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Hypnotism by G.H. Estabrooks

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From Hypnotism, by G.H. Estabrooks,
1943, 1957 Paperback published in New York by E.P. Dutton

Reproduced here by permission of Dutton.

Chapter IX: Hypnotism in Warfare

(pages 193 to 213)

This chapter is not taken from a mystery novel. The facts and the ideas presented are, so to speak, too true to be good, but no psychologist of standing would deny the validity of the basic ideas involved. He might, of course, be somewhat startled at our proposed use of these basic ideas and techniques, for he has never given this matter much thought.

He might, he probably would, question our proposed application of certain techniques in certain specific situations. Will your controls hold? How long will that posthypnotic suggestion last without reinforcement? Can you count on complete amnesia? Where is your proof that no one but yourself and such others as you may designate can hypnotize that man? Questions such as these would be asked and are being asked, but such questions merely involve details of technique. The theoretical and factual basis of that technique no competent psychologist would question.

The use of hypnotism in warfare represents the cloak and dagger idea at its best — or worst. Even if we did know the answers to some of the weird proposals in this chapter, those answers could never be given for obvious reasons. The reader must use his imagination for specific outcomes in specific cases have not been made public — probably never will be made public. Any topflight physicist is familiar with the basic laws of atomic fission and he is quite free to discuss those laws. But he may or may not know what is happening on some government research project in this field. If he does know, he is not shouting it from the housetops, probably not even whispering it to his best friend. The same applies to hypnotism in the field of warfare.

Our interest here lies in some of the more unfamiliar sides of hypnotism, which may make it of use in warfare. Again, no psychologist would deny the existence of such phenomena. But some would very emphatically deny our proposal that these states and conditions could be used for the ends which we suggest. The reason for this skepticism is obvious, if we but consider the situation. Hypnotism in crime, either for the commission or solution of criminal acts, is very closely related to the possible use of hypnotism in warfare.

The only possible way of determining whether or not a subject will commit a murder in hypnotism is literally to have him commit one. No “fake” set-up will satisfy the critics, for the hypnotized subject is not “asleep.” He is very wide awake, willing to co-operate in all kinds of fake murders with rubber knives. But with a real knife or loaded revolver? No one knows for the simple reason that no one dares find out. The police would not see the point when they viewed the corpse and were told it was the result of a “scientific” experiment. Nor would the jury. Sing Sing and the electric chair would probably put an end to the career of the “scientist” involved in the act.

But warfare may, undoubtedly will, answer many of these questions. A nation fighting with its back to the wall is not worried over the niceties of ethics. If hypnotism can be used to advantage, we may rest assured that it will be so employed. Any “accidents” which may occur during the experiments will simply be charged to profit and loss, a very trifling portion of that enormous wastage in human life which is part and parcel of war.

Let is glance at certain aspect of hypnotism with which the reader should now be familiar. He will pardon what may appear to be repetition. The picture presented in this chapter has new facets and to make them clear a summary of certain points already covered is in order.

The reader probably is familiar with the general picture of the hypnotic trance, whether this be produced in the quiet of the laboratory or the glare of the stage. He knows that people can be thrown into this trance and that while in it will do weird things. On the stage they will, at the suggestion of the operator, hunt elephants with a broomstick or fish for whales in a goldfish bowl. They will prance around the stage on all fours, barking like a dog, or give a good imitation of Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address. They will strip off most of their clothes at the command of the hypnotist or stiffen out between two chairs while he breaks rocks on their chests.

The reader knows of this. He may suspect that it is all “bunk,” but he at least realizes what is supposed to take place. Suffice it to repeat here that it does take place and can be quite genuine. The psychologist in his laboratory may not favor quite so flashy a performance, but he can duplicate the tricks of the best stage “professional.”

There are other sides to hypnotism far more important than those shown on the stage for the benefit of a wondering audience. One in every five adult humans can be thrown into the hypnotic trance — somnambulism — of which they will have no memory whatsoever when they awaken. From the military viewpoint there are a few facts which are of great interest. Can this prospective subject, — this “one-in-five” individual — be hypnotized against his will? Obviously, no prisoner of war will be co-operative if he knows that the hypnotist is looking for military information, nor will any ordinary citizen if he suspects that the operator will use him to blow up a munitions plant.

