A Piece of Kemila's Mind

Hypnotism in “The Manchurian Candidate”

I watched The Manchurian Candidate1962 black and white version after a hypnotherapy client of mine mentioned it. She came to see me claiming “never been hypnotized before”. When we got to talk about hypnosis, I said something like “people don’t want to get education on any topic from Hollywood, but it seems they like to get education on Hypnotism from Hollywood.” That was when she remembered this movie.

Generally speaking, whenever a client of mine recommends a movie, I go find it and watch it. I was told the remake in 2004 was not as good as the original one.

Surprisingly, the brainwash and mind control in this movie is shockingly believable. The powerful conditioning of one’s mind and stealing of one’s soul turned the character of Raymond Shaw a man driven to do things he has no idea why.

After the Korean War, Raymond came home as American war hero but unknowingly a communist robot.

Almost the entire movie is about Raymond acting on a post hypnotic suggestion (it’s called “linkage” in the movie), a brainwash style, with queen of diamond card as a trigger. When this card is present, without caring “why”, Raymond would act on anyone’s command, so he can be potentially manipulated by anyone. He’s like a gun that has been loaded waiting for the trigger to be pulled, towards anybody, including the woman he loves.

This may seem like a typical movie showing “the danger of hypnosis”. But anybody who watches this movie and sees nothing but the danger of hypnosis is like saying “Money is evil.” Hypnosis is just a tool that anybody can use for any purposes, like any tools. They are neutral, depending on who uses them.

But the movie is beyond that.

One excellent use of the same tool in this movie is that when Major Bennett Marco (Frank Sinatra), the real hero in this movie, held 52 diamond queen cards in his hands by his cheeks, and says, “52 of them! Take a good look at ’em, Raymond, look at ’em, and while you’re looking, listen. This is me, Marco, talking. 52 red queens and me are telling you… you know what we’re telling you? It’s over! The links, the beautifully conditioned links are smashed. They’re smashed as of now because we say so, because we say they are to be smashed. We’re busting up the joint, we’re tearing out all the wires. We’re busting it up so good all the queen’s horses and all the queen’s men will never put old Raymond back together again. You don’t work any more! That’s an order. Anybody invites you to a game of solitaire, you tell ’em sorry, buster, the ball game is over.” I just love it. I loved it so much that I rewound this part many times. Major Marco is a great hypnotist.

After that, I knew the one he was going to shot at the convention would be his mother. I guess being a hypnotist myself, I lost that last bit of thrill from the movie.

Can a hypnotized subject be forced to do that which is repellant to his moral nature? Even though everyone including Major Marco can cite “Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life”, the same disturbing recurring dreams that Major Marco and other captured soldiers have after the war tell that what is imposed can’t stay within one’s psyche forever. Post hypnotic Suggestions (or linkages), if not within one’s intrinsic self-value, will surface and be removed. That’s why, sometimes I feel the work I do with my clients is more de-hypnotizing than hypnotizing.

Now, why don’t we pass the time by playing a little solitaire?

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