Permanent Hypnosis

7 Aug

The two hypnotherapeutic psychiatrists met at the Vienna Institute for Medical Hypnosis and Meditation on Blumen Gasse with the purpose in mind of coming to a definite agreement on the projected research Dr. Hans Een had conceived of and promoted for several years.

“I am ready to begin,” announced the younger Hans. “There is no need for postpone things any longer.”

His colleague, in charge of all research involved with hypnotism, was Dr. Konrad Tenck, who frowned as he began to react to what he had just heard.

“There is no question that the matter you aim to study is of crucial importance to the forward evolution of our field, but I have to warn you of the potential dangers involved in such deep and radical interference with the normal functioning of a patient’s consciousness. In other words, Hans, who is able to foresee what the ultimate effects of these changes in the brain might turn out to be. Those consequences can be much worse than any of us can today predict. Can you give any credible guarantees that no harm will result to anyone in the test group?”

Hans suddenly smiled. “Nothing at all can be defined ahead of time in this area. We all recognize that.”

“I advise you to go along carefully, in every sense,” muttered Dr. Tenck.

Hans focused particular attention on one of his patients who appeared to be an excellent candidate for hypnotherapy.

Treu Steger was a middle-aged man of middle height and similar weight. He had bushy black hair and was dark-eyed and complected.

The mind of this successful furniture-dealer was torn apart with severe mental and emotional conflict. He made candid confession of his internal turmoil at a series of private consultations with Dr. Een.

“I cannot stand the unending warfare inside my thoughts. Nothing helps. I have tried everything available, but the cycle of high and low, positive and negative, up and down, does not end for me.

“For a short time I am happy and think well of myself, but then the shadow of doubt and self-loathing comes back and seizes hold of me once again. This goes on and on, continuous and never-ending.

“What can you or anyone else do about what is plaguing me, Doctor? My sleeping is disturbed and interrupted, and I am unable to concentrate my attention on my collapsing furniture business. How am I going to survive the endless, limitless depression hanging over me?

“The last hope for me has to be hypnotherapy. I have heard stories from my friends about the marvelous results of what happens with such treatments. That is the reason I have come to you, Doctor.”

All the indications appeared to be present that pointed to Treu as a fit subject for a new, advanced form of mesmeric therapy. Why should there be any reluctance to proceed?

Hans argued with Konrad Tenck for what he proposed to do.

“We know, today in 2025, that the amygdala is the seat of emotions and instincts. But it can be affected to an extreme degree by recent molecular-chemistry breakthroughs developed in the pharmaceutical laboratories of the European Union. Science now provides us with the means of reshaping the brain’s amygdala into a sensitive instrument of personality transformation. We can accomplish what was previously impossible if we combine the biochemical with the psychohypnotic.

“Let us begin with a research project centered on transforming the bipolar character of Mr. Treu Steger.”

What could Konrad Tenck do but reluctantly grant his approval to a test?

The patient volunteered to receive injections of the newly synthesized cortico-tropin-releasing hormonal substance that it was hoped would bring about an adjustment in his amygdala, regulating the overproduction of the harmful glucocorticoids thought to be the cause of his depression.

Treu Steger entered the circular building housing the mental section of the Vienna General Hospital in order to receive the needed hormone in several injections. Once this part of the program was completed, Hans Een could begin the hypnotic sessions aimed at the final, total victory over the chronic, severe depression afflicting the businessman.

Hans entered the private room where the test patient lay in a special polystyrene bed and began to talk to him while standing to the side and looking down into Treu’s eyes.

“How do you feel at the present moment?” asked the hypnotherapist.

“Like I always do,” replied the man in the bed. “I am anxious, no question of that. But it is impossible for me to name or describe what it is that is bothering and torturing me.”

The doctor hesitated a moment, but then went on according to plan.

“I am now going to place you into complete, deep trance. Keep your eyes on my hands as they pass over you, Treu.”

The experienced mesmerist skillfully made smooth, non-threatening movements in front of the moving eyes of the patient. Hypnotic passes followed each other, each one followed by the eyes that became focused upon them.

Treu in a short time became entranced and enraptured by what was moving back-and-forth in front of his face.

Hans could tell instantly when it was that the middle-aged man was totally in a state of hypnosis, not asleep but in a condition of extraordinarily centered attention.

The objective now became one of bringing peace and calm to the troubled brain of Treu by allowing it to unload itself of the harmful factors impeding the balanced functioning of his amygdala. The hormonal injections could turn out to be the key that unlocks the amygdala to hypnotic influence, hoped Dr. Hans Een.

