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Psychol the process whereby the mere presentation of an idea to a receptive individual leads to the acceptance of that idea



in the broad sense of the word, an influence on the personality leading either to the appearance in a person, without (and sometimes against) his will and consciousness, of a definite state (for example, cheerfulness, confidence), feelings (such as fear), and attitudes (to an object, to oneself, or to one’s own condition) or to the accomplishment of an act not directly proceeding from the norms and principles of activity that the individual accepts. The object of suggestion can be either the individual person or groups, collectives, and social strata (the phenomenon of mass suggestion). The psychological mechanisms of suggestion lie to a large extent in the realm of the unconscious.

Individual and mass suggestion are one of the regulators of human interrelations. Several phenomena in education, the effects of advertising, and the widespread acceptance of fashion are based on acts of suggestion. Suggestion is also the basic means in the formation of belief and religious convictions and is one of the psychological mechanisms in the phenomenon of conformity.


Bekhterev, V. M. Vnushenie i vospitanie. St. Petersburg, 1912.
Kulikov, V. N. “ Voprosy psikhologii vnusheniia v obshchestvennoi zhizni. In the collection Problemy obshchestvennoi psikhologii. Moscow, 1965. [5_494_4]



in medicine, a method of treatment in which the physician convinces a patient, who is either awake or under hypnosis, that the disease from which he suffers will run a favorable course and that he will recover; the patient can also be convinced of the possibility of overcoming various symptoms of the illness.

Suggestion can be applied as an independent method or it can be combined with medications and other methods of treatment. It is used in neuroses, several forms of mental disorders, neurosis of internal organs, and other illnesses. The effect of suggestion as a treatment depends on the makeup of the patient’s personality and on the particularities of his illness. The basic scientific, physiological principles of suggestion as treatment in a hypnotic state were developed by I. P. Pavlov and his school. The essence of the method is use of the dependence of the activity of internal organs and systems on the function of the central nervous system; by suggestion it is possible to bring about a certain normalization when there is a disturbance of these organs and systems. In addition to this, suggestion can change the patient’s attitude toward his illness and some of its symptoms. Any method of treatment contains elements of suggestion; the patient’s faith in the favorable outcome of the illness and in the doctor’s prescriptions enhances the effectiveness and shortens the period of the treatment. However, in most dis-eases of the internal organs, organic brain diseases, psychoses, and so on, suggestion cannot be employed as an independent method of treatment but is part of a composite treatment that includes medications, physiotherapy, and other methods applicable to each specific disease.

Autosuggestion exists as a special method in psychotherapy; it also forms a basis for several other psychotherapeutic methods, such as autogenous training.

Suggestion, as in the case of other methods, is to be carried out only by a physician; he determines the extent and the indications for the specific method of suggestion.

Suggestion can also exert a negative influence on the course of a disease. The conversations of neighbors about the disease and its symptoms, details of the descriptions of dis-eases in medical literature, and careless use of terms and explanations by the physician can cause anxiety in the patient and make him think that he exhibits symptoms of a serious and even incurable disease. Both the positive and negative effects of suggestion are realized by auto-suggestion—the patient’s conviction of the effectiveness, truthfulness, and accuracy of information obtained from the physician, medical personnel, neighbors, material read by the patient, and other sources.


Platonov, K. I. Slovo kak fiziologicheskii lechebnyi faktor, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1962. (Bibliography.)


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