Translation of an article from the Soviet popular scientific journal "Bulletin of Knowledge
" No. 19-1928 (edited by acad. S. Platonov
, prof. N. Morozov
The Power of Suggestion http://magzdb.org/num/2166240
Dr. E. Lenk has published an article in one of the latest issues of the magazine "Die Umschau", in which he cites a number of interesting experiments from his practice and the practice of other prominent neuropathologists, illustrating the peculiar power of suggestion and autosuggestion. Here are some of these experiences.
Kraft-Ebing had a patient in whom, under the influence of suggestion, he could raise and lower body temperature at will. Munich neuropathologist Loewenfeld gave one medium a thermometer in each hand and suggested that his right hand was warm and his left cold; an hour later, both thermometers showed a temperature difference of one degree. Mare and Gellich, by means of suggestion, lowered the body temperature of mediums from 37 to 34.5 ° C. Bowel functions are also easily altered by suggestion. So, Moll, on command, caused his patient to have an increased intestinal discharge at certain hours. On the other hand, hypnotic suggestion manages to paralyze the effect of castor oil on the body. Kraft-Ebing, the dermatologist Lippe and a number of Parisian psychiatrists, by suggestion, caused burns and blisters on mediums by simply applying simple pieces of paper to the skin.
There are astonishing cases of autosuggestion that have caused organic changes. For example, the famous Berlin clinician Schleich tells how one hysterical woman, entering his waiting room, mistook the noise of a fan for the buzzing of a bee and expressed fear that the bee might sting her in the eye. Then she felt a sharp pain in the lower eyelid, and a swelling appeared on it, the size of a chicken egg, with an inflammatory redness. The same Schleich reports the case of one girl who convinced herself that she was pregnant. The increase in abdominal volume led several gynecologists to admit pregnancy. However, after 12 months, the birth did not follow, and then it was decided to subject her to surgery. Autopsy of the abdomen revealed no signs of pregnancy in the internal organs. Another case in the practice of Schleich had a more tragic outcome: one day a patient came to his clinic, insistently demanding that his arm be amputated, as he pricked his finger and was afraid of blood poisoning; the doctors examined the hand and, finding it completely healthy, refused the patient's request. The next morning the mock patient died. An autopsy performed by Dr. Langerhans revealed absolutely no anatomical features that could have caused death.