It is more than fair to say that hypnosis is not typically shown in a good light in the media. Think about the last time you watched either a movie or TV show involving a hypnotist. Usually, the hypnotist was portrayed as a charismatic Svengali with a penetrating gaze, which gave him absolute control over those he hypnotised.
More often than not, the hypnotist was using hypnosis in a very dastardly way. This usually involved influencing some poor, unsuspecting victim into doing something against their own will and absolutely not in their best interests. This characterisation of hypnotists has been repeated so many times over the past fifty years that few question as to how such a stereotype was created in the first place.
The answer can be found in 1956, after the release of the best-selling book “The Quest for Bridey Murphy”. Its popularity sparked a sudden resurgence of public interest in hypnosis.
The book centres around the relationship between the author, Morey Bernstein and a woman named Ruth Simmons. It tells of how he used hypnosis to taking her back further and further into her childhood, until she regresses back to a past life. At this point, she starts talking in a thick Irish brogue, claiming her name is Bridey Murphy. She then recounts in very vivid detail her own life, one which is completely different to that of Ruth Simmons.
The very thought that it could be used to access past lives within people created a huge interest in all things hypnosis. Before long, a whole new generation of hypnotists emerged out of nowhere. Despite having little to no experience in the area of hypnosis, they were still able to regress all of the subjects so that they could access and recall previous lives with incredible detail.
Such "success" proved to be a little too incredible to sceptics, who believed that the eager and willing subjects were simply forming "past lives" out of a combination of their childhood memories and overactive imaginations. Once the initial hype died down, the public quickly lost interest and instead became deeply hypnotised by the dazzling hips of a young guy called Elvis. Nevertheless, many of the misconceptions regarding hypnosis were directly created by the release of this book.
More than a half century later, these myths still exist, along with a very common fear of hypnosis. With the advent of the Internet and social media, however, it is thankfully possible for the general public to educate themselves via articles and videos about hypnosis.
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