The answer to this very vital question is “yes,” though we prefer to say “without his consent” instead of “against his will.” We do not need the subject’s consent when we wish to hypnotize him, for we use a “disguised” technique. The standard way to produce hypnotism in the laboratory is with the so-called sleep technique. The operator “talks sleep” to the subject, who eventually relaxes and goes into a trance, talking in his sleep and answering questions. Now suppose we set up a little psychological experiment on relaxation. That sounds harmless enough. We attach a blood pressure gauge to the subject’s right arm and the psychogalvanic reflex to the palm of his hand, just to make everything look shipshape. These devices are for measuring his ability to relax, just impressive little gadgets to remove any suspicion.

Next we tell the subject he is to imagine himself falling sound asleep, since this will aid in his attempts to relax. We also point out that, of course, the very highest state of relaxation will be his ability actually to fall into a deep sleep while we are talking to him. We also stress the great importance of the ability to relax in this modern world of rush and worry, promising to show him how to get results as one end of these experiments. All this is by way of build-up. Probably not one of our readers, if exposed to this procedure, would realize that this was preparation for hypnotism, but would co-operate willingly in this very interesting psychological experiment.

We then proceed to “talk sleep,” much the same as in ordinary hypnosis, carefully avoiding any reference to a trance or making any tests with which the subject might be familiar, all the while checking on blood pressure and psychogalvanic reflex to keep up the front. Finally we make the test of somnambulism, or deep hypnotism. We see if the subject will talk to us in his sleep without awakening. If this does not succeed, the subject wakes up completely, and in this case we simply repeat the experiment, hoping for better luck next time. But if we do succeed, if the individual belongs to the “one-in-five” club, the subject is just as truly hypnotized as by any other method, and from now on everything is plain sailing. By use of the posthypnotic suggestion, we assure ourselves there will not be trouble the next time. We simply say, “Listen carefully. After you wake up I will tap three times on the table with my pencil. You will then have an irresistible impulse to go sound asleep.” The next trance is just that easy to get, and the subject has no idea that it is the pencil which has sent him off.

Let us follow this process a little further. The operator has succeeded in hypnotizing the subject without his consent if not against his will. It is the same thing as far as practical results are concerned. But in this war situation he must go further if he is to attain the results for which he is striving. There must be no leakage, no talking outside the classroom. So the operator now removes from the subject all knowledge that he has ever been hypnotized. This is quite simple, again by the use of suggestion in the trance. We tell the subject in hypnotism that on awakening he will have no remembrance of ever having been hypnotized, that if questioned he will insist he knows nothing about hypnotism and has never been a subject.

But we must go even further than this. Once a person has become accustomed to hypnotism, has been repeatedly hypnotized, it becomes very easy for any operator to throw him into the trance. Obviously this will not do if we are to use hypnotism in warfare. So we plug this gap again by suggestion in the somnambulistic state. We assure the subject that in the future no one will be able to hypnotize him except with the special consent of the operator. This takes care of things very nicely.

The picture we now have is quite different from that which the reader has associated with hypnotism. We sit down with the subject in the laboratory. We are talking about the latest boxing match when the operator taps three times on the table with his pencil. Instantly — and we mean instantly — the subject’s eyes close and he’s sound “asleep.” While in trance he sees a black dog come into the room, feels the dog, goes to the telephone and tells its owner to come get it. The dog is of course purely imaginary. We give him an electric shock which would be torture to a normal person, but he does not even notice it. We straighten him out between two chairs and sit on his chest while he recites poetry. Then we wake him up.

He immediately starts talking about that boxing match! A visitor to the laboratory interrupts him.

“What do you know of hypnotism?“

The subject looks surprised, “Why, nothing.”

“When were you hypnotized last?“

“I have never been hypnotized.”

“Do you realize that you were in a trance just ten minutes ago?“

“Don’t be silly! No one has hypnotized me and no one ever can.”

“Do you mind if I try?“

“Not at all. If you want to waste your time it’s all right with me.”

So the visitor, a good hypnotist, tries, but at every test the subject simply opens his eyes with a bored grin. Finally he gives up the attempt and everyone is seated as before. Then the original operator taps on the table with his pencil. Immediately the subject is in deep hypnotism.

We now add another concept. We can coach the subject so that in the trance he will behave exactly as in the waking state. Under these circumstances we could defy anyone, even a skilled psychologist, to tell whether the subject was “asleep” or “awake.” There are tests which will tell the story but in warfare we cannot run around sticking pins into everyone we meet just to see if he is normal.

