Hypnotising lobsters etc

Photo by Flickr user johnnyalive. Click for sourceThis is a fantastically odd letter about hypnotising animals that appeared in a 1992 edition of the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Hypnotising lobsters, etc.

Sir: I was very surprised that the idea of hypnotising lobsters was thought to be evidence of gullibility requiring further photographic proof (Brooks, Journal, July 1992,161,134).

As a young child in rural Ireland I was taught to ‘hypnotise’ various animals by my mother. My particular expertise was in hypnotising turkeys and geese, for which I gained immense kudos as most of my peers were afraid of them. The technique involved stroking them firmly on the back of the neck, until the head rested on the ground at which point a white line was drawn in front of their heads. I often had dozens of them all over the yard, immobile until either they were moved or a loud noise disturbed them.

One recognised technique for hypnotising young children involves gentle, firm massage as this produces the relaxation and narrowing of attention required for induction.

My interest in hypnosis has continued although I confine my practice to people and my cat, Martha, when she requires calming at the vet’s.

P. Power-Smith

Link to copy of letter.
Link to PubMed entry for same.

3 thoughts on “Hypnotising lobsters etc”

  1. Max Walker – former Australian test medium-pace bowler, turned author and raconteur – published a book in 1987 called “How to hypnotise chooks”. The method he recounts in the book is, from memory, similar to the one described in this letter.
    He went on to write a series of similarly absurdly titled books.

  2. As far as I know, this has nothing to do with hypnosis. Though, I’ve never tried it myself, but I’ve been told at medical courses that the vagus nerve passes at the back of the neck near the sides relatively close to the skin, and by massaging the area you can stimulate it, and increase the parasympathetic system activity.

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