Wednesday 18 November 2009


In 1950, I began practicing hypnosis when I was sixteen years of age. When I was serving in the Canadian navy, I, at the age of 18, was asked by a doctor in the navy, to place one of the sailors in a post-hypnotic state as he couldn’t be given any anesthetic while his teeth were being removed. The last time I practiced hypnosis was when my wife’s doctor asked me to put my wife under hypnosis just before our first child was born in 1977. In the past, I was able to hypnotize people over the phone, hypnotize thirty people at the same time and even hypnotize strangers on the street when they didn’t even know they were being hypnotized. This article is the first of several articles I will be writing for my readers on this subject.

Anyone who has ever seen the movie, Svengali, will recognize how a susceptible person can be put under a hypnotic spell. In his story by du Maurier, a mesmerizing teacher turns one of his pupils into an actress.

None of this can work unless the persons under the spell of orators or teachers really want to believe that they can be hypnotized. Once you have that combination of trust, suggestibility and belief in the orator or teacher, the masses and individuals will for the most part, be hypnotized into accepting anything the orator or teacher says as being gospel.

Because of the power of hypnotism, it can be used to induce persons to commit crimes on a limited scale. I say limited because it must be remembered that everyone has that 'line' in which they will not cross. A good example of this is often retold about the young assistant lecturer who tried to get a woman to undress in a lecture hall. The professor had put her asleep and then got called out of the room. He asked his assistant to take over. He promptly told the young woman to undress and she promptly slapped the assistant across his face and walked out of the lecture hall. Although she was in a subconscious state, she was aware of where she was and what the assistant was asking her to do.

He failed in his attempt because he tried to get the girl to do something that she wouldn't normally do----that is undress on a platform in a lecture hall in front of a classroom of leering young medical students. He probably would have succeeded in his nefarious experiment if he had told the young woman that she was in the privacy of her bedroom and was getting undressed to go to bed.

So in effect, there is another aspect of inducing a person to obey a hypnotist, and that is by trickery. It is only through trickery that a law-abiding person will commit a crime under hypnosis.

I conducted such an experiment while I was in the Royal Canadian Navy in the early fifties. (As an aside, I was ordered to appear before several doctors when it was learned that I was practicing hypnosis. They asked me what I was doing. I promptly hypnotized one of them and they realized that they had found a man who could be useful if surgery was going to be performed without anesthesia because some people cannot be anesthetized with drugs. I was only called upon to do this on one occasion however and I successfully put the patient asleep for his operation) I was left alone to experiment on any seaman willing to let me improve my hypnotic skill on him.

Dr. Lewis Wolberg, a well respected American hypnotherapist had stated in one of his books that although it was possible to induce a person to commit a crime, that person would later remember who hypnotized him into committing the crime. I was anxious to find out if he was right. With all respect to this great hypnotist, he was wrong.

In my experiment, I gave a post hypnotic suggestion that in a week, my subject would go to a certain room in one of the buildings on the naval base and that once inside the room, he would close the door behind him. I told him that he would be alone in the room and that he would hear a voice and would obey every command given to him by that voice.

When he entered the room a week later and closed the door behind him, he was not alone. I was in the room with him. But because I had put a post-hypnotic suggestion in his mind that he would be alone, he did not see me. His eyes picked up my image but his brain did not register what he saw. Hence, for all intents and purposes, he was alone in the room.

I then spoke (which shocked him to no end) and he obeyed my every command (which shocked him even more). When I told him to fall to the floor, he did, because he had been conditioned a week earlier to obey my every command.

I convinced him that it was his conscious that was speaking to him. To a person who finds himself obeying every command given to him by a disembodied voice---this is easily accepted by such a subject. Keep in mind that he was fully awake and not in a trance. He was acting solely on instructions placed in his mind a week earlier---instructions he couldn't remember being given when first hypnotized because after I planted the post-hypnotic suggestion in his mind, I then put him into a state of amnesia so that he wouldn't remember being hypnotized, or for that matter even being in a room with me when he was first hypnotized.

I told him that as his conscious, I had complete control over his mind and that he would obey me unquestionably. He said that he understood. Then I told him that I had communicated with the conscious of another person and that that other person was going to come into the room and try to strangle him. He didn't believe (me) his conscious---that is until the other person (upon a pre-arranged signal) entered the room. When the other person began approaching my subject, my subject rushed him and began strangling the other man. The other man was bigger so no harm was done but he did slump to the floor as if dead.

