientifically. However, as soon as we exercise an influence on our fellow men in this regard, then we do it from person to person, from the force of a person to that of the other, then we change the state of the other person, and then it depends on it what clings to our person how this person is in a certain way. Those know this who know the higher methods which science does not have at all. If you are a bad human being, an inferior human being in a certain way, and you exercise a hypnotic influence on your fellow men, you do harm to them. If you want to exercise such an appropriate influence so that with it encompassing cosmic forces have no harmful effects, then you have to be acquainted with the secrets of the higher spiritual life, and you are able to do this only if you have developed your force to a higher level. It is not a matter of experimenting here and there. These phenomena are those which are exercised perpetually round us. When you enter a room and there are other people, then interactions take place. Those are analogous to hypnotical phenomena. If such an influence is exerted consciously, one must be worthy and capable to exert such an influence.

Therefore, a healthy life will be in this field only again unless the demand exists to study these phenomena according to science, but if the old method is renewed again that somebody who has aroused the power in himself who can be the hypnotist must develop particular higher forces in him first. One knew this once. One knew how the phenomena are. It was a matter of preparing the human beings that they were able to carry out such phenomena. Only if our medical education is another again if the whole humankind is led again to a higher moral, spiritual and intellectual level and the human being has proved himself worthy, only if the test is carried out in this sense, one can speak of a prosperous development of this field. Hence, nothing is to be hoped from the modern academic treatment of hypnotism and suggestion. They are understood in a quite wrong way. They only must be considered correctly again. If this happens, one sees that these phenomena are basically more common than one thinks usually. Then one understands a lot of our surroundings. Then one also knows that one cannot popularise these phenomena beyond a certain degree at all because these phenomena belong to the human inner development then. The highest power is not acquired by vivisection of the spirit but by the development of forces in us. Moral, mental, spiritual higher development is that which makes us again worthy to speak a clear word in these fields.

Then we also understand our ancestors again who did not want to show these matters in their deepest significance to the secular world. One wanted to say nothing else if one spoke of the veiled picture of the Isis that nobody is allowed to lift her veil if he is guilty. With it one wanted to make it clear that the human being can recognise the highest truth only if he makes himself worthy. This will throw a new meaning and a new light on the saying: knowledge is power. — Certainly, knowledge is power. And the higher the knowledge, the bigger is the power. The guidance of the world history is based on such power. It is the caricature of it which science wants to show us today. But one is allowed to attain such knowledge which wakes up the hearts, such a power which is allowed to intervene in the hearts and freedom of others by an insight which is good fortune for the human being at the same time before which he stands there reverentially. Our ideal must be that our knowledge seizes our whole being that we stand before the highest truth and recognise that the truth which we experience in ourselves is a divine revelation at which we look as something holy. Then we again experience knowledge as power if knowledge is again a communion with the divine. That who unites in knowledge with the divine has a vocation to realise the saying: knowledge is power.


Athanasius Kircher (1601 or 1602–1680), German Jesuit scholar and polymath. Ars magna lucis et umbrae (1646)

Miraculous experiment… This experiment had been already described by Daniel Schwenter (1585–1636, mathematician) in his book Deliciae physico-mathematicae (1636). Schwenter, however, had taken it from another book Recreationes mathematicae (1624), written by the French (medical writer) mathematician and philosopher Jean Leurechon (1591–1670), S. J.

Caspar Schott (1608–1666), S. J., German mathematician and physicist

Karl Hansen (~1833–1897), Danish hypnotist

Franz Anton Mesmer (1734–1815), German physician. De planetarum influxu in corpus humanum (The Influence of the Planets on the Human Body) (1766)

William Thierry Preyer (1841–1897), English-German physiologist. The Discovery of Hypnotism (1890)

induced a scholar …Presumably James Braid (1795–1860), Scottish surgeon and scientist. Neurypnology or the Rationae of Nervous Sleep, Considered in Relation with Animal Magnetism (1843)

Abb銠 Faria (1746–1819), Goan Catholic monk. The method of hypnosis used by Faria is command, following expectancy: De la cause du sommeil lucide ou étude de la nature de l’homme (On the cause of Lucid Sleep in the Study of the Nature of Man) (1819)

Moritz Benedikt (1835–1920), Austrian neurologist: Psychophysik der Moral (Psychophysics of Moral) (1874), Hypnotismus und Suggestion. Eine klinisch-psychologische Studie (1894)

Ambroise Auguste Liébeault (1823 -1904), French physician, Founder of the Nancy School or Suggestion School: Le sommeil et les états analogues, considérés surtout du point de vue de l'action du moral sur le physique (Sleep and its analogous states considered from the perspective of the action of the mind upon the body (1866)

Hippolyte-Marie Bernheim (1840–1919), French physician and neurologist: De la Suggestion et de son Application à la Thérapeutique (1887) [ Suggestive Therapeutics: A Treatise on the Nature and Uses of Hypnotism (1889)]

Jean-Martin Charcot (1825–1893), French neurologist

Wilhelm Wundt (1832–1920), German physician, psychologist, physiologist and philosopher: Hypnotismus und Suggestion (1892)

Hans Schmidkunz (1863–1934), Austrian psychologist and philosopher: Psychologie der Suggestion in gemeinfasslicher Darstellung (Psychology of Suggestion Intelligible to Everybody) (1893)