The Lowdown: “An American Tragedy: Rape Under Hypnosis”

The Jan­u­ary, 1960 (Vol­ume 5, Num­ber 4) issue of The Low­down mag­a­zine includes a three-page (just under one page of text and backed by a lurid dou­ble-page spread image of star­ing eyes) relat­ing the “per­son­al” expe­ri­ence of “a young and pret­ty for­mer pros­ti­tute who was hired by THE LOWDOWN to track rumors that doc­tors were hyp­no­tiz­ing house­wives and seduc­ing them.”

The text does not offer any proof that there were even such rumors, only men­tion­ing a doc­tor in New Mex­i­co who alleged­ly hyp­no­tized sev­er­al women, includ­ing get­ting one of them preg­nant: no oth­er details were includ­ed. Instead the sto­ry reads like a “true con­fes­sions” per­son­al sto­ry about two dif­fer­ent encoun­ters that are light on speci­fici­ties that could have been pieced togeth­er from any num­ber of peri­od resources about hypnosis.

The pho­to­graph on the first page is not ref­er­enced in the article.

Pret­ty 19-year-old Patri­cia Mor­ris sub­mit­ted to a hyp­no­tist will­ing­ly as a stunt. How­ev­er, many oth­er women have been hyp­no­tized against their wills.

The rest of the arti­cle is lit­tered with gen­er­al­i­ties and sup­po­si­tions which make it easy to accept but hard to believe or confirm.

The whole arti­cle is sug­ges­tive, lurid and titi­lat­ing with­out being explic­it. That seems to be the case with every­thing else being pub­lished. “The Low­down” reads like the ille­git­i­mate child of a cheap tabloid news­pa­per and a scur­rilous men’s mag­a­zine, with all the sex, hype and tabloid sen­sa­tion­al­ism of the par­ents, crossed with the truthi­ness of a true con­fes­sions mag­a­zine and served with a dol­lop of racism on top. The lat­ter is espe­cial­ly obvi­ous, with the arti­cles “Why White Women Love Paul Robe­son” and “Sam­my Davis: Big Shot?” (part of the “A Nation­al Dis­grace: How Big-Shots Beat the Law”).

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