Therapy Via Television
By Herbert Henry Ehrenstein
her to go into a relaxed state and she promptly did. He told her that her left arm would become para lyzed and numb and that this would continue even after she awakened until he touched her elbow. This is exactly what hap pened. When the psychiatrist reached the room in which the patient was sitting, she was still balancing her numb, paralyzed arm in the air, unable to move it until he touched it. However, it was felt that since the girl had been the psychia trist’s patient, she was accus tomed to him and thus went into trance easily. Would the same procedure work with a stranger? The doctor proceeded to test the theory. An utter stranger was se cured and placed in front of the television set. Once again, with four floors between them, the psychiatrist told the man that he must clasp his hands and that he would be unable to unclasp them until the psychiatrist touched his head. This is precisely what took place. The patient gripped his hands tightly together until, on the prearranged signal, he could release them. I wonder if we realize the tre mendous potential for good or evil that such hypnosis by televi sion might suggest. Someone might be able to utilize it on a mass scale. In fact, with the ad vent of Tellstar, or other similar global television transm itting satellites, people the world over might well be influenced by a clever hypnotist sitting before a strategically located camera. And while, of course, not every person is susceptible to hypnosis, much harm might be done to and through those who are suscepti ble. Let’s not forget that every de
I N t h e l a s t number of years, hypnotism has been a growing field of interest. Professionals have been using hypnotic therapy in their treatment of patients. There are dentists who extract teeth, using hypnotism instead of Novacain. Surgery has been per formed with hypnotism being the only anaesthesia. And of course, psychiatrists have made use of the hypnotic state to plunge a person back into the past. Amateur hypnosis has been growing as well. Many novelty stores sell books on how to hypno tize a subject. There are several mechanical devices available to induce a state of hypnosis. Some years ago, in 1952, an amateur parlor hypnotist subjected Mrs. Ruth Simmons to such an inter esting bit of hypnosis that a whole book developed and stirred up a hornet’s nest. The book was The Search for Bridey Murphy. Most professionals realize that there are dangers involved in amateur hypnosis. Again and again, specialists in the hypnotic field have warned amateurs not to play around with forces they do not understand. Some time ago, Dr. Herbert Spiegel, assistant professor in Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, con ducted an experiment to prove how really potentially dangerous hypnotism can be. The experi ment itself takes on all the char acteristics of a George Orwell 198U novel. Using a closed circuit television system , Dr. Spiegel, who is a psychiatrist, sat in front of a television camera while one of his patients, whom he had hyp notized several times before, sat four floors above watching a tele vision set. As her doctor appeared on the television screen, he told
vice which is produced for the good of mankind can always be prostituted and turned to evil ends. If hypnosis, therefore, can be used to help man, it can also be utilized to his advantages and be utilized to his disadvantage as well. George Orwell, in the book 198U already referred to, hinted at some of the vicious uses of television and the hypnotic spell induced by “ big brother.” The Bible speaks about a world ruler yet to come on the stage of history. He is called by numerous titles: Antichrist, Man of Law lessness, Son of Perdition, Little Horn, Beast, etc. It will take quite a bit of skill to gain control over so large a segment of the world’s populace as the antichrist will apparently succeed in doing. Is it beyond the realm of likeli hood to assume that this world figure may utilize the very tech nique this article describes to achieve his diabolical ends? Admittedly, this may sound far-fetched. Some will say we have entered the realm of science fiction. But is it far-fetched? The “ science fiction” of yesterday has become the reality of today in many cases. Once a new discovery comes to light, all sorts of uses are made of it — good and evil. Atomic power has been harnessed for good and evil. Is it not conceivable, therefore, that a biblically - predicted Mas termind might utilize hypnotic TV to hold sway over his subjects as a dictator? Dr. Spiegel himself has warned that unscrupulous op erators might confuse, exploit and deceive hypnotizable subjects and that therefore, stringent re sponsible safeguards and control over public broadcasting systems must be maintained to avoid that which might otherwise take place.
THE KING'S BUSINESS
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