Archive for November, 2011

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.

No Post This Week

Eye strain (caused by broken glasses) combined with muscle tension headache (work related plus maybe caffeine withdrawal symptoms) means reduced computer time for a while until I recover.

In the mean time, here are a few of the many advertisements for hypnosis books and materials I’ve collected over the years. Each one dates from the mid-50’s through the mid-60’s, the heyday of such advertisements in magazines and comic books. Note that they all involve hypnotizing a a lovely young lady as part of the advertising about the power of hypnosis.

The last one here appears to be an ad for Konrad Leitner’s book: at least, the picture looks like Leitner, and his book was available around that same time.

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”

Comic Archetypes: The Golden Age Hypnotic Heroine

History: Looking over the diverse cast of hypnotic characters in the Golden Age of Comics (which is the period from the start of comics publication through the end of WW II) one is eventually struck by the rampant sexism and male domination involved. There were a number of villains whose primary motif was some form of hypnosis in the Golden Age, but almost every one was male, from the shady sideshow hypnotists and crafty con artists to the mysterious mystics and malevolent magicians to the sinister scientists and demented doctors. Which should be no surprise, as there were very few female villains at all during that time. Also, the great majority of these characters were “one-shot” characters who only appeared in a single issue: for re-occurring characters like Lex Luthor, hypnotic control of the hero was a ploy they might use on rare occasions but never specialized in. Strangely enough, or, rather, more likely another sign of the times, is that such hypnotic control was rarely used against or by women. 

There were a few exceptions, of course, such as the reoccurring Justice Society villainess Harlequin, who used a pair of hypnotic glasses as part of her circus clown motif, but she was a much more sympathetic character and eventually reformed, and the one-shot villainess Lady Serpent, who used her hypnotic gaze to mesmerize a female jail guard into letting her escape, yet her foe, the Black Terror, forewarned about her powers, was able to resist her. (Curiously, Catwoman would use use the same trick to escape prison in a much later comic, hypnotizing a female guard with a cat’s‑eye-jeweled locket.) It almost seems as though the comics writers just didn’t want to or weren’t allowed to have a female character, hero or villain, who could control the male characters: it was acceptable for Luthor to put Superman under his hypnotic control, but no woman could. Given the sexism of the culture at the time, that seems a likely explanation. 

But there was one exception to all of this sexism, the most famous heroine of this era and possibly any era. And that was Wonder Woman. 

⇒ Continue reading “Comic Archetypes: The Golden Age Hypnotic Heroine”

This Month’s Theme — Items Older than Myself

As my birthday occurs this month, I thought it appropriate to blog about items in the Collection that are older than myself. Items I am considering include: 

  • An article in the Radio World magazine from March 26th, 1927, entitled ‘Hypnotism Practiced Over Airway!’
  • ‘Minions of the Tiger’ by Chester S. Geier from Fantastic Adventures, September, 1946 
  • “Under the BIrds’ Nests ‑or- The Brutality of Hypnosis” by Carolline Cunningham 
  • “Flint’s Lessons in Hypnotism”
  • “The Secrets of Clairovoyance and How to Become an Operator / Mesmerism and Psychology and How to Become a Mesmerizer and Psychologist”
  • ‘Svengali of Sex! Expose of Carnival Hypnotism Racket’ in Detective World Magazine 
  • ‘My Eyes Have Seen Your Mind’ by Franz Polgar in Sensation, March, 1942 

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