The sleeping patient awoke while alone in his room, but the first nurse who entered to check on him noticed that there was something peculiar about his dark eyes. Treu stared about at varying angles, but he never blinked.

In seconds, several medics on night duty came in to examine the test subject. All of them were surprised and puzzled by what they noted about the man who had undergone both injections and hypnotherapy.

Consensus was immediately arrived at that Dr. Een had to be informed of the state of this subject and summoned to come quickly and make his own evaluation of the situation.

Astounded by what he learned over the airphone, the still awakening Hans promised to rush to the scene as fast as he could. He called for an electrocab, riding to the hospital with his thoughts confused and disordered.

When he reached the room where the test patient was supposed to be recovering from hypnotic treatment, he discovered a number of staff physicians and nurses about the bed of Treu Steger.

“The man has awakened from sleep and has recovered consciousness,” explained one of the on-lookers. “But there is a strange mood visible in his eyes, as if he remains within an hypnotic trance of some sort. You must examine him and make your own diagnosis, Dr. Een.”

“I have never seen anything like this,” said one intern who was present.

No one has,” explained another. “It is an unprecedented phenomenon.”

Hans moved to the side of the bed and stared into the face of Treu. He recognized immediately that the man had not yet come out of the stage of trance that he himself had created.

The hypnotherapist raised his right arm and snapped his fingers close to the patient’s ear. Would the noise he made snap Treu into full, unquestioned consciousness?

There was no reaction by the one in the bed. He appeared as if his attention was focused far away, on some distant object or position. His mind would have to be labeled and described as absent and preoccupied.

Dr. Een sensed sudden uneasiness and confusion in his own thinking. What was the explanation for the situation that he was now observing?

He spoke in a whisper to the other medical personnel that were present.

“We must allow him to restore himself however long it might take. For now, let us leave him alone to rest and see how his situation develops.”

Hans was the last one to leave Treu. The latter seemed still looking off into undefined space.

After several hours searching through computerized medical journals for any reference to continuing hypnotic trance, the puzzled researcher returned to the room holding the immobilized subject. There was nothing recorded anywhere pertaining to the weird, abnormal condition faced in this instant. Not a single word.

Hans took a chair in and sat beside the bed of Treu Steger for a long time. His thoughts wandered in all possible directions. He noticed how the patient was connected to an intervenous system that feed his blood system with liquid nourishment. That gave him an idea.

“Would you enjoy eating a bit of solid food, Treu?” softly said the hypnotherapist.

He waited, his eyes fixed on the immobile, dark face of the one in the bed.

All at once, the lips unmoving till then opened and faint words came out of the mouth that had been silent.

“Yes, indeed. I think it would be wonderful to eat something solid, Doctor Een.”

The latter smiled and gave a laugh. “I will see to it that they bring you something you will like, my friend.”

It was two days later that Konrad Tenck walked unannounced into the office where Hans was working behind his calcium desk.

“I have read all these reports about what has happened to the patient undergoing the new combined treatment. How could it have happened that he fell into a continuous, unending hypnotic state? This is something that modern psychology and medicine have never faced or studied before, I believe.

“Tell me what is going on with the patient, Hans. Will he be able to function in any normal manner in the future?”

The hypnotherapist being addressed hesitated for several moments, as if uncertain how much he really knew about recent events in his research program.

“There is much that remains unknown about the amygdala,” slowly declared Hans. “It is a complicated relic of the reptilian, limbic brain. The integrating center for all emotions and primal motivations is located in the two hemispheres of that almond-shaped organ deep in the brain’s temporal lobe.

“What do we actually know, even today, about the secrets of the amygdala?

“It contains circuits to the prefrontal cortex, where our emotions can be strengthened or canceled out. Other portions of the brain can be excited and activated from this most primitive center. We have concentrated, up to now, on its function in the area of fear, danger, and stress. The text books describe the amygdala as our mental alarm bell. It often goes into a state of hyper-vigilance, so to speak.

“But I myself emphasize the so-called attentional function of the organ. It signals and directs the entire brain when to be aware and vigilant, and then focuses attention on a particular object or area. I call it our unconscious guidance system. Signals from there facilitate our learning and instruct us what to pay attention to. All of this happens automatically, seldom consciously.

“Somehow, the powerful hormonal injections added to my hypnotizing of the subject, Treu Steger, led to the formation of an unbreakable state of trance for him. So far, there has been nothing that we can do to end it. He now rises from his bed and walks around in the hallway. His physical strength has returned to normal. He talks and is able to hold a conversation. There are no problems with eating or other usual physical functions.

