From its origins as animal magnetism, as practised by Franz Anton Mesmer, to its modern day use as a health cure and a form of entertainment, hypnosis encompasses many different facets of humanity. Always controversial, the outlandish claims that its zealous believers make are only matched by the howls of derision that they provoke from sceptics. Hypnotism exists on the periphery of the scientific community, much as it has since its inception. Robin Waterfield approaches the issues with an open mind, seeking to strip the fact from the fancy and the truth from the myth. And as he builds a comprehensive picture of this unusual art, other issues are raised. The relationship, for example, between the predilections of society and the popularity of hypnosis.
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Robin Waterfield is the author of over twenty-five books, ranging from children's fiction to biography and translations of ancient Greek texts. Hidden Depths is the product of a lifelong interest in human potential and psychology. At present he is Writer in Residence at the University of Sussex.From Publishers Weekly:
The burning gaze and seductive murmur of the hypnotist is both an enduring cultural touchstone and a useful therapeutic tool, according to this fascinating history of, and brief for, hypnosis. Waterfield (Prophet: The Life and Times of Khalil Gibran) follows the evolution of the 18th-century notion of "animal magnetism" into the idea of the hypnotic trance as a psychological phenomenon, an understanding that laid the groundwork for the development of psychotherapy and the concept of the unconscious. Always a matter of scientific controversy, hypnotism was taken up by earnest medical reformers and road show impresarios alike. It was championed by Romantics and revolutionaries opposed to rationalism and elite control, but its rituals reinforced the authority of usually male, upper-class hypnotists over usually female or lower-class subjects, who, it was believed, risked succumbing to the hypnotist's moral and sexual control under trance. Writing with a lightly erudite style, Waterfield explores hypnotism's multifarious meanings and traces its influence in everything from Dracula movies to techniques in advertising and salesmanship. He is also an unabashed partisan of hypnosis ("Let's do it!") in its less flamboyant contemporary guise as a "gentle, effective and empowering treatment for a surprisingly wide range of ailments" that go well beyond the usual psychiatric problems. Occasionally skeptical but broadly credulous (he dismisses past-life regression but believes in telekinesis), Waterfield accepts, often on anecdotal evidence, claims that hypnosis can block pain, clear up skin conditions, boost the immune system and increase breast size. While his discussion of therapeutic hypnosis and mind-body holism in disease processes lacks rigor, his well-written and insightful analysis of hypnosis as a cultural artifact will definitely keep readers from getting sleepy. Photos.
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Book Description Macmillan, 2002. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110333779495