My other confederates rushed into the room and asked my subject what he had done. He said that he strangled the other man because the latter was attempting to kill him.

Now came the test. Remember that my subject still couldn't see me and my confederates acted as if I wasn't there. One of the men asked my subject why he thought that the other man was going to kill him. It was at this point that I wasn't sure if my subject would point to me and say that I told him or whether or not he would say that his conscious told him.

He said that it was his conscious that told him. No matter how hard my confederates told him that was the stupidest thing they ever heard, my subject stuck with that story. Later, I was able to erase the event from his mind and he went out with the others and 'the victim' for a drink and some laughs.

Several weeks later, I re-hypnotized the man again in an attempt to get him to relive the 'strangling' event. He had some trouble bringing that back in his mind. Then I regressed him back to the time and place when and where I had first hypnotized him and had placed the post-hypnotic suggestion in his mind.

He could not remember. When I had given him the post-hypnotic suggestion at that time that he would obey my every command, and then immediately placed him into a state of amnesia, I had put in a series of key words that could undo the command that put him into a state of amnesia. The words were, "The cow jumped over the moon." Until I coupled that sentence with the command that he would remember everything that was said to him when he was first hypnotized, his mind was a blank. It was the same as a password being put in a computer. Until that password is typed in, the screen will remain a blank. The information is still in his mind but without the passwords, it is difficult if not impossible to retrieve it.

I had in effect, actually induced a man to commit a crime and later remember nothing of the post-hypnotic suggestion that prompted him to commit the crime or for that matter, remember who had hypnotized him in the first place. But to do this, I had to go through elaborate steps to bring it about.

Let me say at this juncture of this article, that it's not likely that any hypnotist can simply put someone into a hypnotic trance and then expect that person to commit a crime while in that trance or commit the crime weeks later while acting under some post-hypnotic command. Most persons, if not all, would refuse to commit the crime unless they had a propensity to commit the crime in the first place, (in which case, they wouldn't need to be hypnotized) or alternatively, they were tricked into committing the crime (in which case, even a non-hypnotized person can be tricked if he believes and trusts the person giving the command).

This is a good time to tell you about an interesting case that took place in the United States in 1989. Mathew and Pamela Shultz and their two sons, ages 13 and 17, lived in Sarasota, Florida. He was a gun buff who like to act like he was a marine (which he never was) He taught his sons how to shoot guns and run obstacle courses. He also taught them how to rob stores. The two boys robbed a computer store, a shoe store and several food stores. When they saw the robbery of one of the stores being re-enacted on TV, the family fled to Red Bank, a small town in Tennessee. There, the two boys robbed a Pizza Hut and it was there that the boys were caught. It was in Red Bank that the police learned that the two boys had supposedly been hypnotized into committing their crimes, hypnotized by their 'fagan-like' father. The father had even gone so far as to hypnotize the oldest boy into dressing up as a young woman.

The police in Florida have gone on record as saying that they didn't believe that the boys were hypnotized into committing the robberies or that the oldest was hypnotized into dressing and acting like a young woman--and quite frankly, neither do I. Admittedly, one of the victims stated that the boys didn't appear to be frightened at all when they were robbing him. But that can be attributed to being brainwashed by their father into believing that no one would shoot them because they were just boys.

As I have said it earlier, people cannot be hypnotized into committing crimes that they normally wouldn't commit unless they have a propensity to commit crimes in the first place. The older boy may have balked at dressing up as a young woman but he did it nevertheless without being hypnotized if his father convinced him that in order not to be discovered and arrested for the robberies, it was the best method of concealment.

I have never heard of another case where the excuse offered as a defence in a robbery trial is that the robber was hypnotized into committing the robberies. It is far fetched and I would be surprised if a jury bought it.

If you ever saw the movie, The Manchurian Candidate, you will remember that the story was about a young man who had been captured by the Chinese during the Korean War and hypnotized to obey a certain command years later---the command being given by his mother who would use him to assassinate a politician. It was great stuff for a movie but in reality, it couldn't happen. In actual fact, with all the brainwashing the American soldiers had to endure in Korea, not one prisoner was successfully given a post-hypnotic suggestion to commit a crime after he was returned home to the United States.

