hypnosis with a grain of salt

In 1941, 27 year old Andrew Salter was being touted as the next big thing in the field of hypnosis.

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“Teaching alcoholics to cure themselves is only a small sample of the work which Salter performs with the minds of his subjects. Since starting his odd profession a couple of years ago, he has worked on upwards of 250 cases. Some two dozen of these were obese females who couldn’t stick to their diets.

image from Wellcome Collection 1887

By the time Salter got through with them they had learned to despise such things as Fudge Sundaes, Charlotte Russe, Lobster Thermidor and other flesh building dishes, and were smacking their lips at the thought of raw carrots, lettuce salad with mineral oil dressing and similar atrocities.

Charlotte Russe

Then there was the case of the melancholy magazine editor who came to Salter to ask if he “couldn’t get a little fun out of life.” Not long afterwards Salter was visited by the editor’s wife who was greatly agitated by the change in her husband. Formerly he had gloomed about the house and spent his time complaining. Now he bounded out of bed with a merry laugh, sang in the shower, chuckled as he read the paper and was turning into a practical joker. “I’m so relieved it’s only hypnotism” she told Salter. “I was afraid he’d found another woman.”

Practical Joker

Salter says “In psychology, hypnotism has a bad name. The average person seems to think that hypnotists specialise in seducing females or in making subjects sign false wills or commit murder. He believes there are few psychoneuroses that can’t be straightened out in a good subject. This excludes morons, young children and the insane, none of whom can be┬áhypnotized.

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He is convinced that the US Army should pay heed to the value of self hypnosis in war. “Soldiers could march 30 miles a day and not be fatigued. They could fall asleep in open trenches with an artillery barrage going on overhead and sleep soundly for as long as they pleased. In fact, they could learn to forget the war entirely.”

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Published in: on December 2, 2010 at 8:33 pm  Comments (36)  
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