Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Hypnosis and Seduction
I’m currently reading a fascinating book about hypnosis, a topic that has interested me since I was a child. I’m finding I had a lot of misconceptions about the subject, rooted in the way hypnosis has been treated in the media over the years.
In the 60s when I was little, movies, TV, and comic books consistently portrayed hypnotists as sinister fellows with somewhat magical powers. They were forever bringing the heroine of a story under their control for nefarious purposes. A good example is one of my favorite films, “The 500 Fingers of Dr. T,” written by Dr. Seuss. In this movie the little boy’s widowed mother is hypnotized into marrying the evil Dr. Terwilliger, until a heroic plumber manages to free her from his spell.
Even as a little girl I found this hypnotist archetype strangely compelling. I liked to make up stories about falling under the control of a hypnotist. There was definitely something sexual about it all, even though I was too young to comprehend that. As I got older, I discovered a similar archetype appealed to me: the vampire. The irresistibly seductive power of the vampire has to me always simply been another example of hypnosis, albeit with a supernatural element. And there’s no denying that vampires are sexy.
I think very early on, my psyche associated hypnotism with the emotional and physical sensations of surrender, submission, relaxation and pleasure, all of which are key elements of sexual experience for women. Hypnotism was, in effect, seduction, and the hypnotist therefore a master of the art of seduction.
So maybe it’s just me, but there’s always been something very alluring about hypnotists and their ilk, from their mystical aspect to their self-assurance to their irresistible power over others. They are great fodder for sexual fantasy, and for erotic writing as well. In my opinion, if you’re going to do a sexy villain, you can enhance the character by giving him hypnotic powers. In my novel Souls’ Embrace the psychically powerful Master Xiturias uses his mind-control abilities to seduce the heroine Mauren, and hopefully win her away from her true love. (Sounds a lot like “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T,” doesn’t it?) The “hypnosis” scenes in this book are extremely erotic. (And they were very fun to write!)
But now I find myself reading about hypnosis not as a character or plot device, but rather as a therapeutic tool. Nevertheless, it’s hard for me to shake my old impressions. Even if I revise my rational opinion about hypnotists to think of them as medical practitioners, I can’t seem to alter my emotional reaction.
I can imagine a licensed hypnotist practicing his science for the purpose of, for example, helping a person lose weight, but as I picture it, I find it hard to distance such an act from seduction. I certainly can’t think of myself undergoing hypnosis without there being some erotic aspect to the experience. If indeed I ever sought the help of a male hypnotist, it would be very hard to keep the infatuation at bay.
Considering the number of people who turn to this science for health benefits, I must be a little unusual in this respect! These people can’t all be struggling with sexual attraction to their hypnotists.
So, anyone else out there harbor a fascination for this archetype?
I might have to undergo hypnotherapy to get over my “thing” for hypnotists…