Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category

The Lowdown: “An American Tragedy: Rape Under Hypnosis”

The Jan­u­ary, 1960 (Vol­ume 5, Num­ber 4) issue of The Low­down mag­a­zine includes a three-page (just under one page of text and backed by a lurid dou­ble-page spread image of star­ing eyes) relat­ing the “per­son­al” expe­ri­ence of “a young and pret­ty for­mer pros­ti­tute who was hired by THE LOWDOWN to track rumors that doc­tors were hyp­no­tiz­ing house­wives and seduc­ing them.”

The text does not offer any proof that there were even such rumors, only men­tion­ing a doc­tor in New Mex­i­co who alleged­ly hyp­no­tized sev­er­al women, includ­ing get­ting one of them preg­nant: no oth­er details were includ­ed. Instead the sto­ry reads like a “true con­fes­sions” per­son­al sto­ry about two dif­fer­ent encoun­ters that are light on speci­fici­ties that could have been pieced togeth­er from any num­ber of peri­od resources about hypnosis.

⇒ Con­tin­ue read­ing “The Low­down: “An Amer­i­can Tragedy: Rape Under Hypnosis””

“Bachelor Goes to a Hypnotism Party”

The Decem­ber, 1964 (Vol­ume 5, num­ber 6) issue of Bach­e­lor mag­a­zine pub­lished a five page pho­to spread of a “hyp­no­tism par­ty”. The pho­tographs include female nudity.

“What will they think of next? Among the arty set, the old par­ty pick­ups like alco­hol and mar­i­jua­na just can’t hold a can­dle to the kicks one can get from a can­dle-wav­ing hypnotist.”

“Dur­ing soiree at sculp­tor Ed Lass’ apart­ment in N.Y.‘s Low­er East Side, dull moments were end­ed when hyp­no­tism began.”

⇒ Con­tin­ue read­ing ““Bach­e­lor Goes to a Hyp­no­tism Party””

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.

“Incognito: the Secret Lives of the Brain” by David Eagleman

The brain is just sev­er­al ounces of neur­al tis­sue, not par­tic­u­lar­ly durable and pret­ty vul­ner­a­ble if it were not for the bone shell it resides in. Still, it is the seat of all con­trol oper­a­tions of any liv­ing crea­ture that pos­sess­es even the most rudi­men­ta­ry brain and is capa­ble of doing a num­ber of amaz­ing things, sev­er­al things all at the same time. Yet is also one of the most mys­te­ri­ous organs known, its many and var­ied func­tions only sketchi­ly under­stood, in part because of its com­plex­i­ty and com­plex inter­nal struc­ture, hid­den from view and direct manip­u­la­tion deep with­in the skull, acces­si­ble for the most part only indi­rect­ly and there­fore very dif­fi­cult to inves­ti­gate directly.

“Incog­ni­to: the Secret Lives of the Brain” is a book by a neu­ro­sci­en­tist, David Eagle­man. which attempts to shed some light on the sub­ject. It is a book pri­mar­i­ly des­tined for the lay per­son and is designed to show just how the brain is so com­plex and mys­te­ri­ous, yet under­stand­able if only by a process of obser­va­tion and deduction.

Com­men­tary: This book mir­rors much of what I’ve been think­ing regard­ing the inter­nal process­es of the brain, although I was com­ing to the sub­ject through the “brain as a com­put­er” par­a­digm. The brain may be just one organ but it com­pris­es many, many sep­a­rate sec­tions and func­tions, some of which are com­pli­men­ta­ry and some of which are even com­bat­ive. It is a won­der that it even func­tions at all, and, of course, any­one can come up with exam­ples from per­son­al obser­va­tion or expe­ri­ence when it does­n’t in one way or anoth­er, small or large.

My one biggest annoy­ance was that it was just a lit­tle too super­fi­cial for my tastes. It talked a lot about the what of the brain and its func­tions but not so much on the how and why of it. Grant­ed, this book was intend­ed for the gen­er­al audi­ence but I would have liked to see a lit­tle more meat to the descrip­tions and more space devot­ed to con­tem­pla­tion of the caus­es of how the brain does what it does. There are some flash­es of that, as for exam­ple the descrip­tion of how base­ball play­ers track fly balls in the out­field, where they do not auto­mat­i­cal­ly cal­cu­late the tra­jec­to­ry to fig­ure out where to run to to catch the ball: instead, they watch the track of the ball and if it appears to devi­ate from a straight line, mean­ing they or the ball are mov­ing away from the path, they change direc­tion to return it to a straight line. But most­ly the brain is treat­ed as a black box of many inter­nal devices, left unexplored.

My oth­er annoy­ance was that it does­n’t men­tion hyp­no­sis at all in the text, and only once in a foot­note, remark­ing how it can affect the results of a par­tic­u­lar type of test results.

Rec­om­men­da­tion: For the aver­age read­er who wants to under­stand more about the oper­a­tion of the brain, this would be a good start. How­ev­er, it is rather shal­low for some­one who wants a more in-depth expla­na­tion of the var­i­ous brain func­tions, and almost worth­less for any one who wants to under­stand the par­tic­u­lar sub­ject of hyp­no­sis functions.

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.

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