The Word Foundation


Harold W. Percival



Section 24

Self-hypnosis. Recovery of forgotten knowledge.

Self-hypnosis is a deep sleep into which one puts himself intentionally, the hypnotizing and controlling of oneself by oneself. It differs from hypnotism in that the doer takes the part which the hypnotizer takes in inducing the artificial sleep and in controlling the subject. In the self-hypnotic trance the doer and the breath-form can do or omit only that which the doer has commanded should be done or omitted, before the artificial sleep began. During the sleep no other orders will be acted upon. In other respects what happens in self-hypnosis is the same as if it had been ordered by another person.

To hypnotize oneself one must turn back the eyes until the strain causes drowsiness and sleep, or must look fixedly at an object at an angle of 45 or more degrees upward, or gaze at intersecting sets of concentric circles, or must count inaudibly, or repeat a jingle in a monotone, or must command oneself to go to sleep. The sleep so produced is self-hypnosis, and may be induced to bring on a nature and a doer trance.

If one wishes to practice self-hypnotism to achieve any result, he must before beginning the exercises which will bring on drowsiness clearly outline to himself what he, as the doer, wishes himself or his body to do or omit during the sleep. Then he must command himself to so do or omit, while he is in the trance, what he has outlined. He uses his own mesmeric power, and the commands go through the same nerve channels as in the case of ordinary hypnotism. If he wants anything to be done after he awakens, he must instruct himself to use his mesmeric power and to order himself in the trance state to be or do or suffer that particular thing when the trance has ceased and he has returned to the waking state. By forming the plan and giving the order he sculptures them on the breath-form. At the proper time the breath-form will carry out the instructions and compel the body and senses to act as ordered. The breath-form also reminds the doer of the orders which it was to give itself. The reason the doer can compel itself to do in the trance state things it could not do in the waking state is that in the trance it is removed from the physical environment which seemed to preclude them, and is in its own state where nearly all things are possible; and when it returns to the waking state it brings these powers with it, if it is so ordered. Further, in the doer-trance certain forces are generated and liberated in the body; at the time appointed for subsequent action in the waking state they will again be engendered and liberated and will start the body into action.

The practice of self-hypnotism does not entail the dangers which attend hypnotism, as the self-hypnotized doer does not become subject to the power of another doer or negative to the mesmeric influence of the persons it encounters.

Nearly everything a hypnotizer can compel may be compelled by the doer itself. The doer can in this way by self-hypnosis place the breath-form and the physical body in the nature-trance and the doer itself in the three states of the doer-trance. So one can hypnotize himself to do in a somnambulistic state things he would not do in the waking state like climbing a tall flagpole and taking down a flag, walking a tight rope or a plank at great height, swimming a river, walking a great distance at night and bringing back a token, riding a horse over places he would not venture to cross in the waking state or performing any physical feat of which he was capable of thinking. If in the waking state he thought the feat impossible, he could not do it in the somnambulistic state. He can only do the things he knew of and planned in the waking state. He cannot go to any place of which he had not known. These acts differ from those in ordinary somnambulism in that in natural somnambulism the person does not order himself to do such things, or does not know that he will do them.

In the nature-trance one can do things impossible while awake. So one can hypnotize himself to see distant scenes, places and persons and hear what is said, to stimulate any organs in his body, to retard their actions or to repair lesions. In this way one can in the hypnotic state cause gallstones or stones in the bladder to pass, or stop waste, increase the circulation in any part of his body, gradually straighten a bent or deformed limb or joint, counteract the ravages of disease, eliminate pathogenic germs, remove inflammation, or reduce, absorb and eliminate tumors. He can suspend animation in his body for a week or a month, and also produce death.

One who has hypnotized himself to that end, does not feel pain. He can submit to certain injuries of his body without feeling pain and without the body giving much evidence of the injury; for instance, a knifeblade could be run through his arm and the blood would not flow and the incision would heal quickly and would not appear to be a scar. He can allow delicate surgical operations without his having any sensations, or he can feel the conditions of fever patients and sufferers from ordinary or unusual diseases, and he can tell whether they can be cured. Moreover, one may in this self-induced sleep solve mathematical problems or questions of engineering, or he may diagnose conditions of disease, in himself and others.

He can in a doer-trance recover forgotten knowledge like languages he knew in a former existence or the interpretation and pronunciation of the words in a dead language like that of the Mayas or of the ancient Greeks. But he cannot acquire any new knowledge while in the trance condition; he may only get items of information which will help him to acquire knowledge in the waking state or which he can use in the waking state.

By self-hypnotism one may also compel himself to do, to feel and to know things experienced during the trance, after he comes out of it. So he may instruct himself during the process of self-hypnotization, and then after he is in his waking state he will record the distant scenes, places and persons which the sense of sight had shown him, and he may write down what the sense of hearing had reported. He may write down the sensations and diagnoses he had made of disease, if he has not already dictated them in the trance to an attendant. He may go consciously over the feelings he had in the trance when he placed himself in the state of persons who had suffered from diseases. He may go consciously over the mental problems he had solved in the trance state, and he may again become conscious of the keys and items of information he had in the hypnotic sleep. He may instruct himself to reproduce to himself in his subsequent waking state everything his senses and his doer went through in the self-induced trance.

If he so desires, he will do moral acts and be in states like fearlessness, equanimity or endurance, and will master his natural feelings, provided that while hypnotizing himself he directed himself to order himself, while hypnotized, to be and to do so after returning to the waking state. Any control over feeling in the waking state may be exercised in this way.

The limitations to the use of this power are indicated on the aia by the record of past action. At first it is not as easy to hypnotize oneself as it is to be hypnotized by another, yet that is no reason why anyone should run the risk that is always incident to hypnosis by another person. Attempts to practice self-hypnotism to accomplish self-improvement, physical as well as moral and mental, will sooner or later show favorable results. One is limited in his ability to hypnotize himself by his doubts and fears.

The danger connected with self-hypnotism is that the self-hypnotizer may not be honest and truthful with himself. If he tries to deceive himself, he becomes confused and uncertain in his thinking and in his sense perceptions. He cannot be sure that what he sees or feels or knows is true and real.