So rapid can this shift be from normal to trance state, and so “normal” will the subject appear in trance, that the writer has used such a subject as a bridge partner. He plays one hand in trance and one hand “awake” with no one any the wiser.

If the reader has followed us through the preceding chapters, he is in a position to grasp a final idea which is basic in this particular field. We mentioned the concept of multiple personality in chapter V, and we pointed out the fact that in some cases, the personalities can be totally unlike one an other, as seen in the case of the Angel and Sally in the Beauchamp case. Robert Louis Stevenson’s book, the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, was an early description of personality changes which are quite familiar to the modern psychologist.

We further pointed out that multiple personality could be both caused and cured by hypnotism. Remember that war is a grim business. Suppose we deliberately set up that condition of multiple personality to further the ends of military intelligence.

Let us start with a very simple illustration. For example, we can hypnotize a man in a hotel in, say, Rochester. We then explain to him in hypnotism that we wish the numbers and state names of all out-of-state cars parked in the block surrounding the hotel. He is to note these very carefully in his unconscious mind but will have no conscious memory of having done so.

Then we awaken him and ask him, in the waking state to go out and get us a tube of toothpaste. He leaves the hotel and wanders around the block in search of that tube. Finally, he returns, apologizing for his delay, saying that it was necessary for him to go entirely around the block before he noticed a drugstore in the very building itself. This, he says, was very stupid of him but apparently men are made that way. Did he notice anything of interest as he made his walk? “Nothing! Oh, yes, there was a dog fight down at the corner.” And he described the battle in detail.

We now hypnotize him. He knows what we are seeking and at once proceeds to give us numbers and states of strange cars, very pleased with the fact that he can recall thirteen. He evidently enjoys the game immensely and is quite proud of his memory. Then we awaken him and see what he knows in the conscious state.

“How many cars are there around the building?”

“I don’t know.”

“What are the numbers of the out-of-state licenses around the building?”

“Good heavens, I have no idea. I think there is a California car near the front entrance, but I have no idea as to its number.”

A friend tries his hand.

“Now look here. You were hypnotized half an hour ago and you left this room under posthypnotic suggestion.”

The subject gets irritated. “Look here yourself. I’m getting tired of that silly joke. This is the third time today you’ve pulled it. All right. I was hypnotized and saw pink elephants all over the lobby. Have it your way.” And the subject sits down to a magazine, obviously angry that this man cannot find something more amusing to say. Often the hypnotic subject will react in this manner. Push him just a little too far and he becomes irritated, obviously a trick of the unconscious to end the argument and avoid any danger of being found out.

There are some very interesting possibilities to this experiment if we care to use it in warfare. Consider the following purely imaginary picture. We take a very good hypnotic subject and send him to Cuba. (We name this country because such a situation would be absurd.) He is an employee of the X Oil Company and as such his only conscious interest is to see that his organization is well run and does a profitable business.

But in his unconscious mind he has other intentions. The aggressive Cubans are building a great naval base at Havana, an obvious menace to our overseas trade. So we station this man with is oil company in this city. Neither he nor the group in question need know anything of the arrangements. The instructions to his unconscious in hypnotism are very definite. Find out everything possible about the naval base.  He is shown maps of this before he goes and coached as to just what is important. Nor is he ever allowed to submit written reports. Everything must be handed on by word of mouth to one of the very few individuals who are able to hypnotize him.

Under these circumstances we may count on this man’s doing everything in his power to collect the information in question. The reader’s very natural reaction is, “Why all this rigmarole? Why not have any keen executive of that oil company do the job without calling in the added trouble of hypnosis?”

There are certain safeguards if we use hypnotism. First, there is no danger of the agent’s selling out. More important would be the conviction of innocence, which the man himself had, and this is a great aid in many situations. He would never “act guilty” and if ever accused of seeking information would be quite honestly indignant. This conviction of innocence on the part of a criminal is perhaps his greatest safeguard under questioning by the authorities. Finally, it would be impossible to “third degree” him and so pick up the links of a chain. This is very important, for the most hardened culprit is always liable to “talk” if the questioners are ruthless enough.

The Super Spy

In the instance we are about to outline, we may or may not be dealing with multiple personality. This is a matter which could be argued at considerable length, but we shall use that term here. This little experiment could be successful with any good somnambulist and would require about ten hours preparation. The example I now cite would work only with a certain number of the very best somnambulists and instead of ten hours preparation; we had better allow ten months. In other words, a neat little laboratory demonstration is one thing. Preparation for grim reality in the cloak and dagger club is something different. See if you can follow it.

