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Observations placeholder

Professor Alexander Erskine - A Hypnotist’s Case Book – Curing addictions to drugs and drink - Case 2 Chain smoking and alcohol



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

A Hypnotist’s Case Book – Professor Alexander Erskine

Here is a case over which l often laugh with the patient.

He bears the name of a family famous throughout the world for its riches ; but even in the wealthiest families there is some branch none too well favoured with this world's goods, and the branch of A- was no exception.

One day there came to me a young member of that family, who has since become one of my best friends. In those days I had never met him. But he was smoking too much, and a mutual friend suggested that, as he could not help himself, I might help him. So I put him to sleep and suggested that he should limit his smokes to so many a day.

Apparently all went well, for I did not hear from him for many months, and then he returned with a totally different tale. This time it was drink. Not that he got drunk ; he didn't. But he had a large circle of friends, to go the pace with whom was too much for his pockets.

Nor did he want to spoil his wonderful figure by getting too stout. Would I please make him a teetotaller ? If I did it would help him to save his face. Besides, he had tried and failed.

"In fact," he said, "so keen am I, that I am prepared to be sick every time I touch a drop."

Given his consent to such heroic measures, my task was easy. I put him to sleep, imposed the ban, and suggested the consequences of tasting even a mouthful.

He believed, but his friends did not. One day, when a party of them was leaving Charing Cross, and had to wait for a train, they prevailed on him "to have just one". He did. Half an hour later, in the train, he was violently sick. It was no coincidence, for to test the matter he tried the experiment on three other occasions.

There was always a similar result.

The lesson kept him to the straight and narrow path, but as time went on he changed his job. In his new position he had to attend trade and public dinners, and, as he pointed out, in such entertainments, without temptation, the need for the strict embargo had passed. Besides, he was now earning a better salary : could I help him ?

I said I would try, and between us we hit upon a plan which has been working well for three years - or more.

To-day, when about to go out to a dinner, he comes to me an hour or so previously, goes to sleep, and I lift the total ban, and impose a specified limit. And he is incapable of taking more than I allow. The following day he comes back, and I re-impose total abstinence.

I have seen men who have agreed that I shall impose a total ban reach out their hands for a drink and be unable to pick it up; and I have seen A - accept a cigarette beyond his allowance and forget to light it.

But note : I could not have achieved this had he not been willing to help. Scientifically, it was he who achieved it himself. I merely showed him the way.

The source of the experience

Erskine, Professor Alexander

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Smoke inhalation