Suggestion and Creating False Memories

The following excerpt from the book Hypnotism (1945) is being shared as to demonstrate the importance of suggestion in day to day communications, but also its amazing impact when directed towards specific outcomes. Nearly all spiritual practices are some form of suggestion, as is all forms of advertising, marketing, and nearly all media exposure.  “Guard ye well the Western Gate” of your mind.

“W.R. Wells at Syracuse University has also experimented along original lines in his investigation of the possible use of hypnotism for criminal ends. He uses what appears to the author as a much more promising line of attack in that he tries to avoid too great a conflict on the subject’s part. His experiments have consisted mostly in having his subjects steal small sums of money from various acquaintances. He eases the shock by, for example, telling the subject that he himself left a dollar in a friends room, thus producing a delusion that the money is really his own. Then the subject is invited to get the same money – and does so! Moreover Wells finds it very easy to remove all knowledge from these subjects of ever having been hypnotized. [see next page for contrast with Milton Erickson].

Suggestion works under the same laws, in hypnotism or out of trance. …  We know that it is quite possible to induce hallucinations and delusions in hypnotism and that these can be made to carry over into the conscious state with great vividness. For example, the writer [Estabrooks] more by way a joke than to prove a serious point, introduces a friend of his to two strangers. The latter are excellent hypnotic subjects and have been carefully coached as to their actions.

After a brief conversation the writer informs his friends that these two strangers have a very serious charge to make. Last night on Boar’s Hill, just outside Oxford, they saw him run down and kill a pedestrian, then leave the scene without reporting to the police.  The night was foggy – common enough around Oxford – and he evidently did not see the car parked in a lane not ten feet away. What did he intend to do about it?

Needless to say, the friend in question was flabbergasted. As a matter of fact, he had been on Boar’s Hill the night previous and a man had been found dead by the side of the road, hit by a car.  Moreover, this chap had a reputation for reckless driving. On a foggy night he might very easily have stuck a man walking by the edge of the road and been none the wiser. The two strangers in question, both friends of the writer, had also been on the hill to a bridge party, so the situation could have been very nasty. As it was, however, the accused was quickly relieved by the assurance that the whole thing was a joke, but not before he realized that the two witnesses quite believed their own story and intended to take action with the police.” (p.178)

Hypnotism by G.H. Estabrooks, E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc. 1945


For more information see:

The Inner Way – The Power of Prayer and Belief in Spiritual Practice

Studies in Poltergeists, Obsession and Possession

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