In this case, or rather type of case, we will use hypnotism to induce multiple personality. Hypnotism is a means to an end, though the technique would be impossible did we not have hypnotism at our disposal. Perhaps we had better start by defending our position. Is it unethical? Perhaps, but science merely states the facts. If you choose to use those facts for destruction rather than for construction, the scientist is quite justified in saying that you are to blame. If we follow one line of reasoning, Einstein can be regarded as the greatest criminal of modern years. He wrote the basic formula fro atomic fission, which made possible the atom bomb. That line of reasoning is, of course, perfect nonsense. One of my closet friends is an authority on modern explosives, so is he a criminal?

Now let us return to our presentation. We start with an excellent subject, and he must be just that, one of those rare individuals who accepts and who carries through every suggestion without hesitation. In addition, we need a man or a woman who is highly intelligent and physically tough. Then we start to develop a case of multiple personality through the use of hypnotism. In his normal waking state, which we will call Personality A, or PA, this individual will become a rabid communist. He will join the party, follow the party line and make himself as objectionable as possible to the authorities. Note that he will be acting in good faith. He is a communist, or rather his PA is a communist and will behave as such.

Then we develop Personality B (PB), the secondary personality, the unconscious personality, if you wish, although this is somewhat of a contradiction in terms. This personality is rabidly American and anti-communist. It has all the information possessed by PA, the normal personality, whereas PA does not have this advantage. You will recognize this relation as similar to that which we had in Sally and the Angel from the famous Beauchamp case, also the clear-cut difference in ideals.

The proper training of a person for this role would be long and tedious, but once he was trained, you would have a super spy compared to which any creation in a mystery story is just plain weak.

My super spy plays his role as a communist in his waking state, aggressively, consistently, fearlessly. But his PB is a loyal American, and PB has all the memories of PA. As a loyal American, he will not hesitate to divulge those memories, and needless to say we will make sure he has the opportunity to do so when occasion demands. Here is how this technique would work.

Once again let us choose the imaginary aggressive Cubans as examples. In the event of war, but preferably well before the outbreak of war, we would start our organization. We could easily secure, say, one hundred excellent hypnotic subjects of Cuban stock, living in the United States, who spoke their language fluently, and then work on those subjects.

In hypnotism, we would build up their loyalty to our country; but out of hypnotism, in the “waking” or normal state, we would do the opposite, striving to convince them that they had a genuine grievance against this country and encouraging them to engage in fifth column activities. So we build up a case of dual personality.

They would, as we said before, be urged in the waking state, to become fifth columnist enemies of the United States, but we would also point out to them in hypnotism that this was really a pose, that their real loyalty lay with this country, offering them protection and reward for their activities. Through them we would hope to be kept informed of the activities of their “friends,” this information, of course, being obtained in a trance state. They would also be very useful as “plants” in concentration camps or in any other situation where it was suspected that services might be of use to out intelligence department.

Once again these people would have a great advantage over ordinary “informers.” Convinced of their innocence, they would play the fifth column role with the utmost sincerity, and as mentioned before, this conviction of innocence would probably be their greatest protection. Again, if suspected, no one could obtain from them any useful information. Only a very few key people could throw them into the trance and, without this, any attempt to get information would be useless. Finally, we again point out that we are fully aware of the difficulties which would be encountered in building up such an organization. Hardly one somnambulist in, say, ten, or even one hundred, would be suitable for such work; and the determining of this suitability would b no easy task. But it could be done, and once accomplished would repay amply all of the trouble.

A further extension of this same proposal would carry the war into the enemy’s country, into Cuba in this case. These subjects would be admirable for “planting” in the enemy army with a view to obtaining information, or even for the ends of civilian sabotage.

We ask you to note an other point which would bot contribute to the peace of enemy military intelligence. It is impossible to detect men who have been prepared for espionage work by this method. There is no test by which you can discover them. Blood pressure, heart rate, electroencephalograph, psychogalvanic reflex, al lof these devices which we can use to pick up the most subtle bodily changes are worthless for there are no bodily changes. Drugs reveal nothing, at least at the present moment.

