Prof. John D. Quackenbos Would Regenerate the Human Race
HIS SUCCESSFUL EXPERIMENTS
Crime and Disease Succumb to the Treatment – Working of the Cure – Illegitimate HypnosisHypnotism as a means of reforming criminals and of removing crime and moral obliquity from this terraqueous sphere is the latest theory which advanced science has to offer. The originator of this idea for applying hypnotism for the wholesale regeneration of the human race is Prof. John D. Quackenbos of Columbia University, who for the past year has been conducting experiments. Prof. Quackenbos says he has cured by this means stammering, drug and alcoholic addictions, moral perversions, and excessive cigarette smoking.
“My claim in this matter", said Dr Quackenbos yesterday, “is that this cure by hypnosis can be carried into prisons and other such institutions, and even into the slums. For a year I have been experimenting along this line of hypnotic cure at the Newsboys’ Home and elsewhere, and it is a fact that of the fifteen or more cases which I have treated I have found them all to be entirely successful. In fact, I have not once failed.
“My idea now is to get some induction to see how far it can be demonstrated that one can apply hypnotism to the treatment of all crime. In other words I want to ascertain for a certainty whether it is feasible to apply the treatment to inmates of institutions and prisons. Nobody who is at all familiar, with the subject doubts that it can be done in special cases, but my idea is to see how far it is practicable in all cases.
“I first saw a practical application of hypnotism as a cure in the Academy of Medicine about six years ago, but it was only for a limited purpose. Later the matter was further brought to my attention-in fact, certain physicians in this city have for some time used hypnosis, especially in the treatment of nervous diseases. Then I discovered that I possessed the power to hypnotize, and I decided to try it. The most satisfactory results are obtained where the patient is old enough to realize, not only the significance and purpose of the treatment, but also is possessed of the desire to be made better.
“My chief difficulty thus far has been in getting a sufficient number of cases due to all kinds of opposition, including ecclesiastical. In one case I was told by a matron who was in charge of about 100 or 200 patients that my suggested hypnotic cure was not for an instant to be thought of. Yet in the very next breath she admitted that several of the cases were being treated by Christian Scientists.
“Not only is hypnotism, properly used, a great force for moral reform, but it will also elevate the intelligence. When the hypnotist-physician gets a patient under his control the patient is for the time being part of himself. He has, in short, lost his own will, and has to act and think as the hypnotist suggests and the result is that if elevated ideals and thoughts are presented to the subject he will be elevated accordingly; while if low and debased thoughts are suggested the patient will in proportion be lowered and debased.
“Here I want to speak of legitimate and, If I may use the word, illegitimate hypnotic treatment. I actually believe that a great deal of this illegitimate hypnotic treatment is resorted to in this city, with the result that to me, it seems that people so influenced are induced to leave their money and property in fact just as the hypnotist desires and influences. I believe that persons have been hypnotized and made to steal; indeed, one of our Police Captains told me some time ago that he had such a case.
“Then, too, take the case of those who are hypnotized for purposes of exhibition. A person so repeatedly hypnotized is very seriously injured mentally. That, of course, I consider criminal. But no possible harm can come to a mind put under the influence of a reputable physician, say four or five times. I would suggest therefore, in view of this illegitimate hypnotism, that the power to hypnotize be placed only in the hands of reputable physicians.
“Reputable physicians in Europe as well as in America are reporting cases by the thousands in which hypnotism has acted as a palliative or cure. These cases include not only functional nervous diseases, but also diseases in which the pain is a prominent symptom. The nervous symptoms are controlled, cured by the establishment of functional harmony through the power of suggestion.
“Let me explain to you from the medical standpoint, the working of the hypnotic cure. The phenomena of hypnotism are scientifically explicable on the supposition of a double ego, a duplex personality, implying two distinct states of consciousness – one called the primary consciousness, involving the mind’s recognition of its own acts; the other, called the secondary consciousness, holding those mental processes and procedures of which we have no knowledge. (Note: Thomas Troward and others used the term Subjective and Objective minds) That is, each human being is one individual with two distinct phases of existence. Now, it is this secondary consciousness that is amenable to in hypnosis to what is called suggestion or the insinuation of a belief, impulse, or image into the mind of the subject by emphatic declaration.
“Both a Christian Science healer and a hypnotist seek to alleviate pain by arousing in the subject the idea that it does not exist, and each obtains control of the secondary consciousness to effect his purpose. In ordinary hypnosis there are two distinct conditions: lethargy, or the inactive stage, and somnambulism, or the alert stage. The first is a condition of deep sleep, the second one of exalted mind power and increased physical activity, in which the subject lives an unreal live that he remembers nothing after awaking. But his subliminal self unhesitatingly accepts, in either of these stages, every emphatic statement or direction of the hypnotist, no matter how it may conflict with stereotyped convictions and every-day experience. Suggestions for post-hypnotic fulfillment are even carried out to the letter, sometimes for months after the treatment.
“ I keep my patients under hypnotic control for about fifteen or twenty minutes each time, and I have found that if the treatment is repeated three times in most cases, at intervals of four days to week, the required results are produced – certainly after a fourth time. I once cured a thief eighteen years old. When I first put him under my influence I gave him the suggestion that he should steal no more and that he lived in a country where honesty not only prevailed, but was rewarded by promotion. In short, I put a promising future before his mind, basing that future on hos honesty. I not only cured him as a thief, but when he came to see me, saying that he no longer had any temptation to steal, he had an open, frank countenance.
“Another case I cured by hypnotism was that of a confirmed cigarette smoker twenty years old, whose heart was pitching around in an awful way and who was generally a wreck. In a very short time I had him entirely cured, the first week reducing him from twenty cigarettes a day to four a day for the whole week. Another case I cured was that of a young fellow who stammered. I simply put him under my influence, told him that his stammering was hurting him in his business, and that I wanted him to stop.
“I am now trying to make arrangements with the management of the New York Juvenile Asylum to get some boys and girls with whom to experiment. As fear may be expressed by some people that these experiments may do the subject harm, I may say that they certainly will not do them any mental harm, and, as for harm otherwise, you can’t make them any worse than they are. In all my experiments I never try to get my subjects into a somnambulistic state, for the reason that it is not necessary for the accomplishment of my purpose, and is verging on dangerous ground.”
Originally published April 30 1899