The Witch Hypnotizer” by Zena A. Maher (1892)

Such a promising title.

Such a profound disappointment.

To put this bluntly, this is a Biblical tract, not a story. Each chapter is wholly or in part a morality play in miniature, complete with such nameless stock characters such as the man who drinks too much, the gambler, the unfaithful husband, the false witness, the beset-upon Chinaman (yes, this work is reflective of the period and therefore there are definite strains of racism and misogyny within) and the “fallen woman”. There is little dialog and very few attempts at character description or characterization. Each story involves the Witch Hypnotizer as she wanders through the town, encountering individuals with problems or moral flaws. Then comes several Bible verses, single verses carefully selected and disjointly assembled, then comes the demonstration of the reformation of the particular individual and the resolution of the existing problem or situation. End of lesson.

The unnamed protagonist, the Witch Hypnotizer, is equally obscure and occluded: no physical description of her is ever given, but there is a description of her power:

It was nothing tangible, but an indescribable something which gave her influence over other minds, to bend them to her will.

She is also completely certain of her mission of the spiritual and social reformation of others according to the mores of the day, including the proper place of women (in the home and without the vote). By her certainty, does not feel the need to seek informed consent. Furthermore, there is never any kind of demonstration that the Witch Hypnotizer actually performs any kind of act to induce the reformation. (That, apparently, is left up to the imagination of the reader.)


This work was found at Project Gutenberg, in a variety of electronic forms, here. There is very little to recommend it.

30 Days of Hypnosis: Day 30

Just rant about hypnosis. Go crazy!

But not too crazy… 65% crazy, 35% sane.

I wish that hypnosis was more accepted, and that will only happen when it is more widely seen or experienced, and not just as entertainment but as a helpful medical and social practice. I have a crazy idea that students be taught sometime in their early teens such elementary self-hypnosis techniques as pain control, concentration, meditation, fear control, etc. Of course that would drive certain sectors of society crazy, with claims of “mind control” and worse. [The latter being the “crazy” part.] That, and some form of martial art, preferably one of the “softer” arts like Aikido or Tai Chi, with an emphasis on self-defense and conflict avoidance.

30 Days of Hypnosis: Day 29

Do you have any close hypno-enthusiast friends that you’ve met on the Internet?  How did you become friends?

I was fortunate to meet many fellow hypnosis enthusiasts through the Internet, and then through in-person meetings at various events over the past decade or so, and count several of them as close personal friends. We became friends through our shared interests, including but not solely limited to our interest in hypnosis, but also our shared interests in science fiction and fantasy, including Doctor Who (quite a majority of them, amazingly), comic books, and generally geekery.

Of course, I knew some even before the Internet days, through science fiction fandom and the Usenet era, but it was only over the past several years that I met most of them, and count myself fortunate for doing so and for the opportunities for doing so.

30 Days of Hypnosis: Day 28

What are your thoughts on asshole hypnotists who prey on the vulnerable?


He’s nothing but a low-down, back-stabbing, larcenous, perverted worm… Hanging’s too good for him… Burning’s too good for him… He should be sliced into tiny little pieces and buried alive… (“Heavy Metal”‘Captain Stern’)

Does that answer the question?

I take a very dim view of anyone who preys upon others, and particularly anyone who abuses the trust others place in them. This is particularly true for anyone who abuses the trust given them by their subject in allowing the hypnotist to hypnotize them. Given the opportunity, I would do anything in my power to aid anyone so abused.

30 Days of Hypnosis: Day 27

What was your worst experience with hypnosis?

At this time, I would say that I am fortunate not to have any seriously bad experiences with hypnosis. The incident I described in the first entry in this list does not count, mainly because I don’t consider it in any way negative: slightly disturbing at the time, yes, and since interesting, ever since, but not bad.

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