This presents the military with all the makings of a very bad dream. For instance, suppose the enemy places one of these men in an American military intelligence organization numbering, let us say, one thousand. This man would, of course, be trained in reverse English, so to speak. In his normal waking condition, he would be a staunch American. His secondary personality would be that of an equally staunch communist, ready to disclose any secrets obtained by Personality A. He would be just about as dangerous an individual as anybody could imagine. Suppose that the chief of that organization had reason to believe such a person existed but did not know who he was. The search for the proverbial needle in the haystack would begin. The chief couldn’t count on an American research hypnotist for much help. The super spy was made according to specifications by an equally able hypnotist on the other side. They both know their business, and they both know that the matter of detection is almost hopeless. The chief has only the methods used to locate an ordinary spy, and this man is as immune to these methods as a human being can be. In his waking state, he is a loyal American. The right hand, literally, does not know what the left hand is doing and no one would be more surprised than himself to discover that he was the blackest of spies. This one fact gives him great protection.

A trained investigator is extremely shrewd at detecting this matter of mental conflict in the usual person. He simply puts a suspect through what appears to be a matter of routine questioning. He says it is merely for the record but if you are guilty, if you are involved, you are almost certain to make some slip which arouses his suspicions. He takes his leave in courteous fashion but from then on the suspect is in real trouble if he is guilty, for the investigator has at his disposal the means to begin that endless process of check and scrutiny which will eventually reveal the truth. On the other hand, if the suspect is convinced of his own innocence, if he offers to co-operate in every possible way, welcomes an investigation into his past and present activities, the matter probably stops right there. The type of hypnotic subject I have described presents this conviction of innocence.

In psychology, we hear much about mental conflict. In hypnotism , we do everything possible to avoid this conflict, especially in the field of ethics. When multiple personality appears spontaneously – as we know it does- it is a device on the part of the mind to solve this matter of conflict. The personality splits, one part acting under one group of ethical ideals, the other governed by the conflicting group. Under this adroit arrangement, there is no conflict. Goethe said that he had the makings in himself of gentleman and of a rogue. Many of us are in the same situation and at times the conflict can become quite acute. In a case of real multiple personality, the conflict is eliminated. The gentleman goes his way, the rogue goes his way, and both are quite happy with the arrangement.

So a synthetic hypnotic spy with a dual personality is extremely hard to detect. Then what can be done about it? See if you can follow this next move, one which we shall dub the countermining technique. There is a diversity of techniques which can be employed. In the one we are about to describe we need make no tempt to split the personality largely because there is no ethical conflict involved. Our subject is playing a straight hand, so to speak, although that hand is a little complicated.

We suspect the enemy is using these specially prepared super spies on us, there is not much we can do in the line of detection at this end, so we carry the war into the enemy’s country. We countermine. We choose a good subject and then let him in on the plot. We disclose to him that he is an excellent hypnotic subject and wish to use him for counterespionage. We suspect that in the near future someone is going to try hypnosis on him. He is to bluff, to co-operate to the very best of his ability, fake every test that is made and stay wide awake all the time. The test we fear most that of an analgesia- insensitivity to pain. So we coach him carefully with posthypnotic suggestions to the effect that even when wide awake and bluffing he will be able to meet every test which may be made here, be it with ammonia under the nose, a needle, or, worst of all, the use of electricity, which can be made extremely painful and is easy to use.

Under these circumstances it will be virtually impossible to tell whether this man is bluffing or really in trance. We take a subject so trained and allow another operator to try his hand. So the operator “hypnotizes” his victim and has him see the usual dog, produces anesthesia to pin pricks, and is very well satisfied with himself. Then he “awakens” the subject.

We say to the operator. “That chap is a very good subject.”

“He certainly is.”

“He couldn’t have been fooling?”

“Not the least chance of it.”

We turn to the subject. “What do you say?”

“I’m afraid I was. I remember everything perfectly. I was bluffing you.”

The other operator now realizes be was “taken for a ride.” So he returns to the attack. “Let’s see you fool me this time.”

He hypnotizes the subject, stretches him out between two chairs, sits on his chest and says triumphantly, “Now tell me he’s fooling.”

“That’s right, I am.” And the subject opens his eyes, dumps the operator on the floor and stands up.

“How in the world can I tell when you are hypnotized?” says the very puzzled hypnotist.

“You can’t. I know every trick of the trade and can bluff you from now till doomsday.” And he could have.

