“The Hypnotist” by Jack Kahler (1966)

John Mered­ith Swift was only 14 years old and he was quite impressed by the hyp­no­tist he’d seen. It was­n’t sur­pris­ing that he tried to imi­tate the man, but, as he dis­cov­ered with young Nan­cy next door, he had to give his voice time to mature a little.

He nev­er lost his fas­ci­na­tion for the art, how­ev­er, and much lat­er … in his last year at col­lege, he had the oppor­tu­ni­ty for an inter­est­ing exper­i­ment. One which caused a young vir­gin to turn up preg­nant, almost cost­ing her life and san­i­ty … and John’s as well …

Descrip­tion: John Swift is a man with­out goals, an intel­li­gent man with­out the dri­ve to do any­thing with that intel­li­gence, an indif­fer­ent stu­dent with a lack­lus­ter degree from a promi­nent uni­ver­si­ty, a man with no prospects and no desires. His one great gift is his facil­i­ty with hyp­no­sis, a gift he used for his own per­son­al sat­is­fac­tion, yet a gift he can­not use open­ly or to aid oth­ers. Yet he is dri­ven to use that gift, so he is forced to work through a most unlike­ly duo: a pro­fes­sion­al hyp­nother­a­pist long out of prac­tice and a decide­ly unpro­fes­sion­al ther­a­pist with a bur­geon­ing ‘prac­tice’ deal­ing in entranced sex.

And through a strange coin­ci­dence he meets back up with Lola, one of the many women he seduced using hyp­no­sis, yet the only one who is now pay­ing the price. She is preg­nant with John’s child, yet her hyp­not­i­cal­ly-induced amne­sia about the event means she has no idea who the father is. Every mem­o­ry, every psy­cho­log­i­cal inves­ti­ga­tion into that ques­tion even­tu­al­ly was fruit­less. She is man­ag­ing to cope with the sit­u­a­tion yet stil wants an answer, and hyp­no­sis may be the answer to her prob­lem, and John is the hyp­no­tist who might be able to help her.

But he has to get over his own guilt first, and his wal­low­ing in self-doubt and his dis­gust at his excess­es in the com­pa­ny of the unpro­fes­sion­al hyp­nother­a­pist does­n’t help mat­ters. And to do that, he has to real­ize that, dspite his affect­ed dis­in­ter­est, John has found some­thing (or some­one) that he can be inter­est­ed in.

Com­men­tary: If you’re look­ing for ram­pant descrip­tions of sex­u­al escapades under hyp­no­sis, you won’t find them here. There is plen­ty of implied sex­u­al activ­i­ty under hyp­no­sis, but its all off screen, even the cru­cial scene between John and Lola. As such, is promis­es much (from the cov­er pictuer alone) but does­n’t deliv­er except to titil­i­ate the read­er’s imagination.

What the sto­ry is about is John’s descent into a per­son­al hell because of his awak­en­ing feel­ings and guilt toward the girl he used once and then for­got about. Once he knows about Lola and her “con­di­tion” (as it would have been described back in that peri­od) his whole world is com­plete­ly unset­tled and he tries to com­pen­sate, first by going out­side the nor­mal bounds of hyp­nother­a­py, pos­si­bly see­ing that as some form of com­pen­sa­tion, and then by wal­low­ing in despair. It takes Lola’s own per­son­al trou­bles to shake him out of it and to come to the real­iza­tion that he actu­al­ly loves her as much as she dis­cov­ers she loves him.

I do have to give the author cred­it for the induc­tions: they are well-writ­ten, so I have to won­der how the author imag­ined them or whether they were copied from some­where or writ­ten for him. I have not found any infor­ma­tion about the author direct­ly, so it might be he did have some form of train­ing in hyp­no­sis, but I think it more like­ly he had help here.

Rec­om­men­da­tion: This is a hard book to find (I found it only recent­ly and paid a good price for it) but I do have to rec­om­mend it if only (and prob­a­bly only) for the num­ber of induc­tions record­ed there­in. Oth­er­wise the sto­ry is only pedes­tri­an and the book is only of inter­est to peo­ple like col­lec­tors like myself.

Triv­ia: Accord­ing to one ref­er­ence, the rather Satan­ic face on the cov­er art is the face of cov­er artist Dou­glas Weaver.

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