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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