The writer knows of such a subject who was almost uncanny. Highly intelligent, he knew all the literature on hypnotism and knew exactly what was expected in every situation. At times the writer himself did not know what it was all about, whether the subject was bluffing or in genuine trance, for he could use autosuggestion quite as easily as the operator could use real hypnotism. He thoroughly enjoyed the whole game, and took especial delight in “playing possum.” He would allow an operator to work with him for an hour under the absolute conviction that be was handling a high-grade subject, and never crack a smile during the whole performance.

Of course this was an excellent subject. Such a subject prepared for use as a super spy would be a nightmare to any intelligence department using hypnotism. The writer admits that he knows of no way to uncover the deception. Babinski, writing years ago, put his finger on this flaw. He declared there was no way to determine whether the subject was bluffing. With our modem techniques we can be quite certain when an ordinary subject is genuine . We can apply a pain test which no one could stand outside the trance. But these specially prepared subjects are quite another matter. With posthypnotic suggestion they can be trained to very severe pain while quite “normal.”

Under the conditions of warfare they would be a constant source of danger. The enemy, suspecting that we were using hypnotism, could “plant” a dozen or so subjects where be thought we would find them. He would then stand an excellent chance of getting inside track of the whole organization.

The possible uses of hypnotism in warfare cover a very wide field. Let us consider a few of these.

There is always the possibility of sabotage, which, with the other cases we will now mention, does not require quite as elaborate a technique as that used with our super spy. We wish to blow up munitions factory, so we pick on one especially good subject turn the trick. We rehearse him very carefully, pointing out that he is really doing very important work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and run him through a number of fake experiments All these end harmlessly, and we pay him well for his co-operation. In this way we both assure ourselves that he is the subject we want and assure him there is nothing to fear.

We then put him to the crucial test. We explain that the authorities must see what would happen in a real situation. We tell we are putting a bomb in his dinner pail timed to explode two hours after he enters the plant in question. There is nothing to fear, for while the bomb looks genuine from the outside we have replaced the explosive with a harmless compound. He is to enter the factory as usual the next day and behave quite normally, for the authorities will be watching his every move.

Then we place in the dinner pail a genuine bomb timed to explode one half hour after be enters the plant. Would we succeed? An open question, but the writer, for one, would certainly not enter that plant on the morning in question if he could possibly avoid it. He will not say he is certain the trick would work; but feels there is a very good chance of its success. And in this particular case there would be no one to question after the disaster.

We have outlined a few obvious possible uses of hypnotism in warfare which would occur to anyone familiar with that branch of psychology. We are not giving away military secrets any more than is a chemist who discourses on the use of gas or a physicist who talks on atom fission. There are certain broad principles, well known to everyone familiar with the fields of chemistry, physics or psychology. Certain highly technical devices, however, are known only to the expert and to disclose these would be treason and punishable as such. We are merely stating the obvious, though in a field with which the average reader is much less familiar than he is with those of chemistry or physics.

We might expand almost indefinitely on the suggestions we have already made. During the First World War, one leading authority on hypnotism offered to take a German submarine, piloted by a German commander under hypnosis, through the German minefields and attack the German fleet. Whether he succeeded or not, his chance of returning was about zero; so we must at least credit him with the courage of his convictions.

Then there is the question of obtaining information from prisoners of war. Will the subject “talk” in hypnotism? We are in ignorance on this point but the weight of evidence in the writer’s opinion leans very definitely to “yes.”

Let us see how we would proceed. There are always plenty of prisoners in modern warfare, with a good percentage in hospitals. So we begin at the hospital as the logical point of contact. The operator, in the role of a doctor, chooses his battleground. Next be explains to the patients he has selected that he wishes to try on them the effect of relaxation. This sounds reasonable enough, especially in view of the fact that many of them would be in a highly agitated state, many would be “shell shock” cases. These, by the way, make excellent hypnotic subjects.

So the doctor proceeds to show these patients how to relax, which is merely the disguised technique of hypnotism we have already described. In most cases, he will not get the deep hypnotic trance of somnambulism, but neither will the patient realize the real end of the experiment. With at least one in five– probably more in these hospital cases– he will induce hypnotism. Then it is a simple matter to isolate this patient in a separate room and see what information can be obtained. First the hypnotist would remove from him all knowledge of ever having been hypnotized and make it impossible for anyone else to throw him into a trance without the operator’s consent.

Now as to procedure. Someone has said there are two ways to kill a cat. One is to mess him all up with a club; the other is to persuade him that chloroform is good for fleas. The reader need not think that the next move would be to use “strong arm” methods, to apply the third degree. Not necessarily. We would need just as skillful questioning as that used by the F.B.I. and would have to try various devices on these prisoners– for we would work with more than one.

