Hypnotizing Crayfish & Elephants #1
George Ivanovich Gurdjieff (Meetings with Remarkable Men, 1963) wrote …
“I learned that the boy in the middle was a Yezidi, that the circle had been drawn round him and that he could not get out of it until it was rubbed away. The child was indeed trying with all his might to leave this magic circle, but he struggled in vain. I ran up to him and quickly rubbed out part of the circle, and immediately he dashed out and ran away as fast as he could.”
According to the same source …
“Many years after the incident just described, I made a special experimental verification of this phenomenon and found that, in fact, if a circle is drawn round a Yezidi, he cannot of his own volition escape from it. Within the circle he can move freely, and the larger the circle, the larger the space in which he can move, but get out of it he cannot. Some strange force, much more powerful than his normal strength, keeps him inside. I myself, although strong, could not pull a weak woman out of the circle, it needed yet another man as strong as I.”
Albert Moll (Hypnotism, Fourth Edition, 1897) wrote …
“It sometimes happens that we try to induce a person to do something by looking at him fixedly; we then see how slight is the division between the hypnotic states and waking life. A teacher who thinks his pupil is lying, looks at him fixedly to ascertain the truth, just as is done in fascination. This fixed gaze affects the will of the person looked at, as we have seen in hypnosis. We recognize an analogy on one hand, on the other we see how difficult it must always be to decide where hypnosis begins and waking life ends.
“States resembling, or perhaps identical with, hypnosis, are also found in animals, and can easily be experimentally induced. The first experiments of this kind are referred to by the Jesuit [Athanasius] Kircher; — the so-called experimentum mirabile Kircheri. Kircher described these experiments in 1646. But according to [Wilhelm] Preyer the experiment had been made by [Daniel] Schwenter several years earlier. The most striking of these experiments, which are being continued in the present day, is as follows: A hen is held down on the ground; the head in particular is pressed down. A chalk line is then drawn on the ground, starting from the bird’s beak. The hen will remain motionless. Kircher ascribes this to the animal’s imagination; he said that it imagined it was fastened, and consequently did not try to move. [Johann] Czermak repeated the experiment on different animals, and announced in 1872 that a hypnotic state could be induced in other animals besides the hen. Preyer shortly after began to interest himself in the question, and made a series of experiments like Czermak’s. Preyer, however, distinguishes two states in animals — cataplexy, which is the effect of fear, and the hypnotic state. I believe that Preyer is here decidedly in the right. Various recent reports on hypnosis in animals more correctly belong to paralysis from fright or similar conditions. [J.] Lysing records some facts bearing on this point. Regnard observed that when dynamite explosions took place in the water, fish that were not in the immediate neighbourhood of the charge would lie as if dead, though a slight touch would restore movement. [M.] Laborde found the same true of trout, which could thus be caught. [Emil] Heubel, [Charles S.] Richet, [Vasily] Danilewsky, and [Conrad] Rieger, besides the authors mentioned above, have occupied themselves with the question.
“Most of the experiments have been made with frogs, crayfish, guinea-pigs, and birds. I myself have made many with frogs. This much is certain: many animals will remain motionless in any position in which they have been held by force for a time. There are various opinions as to the meaning of this. Preyer thinks many of these states are paralyses from fright, or catalepsy, produced by a sudden peripheral stimulus. In any case they vividly recall the catalepsy of Salpêtrière, also caused by a strong external stimulus. It is said a sudden Drummond lime-light produces the same effect on a cock as it does on hysterical patients ([Paul] Richter). But in general the external stimulus used with animals is tactile, as in seizing them. Heubel thinks that these states in animals are a true sleep following on the cessation of the external stimuli, and [Wilhelm] Wundt seems to agree with him.”
(To Be Continued)