Is Man a Free Agent? The Law of Suggestion (1902)

Turn-of-the-century book on the art of hypnosis and a study into how humans work under its influence. The author, the hypnotist Santanelli (James H. Loryea), writes:

If you will follow through the ensuing pages, unsophisticated as I am, I will try to teach you something about man – a mere machine; his every thought and action forced, possessing no will power, and in no way responsible for his actions. For twelve years I have studied nightly from ten to twenty-five hypnotized subjects and have found that they are ruled by the same general law as the non-hypnotized man. In other words, a hypnotized subject is a slowed-down machine which one knowing how, can watch each and every movement of, and thereby comprehend cause and effect. Through a hypnotized subject we can learn how "normal" man is forced to act. Consequently, we can thoroughly analyze the whys and wherefores of every act performed by a subject while in hypnosis, during which time I believe the cerebrum to be entirely inactive.

Not much is known about Santanelli. An article from The New York Times in 1896 tells of a performance given by him during which ten men were hypnotized and made to do or feel various things, such as believing that they had injured their foot or that the chair they sat on was red-hot. The most controversial performance however began on March 30th 1896 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, when Santanelli put his young assistant James Mahoney into some sort of coma or hypnotized sleep for a week, during which the public became worried for his health and tried to get Santanelli to wake the young man. When Mahoney was awoken after a week, he had reportedly lost 9 1/4 pounds (a little over 4 kg) but was otherwise unchanged, regaining his original weight within 24 hours.

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