‘Hypnotism Practiced Over Airway!’ — Radio World, March 27, 1926

An experiment on the effectiveness of hypnotism by radio was conducted in Boston and Springfield, Mass, by WBZ. Prof. Gerald M. P. Fitzgibbons, who stood at a microphone in Springfield, 100 miles from Boston, tried to mesmerize two men who sat in the studio of the Hotel Brunswick, Boston. The test failed to convince the psychologists, brain specialists, physicians, radio experts and newspapermen who witnessed it, but was called a success by Prof. Fitzgibbons.

Two of the three subjects, one a former Northampton neighbor of President Coolidge, appeared at times to have been hypnotized by the Professor. The third subject, Aaron Dashoff, of Fall River, a student at Harvard, sitting with the other subjects, exposed himself to  the same hypnotic influence, unknown to the professor and the other subjects. He assert he was entirely unaffected.

The witnesses were certain that the student did his best to concentrate on the message of Prof. Fitzgibbons. He sat with his eyes closed, complying with the orders that were coming from the loudspeakers, but when addressed said he had not been affected at any time. The physicians afterward stated they were doubtful as to the genuineness of the hypnosis into which the other two subjects declared that had been thrown.

The rest of the article further describes the event, adding that several others in other cities also participated. From the accounts, it certainly seems as though many of the people who participated were hypnotized. There are three pictures of the event: in the large one on the cover, two of the subjects definitely appear to be in a trance, while one of the other two shows them in catalepsy, stretched between two chairs. (The third is of the hypnotist.)

Here it was that Marshall and Hall apparently were overcome by the will of the hypnotist and succumbed to slumber. Their bodies were relaxed, their heads drooped forward and their arms hung loosely. But Dashoff seemed entirely unaffected.

Of course, relaxation is not the best demonstration of a hypnotic state.

The subjects were then told by the Professor that they were to have a humorous dream, and in a few moments Hall and Marshall commenced to laugh heartily.

He told them next that they were in the South and that huge mosquitoes were pursuing them and buzzing around their hears. And again these same two subjects responded properly. They thrashed their arms about them, endeavoring to chase away mind-made mosquitoes.

From the photographs and the descriptions, it certainly appears the two subjects were hypnotized, despite the comments of the witnessing physicians. (Do I detect a faint whiff of denial-ism here?)

The doctors’ statement, summed up, follows:

“It has been a most interesting experiment for us. We regret that the speed with which the suggestions were made, the consciousness that the message by Prof. Fitzgibbons one gone could not be recalled, gave us a rather unsatisfactory opportunity to determine the genuineness of the demonstration with a finality which might have been expected.”

Its uncertain what more the physicians were looking for here: the two subjects both visually demonstrated a number of hypnotic phenomena, including the catalepsy. I have to wonder just how well versed these attending physicians were familiar with hypnosis.

Commentary: First off, when I first saw the magazine for sale, I thought it described an event more along the lines of what Polgar had done, which was to broadcast the full induction over public airwaves, with the intent of hypnotizing the entire audience (who wanted to be hypnotized.) However, while on first glance it appears to be just a limited demonstration of remote hypnosis, the later paragraphs indicate it was broadcast more generally with reports of more successes in other cities.

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