Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category

Ersatz Patriotism’ — Sensation, March, 1942

Its not an idle figure of speech when the Nazi race is described as a hypnotized people! With the German hordes being decimated by the avenging Russian army, the fantastic truth has at last seeped beyond the walls of Hitlerism.

For the fantastic truth is that a country once revered for its high level of education has resorted, in desperation, to hypnotism in order to keep its flesh and blood robots in line.

Thus begins a two-page photo article in Sensation magazine, from the early war years, being published in March, 1942. As might be expected from the lead, the whole article is about the ways Nazi Germany is hypnotizing its citizens into becoming not just “good little Germans” but robotic slaves to the sinister demands of Nazism. The rather heavy-handed gung-ho jingo-ism and propaganda is quite evident throughout the several paragraphs that make up the text of the article. In fact, it seems purely propaganda, at least based on the nine photographs included with the article.

Out of the 9 photographs, three are outdoor shots of some unknown event while the other six look more like pictures from the average stage hypnosis show.

One of the first lessons in the course for youth who would be a part of the “master race” is (1) to cause one’s self pain and to learn to stand it.

This photograph shows a young man, his fingertips in his mouth. It doesn’t appear that he is causing himself pain, instead it looks like he’s trying to eat something.

A German learns to “give himself up” to the Nazi cause (2) by falling backwards without thinking of his safety.

This appears to  be the classic “magnetic falling backwards” suggestibility test or induction, as the person behind the subject is positioned in the same way as the same test would be used today. It is interesting that the subject’s arms are outstretched. This is one of the outdoor photographs.

Mass hypnosis (4) is practiced outdoors for middle-aged recruits.

This is a picture of several men (older men, approximately in their 40’s — 50’s) laying on the ground as another stands over them, apparently speaking to them.

One of the exercises (5) induces a trance that makes the subject so stiff that he may be placed like a board, end to end on two chairs. All this, mind you, in the name of will power!

This is a picture of the classic catalepsy test.

But love, hastened by hypnosis, has the Nazi green light (7) as two girls embrace each other under hypnotic command. Hundreds of German women have recently been ordered to marry soldiers they have never before seen, and will never see again after they leave.

A Nazi superman in the making learns to obey orders (8) by submitting to a preparatory trance which is expected to stand him in good stead in the field of combat. Initiative and thoughts of personal safety are weeded out as a Nazi youth, his mind directed by the hypnotist at the left (9) lifts a chair.

All of the outdoor photographs appear to be of the same event, as do the indoor photographs, but there is nothing to suggest they are any way connected. Also, all of these pictures have nothing whatsoever not only to link them to the claims of the text, but not even anything to suggest that the people involved are even German: there are no uniforms (even of the hypnotists as would be expected) and everyone appears to wear average clothing. Moreover, just about everyone pictured has dark hair, hardly the image of the blonde Aryan figures so normally associated with Germany and the Nazis.

Commentary: Aside from reinforcing the stereotypes regarding hypnosis, the article is also reinforcing the sense and demonization of the “other” that occurs during war. Note that at the time of publication, the US was only starting to get involved in World War II. yet already the public was being indoctrinated (and hypnotized) into despising (or perhaps pitying) the average German and hating the Nazis.

In Nazi ideology, all this comes under the heading of will power! But in Russia, where these subjects have been taken captive, and in the United States, where a spade is called a spade, hypnosis by any other means is still the same.

Note that this is also after the German attack on Russia, so Russia is now an ally instead of the enemy and ally of Germany as would have seen several months previously.

History: This article was a pleasant surprise, because it wasn’t the reason for acquiring it for the Collection. This magazine also contains a very long article about Franz Polgar, one of the prominent and most widely known hypnotists of the early 20th Century.

Svengali of Sex!” — Detective World Magazine

Expose of Carnival Hypnotism Racket
September, 1948

When I awoke I found myself in bed in a trailer, and someone had taken my clothes. The door opened and Reinhardt entered. 

Thus begins a lurid tale of the exploits of a carnival sideshow hypnotist as told by the woman he swept away from her life, among the many other women he similarly seduced and stole away and pressed into service at the carnival, manning the booths, with no way or no desire to return. 

⇒ Continue reading “Svengali of Sex!” — Detective World Magazine”

Love and Passion Under Hypnosis” by Walter Hale

Love and Passion Under Hypnosis

Are Helpless Girls Betrayed by Hypnotists?

Playgirl Presents — A Shocking Special Edition

Stranger Than Bridey Murphy

Baring Fantastic Facts About Sex Under Hypnotic Suggestion

Profusely Illustrated with Uncensorsed Candid Photos

Love and Passion Under Hypnosis

⇒ Continue reading “Love and Passion Under Hypnosis” by Walter Hale”

Joan Brandon

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Biography: Pat Collins was certainly not the first female stage hypnotist. There were many others, but most have been forgotten

In the decade before Pat Collins there was a female stage hypnotist named Joan Brandon. In her books, she describes herself as a third-generation hypnotist, although it is probably more precise to say she was a three-generation stage magician who was also a stage hypnotist. (According to her books, her father was also a stage hypnotist but he is never identified, so that is difficult to verify.) About the only reason she is remembered now is that she is probably the first to write and publish a number of books on hypnosis (which are listed below.)

