Phonozoic Text Archive, Document 146
Phonograph is Now Used in Hypnotism.
Phonoscope, April, 1898, p. 7.
can now be his own hypnotist. All he has to do is buy the necessary appliances,
press the button, and the machine does the rest.
Dr. Thomas B. Keyes of Chicago made the discovery that hypnotism by
phonograph is possible. He has demonstrated this conclusively to brother
physicians. It is only the question of a short time, Dr. Keyes thinks, when men
will be going to phonographic establishments to get cylinders charged for
hypnotic treatments just as they now go to the drug stores to have prescriptions
The man or woman subject in pain will have a phonograph in the
house. Whenever the agony begins to come on, he or she will run to the
phonograph, press the button, and be hypnotized into comfort.
The person troubled with insomnia will find in it a boon. Each one
can have a phonograph in his chamber. Instead of tossing restlessly or rising
to pace the floor, the afflicted one need merely adjust the ear-pieces and drop
into unconsciousness to the strains of delicious music.
In surgical operations the phonograph may take the place of
anaesthetics. All pain, says Dr. Keyes, can be relieved by it. He already has
performed two operations by its aid.
Looking far into the future, the doctor's imagination sees strange
sights, if the phonograph keeps on its mechanical development as it has in the
past. He believes that, in time, more compact instruments will be made, which
can easily be carried about. In that case, it is easy to picture women sitting
down in front of a counter in the heat of a day's rush in a big store, taking
small phonographs out of their shopping bags, depositing them on the counter
before them and taking treatment for headache, nervousness, pain or exhaustion
just as naturally as they now sniff smelling salts.
But this discovery does not require any imagination. The
demonstration Dr. Keyes gave last month at his home was practical. In the
presence of a number of physicians and others, two subjects were hypnotized by
the phonograph. One allowed his flesh to be pierced by pins and needles without
apparently feeling the least pain.
The process is a duplicate of ordinary hypnotic suggestion, except
that the little instrument is in control, instead of a man. The subject sits in
a chair, adjusts the rubber transmitters to his ears, relaxes his muscles, and
listens. There is the usual squeaking and scraping preparatory to the starting
of the phonograph, and then the words reach him. "Rest perfectly easy, every
muscle relaxed; rest easy, easy, easy, easy, easy, easy."
The same words are repeated over and over again in a dull monotone.
The subject is seen to settle back in the chair.
"Close your eyes," comes the command of the phonograph. "Close your
eyes. You are getting sleepy, sleepy, sleepy, sleepy, sleepy."
The command is obeyed.
"You're getting sleepier," continued the little instrument. "Rest
perfectly easy. No feeling, uncon[s]cious, no feeling, unconscious, no feeling
unconscious, no feeling, unconscious, no feeling, unconscious, no feeling,
Deeper and deeper into slumber sinks the subject, until at last he
has yielded completely to the imperative commands of the cylinder, which to the
onlooker is grinding and scraping away unintelligibly. Then the crucial tests
may be made.
Morris Hochberg of 79 Van Buren Street was the first subject. As
the phonograph reached this point he was sitting far back into his chair, limp
and unconscious, his eyes closed tightly and an expression of peace upon his
A musical cylinder was put in place. The strains of the "Washington
Post March" started through the rubber transmitter. The sleeper assumed a look
of sweet contentment and his muscles twitched in time to the music.
Dr. Keyes drew a silver needle out of his instrument case, and
started the phonograph back to droning, "No feeling, unconscious, no feeling,
unconscious, no feeling, unconscious."
The man in the chair sank back into a deep slumber. Dr. Keyes
thrust the needle into the sleeping man's wrist. Hochberg did not stir. Again
and again the metal silver pierced the flesh, without a sign being made that it
The physician opened the subject's mouth and seized his tongue.
"No feeling, unconscious, no feeling, unconscious, no feeling,
unconscious;" squeaked away the phonograph. The man in the chair lay limp and
motionless. The needle pierced his tongue through and through. As it was
jabbed in and out of that sensitive organ, its owner slept on peacefully and
paid no attention whatever.
More music was put on, and the face of the sleeper assumed an
expression of half conscious ecstasy. Then he began to hear these words:
"Waking up easy, waking up easy, feeling much better, no headache,
no nervous feeling, no tired feeling, waking up easy, easy, waking up easy."
The sleeper began to stir. A deep sigh escaped him. He moved in
his chair. The phonograph kept on repeating the information that he was
waking. Soon he opened his eyes, rubbed them slowly and looked about him in
A drop of blood on his wrist caught his eye.
"What's that?" he asked. "What have you been doing?" Then he
learned for the first time that he had been turned temporarily into a
"I didn't feel anything," he declared. "I simply fell asleep. Then
I thought I was floating in the air. Way off in the distance I heard some kind
 of music. The only other thing was when I felt that I was waking up."
F. W. Trude of 4965 S. Park Avenue also went into a hypnotic slumber
under the seductive influence of the wax cylinder.
The success in these two cases Dr. Keyes thought sufficient to prove
his point. In a week he will give another demonstration at the Harvey Medical
College, where he is professor of suggestive therapeutics.
As he has worked upon this line only a short time, it is impossible
to tell what can be accomplished. For example, he has not yet determined the
extent to which the hypnotic subject would yield to influences aside from the
machine. So far no attempt has been made to influence the mind of a patient
except through the phonograph, when he is acting under that guidance. Some of
the next experiments will be to pass the subject from the influence of the
machine to the influence of man, and then back to the machine again.
"The advantages of this method are many and I am sure that its
effect will be far-reaching," said Dr. Keyes. "In the first place, it is a much
easier way of producing the hypnotic sleep. The ordinary hypnotist becomes
almost exhausted by sustained effort when he has difficult cases. The
phonograph never tires out. Then it talks more monotonously, and tires out the
sense of hearing sooner. If any sense is completely tired, slumber may be
produced. Half an hour's steady talking to a subject is enough to tire almost
any man. The phonograph can keep it up for hours. One hour is sufficient for
the most combative patient.
"In connection with surgery, it will be almost invaluable. There
are many cases where the action of anaesthetics upon the heart or kidneys make
their use impossible. Phonographic suggestion will produce indifference to the
pain without causing any excitement or unpleasant or dangerous effects at any
time. I have performed two painful, though not serious, operations within the
past three days with its aid, both with perfect success.
"With the dentist, it may take the place of gas. It will produce
relief in all cases of local pain, even of cancer. It will relieve
consumption. It will cure headache. In fact, nearly everything which has been
done by direct suggestion, may now be done by the machine.
"There is no question in my mind that it will take the place of
Christian science and supplant many drugs.
"To accomplish all these results, it is of course necessary to have
cylinders prepared to suit the individual cases. Take the case of a woman
suffering with some nervous trouble. Instead of writing out a prescription, the
physician would charge a phonograph cylinder for her. In her own house she
could take treatment by suggestion whenever there was necessity for it.
"In cases of insomnia there is no question of its value. Hypnotism
is already recognized as the most effective cure for this. Now the person
afflicted in this way may have a phonograph always ready with the proper
cylinder. A natural sleep may be produced from which he will awake when
Dr. Keyes for nearly three years has been professor of suggestive
therapeutics. He is a graduate of the Albany Medical School, and always has
made a specialty of hypnotism and its application to surgery.
The idea came to him like a flash about a month ago. There was nothing in particular to lead up to it, except his ordinary work in the line of hypnotism. It simply occurred to him. He put it into execution, and now he feels confident that his discovery will in time take rank with that of chloroform and other agencies which have revolutionized the science of medicine and of surgery.