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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