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becomes suggestible toward him; but the part of the leader may be played by an abstract idea, or even by a wish or aspiration held in common by a number of individuals.
What verdict shall be given upon this theory? First, it may be said, if there were no other explanations of the facts of group life, we should have to entertain it seriously. But, as I have endeavoured to show, other simpler, less extravagant, explanations are possible and are at least as adequate.
Secondly, the theory, if accepted with all the peculiar Freudian assumptions upon which it is based, leaves or rather raises many obscure problems. For example, it leaves the leaderless group unexplained; for we can hardly take seriously the assertion that an abstract idea or a wish may play the rôle assigned to the leader in forcing regression to the atavistic attitude. It leaves untouched the fact that women are at least as suggestible as men, and probably on the whole more so; we shall have to invent some other story to account for their suggestibility. It leaves very obscure the suggestibility of the members of a group toward one another. (Here I would especially cite such instances as the famous spread of the rumour of Russian troops passing through England in the autumn of 1914. It is impossible to point in such instances to a leader. We must be content to suppose this to be an instance where a wish played the rôle of leader. But is not this equivalent to rejecting the theory in toto?) It does not explain the primary fact of contagion of emotion, so fundamental to all group-life. It does not explain how a leader attains leadership; how he manages to force regression upon his followers and to constitute himself a leader.
Finally, it reduces all the social life of men, including all team-work, all patriotism, all moral self-control and discipline, all self-sacrifice for the good of the community, to the working of an atavistic regression, to a return to the behaviour proper to the remote age in which the violence of a bully, armed with a club and prompted by sexual jealousy, was the only controlling force in human society. It makes sexual jealousy and envy the roots of all the nobler manifestations of human life. Yet it
leaves these roots themselves unexplained. Why jealousy? Why envy? If the sexual impulse, the fear of death, and the urge for food were the whole of the instinctive endowment of primitive man, why should not primal horde have enjoyed a delightful promiscuity? On that plane one woman can serve many men. We should expect sexual jealousy, if anywhere, only among the women.
My verdict is "not proven and wildly improbable." If we positively
knew, if by any supernatural unchallengeable authority we were assured, that all the phenomena of human life, all the modes of human activity, had been derived from sexuality, and must be explained as manifestations of the sexual libido, we might be induced to say that Professor Freud's theory of suggestion and his theory of social phenomena in general was a most ingenious and praiseworthy effort to solve an insoluble problem.
But we have no such guarantee. The only authority we have for accepting this as the necessary and sole permissible line of speculation, for regarding our explanations of social phenomena as necessarily confined within the limits of the sexual libido, is the authority of Professor Freud and of his devoted disciples. I, for one, shall continue to try to avoid the spell of the primal horde father and to use what intellect I have untrammelled by arbitrary limitations.
SUGGESTION AND PERSONALITY1
BY WILLIAM BROWN.
HISTORICALLY, the problem of suggestion has been approached along two distinct paths. Up to quite recent times our knowledge of it has been a secondary result of the study of hypnosis: during the last few years the line of investigation has been that of mental analysis. There can be no doubt that the latter form of inquiry is likely to be the more fruitful of the two.
The problem of the relationship of suggestion to hypnosis is brought to a point in two distinct classical definitions that we have of the hypnotic state. According to the Salpêtrière School (Charcot, Janet, etc.), hypnosis is an artificial hysteria or mental dissociation. According to the Nancy School (Bernheim, Coué, Baudouin) hypnosis is a state of artificially-increased suggestibility. According to the former of these two definitions, we should expect suggestibility to be increased in hypnosis, because mental dissociation would tend to carry with it diminished selfknowledge and self-control, with the result that ideas elicited in the subject's mind would tend to realise themselves by their own momentum, as it were, unchecked by more far-reaching thoughts and higher forms of mental control. The difference between the two schools of thought would then seem to be this-that, whereas the Salpétrière school puts mental dissociation as a cause of any increased suggestibility that may occur, the Nancy school makes no definite statement as to the cause of this increased suggestibility.
