Phonozoic Text Archive, Document 146

Phonograph is Now Used in Hypnotism.
Phonoscope, April, 1898, p. 7.

Every man 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 filled.

            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, unconscious."

            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 face.

            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 was felt.

            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 wonderment.

            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 pincushion.

            "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 [8] 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 rested."

            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.