Hidden Depths by Robin Waterfield
This is a detailed study of the history of hypnosis, the debate around whether or not it exists as a defined phenomenon, and much else besides. Written by novelist, biographer and translator of Greek texts Robin Waterfield, its author’s wide-ranging interests and skill in telling a tale is evident.
The book begins with an in-depth and sophisticated discussion of the history of hypnosis, notably the contribution of Anton Mesmer (from whom we get the word mesmerism), moves on to sociological considerations, arrives at Freud and the modern world, then concludes with a few chapters on hypnotherapy and ‘modern forms,’ such as the psychedelic experience, political and advertising ‘mind control’ and various New Age considerations.
All in all, a fascinating, detailed and intriguing work. The author’s plea at the end is for hypnotism to lose its tarnished reputation (much of which he considers rooted in so-called stage hypnotists) and become an important part of therapy in our various cultures. As he points out, the evidence that hypnotism works is vast and incontrovertible. Let’s use it.