‘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.

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