However, another movie called Telephon, raised an interesting possibility. In the story, the Russians had placed post-hypnotic suggestions in the minds of young recruits that could be triggered by anyone who read a line from a certain poem. Later, the recruits were smuggled into the United States to live normal lives with the Americans. If a war between the USSR and the USA began, these recruits would be phoned by a Russian spy and the line from the poem read to them and they would then do the things that they had been ordered to do (many years earlier) such as blow up factories etc.

Since this has in fact, never been tried, it is difficult to say whether or not this concept would work. It would depend a great deal on how the recruits assimilated into the mainstay of American society. If they thought of themselves as Americans, it wouldn't work but if they still thought of themselves as Russians, it just might work at that.

We are all prone at one time or another to being in a half-sleep condition and acting strangely and when we awake, we can't really remember what happened. There is one case where a Toronto sleepwalker drove his car across the city and killed his mother-in-law. Obviously such persons have their eyes open and they hear everything around them and yet, they are not fully awake. They are midway between being conscious and unconscious. Since they can hear voices, it follows that they will obey commands.

It is a strange quirk in human nature that a mother will sleep through the noise of a passing train and yet wake up at the slightest sound from her sleeping baby. This gives you some idea of what it is like to be in a hypnotic trance. You are aware of what is going on around you and yet you tend to ignore it unless you sense an emergency situation in which you must immediately respond to.

This brings us to the phenomenon of sleeping with our eyes open. This can be done by sleepwalkers and also by being put in a hypnotic trance. It must be remembered that sleeping doesn't stop bodily functions, such as breathing, turning over, listening to voices so it follows that a person in some state of sleep can be made to open his eyes. And the opening of his eyes doesn't automatically waken him out of his hypnotic trance.

In the sixties, I used to conduct experiments in 'group' hypnosis. I would sit ten or more people in a room and then dim the lights down until they were off. All they would see was a small light from a pen light which was across the room. Twenty seconds later, I would slowly bring the room lights up until they were on full intensity. Despite the fact that the room was then well lit, the subjects (with the exception of a few) would continue to stare at that small light, oblivious to everything else within the range of their eyesight. That is because I told them that they would see nothing else and that no matter how hard they tried to stop staring at that one small light, they could not. They stared at the light so I had in effect, made them prisoners of a pen light.

The hypnotic effect eventually wore off and these people continued on as if nothing had happened, except that each of them during the evening would occasionally turn their heads to face the pen light and stare at it for a few seconds.

What is interesting about this 'parlour' trick is that at no time during this experiment, did I put any of them to sleep. What I did do to them was to put them into a 'waking' hypnotic trance. As you can see from this experiment, it is possible to induce hypnosis in people who continue to be wide awake and alert and who manifest none of the drowsy-like manifestations found in persons hypnotically induced through the normal fixation and relaxation techniques.

Other times, I would induce friends to walk on a sidewalk as if they were walking a the ledge of a building and in several cases, I was able to induce complete strangers walking beside me on a street, to later stand at a store window and stare at an object in the window and remain there, unable to move until several minutes had elapsed after I left them.

The secret is two-fold; trust and suggestibility. Of course, the subject must never know that he is being set up in such a manner that within minutes, he is going to be susceptible to suggestions that will to some extent, effect his thinking.

It is said that Adolph Hitler had the ability to hypnotize those who heard him speak. That is not as far fetched as one would think. The people of Germany were in desperate financial trouble. Inflation had deflated the Reich mark and unemployment was rampant. They were looking for a savior to bring prosperity to them. They needed a leader and it was this particular leader who had the uncanny ability to move people who heard him. It was unfortunate that he was such an evil man. Another man who also had this uncanny gift of persuasion was of course, Martin Luther King. Anyone who ever heard him speak, found themselves believing this great reformist, especially when he stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and gave his I have a dream speech.

This form of hypnotism is performed on TV every Sunday when the religious performers do their seal acts begging for money. It must work because millions of listeners are mailing their hard earned money to the likes of Jimmy Swaggart and Oral Roberts, just to name a few. Some people who attend ‘revivals’ and who are hypochondriacs who appear to be disabled, suddenly can walk again when the revivalist tells them that they can walk.

