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Observations placeholder

Professor Alexander Erskine - A Hypnotist’s Case Book – Alleviating the pain of a man with terminal cancer



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

A Hypnotist’s Case Book – Professor Alexander Erskine

A woman came to me to ask if I could do anything for her brother, who was dying of cancer in a town in the south of England.

He was, she told me, under the care of one of our most famous doctors, and it was only a matter of days. Her brother was conscious, but so terrible was his pain that even the largest dose of morphia failed to bring him relief.

I rang up the doctor in the case and told him of the request. He was more than willing: "For," he said, "I can do nothing for him."

That afternoon I left London. I was shown into the bedroom. It was obvious that no human agency could save him, for, as I have repeatedly stressed, organic disease, except in so far as it depends on or is caused by functional disorder, cannot be cured by hypnosis. My one hope was that I might manage to make his last hours easier.

But, racked with pain night and day, he refused all help ; he would not even listen to me for a moment, scoffing at my suggestion and deriding the whole idea. I had stayed three days before he would take the slightest interest.

"Why won't you go to sleep," I asked him "a quiet, peaceful sleep in which there shall be no more pain? "

But he scoffed still. He knew he was dying. Why could I not leave him alone ?

So I tried to send him off, despite his resistance-and failed.

At last, as a joke, he consented to help me. "Just think of nothing” I said quietly "just try for two minutes, and you will sleep."

"Right, go ahead, I'll try."

A few moments later I watched the hard-drawn lines of pain disappear from his face. He lay back peacefully on his pillows. I do not think even now that he went fully off into the sleep state, but I had conveyed the wish to the subconscious mind and it was sufficient.

He slept. So, waking and dozing, he lingered for one day more, and then, peacefully in his sleep, he died. But from the time I left they gave him no more drugs, for he told them that his pain was gone.

The source of the experience

Erskine, Professor Alexander

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Extreme pain