What does Hypnosis and Chocolate have in common?
As I come toward the end of translating Papus’ book “Treatise on Practical Magic”, I am struck by how earnestly he wants Magic to be taken seriously and sit alongside the other sciences.
It is unfortunate that Hypnosis will suffer the same fate as Psychology in trying to get a seat at the scientific table. When I was at Oxford reading Experimental Psychology, one of the very clear disadvantages of the ‘experimental’ part was being able to get a sufficiently large population to run an experiment which would satisfy the statistics requirements of ‘regular’ science. Normally sample sizes were very small, and completely different statistical methods (called non-parametric) would have to be used. The question of repeatability of the experiment was therefore always in question.
Of course, the term ‘Parapsychology’ didn’t help! I think most of us wished they had called it ‘Flibbytrumpet’ or something to distance it from our oh-so-serious field. Still, I always thought calling it ‘Experimental Psychology’ was trying too hard. After all, you don’t take a degree in ‘Experimental Biology’ or ‘Experimental Geology’, do you?
So Papus tries to use Hypnosis – and Magnetism – to justify magic. Sadly, most of the experiment read exactly how later scientists read them: a load of hysterics and people either trying to please the experimenter or to fool him! Frankly, reading serious accounts about somnambulists trying to perform telepathy isn’t exactly a sound scientific basis for proving astral phenomena. But you can be the judge when the book comes out – hopefully in about a month to six weeks.
In the meantime, I was looking a drawings of one of Alfred de Rochas’ favorite subject, a 17 year old boy called Benedict (Benoit), and yes, apparently magnetization appears to have involved a lot of touching and implanting erotic and religious thoughts in the hypnotized subjects mind (!). Be that as it may, and the behavior which nowadays would have the person in jail was quite acceptable in the 19th Century.
Anyway, I was looking at drawings of Benedict (see above) and was suddenly struck by s thought only a Brit who grew up in the 1950s – 1970 could have: the series of images look awfully like the Fray’s Chocolate Kid who was on all the chocolate bars in those days.
There! I’ve linked Hypnosis to Chocolate!