Is It Hypnosis? – Part Nine

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Continuing our occasional trip through my back catalog to see how some of the fictional treatments stack up against the real thing, let’s look at five more stories that use hypnosis (a real thing) and not mind control rays (not real unless someone has been keeping some secrets really really well).

True Colors: This is honestly one of my favorite of my own stories, and I love it to death both for the heat and for the ending, but… yeah, there’s not a lot of realistic hypnosis going on. You can’t really ‘capture’ people with hypnosis and make them your slaves, and you definitely can’t pull most of the shenanigans in the stories involving double-layered personality implants and secret personas and hidden suggestions (well, okay, you can do hidden suggestions, but not ones that completely transform a person into a sinister agent of hypno-slavers). Enjoy it, love it, but hypnosis does not work that way.

Promises in the Dark: This one is so realistic that I honestly worried that Simon was going to send it back to me for not having any mind control. Desiree is seducing Priscilla, and Priscilla wants to be seduced. There’s certainly a hint here and there that Priscilla is very focused in on what Desiree is promising, and that Desiree isn’t afraid to use that relaxed, focused state of mind to take things in a more explicitly D/s direction than Priscilla had envisioned. But Priscilla never loses control of her mental faculties or critical thinking skills, and Desiree has a legitimate conversation about limits and promises that Priscilla’s limits will be respected. If she’s hypnotizing Priscilla at all, it’s just in that way that two people who are really into each other will wind up influencing each other’s state of mind. Ethical, realistic, and I like to think pretty sexy. (So pretty much the opposite of the ‘Fifty Shades’ books.)

Follow You Down: Probably almost as realistic, but obviously a lot less ethical. The basic premise is very believable – anyone who’s been to a hypnosis show, convention, or just hung out with a group of people trancing will tell you that it’s very easy to wind up in trances without really trying, just because you’re very intent on the rapport between the hypnotist and the subject and your subconscious is pretty much always happy to go into trance when you’re feeling safe, because it just feels good. So the idea that Emma is using that against Gail by leaving the induction open-ended enough to catch both of them is pretty believable. (That it leads to sex is… probably person-specific. For some people, that would be an instant, “snap-you-out-of-it-and-leave-you-furious” thing. For others, it would possibly put them into an agentic state where they welcome the loss of control and freedom from responsibility for their own desires. It’s very much NOT something I have or plan to test.)

Because the ethics of this are obviously terrible. Emma is flat out inducing a state of diminished capacity to consent in order to have sex with two people who would probably have said no if they were wide awake, which is an awful thing to do. Leave this one in the realms of fantasy, okay?

Then the Morning Comes: Let’s get it out of the way early for this one – oh GOD, please never try this. Ever. It is SO wrong to alter someone’s personality to make them into your submissive lesbian unicorn for your kinky poly triad using gaslighting and hypnosis, and I’m sure I don’t even have to tell anyone that because UGGGGGH to this as a real thing even if it makes a hot fantasy to imagine doing it or having it done to you. I don’t even know how you would construct a consensual version of this story, so don’t use it as a model for real-life behavior, okay?

Plus, I don’t really think it would work. It’s juuuuuuuust possible that I’m slightly wrong; if Simone feels sufficiently deferential to authority figures in her life (and nervous about losing her job by antagonizing her boss), she might convince herself that she’s more comfortable with lesbian BDSM stuff than she really is. She might even be willing to go along with amnesia suggestions because they give her an escape from dealing with big, heavy emotional distress – “It didn’t really happen and I don’t need to think about it, la la la la la la!” But the eventual outcome of this is not, “The suggestions take deep root and transform her personality,” it’s “she finally hits a point where she can’t go along with it any further and has a nervous breakdown trying to reconcile it all.” It’s really only in fantasy that you can make someone be who you want them to be, and honestly, that’s a good thing.

If You Leave: This one is tricky, because it relies pretty heavily on the idea that Charlotte is not exactly a reliable narrator. Presumably she is once the story starts, and she wakes up and begins to construct a version of events that places the responsibility for the situation on Paul. Assuming that version of events is true, then obviously Paul is abusing her hypnosis fetish to manipulate her into doing sexual things that she’s really not comfortable with, and relying on her understanding of hypnosis as a power exerted on her to bridge the incongruence between her conscious and unconscious mind. That’s not going to go well – even assuming that her unconscious mind wants this fantasy badly enough to overrule her waking self and go along with it, she’s going to feel frightened and upset that she was made to do things against her will.

But… Charlotte really obviously doesn’t remember what she said and did while she was under hypnosis, and she’s also obviously got some emotional issues involving the version of sex that she was presented with (bad, wrong, shameful) and her very strong, very kinky, very natural and healthy sexual needs. (I don’t think it’s surprising that she wound up with a lot of sexual fantasies in which a power completely beyond her control took hold of her and ‘made’ her do sexy things.) It’s possible to construct a narrative for this story where Paul and her had a conversation, perhaps even a number of conversations, that she’s not remembering during the course of the story because she doesn’t want to remember them. She might have even had wide awake discussions with Paul in which she explained that she wanted her first time to feel like she was helpless to resist him, and in which she freely consented to having those memories hidden away so she could live out her fantasies. (Certainly one of the last lines, “Was it everything you’ve been fantasizing about?” supports this.) If that was the case, then I think that this becomes a very romantic story in a kinky sort of way.

Either way, the hypnosis is entirely plausible, but I always like to read it with the second reading in mind. Because I’m a big softy at heart.

And that’s another five in the books – who knows, at this rate I may actually catch up someday!

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