Mind Power: Mental Suggestion
Before beginning our consideration of the subject of Mental Suggestion, let me call your attention to the following general statements regarding Mentative Induction (in which general subject is included the sub-divisions called Personal Magnetism; Mental Suggestion; and Telementative Induction) respectively:
(1) Mental States may be caused by Mentative Induction.
(2) Such induced mental states may be caused by the Mentative currents of Personal Magnetism; or by the Mentative currents of Telementation; or by Mental Suggestion.
(3) Mentative currents are waves or streams of vibrant Mind-Power, emanating from the minds of people, and carrying with them the vibrations of mental states; the vibrations tending to induce similar mental states in the minds of people within the field of induction.
(a) There are two poles of Mind-Power, i.e., the emotive-pole, manifesting desire, feeling, emotion, etc.; and the motive-pole, manifesting will, etc.; the acting force, affecting other minds, manifested by these two poles being called Desire-Force and Will-Power, respectively.
(b) Desire-Force tends to awaken similar vibrations in the minds of others, thus producing similar desires—or it charms the wills of others and causes them to carry out its desires—its action and nature bearing a strong resemblance to feminine mental power.
(c) Will-Power tends to awaken desire in the minds of others by sheer mastery and forcefulness—it also acts in the direction of combating and overpowering the wills of others, and taking them captive—it also directs, masters, concentrates, or restrains one’s own Desire-Force, on occasions—its action bears a strong resemblance to masculine mental power.
(d) When the mentative currents are emanated, and Mentative Induction is manifested, when the projector and recipients are in the personal presence of each other, we use the term Personal Magnetism. When the same manifestation occurs when the projector and recipients are not in the personal presence of each other, then we use the term Telementative Induction. But the principle employed is the same in each case—induction through telementation being the operative principle. In Personal Magnetism, however, Mental Suggestion usually assists in the induction of mental states.
For this reason, Mental Suggestion should be studied in connection with Personal Magnetism, being supplementary thereto.
(4) Mental Suggestion induces mental states, by reproducing the original mental states of others; or one’s own previously experienced mental states, including the experience of the race-ancestors, inherited and recorded in the sub-conscious minds of their descendants.
Suggestion operates along the lines of acquiescence, imitation, association, and repetition, always acting through physical agents for inducing mental states.
In Personal Magnetism, the mentator pours out his mentative currents, generated by his will or desire, or both; either in a general way, or in a concentrated, directed manner; in a personal interview, and thus influences the mind of others by induction—this is usually, or always, accompanied by Mental Suggestion, using physical agents, such as the voice, eye, manner, etc., which heighten the effect produced.
And, now, with the understanding of the above-stated general principles, let us proceed to a consideration of the subject of “Mental Suggestion.”
Every student of psychology and mental science has heard and read much of that phase of mental phenomena called “Mental Suggestion.” Much has been written and taught about it, and the term has been claimed by some teachers to cover all phases of mental influence. I do not entirely agree with these extreme advocates of suggestion, however, for I find much in the subject that calls for a further explanation.
But, nevertheless, I feel certain that mental suggestion plays a most important part in almost every instance of this class of phenomena and must be seriously considered by all careful students of the subject. Combined with mentative induction by means of mentative currents, it accounts for nearly every phase of the phenomena of mental influence.
Therefore I shall devote several chapters to the consideration of its underlying principles, laws and method of application. I feel that no one can be a successful practitioner of telementative influence or personal magnetism who is not a good suggestionist, because the very “knack” of projecting strong suggestions is necessary for the forceful projection of mentative energy and mental currents.
While all who have examined the subject are aware of the force and effects of mental suggestion, few have found it possible to correctly define or describe the term, or to explain it to others.
But I feel assured that my theory of mentative induction, and the two poles of Mind-Power will enable you to form a very clear and comprehensive knowledge of the underlying laws of the subject, so that, understanding it, you will be able to apply its method of application to the best advantage.
“Mental Suggestion” is the term used to designate the process of inducing or exciting mental states or ideas, by means of the imagination, by the agency of words of actions; outward appearances; or other physical symbols.
I divide the phenomena of Mental Suggestion into two general classes or phases, i.e., (1) Active Suggestion, and (2) Passive Suggestion, as follows:
By Active Suggestion I mean the induction or excitement of mental state or ideas in others by means of positive command, affirmation, statements, etc., bearing directly upon the desired mental state.
By Passive Suggestion I mean the induction or excitement of mental state or ideas by the subtle insinuation, introduction, or insertion of ideas into the minds of others, which insinuated ideas act in the direction of inducing the desired mental state. Active Suggestion is associated with the use of the motive-pole of the mind of the suggestor; and; Passive Suggestion is associated with the emotive-pole of the suggestor. One is the masculine method and the other the feminine.
