This section is from the book "Mental Therapeutics Or Just How To Heal Oneself And Others", by Theron Q. Dumont. Also available from Amazon: Mental Therapeutics or Just How to Heal Oneself and Others.
The principle of Mental Suggestion is based upon the fundamental fact that the mind of all human beings manifests a far greater range of activities on the subconscious plane than on the conscious plane; that nearly eighty-five per cent of its activities are on the subconscious plane; and that the subconscious plane of the human mind is highly receptive and amenable to Suggestion.
As explained in the preceding lesson, Mental Suggestion does not depend upon logical processes or argumentive proof for its efficacy; but rather bases its force and efficacy upon its positive appeal to the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is by its very nature very receptive to suggestion; in fact, it may be said to instinctively accept any suggestion given it, unless the suggestion runs counter to some suggestion already accepted by it; or unless the conscious mind has positively forbidden the acceptance of the suggestion.
The conscious guardian of the threshold of the mind once relaxing his watchfulness, there is nothing to interfere with the acceptance of a -suggestion by the subconscious mind, providing that the suggestions already accepted by it do not prevent the introduction of new and opposing ones. And, even in the last mentioned events the old accepted suggestions may be neutralized by a constant flow of new suggestions of an opposite nature-the process having been aptly compared to the flowing of clear water into a bowl of dirty water, in which case the overflow gradually carries off the diluted dirty water, until finally the bowl is filled with perfectly clear water. This, in fact, is precisely what happens in most cases of Mental Healing by Mental Suggestion-the old, negative suggestions are first diluted and then carried off, being replaced by the new and positive ones.
It must be always remembered, however, that the words of a Mental Suggestion have no magic power in themselves; their only virtue consists in the fact that they represent ideas, which ideas are called into being in the mind by the hearing or reading of the words. Another point to be remembered is that Mental Suggestion is effect-tive in proportion to the degree of feeling it arouses in the person to whom it is addressed. The reason of this last mentioned fact is that feeling always energies an idea in the mind, and makes it active and operative. The suggested idea or mental picture of a physical condition greatly desired by the patient is many times more active and effective than a suggested idea or mental picture of a condition which fails to arouse such feeling or desire.
Hollander well says regarding this point: "Suggestions convey ideas, and ideas are symbols of something thought or felt. The majority of ideas held in the mind of the race arise from feeling. People may not understand things, but they have experienced feelings or emotions regarding them, and have consequently formed many ideas therefrom. They do not always know the reason why an idea is held by them; they know only that they feel it that way. And the majority of people are swayed and moved, and act by reasons of induced feelings, rather than by the result of reasoning. When suggestion acts through the association of ideas, it is based upon the acquired impressions of the race, by which certain words, actions, manners, tones, and appearances are associated with certain previously experienced feelings. It is true that suggestions may accompany an appeal to the reason or judgment of the person influenced, and, indeed, are generally so used; but, strictly speaking, they constitute an appeal to a part of the mind entirely removed from reasoning and judgment. They are emotional, first, last, and all the time. 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 emotions of the hearer by an ideal indirectly conveyed. Such an 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 ithought* it, whereas, really, he simply ifeels' it, and the feeling is induced."
The principle of many instances of effective Mental Suggestion is cleverly expressed in the epigram attributed to Aaron Burr, that eccentric and meteoric American statesman and political adventurer of genius, which runs as follows: "Truth is that which is boldly asserted, and plausibly maintained." The experienced practitioner of Mental Suggestion will at once recognize the aptness of this epigram as applied to the principle of suggestion. For, in the first place, he will recognize the fact that the power of a suggestion depends greatly upon the boldness, positiveness, and air of authority with which it is expressed. He will likewise recognize the fact that its effect will be greatly heightened by the introduction of some plausible statement-having the color of logical argument or proof* which serves to back up and sustain the statement boldly expressed in the suggestion.
But the experienced suggestionist has also learned the danger of attempting to logically prove by elaborate argument the statements of his suggestion. He knows that when he has been foolish enough to follow this course, the attention of the patient has been taken off the statement of the suggestion, and that therefore the suggestion loses its effect. He realizes the truth of the principle previously enunciated, i. e., that suggestion enters the back door of the mind, while reason and logic enters the front door-suggestion is not based upon logic or reason, though it may well be colored a little by plausible reasoning along general lines. When a suggestion awakens desirable feelings, emotions, or pictures in the mind of the patient, then the patient requires but a color of proof or reasoning to satisfy his mind; as has well been said "persons generally want excuses for their feelings, not reasons or logical proof." They want to believe that which appeals to their desires and feelings, and therefore a mere color of general plausible "reason" satisfies them fully, while an elaborate attempt at logical proof distracts their attention and causes the statement of the suggestion to lose its effect.
