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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


The Great Psychologists Speak:

Ferenczi perceived that hypnotism
reflects no domineering outside force
but an inner slavishness, a hidden tendency
toward blind belief and uncritical obedience



return to the main-page article on "Satan" 





Another aspect of "transference" warrants our attention.

Dr. Ernest Becker:


Hypnosis: the hidden slavishness; the secret desire to lose oneself in the aura of another.

"Freud saw that transference was just another form of the basic human suggestibility that makes hypnosis possible. It was the same passive surrender to superior power... [Hypnosis] seems like some truly supernatural power at work, as if some person really did possess a [power] that could enmesh others in a spell. However, it seemed that way only because man ignored the slavishness in his own soul. He wanted to believe that if he lost his will it was because of someone else. He wouldn't admit that this loss of will was something that he himself carried around as a secret yearning, a readiness to respond to someone's voice at the snap of his fingers. Hypnosis was a mystery only as long as man did not admit his own unconscious motives."


the compulsive neurosis, the need to merge with power figures

Sándor Ferenczi, a Hungarian psychoanalyst and colleague of Freud, in 1909 wonderfully explained the underpinnings of hypnosis. He

"pointed out how important it was for the hypnotist to be an imposing person, of high social rank, with a self-confident manner. When he gave his commands the patient would sometimes go under as if struck by coup de foudre ["stroke of lightning"]. There was nothing to do but obey, as by his imposing, authoritarian figure the hypnotist took the place of the parents... The explanation of the ease of hypnosis, said Ferenczi, is that, 'In our innermost soul we are still [spiritually unconscious] children, and we remain so throughout life.'"

Ferenczi: "There is no such thing as a 'hypnotizing,' a 'giving of ideas,' in the sense of psychical incorporating of something quite foreign from without, but only procedures that are able to set going unconscious, pre-existing, auto-suggestive mechanisms... According to this conception, the application of suggestion and hypnosis consists in the deliberate establishment of conditions under which the tendency to blind belief and uncritical obedience present in everyone, but usually kept repressed ... may unconsciously be transferred to the person hypnotizing or suggesting."


Hypnotists do not hypnotize - no external force can accomplish this; rather, the hypnotist convinces people to hypnotize themselves via the secret compulsion to merge with power-figures.

"By discovering a universal predisposition at the heart of man, Freudian psychology itself gained the key to a universal underlying historical psychology. As not everyone undergoes formal hypnosis, most people can hide and disguise their inner urge to merge themselves with power-figures. But the predisposition to hypnosis is the same one that gives rise to transference, and no one is immune to that... It is not visible on the surface: adults walk around looking quite independent; they play the role of parent themselves and seem quite grown up - and so they are... But, says Ferenczi, although [childhood feelings of awe of parents disappear] 'the need to be subject to someone remains; only, the part of the father is transferred to teachers, superiors, impressive personalities; the submissive loyalty to rulers that is so widespread is also a transference of this sort.'"


why people squawk like chickens

There is no "hypnotism," as such; in that, there is no external person who has magical powers over us, to make us squawk like a chicken onstage. The efficacious power of hypnotism comes from within the unenlightened self; that is, from the absence of the "true self" in one's life. 

We have a secret yearning to give ourselves to some "strong parent," some Dear Leader - without which, there could be no hypnotism. And this relates to the pathology of Satan worship, the "idolatry" of which Erich Fromm spoke.

Dr. Ernest Becker recounts an incident of fetishism, of the popular sort - sexual fascination. The winner of the Miss Maryland beauty contest attracted the attention of Frank Sinatra. In an interview, she described her neurotic feelings before their date:

"I saw him from across the room, and I got such butterflies in my stomach... He had a halo around his head of stars to me. He projected something I have never seen in my life... when I'm with him I'm in awe, and I don't know why I can't snap out of it... I can't think. He's so fascinating."



Satan and hypnotism

For someone who "believes" in Satan, there is no rational discussion. Fears will not allow this; one senses, in the opposing interlocutor, an investment of one's entire life force. To abandon one's concept of Satan would be to lose the "Joker is wild" assigned meaning, and such deficit would quickly become the collapse of an entire world-view.

Those burdened by this mind-set readily give one the impression that the "believer" is suffering under a form of hypnosis. He or she might be somewhat level-headed in other aspects of life, but touch on this hot button, and a new person emerges. Much is at stake for the "believer."

Freud stated, concerning the psychologically-weak person, even to look in that person's eye, straight on, can cause a kind of "paralysis" - a virtual hypnotic effect, as one swoons under the subliminal memory of the powerful parent! There is plenty of "swooning," of "paralysis," on the part of those who imagine Satan to be threatening their lives.


The needy "child within" would do anything to get back to the "oceanic feeling" once delivered.

This is why people will agree, with themselves, to squawk like chickens.

Dr. Becker quotes another researcher, Fenichel:

"People have a 'longing to be hypnotized' precisely because they want to get back to the magical protection, the participation in omnipotence, the 'oceanic feeling' that they enjoyed when they were loved and protected by their parents."

These last phrases, so poetically vital, stir us deeply, as we imagine, and remember, at one time or another, even brief glimpses of primordial love in our lives. Part of us would dearly like to get back to that "oceanic feeling" of total immersion in parental protection.

Just now I recall the 1930s movie "Lost Horizon" about Shangri-La. Robert Conway battled all obstacles to get back to the girl he loved in that mountain hideaway.

We all want that feeling of "oceanic" immersion in love. But there is an honest and a dishonest way of going about it - the "short cut" to love, by definition, must be classified as "evil."



Creating an illusionary, strawman hate-object, a mythical Satan, the struggle against which one might temporarily feel "more alive," is self-defeating, creates inner darkness with its fear-based machinations, and merely delays the time of one's arrival in the real Shangri-La -- we would call it Summerland.



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