And here is a good place in which to direct your attention to a very important fact concerning the operation of suggestion in inducing mental states in others. I allude to the fact that suggestion operates along the line of “emotional mentality,” “feeling,” or “imagination,” and has nothing to do with judgment, reason, argument, proof, etc. It belongs clearly to the “feeling” side of the mind, rather than to the “thinking” side. One’s reason may be appealed to by clever reasoning, argument, logic, proof, etc, and an effect gained—but this belongs to an entirely different phase of mental action.
The induction of mental states in others by means of suggestion has to do entirely with the “feeling” or “imaginative” phase of the mind. It deals with the production of “emotional mentality” rather than with “rational mentality.” This is a most important point, and one that should be thoroughly understood by all students of the subject.
It is true that suggestion may accompany an appeal to the reason or judgment of the person influenced, and, indeed, is generally so used; but, strictly speaking, it constitutes an appeal to a part of the mind entirely removed from reasoning and judgment. It is emotional, and imaginative first, last, and all the time.
And it operates along the same lines as the mental induction produced by mentative currents, as we shall see.
And now, with this preliminary understanding, let us pass on to a consideration of the meaning of the terms used. There is nothing like a clear understanding of the terms employed in treating of a subject. If one understands the “exact” meaning of the terms, he has progressed very far to an “exact” understanding of the subject itself, for the terms are the crystallized ideas involved in the subject.
To understand the full and complete meaning of the terms of any subject is to know the whole subject thoroughly, for no one can understand a term thoroughly until he knows it in all of its relations—all that pertains to it.
Let us start with the word “suggestion” as used by the writers on mental suggestion. Some authorities give the broad, general definition of “anything that is impressed upon the mind through the senses,” but this I consider entirely too sweeping, for this definition would make the term cover knowledge of all sort, no matter to what part of the mind it appealed, for all knowledge of the outward world is obtained through the senses.
Other authorities define the term as “anything insinuated into the mind, subtly, cautiously, and indirectly,” this definition fitting nearly the one favored by the dictionaries in defining the word “suggestion” in its general sense, which is as follows: “a hint; a guarded mention; an intimation; something presented to the mind directly; an insinuation; etc.”
But this last definition of mental suggestion does not fit all the phases of the subject. It fits admirably into the phase known as Passive Suggestion, which operates by direct, forceful command, statement, etc.
And so I must give my own definition of the term to fit my conception of and understanding of its meaning. I, therefore, here define my use of the term “a Mental Suggestion” as follows: A physical agency tending to induce or excite mental states or ideas through the imagination. This is a broad definition, which, I think, will cover all the observable phenomena of Mental Suggestion.
I use the word “physical” to distinguish suggestive agents from the “mental” agents inducing mental states by the operation of mentative currents, telementation, etc. Of course this distinction will not please those who would claim all “mental” action as a form of the “physical,” or vice versa.
But as I have to draw the line somewhere, I prefer to draw it between the “physical” agent and the “mental,” and I think that the majority of my readers will approve of this position.
The word “agent” means, of course, “an acting power or cause,” etc. The word “inducing,” as I have used it, has been defined in the previous lesson. The word “excite” means “to call into activity in any way; to rouse to feeling; to kindle to strong emotions,” The imagination is “that phase of mind which creates mental images, or objects, or sensation previously experienced.”
In my use of the term “physical” in the above definition I include all words, spoken, written, or printed; mannerisms and physical actions of all kinds; physical; characteristics and appearances, etc., etc. All of these physical manifestations act as “agents” inducing mental states under favorable circumstances.
By “mental states” I mean “states of feeling or emotion.” By “ideas,” I mean “images of objects conceived of by the mind.”
It may be urged that the use of “words, spoken, written or printed,” may be employed, and are employed, in every appeal to the mind of another, whether the appeal be along the lines of suggestion or argument, reason, etc. Certainly!
And in that sense they act as suggestions. Arguments appeal to judgment and reason—but not to feeling, emotion or imagination which are, on the contrary, excited or induced by suggestions or other forms of emotional induction.
One may present an idea to the mind of another, in a bold, forcible, logical manner, accompanied by argument or proof, but this is an appeal to reason and judgment, not to “feeling or emotion,” which belong to an entirely different field of the mind. Then again, many personal appeals, which are apparently made to reason, are really made to the emotional side.
One may subtly insinuate into an argument or conversation an appeal to the feelings or emotion of the hearer, in the shape of an idea in the nature of a hint, or indirect mention.
Such idea will be “felt” by the listener, who will accept it into his mind, and before long he will regard it as one of his own thoughts—he will make it his own. He will think that he “thought” it, whereas, really, he simply “feels” it, and the “feeling” is induced. This is a case of “suggestion.”
In ordinary social intercourse you will find that women are adepts in this subtle form of insinuative suggestion, as compared to men.
Men will blurt out statements and ideas, and attempt to “prove” them, but the woman will gently “insinuate” the idea into the mind of the other person, so that, “without having proven a fact, she will have managed to create a definite idea of feeling in the mind of the other by “suggestion.” I think I need not give examples of this fact—it is apparent to all who have mingled with people.
