The views of medical men in
regard to hypnotism or self-mesmerization have been greatly strengthened
of late. This is evident from the report by Dr. Grishhorn, of St. Petersburg,
at the latest meeting of the Society of the St. Petersburg Physicians, on
November 18th (Dec. 1st), a report which is full of interest. Until recently,
the phenomena of hypnotism have been ony accepted under a quasi protest,
while mesmerism and clairvoyance were regarded and denounced by the best
authorities in science as pure charlatanism. The greatest physicians remained
sceptical as to the reality of the phenomena, until one after the other
came to learn better; and these were those, of course, who had the patience
to devote some time and labour to personal experiment in this direction.
Still many have thus acquired the profound conviction that there exists
in man a faculty mysterious and yet unexplained which causes him
under a certain degree of self-concentration to become as rigid as a statue
and lose more or less his consciousness. That once in such a nervous state,
at times his spiritual and mental faculties will seem paralyzed, and the
mechanical action of the body alone remain; while at others it will be quite
the contrary; his physical senses becoming benumbed, his mental and spiritual
faculties will acquire a most wonderful degree of acuteness.
Last summer Dr. Grishhorn made, with Professor Berger, a series of hypnotic
experiments and observations in the Breslau Hospital for Nervous Diseases.
One of the first patients experimented upon was a young girl of about twenty,
who suffered acutely from rheumatic pain. Professor Berger, applying to
the tip of her nose a small hammer used for auscultations, directed her
to concentrate all her attention upon the spot touched. Hardly a few minutes
had elapsed, when, to his utmost astonishment, the girl became quite rigid.
A bronze statue could not be more motionless and stiff. Then Dr. Grishhorn
tried every kind of experiment in order to ascertain that the girl did not
play a part. A lighted candle was closely approached to her eyes, and it
was found that the pupil did not contract; the eyes remaining opened and
glassy, as if the person had been dead. He then passed a long needle through
her lip and moved it in every direction; but the two doctors remarked neither
the slightest sign of pain, nor, what was most strange, was there a single
drop of blood. He called her by her name; there came no answer. But when,
taking her by the hand, he began to converse with her, the young girl answered
all his questions, though feebly at first and as if compelled by an irresistible
The second experiment proved more wonderful yet. It was made with a young
soldier, who had just been brought into the hospital, and who proved "what
the Spiritualists call a medium" says the official report. This
last experiment finally convinced Drs. Grishhorn and Berger of the reality
of the doubted phenomena. The soldier, a German, ignorant of a single word
of Russian, spoke in his trance with the doctor in that language, pronouncing
the most difficult words most perfectly, without the slightest foreign accent.
Suffering from a paralysis of both legs, during his hypnotic sleep he used
them freely, walking with entire ease, and repeating every movement and
gesture made by Dr. Grishhorn with absolute precision. The Russian sentences
he pronounced very rapidly, while his own tongue he spoke very slowly. He
even went so far as to write, at the doctors dictation, a few words
in that language, quite unknown to him, and in the Russian characters.
The debates upon this most important report by a well-known physician
were announced to take place at the next meeting of the Society of the St.
Petersburg Medical Practitioners. As soon as the official report of the
proceedings is published, we will give it to our readers. It is really interesting
to witness how the men of science are gradually being led to acknowledge
facts which they have hitherto so bitterly denounced.
Hypnotism, we may add, is nought but the Trâtaka of the Yogî,
the act of concentrating his mind on the tip of the nose, or on the spot
between the eyebrows. It was known and practised by the ascetics in order
to produce the final Samâdhi, or temporary deliverance of the soul
from the body; a complete disenthralment of the spiritual man from the slavery
of the physical with its gross senses. It is being practised unto the present