For example, we might call the prisoner before a group of “enemy officers,” consisting of our men dressed as such and speaking his language. These would explain to him that they were very anxious to get information about conditions at the front and promise him promotion for his co-operation.

Or again, and probably more effective, we might work to undermine his morale. We would point out to him in hypnotism how badly he had been treated by his own army. A man of his abilities should obviously have a higher rank than he holds. And besides that, his government was not treating his family as it should. Now if he would just come over to our side of the war, we would promise him promotion and recognition.

The reader is asked to remember that, in hypnotism, the individual is highly suggestible. There is a belief held by some that he will do nothing in the trance that he would not do in the “waking state.” This is sheer nonsense. The writer has seen more than one stage performance wherein respected members of the community have made fools of themselves in public, an exhibition they would almost certainly never give if normal. On at least three occasions these subjects have later tried to “beat up” the hypnotist for his part in the affair. It is simply a question of degree. W also have cases in the records of hypnotism wherein subjects have given fraternity secrets or talked of very private love affairs.

A great deal also depends on operator-attitude. If the subject suspects that the operator doubts his success or expects the experiment to be a failure, it will fail. But if the operator is himself convinced he will succeed, then he will succeed, at least in some cases. We must bear in mind that success need not be expected every time. If the hypnotist isolated twelve good subjects in one day, and if only two of these ‘talk” freely, his efforts would have been amply repaid. We do not for one moment claim that hypnotism Is a sure fire method of getting information from prisoners of war. We simply claim that with certain subjects, it will be highly successful. The weight of evidence points in this direction.

There is also the possibility of spreading false information. This would not be as useful as the first proposal but it would have its place in the military setup. For example, we take a prisoner-of-war subject and say to him. “Yesterday afternoon you were at Such-and-such Airfield. You saw there were three antiaircraft batteries. Here is a map of the field and here are the exact locations of these batteries. You will remember this very clearly after you wake up. Moreover, you will take the first opportunity to escape and to give this material to your friends.” Then we awaken him and make sure that he has every opportunity to escape. We even help him on his way.

This, of course, is only a trifling example for the purposes of illustration. But in actual warfare, it might easily lead to an enemy disaster. Suppose we hypnotize a captured officer of high rank. We show him a map of our front, pointing out to him that the weak point is between the cities of Utica and Syracuse. We have just withdrawn four divisions to reinforce the line further south. A heavy attack here might break the entire line. Then we take care he is allowed to escape with this information. If the trick worked it might easily turn the tide of a whole campaign.

Again, we do not say it will work in all cases. Nothing so foolish, Again we say that, in our opinion, it will work with some subjects and that such subjects can be picked out and trained very carefully before the crucial test is made.  This idea that we hypnotize Colonel Smith today then expect him to win the war for us tomorrow is folly.  We might have to test, train and work with him for six months. Then he might be a very important aid in winning the war. And we are not talking about one prisoner but many of them.

The writer admits that no one knows the effectiveness of these proposals. No satisfactory experiments have yet been done on the subject. As we have said, M.H. Erickson has done excellent work proving to his satisfaction that such uses of hypnotism would be quite impossible. Bu. W. R. Wells and L. W. Roland have done excellent work proving just the opposite. So we may cancel them out with a strong scientific presumption that in certain cases, at least, it is possible. It seems to the writer that this conflict in results is largely due to operator-attitude, a fact, largely overlooked up to now, which has a strong clouding effect on many experiments. So if any brother psychologist should make the dogmatic statement that the uses we here propose for hypnotism are quite impossible, we are quite justified in saying that, as a scientist, he also is quite impossible. We must admit that no one knows, or will admit he knows, the answer, but at least contend that the weight of evidence is in our favor. That leaves the subject wide open.

Then we have a further possible use for hypnotism in warfare. We have all heard of the difficulty of transporting information without interception. Codes are excellent, but we have highly-trained men in our intelligence department who are also excellent in breaking down these codes. If one expert can build up a code, an other can break it down and find the meaning, given a few hours and adequate help. Them again, a code must be printed somewhere and in warfare the enemy will pay good cash to get his hands on the printed page. Code books vanish no matter how carefully guarded, for the “international spy” of movie fame is a very real and very clever person when the reward is big enough.

