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Boris Sidis, Ph.D., M.D.

Boston: R. Badger, 1914




HYPNOID states consist of the presence of two or more fully independent complex mental systems. Such states are found in the phenomena of automatic writing, shell hearing, crystal gazing in the various forms of coexistent double and multiple personalities and various other subconscious conditions.1

      In automatic writing the patient is in his usual state. He may be carrying on a conversation with some one, while at the same time, his hand in which a pencil is placed, begins and continues writing sentences, descriptions or entire essays and chapters in a well formulated and lucid manner, the subject's upper or principal consciousness knowing absolutely nothing of what the hand had written.

      During the time of the automatic writing the hand is anaesthetic, but only in relation to the patient's upper consciousness. There is a well organized system of consciousness controlling the automatic writing, since the hand itself may register responses to questions not understood and sometimes not even heard by the subject. Likewise, if the hand is pricked, although the subject himself does not feel the prick, the hand will nevertheless make marks to indicate the number of pricks. Immediately after the automatic writing ceases sensibility returns to the anaesthetic hand.

      All stages and forms of automatic writing are observed from mere scratches to highly complicated discourses. In fully developed cases the handwriting is of a spasmodic character, as though executed with single rapid strokes.

      Hypnoid or coexistent functioning, though disaggregated states, may be cultivated with some success by normal healthy individuals. In some the dissociation is complete, in others it is but partial and the subject is conscious of what is going on, but he feels that he has no control over the writing nor is it his consciousness that has formulated the writing.

      Instead of writing there may be automatic speaking. The phenomena are known under the name of speaking with tongues. The speaking may range as in the case of automatic writing from the simplest to the most complex, from the automatic volubility of meaningless syllables appearing as a new tongue or language, to a connected recital of intelligible phrases.

      The phenomena of crystal gazing belong to the same category and may be classed with hypnoid states. The vision, the hallucinatory experience appears to rise from the subconscious and seems to develop independently of the subject's consciousness. The subject takes cognizance of what is presented to him by the dissociated mental state which develops on the basis of some peripheral sensory experience.

      It is possible to bring forth subconscious experiences by developing in the subject visual hallucinations. The subject looks into a reflecting shining surface, a crystal, a mirror, a glass of water. The subconscious self brings out visual perceptions which appear as hallucinations to the upper self. The upper self sees the pictures projected by the subconscious self in the same way as the automatic writer reads the product of the automatic writing.

      The subject may for example perform a certain action such as misplacing an article or reading something unconsciously of which there is no recollection. Now the gazing into the crystal may bring out these past experiences as visual hallucinations. Occasionally the subconscious self may so develop in the phenomena of automatic writing or crystal gazing that automatic actions may be manifested and the patient falls temporarily into a complete subconscious state.

      We can also develop a form of auditory hallucination by bringing various experiences out of the subconscious. This can be accomplished by sounding or vibrating objects. The subject listens intently to the monotonous sounds, and experiences, lost to the subject's upper consciousness, but retained by the subconscious, which come in the form of auditory hallucinations.

      In the many forms of psychopathic anaesthesia of considerable persistence and extent, hypnoid states may be developed; the anaesthetic hand for instance will react to various stimuli, handle different things, give intelligent answers in automatic writing to questions not directly heard by the patient. These phenomena can be brought out by various experimental procedures.

      Most of the cases of functional derangement and mental dissociation, such as the various forms of functional psychosis or psychoneurosis fall under the category of hypnoid states. Various forms of sensory, motor, gastric, emotional, and other disturbances, when of a functional psychopathic character are often due to subconscious systems dissociated from the patient's consciousness and manifesting their activity in the upper waking life.

      The patient is aware of the distressing results, but has no suspicion of the active subconscious processes that give rise to such manifestations. The dissociated system forms a center of activity that falls outside the domain of the patient's upper consciousness, the results alone appearing in the patient's waking life.

      Hypnoid states are co-existent, "co-conscious" states and may develop into co-existent, "co-conscious" personalities.


1. The various forms of double multiple personality have been described in "Multiple Personality." See also Dr. Morton Prince's "The Dissociation of a Personality."


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