“But the poor fellow remains in a state of hypnotic trance with all the suggestibility and sensitivity that implies. He will obey commands from me alone, as it was when we began. Normal independence of judgment has not been restored for Treu. He is not the same person that he was before we began to experiment on him.”

The two physicians stared at each other without speaking for an uncomfortably long time.

“You have a big problem here, Hans,” said Dr. Tenck in a gruff tone. “I advise you to break the patient out of his hypnotic condition before we have a major problem in this matter.”

Hans canceled much of his daily schedule so that he would have all the time he needed to be present to assist Treu as he restored himself to active living of a sort.

The patient who was burdened with a new, unfamiliar form of hypnotic trance appeared to need instructions from his therapists in order to carry out the simplest necessary functions.

The two men took ever wider strolls through the streets around the General Hospital. They shared three meals a day together and spoke to each other like bosom old friends.

“I see no signs of the profound depression from which you once suffered, Treu,” said the physician one afternoon when the two of them visited the famous Freud Museum on Berggasse, near the University of Vienna. “It is difficult to tell someone that they no longer suffer the illness that they used to, but you have to be aware of the unexpected condition that you now have, that of unimpeded mesmerism. Do you understand what I am talking about, Treu?”

The latter nodded that he did. “I am now a new man with a life different from what I used to lead, Doctor. My plans are to leave the hospital and try to resume my old affairs in my furniture business. When do you think that will be possible?”

Hans grinned brightly. “I will tell you as soon as I decide,” he told the patient.

Konrad Tenck summoned Hans to his office the following morning to inform him of a decision reached by the medical board of the hospital in an emergency meeting the previous evening.

“It is my duty to inform you that our officers have decided to remove you from the case of Mr. Treu Steger,” he said in a solemn voice. “Until a full investigation of your recent actions is completed, there shall be a suspension of all medical practice at this institution for you.

“In other words, there will be an inactivation of hospital practice, including all hypnotherapy, with any and all patients here at Vienna General.” His eyes focused sharply on the face of Hans. “Do you have any questions? If not, I advise you to leave at once without making any scene or anything else.

“You must not meet with the unlucky Treu Steger. He shall now be placed under the care of a committee of competent physicians and psychologists. That is all, for now. Goodbye from all members of our staff.”

The impression that Hans received from the manner and style of his colleague was one of cruel indifference and inner gloating.

Hans realized that he would have to construct a private practice as a hypnotist from scratch. It would be like starting all over again. That must now be my fate, he said to himself that evening, alone in his apartment on Nussdorfer Strasse.

He would have to begin laying out a new career map for himself tomorrow, no doubt of that.

A knock was heard from his entrance door. Who could it be? the physician wondered.

Rising out of his easy chair, Hans went to open it and find out.

Treu Stegner, in a raincoat of bright yellow, stood there with an enigmatic expression on his dark face.

“Can I come in and speak with you?” asked the one Hans had placed in unending hypnotic trance.

The unforeseen visitor stepped in and the resident psychotherapist shut the door behind him.

Only when the pair were seated facing each other did Hans begin to ask questions.

“Were you just released from Vienna General?”

“No, sir. I have the freedom to leave when I wish, and that is what happened. I gathered all my clothes and made an exit on my own, even though it was entirely unauthorized. And then I looked up your address and took an electrocab here. That is the whole story, Dr. Een.”

“I can tell that you remain in a mesmeric state, Treu. Isn’t that so?”

“Yes, it is. That is why I came to see you here. My plan is to resume direct management of my furniture business as soon as I can. Even though my mind is in this extraordinary state, I know that I can take up my old normal activities and profession. There is nothing in me to prevent or obstruct that. But I feel that there must be a safe and dependable support system for what has happened to my old condition of depression and anxiety. Yes, I will need you as my back-up, my guarantee of continuation, Dr. Een. Do you agree to act as my personal physician and psychotherapist? Will you help me maintain this special state that you yourself placed me in?”

Hans, to a degree worried and alarmed up to now, suddenly burst out in audible laughter.

“Yes, of course,” he managed to say, once again in equilibrium. “I promise to do all that I am able to accomplish in order to keep you in a healthy, balanced state of permanent hypnosis. Who can tell? You may be the first harbinger of a wholly new form of treatment through hypnotic-biochemical modification of the amygdalae of troubled individuals. You could be the depressed patient who will go down in the history of our field.”

Both men chuckled at that optimistic notion.

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