THE MOST essential condition for the control of the sexual impulse is that at the critical moment one shall be in a position to display sufficient strength of will. But the majority of the methods of self-control which we have discussed up to the present can only be effectual if the danger can be foreseen, and if one has armed oneself against it beforehand. Only too often, however, we find ourselves suddenly placed in great danger which we did not expect and against which we could not be at all on our guard. Are we then hopelessly lost? No, for there is a method which is far too little known and studied, and which can work wonders in such urgent cases. I trust I may succeed in making this clear to the reader.
If we wish to develop great strength in any of our skeletal muscles, we immobilise our skeleton as energetically as possible, by means of some other muscle-groups, in order to have firm points of support; whereas all the remaining muscle-groups, which are momentarily not required, are placed at rest and as far as possible relaxed, so that we may expand all our energy on the muscles that are called into activity. How calmly a practised cyclist or skater glides along to his goal; a maximum result with a minimum of expended energy, and the direct opposite of what a boy does when learning, who uselessly strains all his muscles in convulsive effort and gives himself a lot of trouble in vain.
So also anyone who is psychically inexperienced mixes up all his ideas in his head at once; while he who is methodical knows how to concentrate all his thoughts on one single point while he lets all other portions of his brain rest. This is the principle employed by the hypnotist. It is his task to produce hypnosis in his patient. He puts him to sleep as deeply as possible, leaving one part of the brain accessible to himself, so that through this path he may entirely control the patient by suggestion; the patient no longer has any control over himself or any power of resistance, because all other parts of the brain have been put to sleep.
In the same way each of us can learn so to control his psychic life that when-ever necessary he can concentrate all his energies on one point, while he allows all his other mental activities to rest and excludes them as much as possible. A man skilled in this art can really display wonderful will-power. I would like to explain the method of training through which this result may be attained.
Whoever wants entirely to control his psychic life, should first of all get into the habit of controlling his usual sleep, in order to be able to set all the different parts of his brain at rest at once. Then comes the problem of forcing everything to rest except the one point in question.
How can we put ourselves to sleep? How can we at any given moment stop all the functions of our brain? How does the hypnotiser proceed? First of all he lets the patient seat himself quietly and comfortably in a convenient arm-chair. He then proceeds to lull the patient’s hearing through some monotonous sound, such for instance as the quiet humming of an induction coil, or speaking continuously more and more softly. At the same time he fatigues the patient’s eyes for instance, by holding before them a small bright object, which he gradually, extremely slowly and imperceptibly brings nearer, so as to cause a convergence of the eyes as in sleep. If this systematic rest-treatment only lasts long enough, and there is no interruption, even on the first occasion a sleepy feeling if not actual sleep, will be produced. The next day at the same hour in the same arm-chair things will go more easily, and finally the patient goes to sleep immediately, as soon as he takes his seat. The quiet conversation serves only for the hypnotiser to maintain contact with some point of the patient’s brain, and thence to suggest to him what he wishes.
Anybody who has once learnt this secret can induce sleep just as well without the hypnotiser if only he has the strength and patience to exercise it.
If one wishes to hypnotise oneself one should lie in such an easy and relaxed manner that every part of the skeleton is supported, as if the body were a bag of disjointed bones; for then one need not turn about any more before sleep comes. In the same way the supple body of the cat adapts itself to the shape of the basket in which it lies, whether it be square or round, when it wants to sleep.
Then one should let all the muscles relax, as if one were dead, and the breathing should be regular, slow and deep as in sleep, and the pulse will soon follow suit, for normally these two functions always work in unison. Of course the senses should be cut off as far as possible from influences from the outer world, and one should choose the simplest forms of thought, preferably a few playful thoughts which are repeated over and over again.
Besides this there are all sorts of little tricks, nice and otherwise. Closing the eyes and making them converge as though we wanted to look at the tip of the nose may help considerably; one feels sleep coming over one. Of course such exciting beverages as tea, coffee or chocolate should have been avoided recently, for their effects are sometimes felt for the whole day. And if one intends taking a nap directly after dinner one can take a little alcohol before eating, in order to take advantage of its secondary effect, which one counteracts usually by drinking a cup of black coffee after the meal; but one must not cultivate this habit lest the whole mental life should finally fall under the influence of alcohoI-hypnosis. Even sexual fancies and excitements may also help to divert the blood-pressure from the brain; for sleep is an anaemic condition of the brain.
One may take a few very deep breaths, so as to utilise the following longer pause in breathing, or one may cut off the supply of pure air by covering the head with the bedclothes so as to experience the commencement of carbonic acid poisoning. But as soon as one gets a little into the habit of going to sleep in this way, one should drop these injurious practices.
I remember that in my practice I had trained myself so that whenever I had a free half-hour I could say with certainty: “Now I am going to sleep for half an hour”; or if I was expecting to attend a confinement the following night, could get some sleep beforehand. And all this is only child’s play in comparison with what some people have accomplished: the fakirs in India for instance, who have carried this so far that they can simulate death itself in their induced sleep.
And now we come to partial sleep, that hypnosis which is connected with suggestion in this case auto-hypnosis together with auto-suggestion.
Reader, have you ever stopped to think why it is that a quarter of an hour in a street car may seem far more tiresome to you than a whole night in an ex-press train? It depends on what we have already discussed. As soon as one gets into a night express, one settles if possible in a corner, and a sort of hypnosis occurs at once. One pays no attention to time and place, and often starts up astonished from dreaming, when one has almost reached one’s destination.
Another example: a half-hour’s walk through the town is too far, one takes a car. But if one is on a holiday tour abroad, six hours’ walking per day is not too much; Why is this? As soon as one sets out on a long excursion one adopts a regular rhythmic step; one picks no flowers and collects no stones from the wayside. Good walkers keep silence. They look straight ahead and think only of their goal. Perhaps they hum a melody which is constantly repeated 1 and in a short time they have fallen into a hypnotic condition; indeed on forced military marches it often happens that some of the men fall asleep while continuing to march. The few muscle-groups which are indispensable for the march continue to work automatically, all the other groups of muscles rest; our brain is at rest, we feel no hunger, thirst, cold or fatigue. And with what a fright we awaken from our lethargy if a friend cries: “Hallo! are you there?” We should not be more frightened if we suddenly ran into a wall.
Professor von Nippold, the learned author of the “History of the Foundation of the Church,” in the course of his walk, came one day to the parade ground, which he began to cross without noticing that there was a parade on. He did not hear the threatening cries of the sentinels until he was in the midst of the troops. From respect for the old man they parted their ranks and let him through.
In like manner, and oblivious to all, with only one idea in his mind, many a soldier braves the hottest fire, and a rescuer heeds no danger in fire or ship-wreck. So died the heretics at the stake, singing psalms.
And so also in the face of sexual temptation. Affective mental images are crowded out by more affective ones, motives of prudence smothered by sophisms. But whoever can then steel himself against the temptation by excluding every other idea and concentrating all his energy on the thought “I will not,” can perform miracles, he cannot be moved.
“He who conquers himself is greater than he who taketh a city.”
I The last note of each verse and the first note of the next are almost always the same; hence the easy repetition of the melody.