Of course we can always send documents by messenger. That also has its headaches. War is grim and life is cheap. If the enemy knows where these documents are, he will stop at nothing, neither robbery nor murder, in order to get them. And human nature is weak. The nightmare of any intelligence service is a big, glowing double cross. Someone described an honest politician as one who would stay bought, and spies have a very bad reputation along these lines. We have had some pretty ghastly examples of that in the last war.

With hypnotism, we can be sure of our private messenger. We hypnotize our man in, say, Washington. In hypnotism we give him the message. That message, may we add, can be both long and intricate. An intelligent individual can memorize a whole book if necessary. Then we start him out for Australia by plane with the instructions that no one can hypnotize him under any circumstances except Colonel Brown in Melbourne. By this device we overcome two difficulties. It is useless to intercept this messenger. He has no documents and no amount of “third degreeing” can extract the information, for the information is not in the conscious mind to extract. We could also make him insensitive to pain so that even the third degree would be useless.

Also with this hypnotic messenger, we have no worry about the double cross. In hypnotism, we could build up his loyalty to the point where this would be unthinkable. Besides, he has nothing to tell. Consciously he has no idea of what he is doing. He is just a civilian with a business appointment in Australia, nothing more. He will give no information, for he has none to give. By this device we could make it much safer to send information when and where the private messenger could be used.

We hear a great deal about brainwashing these days, and we run into a most confused picture. This famous Russian purges of a few years back, with the confessions of the accused before the court, the trial of Cardinal Mindszenty, the experiences of our own prisoners in Korea– what has all this to do with hypnotism? Possibly far more than the average American would guess.

Let us look at it this way. Professor Clark Hull of Yale, who was one of the greatest of American psychologists, linked hypnotism closely to the so-called, conditioned reflex. Pavlov, the Russian, was of course the world’s greatest authority on this unique device. Russian psychology in the present day follows Pavlov in a slavish imitation, which we in the western world simply cannot understand. Call this brainwashing technique a form of hypnotism, of a conditioned reflex, of reflexology: the terms don’t matter. Clark Hull, were he alive, would say that we were simply using different terms for the same thing.

This whole subject of brainwashing, including those fantastic confessions at the Russian trials and from our own men in Korea, also the equally fantastic conversions of our men to the communist cause, is a fascinating study in and of itself. We have definite ideas as to how these ends are attained and undoubtedly could do just as well in this matter of brainwashing as our communist friends, if we wished so.

Our interest here lies in the protection of our own men against this brainwashing technique. We must face reality. It is obviously impossible to hypnotize every man in the armed forces of the United States. So let us concentrate on one special group, the pilots of the Air Force. Again, impossible and impractical to hypnotize every man in this group. However, the fact remains that a certain proportion of them would be excellent hypnotic subjects. The same applies to every other branch of the service, and in all these branches there are certain assignments where the danger of capture is great, where the individual does have information which would be of great value to the enemy and where this individual would probably be a special target fro brainwashing.

For such assignments, we could, as far as possible, select men who were good hypnotic subjects and who had been specially prepared to meet this danger. The number of such men would necessarily be limited. They would be used for special assignments, but such men so prepared would be made completely immune to this so-called brainwashing technique. Methods of preparation would vary with the specific individual and with the specific assignment involved.

We should also bear in mind the matter of motivation, a subject with which we will deal more fully in the next chapter. Hypnotism has a startling capacity to step up motivation in the human being, to step up his motor, his driving power. In many cases, the human being is a failure because like Don Quixote he jumps on his horse and rides off madly in all directions at the same time. He does not channel his energy. With hypnotism, we can set up what we term a monomotivational field, wherein the energies of the individual are firmly pointed in one certain direction, with the exclusion of side issues and distractions.

This increase in motivation can apply to long range objectives such as the educational or occupational aims of the individual or can apply to very short range objectives such as a basketball game tonight. In either case, we get a much more efficient individual and in the case of short-range objectives, an individual who follows through with a savage energy which is almost unbelievable.

The reader can easily visualize military situations where motivation is extremely important. Many of these will call for increased motivation over a long period of time where the individual settles down on a long-term program and follows it through with energy and determination. The more dramatic instances will, of course, be those short-term assignments wherein the individual converts himself into a dynamo of energy with a single-track mind for a period of a few hours or a few days.

Modified: 
End Ritual Abuse The Website of Ellen P. Lacter, Ph.D.

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