Archive for the ‘Radio’ Category

The Shadow” — The Origin

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?”
“The Shadow knows”

With that, one of the most successful pulp characters was introduced to the radio and magazine audience. Even today, that phrase is recognized and the character remembered: the Shadow, who possessed the hypnotic power to “cloud mens’ minds”.

But The Shadow had a convoluted history: he didn’t always have that power; in fact, he wasn’t a pulp character in the first place!

⇒ Continue reading “The Shadow” — The Origin”

30 Days of Hypnosis: Day 12

What’s your favorite pop culture reference about hypnosis?

Whew! So many possibilities.

The first one that comes to mind is “The Hypnotic Eye”. A movie about a sinister stage hypnotist who entrances his lovely subjects certainly plays to many of the public misconceptions regarding hypnosis, plus the producers had a professional stage hypnotist instruct the actor how to perform on camera as well as hypnotizing the actresses to go in to a trance on cue. Regrettably, it suffers from low public knowledge so it barely registers as a pop culture icon.

Another one that comes to mind is the classic spiral motif that so represents hypnosis in popular culture. That and the spooky, swirly music that seems to always accompany it in any advertisement or television episode scene transition. The same also goes for dangling crystals and staring eyes.

But I guess my favorite has to be “Trilby”. No other work so influenced the pop culture regarding hypnosis throughout its history. It is one of the few culture icons that directly influenced the English language, with the addition of “Svengali” as a term for a manipulative mentor.

A Holiday Treat — The (Physical) Hypnosis in Media Collection

As a special Holiday present, I present the (physical) Hypnosis in Media collection in its semi-entirety.

The bookshelf unit here holds the main part of the Collection. As you can see, it is divided in half, with the left half holding figures and artwork behind the glass doors, larger books and folders below, and the doors below holding the media elements that don’t fit anywhere else. The right half holds most of the fiction and nonfiction books. As you can see, the bookcase is by no means large enough to hold everything, as there are parts of the collection on the floor before it.

This is the upper part of the left half, which has the figures and artwork. On the upper shelf you can see the two figures from the Silent Screams figure line, from the movie “The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari” on the top, along with the Princess Ariel figure, and smaller toys with hypnotic themes in the middle. At the back of the lower shelf as a animation cel of Hypnotia from the “Iron Man” animated series, several dozen HeroClix figures in the lower left and my latest acquisition, the Ringmaster mini-bust, in the center. The boxes on the right contain a number of stereotypical hypnotic foci, including several crystals and even a couple of hypno-disks. The HeroClix figures are a large but not complete of all of the characters with hypnotic or mind control abilities, including Professor X, Saturn Girl, Super-Gorilla Grodd, the Puppet Master, the Mad Hatter, etc.

The folders and notebooks on the shelves below the  glass doors consists of the results of research projects carried out in the past, including the material behind the search for ‘Secrets of the Sleep Merchants’ detailed elsewhere, a set of publicity photographs of Pat Collins and details of her life, comic strip and book collections and reference materials, smaller magazines and pamphlets that might get damaged if put elsewhere, the two records released by Pat Collins, as well as anything that doesn’t fit in anywhere else.

The fiction part comprises roughly 200 pieces, including several collections, double-stacked on the first two shelves and in front of the non-fiction stacks on the third shelf.  The non-fiction section also contains roughly about 200 books, not including the various pamphlets and booklets that are in another bookshelf. These books are strictly hypnosis related: there is a separate section for media references, such as indices and reference books on various TV series, movies, etc.

This is by no means the complete collection: there is a storage case with several dozen video tapes elsewhere that I am slowing digitizing and converting to DVD format, along with the comics collection stored in the garage, as well as the regular fiction collection that takes up most of another bedroom / library. All in all, I estimate I have somewhere in the range of 500 — 600 books, over 250 comics and dozens of magazines and papers in the collection proper and maybe another couple hundred books and I can’t even guess how many comics elsewhere.

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.

The Science Fiction Encyclopedia — Online

A website that I will be investigating further is the Science Fiction Encyclopedia website. An outgrowth of the 1995 encyclopedia of the same name edited by John Clute and Peter Nichols and published in collaboration with Gollancz SF Gateway, this is an attempt to be a comprehensive encyclopedia of the authors, themes and culture related to science fiction (and fantasy as well.) The encyclopedia is currently in beta release. 

As expected, one of the topics in question is HYPNOSIS, which lists a number of the early works involving hypnosis and mesmerism, including a few I was not aware of, such as “Kalee’s Shrine”  by Grant Allen and May Cotes. The website definitely bears further investigation. 

Note: Several years ago, I wrote the article on “Hypnotism” for the second edition of the Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, which is apparently not connected with this online version.

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