Monday, January 3, 2011

The Father of Modern Hypnotism.

Ambroise-Auguste Liébeault (1823-1904) is universally acknowledged as the founder of the famous school that became known as the "Nancy School", or the "Suggestion School", (in order to distinguish it from the Charcot and Salpêtrière Hospital-centred "Paris School", or "Hysteria School") and he is considered by many to be the "The Father of Modern Hypnotism." The reason for this is primarily because Liebeault was the man who concluded and published the observation that all the phenomena of hypnotism are subjective in origin.

Liebault describes seven stages of hypnosis which shade one into another and are not capable of accurate division. That is to say, the hypnotist cannot be certain at any one moment that a patient is not passing into a deeper or lighter stage.

Liebault classifies as follows.
First a state in which the eyelids become heavy. There is a sense of drowdness, but there is also complete consciousness, and commonly in this state the patient refuses to believe that he is hypnotised at all. As this stage passes into the next, voluntary movements, commonly carried out by reflex action, can be inhibited.
2. In the second stage there is a certain degree of catalepsy. The patient is unable to open his eyes when told that he cannot do so, or is unable or able to raise a limb according to the suggestion made. It will be seen how valuable this knowledge is to distinguish between a paralysis psychologically caused and a paralysis caused by a lesion.
3. The third is a very drowsy stage, with a subsequent partial forgetting of what happened during the trance.
4. Fourth, a stage in which the patient ceases to be in relation with the outer world and hears only what is said by the operator. In this stage it is possible to suggest anaesthesia, and in my own experiments, in order to discover which stage the patient has reached, I have found that one may drive a needle into the flesh, even to the point of drawing blood, and no sensation of pain will be felt by the patient. Obviously the possibilities of hypnosis in cases of childbirth suggest a field which one day may be opened up by the obstetrician. Esdaile had immense success in this field in Calcutta. Baudouin recounts a case of childbirth when the whole process not only was timed by hypnotic suggestion, but the mother was not aware of her child being born until all was over. This method may come to be regarded as superior to that which involves the use of drugs and anesthetics which is sometimes followed by unpleasant symptoms.
5. The fifth stage we might call somnambulistic, because during this stage, if the right suggestions are made, the patient will walk about the room. Moreover, in this stage illusions can be suggested. One writer tells of a lady brought into this stage of hypnosis who was told that her favourite cat had had its tail chopped off. Even when she recovered from the trance, she was found fondling the animal, and bemoaning that it had been so cruelly treated, when all the time the tail was there as usual.
6. The sixth stage is one in which suggestions made will readily be carried out after the patient awakens.
7. In the seventh stage the patient may be so deeply asleep that he makes no response.

In fact, the lighter, rather than the deeper stages, are the more valuable from the therapeutic point of view.
Leslie D. Weatherhead, Psychology, Religion and Healing (1952)

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