Power of the Mind

Cabbages & Kings

As an off-stage piano played a mystic interpretation of "Every Little Movement Has a Meaning All Its own," the curtain of the Esquire Theatre went up on the Great Morton, hypnotist, mesmerist, psychometrist.

"Ladies and gentlemen, as you see, I've got nothing up my sleeves. I'm not a magician, and I'm not here to deceive you. What you are about to see is the power of suggestion. Anyone can do it, because there's no mystery about the power of the human mind."

After this quick assurance that he wasn't a faker, and that we too had The Power, Dr. Robert Morton, B.A., Ph.D. (Nelson College, New Zealand) called for volunteers from the audience. Repeated assurances that no one would suffer great embarrassment finally lured 14 subjects up to the stage.

"You're swaying. You find it hard to stand straight, you look into the darkness of your brain, and you see nothing. Of course not, you didn't expect to, did you, silly old sausage"? The doctor's voice kept time with the piano, and the 14 volunteers rocked like punch-drunk pendulums.

". . . eight, nine, ten. You're in a deep sleep, and we're rolling along in a jolly old bus. Oops! Watch it, we're going around a curve. Ahh, that's better. Now watch the bumps--road under construction, can't you see the sign?" The subjects pitched, rolled, and bounced in accompaniment to Morton's suggestions.

He took them for a boat ride, and showed them the best spot for fishing. One young lady refused to bait her hook with a live worm, and received instead an artificial lure. After the ride they went to a party where the cheer flowed so freely that five of the subjects developed wretched hangovers when Morton told them it was the morning after.

As he brought his subjects back to consciousness, Morton gave them Post-hypnotic suggestions. Soon, the main show was in the audience. One man kept shouting "shut up" whenever Morton said the words "ladies and gentlemen," and a startled young lady found herself shrieking "cocka-doodle-do." Another young lady kept looking around dazedly for the bald head that she had been told to kiss, while the last two subjects acted on Morton's suggestion that they lead the audience in the Star Spangled Banner to close the program:

After the performance, I wandered back to Morton's dressing room, where I found the Doctor accepting congratulations from members of the United Hypnotists Guild. When I asked about the Guild, the group cordially plied me with calling cards and passes to monthly lectures on hypnotism.

As we left the theatre, the Doctor discussed the disappointing size of his Boston audiences. "The bloody idiots here will pay $5 to see some swami pull rabbits from a hat, but they wont pay a buck to see a legitimate demonstration like mine. There's nothing phony about my show, but the fools keep thinking I've got a Dick Tracy wrist radio up my sleeve. I can't convince them that I'm not a fake, as long as they associate my work with fortune-telling. What we are trying to do is prove that the mind has great power. Just because some fakers have snuck in, real hypnotists and thought transference demonstrators have a tough time in a town like Boston. These people prefer the fakers; they think it's a better show."

"Well, I've got to get some sleep and get out of this town. Got to get to some money soon," he added, almost to himself, as he opened the door of his Cadillac convertible.