Sunday, November 04, 2018

Hypnosis-a Useful Tool to Achieve Political Change

For many years I have been fascinated by the subject of hypnotism and how it can be used not just on an individual basis but as a tool for influencing and manipulating masses of people. Indeed my interest led me to undertake distance learning course in the basics of how to carry out hypnotic inductions for therapeutic purposes and I gained a Level 4 qualification in this subject as the result.

One thing that teachers of hypnosis, especially hypnotherapy will tell you is that the human mind can not be hypnotised against its will. I do not believe this and I am of the opinion that this is said to persuade people not to use their skills and knowledge for unethical purposes. However one may ask, what is ethical? Hypnotism CAN be used against the will, particularly if that will is weak. By contrast I would be very difficult to hypnotise as my mind is quite analytical and resistant to suggestion. Stage hypnotists know this and that is why before they carry out their act they test volunteers beforehand to gauge how resistant or willing they may be. So yes if one has a strong will it is difficult to be hypnotised against that will. However if the will is weak then it is almost child's play.

Hypnotism is used every day without people's realisation. Marketing and advertising are classic examples of its application. Repetitive television commercials are particularly effective as repetition is a key element in hypnotism. It is quite likely that those television channels with the least advertising subscribers will be the most effective channels as the same commercials are repeated frequently, usually at 15 minutes intervals. When I was young supermarket music was literally that-muzak. Indeed the subject of muzak is deserving of a study in its own right. It is a tool that used to be used to induce a light hypnotic trance in shoppers to make them more receptive to suggestion-the suggestion being to buy more products!

These days instead of employing muzak which in my opinion is not at all unpleasant to the ears modern pop music is used and much of this is of the vulgar variety. Instead of inducing a trance I find the whole ear splitting experience an annoyance, so much so that I attempt to get my shopping done very quickly! It is possible that modern day supermarket managers fail to understand the purpose of background music, thinking instead that their customers should be 'entertained'. What a pity then that they do not take into account the fact that a quarter of the population is over 55 and do not need what is left of their hearing to be bombarded by ear splitting noise! So clearly they have not grasped the concept of true supermarket muzak. Modern pop music does not have the same intended effects.

The above mentioned are examples of how the techniques of inducing a light hypnotic trance are used in the fields of commerce but it is used to most startling effect in the world of politics. It is difficult to know when these techniques were first employed by politicians but one can say with certainty that THE most effective political hypnotiser in the modern era was Adolf Hitler. It is said that his presence had a mesmerising effect on both people he encountered on a one to one basis and also on the massed crowds of supporters. There are many historical accounts of down hearted generals being revived by spending just a short time in Hitler's company. I would suspect that Hitler knew that he had this gift. His talents in this field cannot be disputed. What is a valid subject for enquiry though is whether this was a natural talent-a charisma that he was born with or did he learn these techniques? This has now become a subject of a new book by neurologist Dr David Lewis, Triumph of the Will. It certainly looks like it may be worth a read. Dr Lewis makes the claim that Hitler was hypnotised following the blindness which he suffered after a gas attack in Belgium in the closing days of WWI. The effects of the attack on his eyes were apparently minimal. What caused the blindness was a form of hysteria and this is why hypnosis was allegedly carried out on Hitler. An hypnotic suggestion was induced into Hitler by a nerve specialist Dr Edmund Forster, causing him to believe in his own god like ability and self confidence. What is significant about the gas attack is that the Hitler which emerged after the attack seemed to be quite a different Hitler to the one before it. Whilst I have not yet read the book I am inclined to provisionally accept Dr Lewis's thesis.

Dr Lewis also alleges that another hypnotist had a remarkable influence upon Hitler, a Moravian Jew named Erik Jan Hanussen (born Hermann Steinschneider). I am not sure what Dr Lewis's claims regarding Hanussen are but I do know that he taught Hitler crowd control techniques and mass psychology and the effective use of dramatic gestures and pauses. Despite his ancestry Hanussen was an enthusiastic supporter of National Socialism. Hanussen was murdered on 25th March 1933, allegedly by a group of SA men. Hanussen predicted the Reichstag fire which occurred on 27th February 1933. It is speculated that the prediction may have been less of a clairvoyant nature and more to do with inside knowledge that the true orchestrators of the fire were to be found in the National Socialist hierarchy. It is alleged that the Reichstag was set ablaze in order to provide some sort of legitimacy to have a general crackdown on any opposition. According to General Franz Halder it was Goering who was responsible for the fire and boasted of the fact at Hitler's 54th birthday lunch in 1943. (The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William L. Shirer). Goering however denied any involvement at his trial in Nuernberg. We can of course only speculate as the opinions of historians are divided.

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