⇒ Continue reading “Joan Brandon”

The “Bridey Murphy” phenomenon

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History: It all started with a simple phone call and it ended with a world-wide phenomenon.

Morey Bernstein was the third-generation owner of a hardware distribution company in Denver. One evening in 1951, while working on a publicity campaign, he received a phone call. The caller introduced himself, said that he was stranded at the Denver Airport and said that his uncle said to call Morey if he needed anything. Morey recognized the name the caller mentioned, one of his best customers: all thoughts of the campaign were put aside as Morey drove out to the airport to pick up his guest.

At a loss as to what to do with him, Morey remembered a party that evening and decided to escort his guest there. At the party, his guest mentioned that he was a college student studying psychology and especially hypnosis. He proceeded to demonstrate to his unbelieving audience on a volunteer with excellent results: for instance, the woman volunteer, at the end of the demonstration, was profoundly surprised to discover her stocking in her hand and not on her foot. To say that Morey was fascinated with this demonstration of hypnosis was putting it mildly: he quickly obtained and read every book on the subject he could find and practiced on his friends and neighbors.

One of the volunteers was a neighbor woman named Virginia Tighe (in the book, she is named Ruth Simmons.) During one of his practice sessions,Virginia spontaneously began talking about a past-life experience as a woman named Bridey Murphy. Bridey was an Irish woman born around 1796, living in Cork, Ireland. He would record several sessions of Virginia recounting her past life and would then collate and publish them in a book he named “The Search for Bridey Murphy”, as well as later releasing a record of one of his sessions.

The book was a sensation. It was a massive best-seller, the popularity of which put the subjects of hypnosis, past-life regressions and reincarnation into or back into the public consciousness. As with Coué in the 1920’s, the Bridey Murphy story made the public aware of hypnosis again. Television having a limited reach at the time, hypnosis was largely confined to stage shows and movies that at the time were largely comedies or mysteries, nothing that would connect hypnosis to the average American. In addition, the subject of past-life regression was largely unknown and reincarnation was known in some small way to the general public, but it was a foreign subject, something associated with Eastern religions and philosophies. To have it all happen to a middle-class American woman was something unprecedented, and that connection to the average American opened up each concept to the public. As a result, there was a markedly increased interest in both hypnosis and reincarnation: reincarnation parties (not only “come as you were” costume parties but group inductions and past life regressions) became the latest fad, and movies involving hypnosis and reincarnation like “The She-Creature” (1956) and The Undead (1957) and books about reincarnation such as “The Search for the Girl With Blue Eyes” (1968) by Jess Stearn soon appeared, which also played on that interest.


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The book was turned into a movie, starring Teresa Wright and Louis Hayward. It was largely a documentary-style recounting of the story of how Morey became interested in hypnosis, jumping almost immediately then to his sessions with Virginia combined with re-enactments of her past-life regression story. (What I find amusing is the stereotypical “swinging watch” motif in the poster and cover artwork for the movie.)

But once the book was published, people starting checking into the story of Bridey Murphy and finding some glaring discrepancies in Virginia’s recounts of her past-life. There are a number of questions about the existence of a person named Bridey Murphy and of the flaws in what Virginia recounted about Bridey and her life and time period.

  • There is no record of any person named Bridey Murphy of that time period: although records are incomplete for that era, as the wife of a lawyer, she would be expected to have a will, which would have been recorded. Nor was there any notice of her death (in 1864) in the (more complete) newspapers of the time.
  • Far too many of the details of her past life she recounted don’t match up with recorded history: items she described were not introduced into Ireland until much later, customs she described were not followed by Irish culture, places she named and described did not exist at that time, and people she named (whose existence can be verified) could not be found. Others that were described were found, but they also were only in existence much later than the period of Bridey Murphy.
  • Too many of the pronunciations, language, foods and idioms she used do not date from that period or Irish culture in general: in fact, many appear to be either Americanisms or adaptations over time from the original.
  • Too many coincidences exist between the mundane life of Virginia and the past-life of Bridey: for instance, Virginia’s husband’s middle name is Brian, as is Bridey’s, and Virginia knew an Irish woman named Bridie Murphy Corkell as a child.
  • Many of the references that can be confirmed are geographical, which changed little in the years between the time of Bridey and the present, and so are unusable as evidence when the possibility of contemporary cultural contamination is present.

As for Morey, he abandoned hypnosis after this and returned to business, although he continued to express his belief in Bridey Murphy. But there is no doubting the impact of that one phone call and what happened thereafter on the public. Hypnosis came back into the public eye and never really left, even though the prejudices and misconceptions remained (and remain in large part even to this day.)

Commentary: Unfortunately, any current attempt at any kind of objective exploration of the particular subject has been lost in time. Investigations at the time as to the reality of the Bridey Murphy story have uncovered a number of holes and anachronisms in the story, and claims and counter-claims and debunking and counter-debunking has continued ever since.

As for my opinion, I take the Occam’s Razor approach and assign it to stories Virginia heard from her neighbor and from her own Irish parents (with whom she lived for the first three years of her life.)

Recommendation: For its historical value alone, the book is recommended.

Additional Material:

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