One great field which the author of Ideal Suggestion believes will open to it in the near future, is the reformation of inebriety. The world is struggling with the problem of finding an efficient remedy for the slavery to intoxicants. There is no common agreement as to the best means to accomplish this purpose, and the efforts put forth are spasmodic, unsystematic and unscientific. The great organized movements for the suppression of intemperance have changed during the last few decades, and in some respects the trend seems to have been reactionary.
The Washingtonian movement, with the moral enthusiasm which followed, and education and moral suasion in general, have been largely displaced by efforts toward legal prohibition and external suppression. No disparagement is cast upon prohibition, so far as it goes, but it does not cure inebriety. It is unfortunate that it has popularly come to be regarded as synonymous with temperance, and therefore it has largely overshadowed and displaced organized moral agencies. Under the most favorable conditions it is external, and inadequate to the great end desired by its well-meaning and conscientious advocates.
Another phase of present thought, is the idea that inebriety is a disease of the body, and that it can be cured by material medication. This view has gained considerable acceptance from the fact that many cures take place through the power of numerous, subtle and unconscious mental influences which are generally unappreciated or ignored. It is unnecessary to enlarge upon this solution of the seeming results of medication; for those who have perused Part I. of this book will find every phenomenon abundantly accounted for in accordance with the laws of mental causation.
Inebriety is cured temporarily by "hypnotic suggestion." Vivid mental impressions imposed by another mind change the victim's likes, tastes, and even his ruling appetite. This assertion does not need to be verified to any who are aware of the progress of hypnotic research in a few of the noted institutes of Europe, and to a much less extent in this country. The mere experimental stage has been passed.
The inebriate needs to be set free—cured from within—which involves the overcoming of the old consciousness by a new and higher one. Suggestion is the human motor. To pass a saloon, suggests a drink. A feeling of depression or weakness does the same on account of the known temporary exhilaration which follows. On the other side, things external, especially the palpable, forfeited respect of his fellows, suggests to the victim that he is a victim. Everything within and without concurs regarding his degradation. The lower selfhood is emphasized, and the consciousness sinks into animalism. Now what does he need? Most assuredly vivid suggestions of the opposite and higher. In some way they must be lodged in his mind. If he have any desire for release—and almost everyone does in some degree—Ideal Suggestion furnishes a systematic means to the end. In proportion as it is thoroughly followed, mental laws insure positive results.
Let us briefly outline a possible reformatory conducted in accord with the laws of suggestion as they shape mental action. What would be the modus operandi 1 In the first place the inebriate in man would not be recognized, but utterly ignored. The theory in all instruction and intercourse would be, that the divine in man is the man. He is ideally whole, potentially perfect—a child of God. Everything must emphasize that suggestion. All this would naturally include the exercises in mental photography as formulated in this work. These and kindred ideals would be graphically impressed upon the mental field of vision. This action, to the outer sense, could be heightened by the employment of words in electric light, or formed of tiny gas-jets in a background of darkness, instead of the common printed text. An hour's exposure to such ideals during each day would produce a remarkable impress upon the mental vision. The rational use of some such unique means will be easily grasped when it is understood that the object is a vivid mental picture. Take such "suggestions" as "I am free," "I am soul," or "God is here." After a few days they would stand out before the mind, by night and by day. They would be seen in words of fire before the saloon entrance, and flame up in the mind's eye at every call of the appetite. The higher self-consciousness thus gained would make it plain to the man that it was only the animal, and not himself who craved the stimulant.
Such an institution is today only an imaginary one ; but it would be in accord with the laws of mind, and it is to be hoped that it may have a practical trial in the not distant future. In the past, under traditional and materialistic theories, retreats and asylums have entirely disregarded the immutable order of mental causation. Their aims have been good, but their methods have not fitted the laws of mind, and the power of ideals has been unappreciated. Now that human duality, or the double consciousness, is becoming understood, the way is open through idealism for a great advancement. It is quite true that the philosophy here advanced may seem strange, and perhaps visionary, to many whose thinking has been superficial, but such has been the verdict which at first has greeted every great advance of history.