The first step in this re-education is a grasp of the facts. If you want to pull yourself out of a nervous disorder, first of all learn as much as you can about the causes of “nerves,” about the general laws of mind and body, and about your own mental quirks. If this is not sufficient, go to a specialist trained in psychotherapy and let him help you uncover those trouble-making parts of your personality which you cannot find for yourself. It is the purpose of this book to summarize the facts which most need to be known. Let us now consider those methods which the psychopathologist finds most useful in helping his patients to self-knowledge and readjustment.
=Various Methods.= As there are a number of schools of medicine, so there are a number of distinct methods of psychotherapy, each with its own theories and methods of procedure, and each with its ardent supporters. These methods may be classified into two groups. The first group includes those methods, hypnosis and psycho-analysis, which make a thorough search through the subconscious mind for the buried complexes causing the trouble, and might, therefore, be called “re-education with subconscious exploration.” The other group, includes so-called explanation and suggestion, or methods of “re-education without subconscious exploration,” which content themselves with making a general survey and building up new complexes without going to the trouble of uncovering the buried past. Although the theory and the technique vary greatly, the aim of all these methods is the same,—the readjustment of the individual to life.
=Hypnosis.= The method by which most of the important early discoveries were made is hypnosis, or artificial sleep, a method by which the conscious mind is dissociated and the subconscious brought to the fore. It was through hypnosis that Freud, Janet, Prince, and Sidis made their first investigations into the nature of nervousness and worked their first cures. With the conscious mind asleep and its inhibitions out of the way, a hypnotized patient is often able to remember and to disclose to the physician hidden complexes of which he is unaware when awake. Hypnosis may thus be a valuable aid to diagnosis, enabling the physician to determine the cause of troublesome symptoms. He may then begin to make suggestions calculated to break up the old complexes and to build new ones, made up of more healthful ideas, desirable emotions and happy feeling-tones. As we have seen, a hypnotized subject is highly suggestible. His counter-suggestions inactivated, he believes almost anything told him and is extremely susceptible to the doctor’s influence.