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Entertainment Trumps Truth About Hypnosis

Hypnosis in films is often presented as scary, dangerous and occult. Unscrupulous hypnotists control and take advantage of people, especially young vulnerable women.

One of the most well-known offenders is "Svengali" based on Daphne du Maurier's novel. A creepy hypnotist takes control of a girl who can't sing and transforms her into a fabulous singer.

There have been remakes of the original 1931 movie but who could possibly match the brilliant performance of John Barrymore as the evil, terrifying hypnotist?

It is ironic that the power of movies proves what hypnotists often claim -- that the imagination will outdo reason every time.

It's useless, for instance, to tell a prospective client that she is in control while in hypnosis -- the images in her head of Svengali-like sinister manipulation of the hapless girl far outweigh whatever a modern hypnotherapist may say. Only actual experience of being hypnotized will change that.

A generation before Svengali a silent movie "The Cabinet of Dr Caligari" depicted a travelling hypnotist who kept an easily hypnotised man in a coffin-like cabinet. The vile Dr Caligari sent this man on missions of murder.

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Deviating heavily from the original Dr Caligari film the 1961 remake, written by respected horror writer Robert Bloch (PSYCHO), retains only the themes of somnambulism from its predecessor.

An odd shopkeeper hypnotizes a woman and regresses her to a supposed past life which ended when she was murdered by her husband. The movie revolves around the mystery of who is trying to kill the woman in the present, hence the title "Dead Again" although that should end with a question mark.

Stir of Echoes (1999)

Even more preposterous though undeniably entertaining, is this murder mystery in which an ordinary man discovers -- after being hypnotized by his sister-in-law -- that he is able to see spirits and glimpse past and future happenings.

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On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970)

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A type of Bridey Murphy tale in which Barbra Streisand plays the part of a girl whose psychiatrist uncovers that she supposedly lived before, in 19th century England.

The Three Faces of Eve (1957)

One of the most famous movies to present hypnosis. And fortunately for a change, the inductions are realistic as a psychiatrist treats a woman who exhibits multiple personalities.


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