COVER HYPNOSIS: Hypnotic suggestions in thousand and more covers
Torino: Dipartimento di Psicologia, Università degli Studi
2010, pp. 76.
The specific aim of this work is to offer a contribution to show, in a simple, immediate and concrete way, as hypnosis is common, alive and relevant to contemporary research and intervention in psychology, medicine, and other fields.
When I started to deal scientifically of hypnotic psychotechnics, almost a quarter of a century ago, I experienced the feeling of entering a territory marginal or nearly nonexistent (in my scientific environment).
The field of hypnotism and suggestion and trance seemed to be a theme to which anyone was really interested, and it could even represent a research theme a bit suspect for a university professor of general psychology who usually works in a rigorous research laboratory (which I am).
I have therefore made an effort to study the subject, I searched far and wide, I attended several university departments and research centers outside of Italy (the country where I live and work), particularly in the United States and in France.
Today I usually make reference, in my scientific archive, to a pool of over three thousand articles published in international academic journals, peer reviewed and officially certified on the subject of hypnosis and suggestion or which used the trance, induced in the laboratory or in psychological professions or in medical contexts, to realize excellent researches and interventions.
Continuing my investigation, I also met a growing number of essays published in book form. And at first I could not believe that there were so many books on hypnosis.
I watched their number grow more and more in my notes, and they became a considerable amount.
But when I tried to put aside my friends and colleagues about the fact that the production of books on hypnosis was so wide, it seemed clear to me that, while not wishing (kindly) to show doubts about my phantasies, their impression was that my scientific curiosity had made me misunderstand the true extent of the phenomenon (which they considered objectively minimal).
Nevertheless I’ve seen directly or I picked from reliable witnesses, in catalogs of publishers, or in the scientific journals reviews, at least three or four thousand (if not more so) considered essays, published in the last two and a half centuries on the subject of the trance and suggestion and so on, since the modern hypnotism was revived.
I then began to collect systematic reproductions of the covers of these books.
In this small museum of books about hypnotic psychotechnics I publish here I have collected one thousand and three hundred covers.
They belong to essays, manuals and research books (non-fiction, at least in the intentions of the authors) that have been published on hypnotism, on suggestion, or about trance.
These are mainly in Anglo-American papers, but also of several books in French and German and some in Spanish (but not in Italian, for which I postpone to other occasions).
They are all papers published over the last century or so. In fact almost all the books have been published after the Second World War. The vast majority has been printed since the sixties of the twentieth century onwards.
Many of these books are still on sale nowadays.
Other works can be found only in libraries, in the private collections of friends and colleagues, or they are part of my small personal museum dedicated to psychotechnical paraphernalia.
They are all original editions. In some cases it is the same book reprinted or it is the translation of the same book in another language (but always with a different cover). There are also several examples of texts that appear in multiple editions, each renewed compared to the others.
Incidentally, this museum collects only a limited sample though very representative of the covers that I could gather.
In fact, I have in store a lot more of them.
In these books, the concept of hypnosis is not always unambiguous and clearly defined. It happens that the authors refer to the subject using different expressions.
We often talk about hypnosis or hypnotism, but also about other constructs that were (and are) used to present the same arguments in the form of synonyms. Which are, above all: fascination, trance, magnetism, progressive relaxation, sleep walking, guided imagery, hypnotic psychotechnic, and so on.
They are all books in which hypnotism and suggestion are the main topic of discussion or otherwise they are some of the absolut protagonists of the matter dealt with in the book.
The covers gathered here are also a testimony of the way in which hypnotic matter is packaged symbolically or metaphorically.
An analysis of the content of what these covers display can help you understand ways in which this discipline is proposed to public opinion, as well as to the world of scientific research and of professional practice.
However this exhibit has not among its aims the one to present research in analytical form, nor to analyze the theory or the practice of hypnotic psychotechnics, but only to offer a witness to the wide circulation of suggestion and of hypnotism in published books.
I make here a simple breakdown of discipline in some more chapters in general. This is not a systematic review. However, it may represent a starting point for further studies.
Some of the books collected in this exhibition shows considerable scientific qualities. Many of them, although they are serious and based on solid data, are mainly introductory in nature.
Only a few of these works appear (at least to me, as a scientist) not acceptable in some parts, especially when referring to the long tradition according to which through hypnotism it is possible to access to unlikely extrasensory or spiritualist consciousness.
I have however reported here a small selection of such spiritualistic essays, not to be disrespectful to all opinions. Partly because they often use classical hypnotic methods, though they like to relate the trance with strange phenomena, the existence of which I believe entirely fanciful.
The mass of all these covers is striking for the number and the variety, given that all the books treat more or less the same themes.
The key point, by virtue of which I have produced this work, is the fact that seeing nearly a thousand and a half books on hypnosis all lined up side by side highlights much more than what a lot of verbal arguments are able to do.
And this is just a sample.