There is an interesting case in the annals of crime that bears retelling because it involves hypnosis and an attempt by a suspect to trick two medical hypnotists into believing that what he said while he was 'hypnotized' was in fact, true. It involves the case of the 'Hillside Stranglers'

Two cousins, Bianchi and Buono had abducted ten girls in the area of Los Angeles over a five-month period and brutally raped, tortured and then strangled them to death before discarding their victim's bodies in the hills surrounding that city and its environs. When Bianchi was arrested a year later for murdering two girls in Bellingham, Washington, he attempted to convince everyone that he had a duo personality. He claimed that he was Ken, the affectionate man who was kind and considerate and he was also Steve, who was vicious and a mean killer. He maintained that neither personality knew of the existence of the other. If he could convince the court that he had these two personalities, he could be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

That's when the trial judge decided to call in a Doctor Allison, a psychiatrist who is a renown expert on multiple personalities. The doctor concluded, after hypnotizing Bianchi, that the accused really had two personalities.

The prosecutor was convinced that Bianchi was faking and that he had clerverly maneuvered Dr. Allison into thinking that he really had two personalities. He was sure that if Bianchi could fool Dr. Allison into believing that he was insane, he could later fool other psychiatrists into believing that he was miraculously cured and as such, he would demand his freedom. He arranged for another psychiatrist and hypnotist, Dr. Orme, who was with the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, to study Bianchi.

Dr. Orme was familiar with the hallucinations experienced by subjects who were genuinely under a hypnotic trance so he decided to see if he could trick Bianchi into falling into a trap where it could then be proved that he really wasn't hypnotized. If he could prove this, then the court could assume that since he was faking his hypnotic trance, he was also faking his duo personalities. When you see how cleverly he maneuvered Bianchi into the trap, you can appreciate how a master hypnotist can make a fool out of a fake.

First the bait. He mentioned in passing to Bianchi, just prior to hypnotizing him, that it is rare in a case of multiple personality for there to be just two personalities. Then he hypnotized him. (or at least he let Bianchi believe that the doctor was convinced that Bianchi had been hypnotized.) No sooner was Bianchi in a trance, when he suddenly developed a third personality. His name was Billy. The doctor had tricked Bianchi of course. It is not rare at all for a person who is insane to have only two personalities. Such a person can have many personalities.

With Bianchi nibbling on the bait, the doctor began tantalize him in the hope that he would really sink his teeth into the bait. The doctor was talking to Ken, (the nice guy) and he introduced Ken to his lawyer, (who actually wasn't in the room) A person who is really hypnotized will see someone who really isn't there, if he has been programmed to accept the hallucination and he won't think that there is anything amiss. As to be expected, Ken shook hands with his absent lawyer. I say 'expected' because if Ken wasn't faking, he would see the absent lawyer and if he was faking, he would pretend to see the absent lawyer, so his actions were predictable. Ken sunk his teeth deeply into the bait.

Now comes the time when the doctor began reeling Bianchi in. He arranged for Bianchi's lawyer to enter the room while Bianchi was pretending to be talking with his hallucinated lawyer. Bianchi would actually see his lawyer enter the room because he had not been programmed not to. So in effect, he would be seeing two images of his lawyer---the imagined image and the real one. Now, to a person who is hypnotized into accepting the hallucination of his lawyer, it shouldn't come as a surprise that when the real lawyer enters the room, the subject will see him also. Bianchi looked at his lawyer and then asked the doctor, "How can I see him in two places?" A truly hypnotized subject doesn't question the existence of two of the same people since he accepts the illusion as being a valid one. When Bianchi asked that question, the doctor had in effect, pulled his 'fish' right out of the water.

Bianchi changed his plea to guilty and was then sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. Later, it was learned that Bianchi had studied hypnosis and was familiar with the symptoms of hypnotic behaviour.

Perhaps I should tell you a bit about post-hypnotic suggestions. The word 'post' tells you that these hypnotic suggestions have been planted in the subject's mind previous to him acting on the hypnotic suggestion. I will never forget the first time I tried experimenting with post-hypnotic suggestions.

It happened in August of 1953. (I was still in the navy) Our ship, HMCS Ontario, a medium sized cruiser was visiting Vancouver and many of us were sleeping in the gymnasium at the small naval base in that city. I had been hypnotizing a couple of the men and when one of them was in a medium trance, I told him that when he woke up the next morning, he would stare out the window and not know where he was. He would spend at least an hour asking everyone where he was. If he did this, it would surely mean that he was acting on a post-hypnotic suggestion because he knew very well where he was before I hypnotized him since he spent most of his life in Vancouver and joined up at the very base were were at. The next morning, he did just what I hoped he would do. About an hour later, he began to realize where he was and was quite surprised about his behaviour.