It is for this reason that Mental Suggestion is so powerfully operative in cases of Mental Healing. The mind of the patient is filled with the desire to be cured-to have health restored. This being the case, the entire emotional nature is strongly alive to suggestions of cure-there is no opposition to suggestions of cure and health, but rather is there an eagerness to accept any plausible reason or explanation of the way in which the cure is to be effected. The emotional nature is willing and eager toeo-operate with the statement of health and cure, rather than to oppose it. When to this is added the strong mental command, bold statement, and authoritative utterance of the suggestion properly made, wre have a most effective and efficient piece of mental machinery set into operation and motion.
There are three strong mental factors operating in the case of Mental Suggestion properly applied, which the student of Mental Healing should carefully note and remember. These three mental factors are as follows: (1) Earnest Attention; (2) Expectant Attention; and (3) Pleasurable Mental States. Let us then consider each of these, briefly, in turn; for their importance must not be overlooked.
It is a fact conceded by all students of the psychology of suggestion, that the effect of any suggestion depends materially upon the degree of attention given to it. This, of course, arises from the well-known psychological principle that the degree of perceptive impression of a sensation, the degree of its retention in the subconscious memory, and the degree of ease of its subsequent recollection, depend upon the degree of attention given it. Attention has been compared to the focus of a telescope or microscope. The strength of all mental impressions depend upon the degree of attention given at the time of their reception. The reason of the strength of certain impressions upon our minds is that earnest and concentrated attention was manifested at the time the impressions were received. If we give no attention at all to an object or happening in the world outside of our mind, then we receive no impression at all regarding it. This is one of the fundamental facts of psychology, remember.
Well, then, the patient coming to the Mental Healer for treatment is filled with interest and curiosity regarding the healer and his methods- the patient is like a child visiting a new scene of interest, a moving picture performance, for instance; his mind is open to even the slightest impression, and he is really in a mental state most favorable to suggestion. In fact, he is in a condition in which suggestion has an exaggerated effect. Hence the importance of the practitioner creating a strong initial impression, by his manner, demeanor, and words-before, during, and after the suggestive treatment. The ideal suggestive condition is here, remember.
Practical psychologists recognize the value of the mental state known as Expectant Attention; it is an established fact that the expectancy, or earnest hope, of an improvement in the physical condition will act powerfully in the direction of inducing the desired condition. This is the secret of the power of Faith and Hope in all Mental Healing -the secret of the cures of the Faith Healers and religious healing cults. But, it may be argued, the average patient has not much faith and hope when he visits a Mental Healer for the first time. This is a mistake, for unless there had existed a certain amount of faith and hope in the mind of the patient, he would not have visited the practitioner at all. Though he may say that he has no hope or faith in the treatment, the very fact that he considers such treatment, visits the practitioner, and pays his fee for treatment, is a proof that faith and hope abide within his mind. The spark is there, and it is for the practitioner to blow it into a flame; for it is a mental state which acts powerfully in thfe direction of a cure.
It is an axiom of psychological healing that a pleasurable mental state is conductive to the cure of disease, while the reverse condition tends to induce imperfect and abnormal physiological action. Worry and Fear are potent causes of disease; Fearlessness and Cheerfulness are potent causes of cure and restored health. Therefore the practitioner should always "cheer up," encourage, and "brace up" the patient's feelings, as an important part of the treatment. The very encouragement of Faith and Hope in itself tends to produce pleasurable feelings and emotions in the patient, and thus helps along the effect of the suggestive treatment. A skilful practitioner of Mental Suggestion manages to "work in" many little suggestions of cheerfulness and happiness along with his healing suggestions. A prominent American suggestionist was wont to dismiss his patients with a strong suggestion of "You are Bright, Cheerful, and Happy-Strong and Well!" I know of nothing better to offer as a general pattern along this line than these words. The very repetition of them to oneself tends to induce an uplifting emotion and feeling-then what must be their effect upon a patient whose mind is peculiarly receptive to suggestion?