Review of Hypnotism To-day. By Leslie M. Lecron B.A., and Jean Bordeaux, M.A., Ph.D. Foreword by Miiton H. Erickson M.D. (Pp. 278. 25s.) London: William Heinemann Medical Books. 1947.
British Medical Journal, 23 October 1948, p. 747
In the first half of this book the authors give an interesting account of the history of hypnotism and a description of the physiological and psychological phenomena and the theories which have been suggested to explain them. The phenomena are themselves remarkable. There can be no doubt of the reality of the anaesthesia which can be produced. The normal subject can tolerate, though with pain, 45-20 volts, while the hypnotized subject under the same conditions has taken without flinching 120 volts. Major operations have been conducted under hypnotic anaesthesia. This is intelligible on present neurophysiological conceptions, but it is a different matter with hyperaesthesia, about which, to be sure, the evidence is not quite so convincing. Playing-cards with presumably identical backs are shown face down to the hypnotized subject, but each is described as a photograph-for example, of a landscape or portrait. The cards are then shuffled and again shown face down. It is said the subject can identify the cards by the suggested pictures which have been associated with each of them. Some of the subjects who have succeeded with this test have been able to point to minute differences between the cards which, under suggestion, became a feature of the hallucinatory picture. Another improbable phenomenon is that of regression. By appropriate suggestion the subject can be brought to retreat to any age of his life-for instance, early childhoodand then takes on the behaviour, abilities, and vocabulary of that age and can remember precisely and in detail as recent events occurrences of that remote past. Such observations suggest strongly the desirability of further research in thisobscure field.
In the second part of the book the authors give useful indications for the treatment by hypnosis of neurotic states. They write in an interesting and informative way and in a critical and cautious spirit, emphasizing the need for adequate medical investigation before hypnotic treatment is started.