Dr. George Estabrooks, professor of psychology at Colgate University and author of the book, Hypnotism, made the following two statements in a paper called "The Future of Hypnosis" given as part of a program on "The Nature of Hypnosis" at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in 1959:
"It would be well to sound a word of caution against certain attitudes which have become prevalent and which can be well illustrated in the field of medicine. In this respect, direct suggestion is under the ban.
For example, a dictum, 'Never remove the symptom unless the cause is understood,' is much emphasized. Its validity is greatly open to question, since much of medical practice is direct symptom removal, as only a little thought makes apparent.
"Another dictum generally followed is that the unconscious background of symptom-complexes must necessarily be made conscious to effect a cure. Reasonable and thoughtful consideration of the extensive role of the unconscious in daily living and functioning renders this dictum much less creditable."
I should like to discuss both of these statements in some detail as they invariably arise in the mind of the individual seeking help through hypnosis.
The first thought that comes to mind is that all the religious healings cited in the Bible involve direct symptom removal. The cures that are effected by religious devotees traveling to sacred shrines are also in the realm of direct symptom removal. I have yet to hear a criticism of this type of treatment directed at religious leaders or condemnation of the religious shrines. These cures are accepted as evidence of the power of faith or attributed to the super-natural. In these cases, nothing is ever done to make the person cured understand the nature of the unconscious mechanisms which contributed to his problem.