After that, I conducted many post-hypnotic experiments but the one that gave me the most satisfaction was in 1953 when I was asked by an Army dentist to ready his patient for a major extraction involving the pulling of six of his teeth. Putting patients asleep for operations is relatively easy, but the problem facing me was that on the day of the operation, I would be in Los Angeles, nearly 1300 kilometers away. This meant that I had to hypnotize him four days prior to the operation and then hope that when he was operated on, he didn't suddenly come out of the trance.

I initially put him into a medium hypnotic trance in about five minutes and while he was in that state, I told him that on the following Monday at 9:00 a.m. he would sit in the dentist's chair and as soon as the dentist told him that he was to go to sleep, he would fall asleep and would not wake up until the dentist told him to wake up. Further, I told him that while he was asleep, he would feel no pain and that after he woke up, he would feel a numbness in his mouth for three days. On the day of the operation, the post-hypnotic suggestions were followed just as planned.

Believe it or not, that is not so difficult as it seems. When I originally hypnotized him, I conditioned his mind to accept the commands of the dentist, those commands being that the patient would fall asleep as soon as the dentist had told him to, and so forth. In fact, I could have had him sleeping in the dentist's chair without the dentist saying a word. As soon as the patient would sit in the chair, he would fall asleep if I had planted that suggestion in his mind.

It should be kept in mind however that I would not have succeeded in having the patient follow the instructions of the post-hypnotic suggestion if the patient was not consciously (and subsequently subconsciously) aware that it was necessary for him to have his teeth removed and that the hypnosis was a necessary part of the operation.

Many years ago, I knew a man whose tales of his exploits had me and his friends wondering whether or not he was really telling us the truth. One day I talked him into letting me hypnotize him. While he was in a trance, I had him open his eyes. I showed him a deck of cards and told him that when he saw the Ace of Spades, he was to deny that he had seen it. When he saw the Ace of Spades, he denied seeing it. Then while he was still under, I told him that I would show him the deck again and that when he lied to me about seeing the Ace of Spades, he would develop a tic (involuntary twitch) in his left eye. Sure enough, when the Ace of Spades showed up, the twitch began. I then told him that if he ever lied to anyone, his eye would begin twitching. I put him into a state of amnesia so that when he woke up, he wouldn't remember anything I told him. I told our mutual friends that I had observed that whenever our friend told a lie, his eye would twitch and for years, we used to smile at his twitching eye. Sometimes he would tell a whopper and his eye would be twitching so violently, it was as if a red-hot cinder had entered it.

There is nothing mysterious about this trick. The Russian scientist Pavlov used to do it with dogs. My friend is damn lucky I didn't put in the post-hypnotic suggestion that when he lied, he would start scratching his buttocks. He was such a liar, that as soon as he opened his mouth, the perpetual scratching of his buttocks would have made the Saint Vitus's Dance seem like a fox trot in comparison.

I wish to reiterate a previous observation. A normal law-abiding citizen cannot be hypnotized into committing a crime unless he or she is tricked into committing a crime by the hypnotist.

Further, let me clear up one myth about hypnosis. The smarter a subject is, the easier that person can be hypnotized. If someone is really stupid, it is almost impossible to hypnotize that person although on one occasion, I hypnotized a retarded child in a residential school for retarded children. How I was able to do it, I am not sure. Perhaps it was the flashing light that did it. Flashing lights do have an effect on people. Proof of that was established many years ago in France. Motorists when driving on a certain road in France began falling asleep at the wheel. Later the reason was discovered. Apparently hundreds of trees were planted at equal distances from one another on the side of the road and when the motorists were passing them, the sun was shining on the sides of their faces, intermittently, This had an effect on them that cause them to become drowsy and then placed them in a hypnotic state that resulted in them falling asleep at the wheel. The authorities realizing this then cut some of the trees down so that the sun didn't shine on the drivers in the same manner it did previously. No one fell asleep on that road while driving after than. This is why hypnotists often use a swinging watch or swinging light. I chose not to use either method but instead simply used my power of suggestion alone.

The next article will be on HYPNOTHERAPY Part 2

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