And really this “suggestion” resembles the mental suggestion of the psychologists very much. It is true that the practitioner of mental suggestion, in his ”treatments,” often makes use of direct, forceful statements, such as: “You are strong, cheerful, well and happy,” but you will notice even here that he does not “argue the point,” or attempt to “prove” his statements.
He simply affirms and asserts the fact, and by constantly repeated suggestions he finally causes the mind of the other person to accept the statement. So you see a “suggestion” may be either a subtle insinuation or a bold, positive statement—but it is never an argument, or process of proof.
The word “impression” is good, as applied to the effect of a suggestion, but I prefer to stick to my terms, and therefore I shall consider that the effect of mental suggestion is caused by induction. “What,” you may say, “I thought that induction was a term used when a mental state was set up in one by mentative currents from the mind of another?”
Yes, this is true, but my last statement is true also. An induced mental state is one set up by outside influence of some kind, whether that outside influence be a mentative current or by suggestion through a word, a look, a sight or anything else. The word “induce,” you know, means: “to lead; to influence; to prevail on; to effect; to cause,” etc. And any mental state that is induced by an outside influence comes clearly under the term.
Any physical agent that tends to induce a feeling in the mind of another may be called a suggestion. Even the well-known instance mentioned in the textbooks on psychology comes under this rule.
In that instance it is related that a soldier was carrying some bundles and a pail to his barracks, when some practical joker yelled to him in an authoritative voice, “Attention!” Following the suggestion, which induced in him the “feeling” preceding certain habitual actions, he dropped his pail and bundles with a crash and stood at “attention,” with eyes front, chin out, protruding breast, stomach drawn in, and bands at his sides with little fingers touching the seams of his trousers. That was a suggestion! Do you see the point?
The lives of all of us have been molded largely by induction through suggestion. We accepted this suggestion, or that one, and it changed the whole current of our lives. Certain things induced certain feelings—called into activity certain mental states—and action followed close upon the heels of feeling.
There are varying degrees of suggestive power just as there are varying degrees of what is called the “suggestibility” of persons—that is the tendency to accept suggestions. There are people who scarcely ever act from motives originating within themselves, but whose entire lives are lived out in obedience to the suggested ideas and feelings of others.
The development of the Will-Power regulates the degree of suggestibility. The man of the strong will is not so easily affected by a suggestion as is one whose will is weak, and who accepts without resistance the suggestions coming from all sides.
But note the apparent paradox, persons of weak will may have their wills so developed and strengthened by scientific suggestive treatment that they may become veritable giants of will.
The careful student may feel inclined to ask me, at this point, why I speak of suggested “ideas,” when I have said that suggestion has to do with mental states of feeling and emotion. Are not “ideas,” he asks, something connected with thought rather than with feeling? The question is a proper one, and I must meet it.
The word “idea” comes from the Greek word, meaning “to see.” In its general use it means a mental image, or a general notion or conception held in the mind.” An idea is “symbolic image held in the mind.” It is a symbol of something thought or felt.
Ideas are not formed by thought alone—feeling contributes its share of these mental images. To tell the truth, the majority of people scarcely “think” at all, in the highest sense of the word. Their reasoning and logical faculties are very rudimentary. They accept their ideas at second hand or second-hundred hand—their thoughts must be pre-digested for them by others, and the handed-down “idea” is the result.
The majority of ideas held in the mind of the race arise from feeling and emotion. People may not understand things, but they have experienced feelings or emotions regarding them, and have consequently formed many ideas and ”ideals” therefrom.
They do not know “just why” an idea is held by them—they know only that they “feel” it that way. And the majority of people are moved, swayed and act by reasons of induced “feelings,” rather than by results of reasoning. I am not speaking of intuitional feelings now, but of the plain, everyday, emotional feeling of people.
Do you know what a feeling is? The word, used in this sense, means: a mental state; emotion; passion; sympathy; sentiment; susceptibility; etc. And “emotion” means an excitement of the feelings. Feelings belong to the instinctive side of our mind, rather than to the rational or reasoning side.
They spring up from the subconscious strata of the mind, in response to the exciting cause coming from without. The instinctive part of our minds are stored with the experiences, feelings, emotions and mental states of our long line of ancestors, reaching away back to the early beginnings of life. In that part of the mind are sleeping instincts, emotions and feelings, our inheritance from the past, which await but the inducing cause to call them into activity.
The reason or judgment, by means of the will, act as a restrainer, of course, according to the degree of development of the individual. And these outward agents, if of a “physical” nature, are suggestions of all kinds.
Look around you at the world of men and women. Then tell me whether they seem to be moved principally by reason or feeling. Are their actions based upon good judgment and correct and careful reasoning?
Or are they the results of feeling and emotion? Do people do things because the things are considered right in the light of reason, or do they do them “because they feel like it?”
Which produces the greatest motive force—an appeal to the reason of a number of people, or an appeal to their feelings and emotion? Which sways a gathering of people; the votes of a people; the actions of a mob— reason or feeling? Which moves even you, good student, reason or feeling? Answer the questions honestly, and you will have the key of suggestive influence!