War a the
The problem of deciding between the merits of these two definitions can be dealt with by an appeal to experience. During the European great spontaneous natural experiment was carried out through agency of the actual conditions of fighting. Soldiers suffered by the hundred from crude mental dissociation, showing itself by amnesia or loss of memory for definite terrifying events and experiences, together with loss of psycho-physical functions, such as the power of speaking, of hearing, of walking, the power of controlling tremors, etc. Investigation of these patients immediately after their injury showed that they were readily hypnotisable. Moreover, that the ease with which they could be
paper is Dr Brown's contribution to the Morton Prince Commemoration Volume published by Messrs Kegan Paul, Trench Trubner & Co. [Ed.]
hypnotised was in direct proportion to the degree of their mental dissociation. In other words, one discovered a definite correlation between degree of dissociation and ease of hypnotisability. Such a finding harmonises with the Salpétrière definition of hypnosis, as an artificial dissociation. On the other hand, in these cases it was found that the suggestibility, though certainly increased in milder degrees of dissociation, was often conspicuous by its absence in more pronounced degrees of dissociation.
It is clear that we must here call to mind a fundamental distinction in the matter of suggestion. If we define suggestion, as, e.g. McDougall does, as the acceptance of an idea or proposition independently of logically adequate grounds for such acceptance, the further question arises whence comes this idea that is accepted? If it is elicited by the patient's outer environment, the people around him, the general physical and mental situation, the process may be called that of hetero-suggestion. If, on the other hand, the idea arises spontaneously in the patient's own mind or is deliberately presented to him by himself, the process may be called that of auto-suggestion. In cases of deep hypnosis, such as we have just referred to, where a patient's suggestibility seems sometimes to be diminished rather than increased, it may well be that it is merely a diminution of hetero-suggestibility-auto-suggestibility may be intensified.
Before passing on to a more detailed consideration of the nature of suggestibility, we must emphasise the fact that on the one hand crude mental dissociation facilitates hypnotism, and further, that this mental dissociation, although sometimes caused by mental conflict and repression, may often be caused by pronounced physical means, such as physical shock to the brain, and in a small proportion of individuals appears to be an inborn characteristic. That is, in certain cases of physical shock to the nervous system, and in certain other cases, the state of hypnosis can be produced with exceptional ease, without any obvious psychological reasons.
If we remain in thought on the level of suggestion and suggestibility in our consideration of the causation and cure of psycho-neurotic symptoms, we have some such crude view as that of Babinski, who holds that hysterical symptoms are produced by suggestion, and therefore are curable by persuasion. In other words, the patient falls ill under the influence of pathogenic auto-suggestion, and recovers from his illness if these are neutralised by therapeutic suggestion, either given by a physician or others, i.e. hetero-suggestion, or by himself, i.e. auto
suggestion. So far as it goes, this explanation is not incorrect. In simple cases of hysteria, such as those seen almost in process of formation during the war, hysterical symptoms, such as loss of the power of walking, loss of voice, etc., were demonstrably the result of the patient's belief that he had become paralysed, or that he had lost his voice permanently, and the symptoms disappeared at once if the patient was informed that this was not the case, and was strongly assured that the power of walking, talking, etc., would forthwith return to him. But even in so simple a case as this, the further question arises-"Why was the patient so susceptible to the pathogenic auto-suggestion, the suggestion of illness?" The answer can only be found in terms of desires in the patient's mind. Sometimes these desires are fully conscious, but, in the majority of cases, their true nature is not realised by the patient. In war neurosis, the desire for personal safety, to get away from the firing line, was a pronounced factor in the causation of these symptoms. The patient desired to get away at all costs from the firing line, and it was because he did not fully realise the nature and significance of this desire that he could become self-deceived and fall a victim to hysterical symptoms. He did, indeed, consciously desire to get away from the firing line, but with honour, without disgracing himself or betraying his comrades; but at the back of his mind there was a more vigorous desire to get away at all costs. This desire welcomed the experience (say) of his being struck with fragments of earth thrown up by a bursting shell. The thought passed through his mind that he was paralysed, and this thought became a fixed idea because of the intense desire.
It is sometimes said, as, e.g. by Baudouin, that emotion is an auxiliary factor in suggestion; in other words, that a patient succumbs more readily to suggestion when under the influence of some emotion or other. The truth is this: emotion is the subjective side of some instinctive tendency, such as the instinct to escape, the gregarious instinct, the sex instinct, etc., and these are not so much auxiliary factors in suggestion, as the essential factors. Suggestion only works in relation to the activity of some instinct or other. When in full consciousness, instinctive processes are controlled or directed by reference to the entire conscious self, and in such cases suggestion has little or no scope. It is where, through conflict and repression, certain instinctive desires, associated often with definite sets of memories of the past, are dissociated from the main stream of consciousness that they can realise suggestions which would be unacceptable to the fully-conscious personality if their meanings were thoroughly understood.
One might provisionally harmonise the suggestion theory of causation