Dr. Jerry Breger is distinguished professor emeritus of ecconomics at the University of South Carolina. He retired in 1993 after holding faculty positioins at several universities. Duriing his years at USC, he taught management and economics courses and served as director of the Bureau of Urban and Regional Affairs and Diredtor of the Center for Economic Education.
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Monty Steinhart and Hypnosis
It's all true. Everything that follows is true. Of course, you'd expect that, but once you've read about Monty Steinhart and hypnosis, you'll most likely have serious doubts that it happened like I said it did, or you'll think that I took a little bit of truth and embellished it beyond exaggeration. To begin, I don't ever remember meeting Monty for the first time or getting to know him. He was just there and we were friends. The year was 1944 and he and his mother and sister had come to Miami from London to escape the war. Monty was about six months older than I and very sophisticated. He had a pleasant English accent and he was nattily attired -- hardly your typical American adolescent. His interests were different too and I found them fascinating. He didn't care for sports or school activities or the social milieu. He liked girls, but not girls our age -- grown women. He was a good student, but his favorite books were novels and best sellers -- the racier the better. And while we were learning blackjack and poker he was playing bridge. But for all his sophistication, he was a good friend and never made me feel ill at ease.
Occasionally, Monty talked about hypnosis and post-hypnotic suggestion. I sloughed it off as more of Monty's world I could not understand. Then one day, Monty brought another boy about our age whom I had never seen before to lunch. His name was Jay Robinson. His parents were in Miami for the winter and that's why he was in school with us. He seemed to be a nice enough kid, but I never got to know him. He became Monty's shadow. One day, Monty asked me to come to his house after school. He was going to hypnotize Jay. That afternoon, we all met at Monty's place and went into Monty's room. Monty told Jay he was going to hypnotize him and asked him to lie down on the bed, close his eyes, and see a white frame on a black background and think of nothing else. Then Monty spoke softly to Jay telling him to relax and concentrate on the frame. In about five minutes Monty asked Jay if he could hear his voice. Jay said "yes" and Monty told him to hear his voice and no other voice. Monty nodded to me and I spoke to Jay, but he didn't answer. Monty said he was hypnotized and what followed was amazing. Monty asked Jay how he felt and Jay replied that he felt fine. Monty then told Jay he was coming down with a bad cold and Jay began to sneeze and his nose ran and his eyes were sore. I don't know if he had a fever. I didn't touch him, but he had the genuine symptoms of a cold. Then Monty told him he was getting well and his symptoms disappeared. Monty also told Jay to call his house at 7 p.m. and ask if I was still there. He then ordered Jay to wake and the session was over. The next time I saw Monty's mother a few days later she told ma Jay had called and asked if I was still there and she didn't understand what that was all about. Our next session with Jay took place two weeks later and it was dramatic. Monty went through the same procedure with Jay to hypnotize him. I remember that I was uncomfortable with all this, but Jay was totally submissive and in a few minutes he was under. The first thing Monty did was to ask Jay what day It was and Jay told him it was Wednesday. Monty told him he was going to bring him into Thursday on the count of five, and he did that. He asked Jay what the news headlines were that Thursday and without hesitation Jay spoke clearly about military actions in Europe and the bombing of Leipseig. That was shocking to me since Jay had never said anything about the war at all. Next, Monty told Jay the years were passing and now he was thirty-five. He asked Jay what kind of work he was doing. Again, without hesitation, Jay said he was a songwriter. He and his partner were well known -- the team of Steinhart and Robinson. At that point, my curiosity got the best of me and I asked, "What's your latest hit?" Jay said, "Cabin in the Sky." That was vaguely familiar, but I couldn't place it. So I said, "Can you sing it for me?"And Jay began to sing; words and melody totally new to me and very good. I was amazed. Monty then told Jay he was growing old, very old. Jay's expression changed; he looked sullen and his voice was low and halting. Monty asked him how old he was and Jay said, "ninety-one." And then, as if it were an encore, Monty said that he was going to take this ninety-one year old man back to babyhood. Monty told Jay he was getting younger and younger and soon he would be nine months old. Jay responded accordingly. His facial expression changed from a dour frown to a warm smile and he made baby sounds in a high-pitched voice. He was full of joy and he reached for Monty apparently to pick him up. Instead, Monty told Jay that on the count of ten he would awaken and would not remember any of this. Jay awoke as expected, said he had a headache, and he was going home. It was a long day and I felt sorry for Jay.
Over the next few weeks I saw Monty and Jay at school a number of times, but there were no home sessions. They had become inseparable. I thought the hypnosis affair was over, but was I ever wrong. One day at physical education, Coach Livermore lined the boys up in groups of five or six for races -- 100 yard dash. Monty did not participate, but surprisingly Jay did. In street clothes and dress shoes he ran his race and finished third. I had never seen him run before and it was an unnatural run I saw that day. Coach Livermore started to congratulate Jay, but he launched into an angry rant about being required to take physical education which added nothing to his knowledge and wasted his time. That was grossly out of character for Jay Robinson. I tried to talk to Jay -- tried to tell him to apologize to Coach Livermore. But he was hostile and said he expected me to be on his side. I realized then that I was not talking to Jay Robinson, but to a look-alike I did not know. That experience upset me. Something was very wrong. Later on, when I talked to Monty about it, he said that he had given Jay a post-hypnotic suggestion to be a tough guy on command. However, Jay began to assume that role erratically without Monty's command and Monty could not always bring him out of it. A couple of days later, I met Monty and Jay for lunch and Jay seemed to be his mild mannered normal self, but when the waitress brought his lunch he said it looked rotten and cursed her. She brought another plate and he took it with a gruff and sarcastic thanks. At the cash register, he said he was short-changed, but Monty assured him he was not and he moved on. Apparently, he had assumed the character of the tough guy and played the role for real. Another day, we were all walking down the street and talking about school when Jay's voice changed and he pronounced a violent threat against someone who had cheated him, and that went on for about ten minutes. Jay was virtually out of control, he roared with anger. When he was Jay again, he didn't remember a moment of it. Incidents like this continued for several weeks, and then one day Jay disappeared. I heard he had withdrawn from school, but that didn't make any sense since final exams were only a week away. I asked Monty about it and at first he denied knowing anything, but eventually he told me that Jay was not only behaving erratically at school, but more so at home, and he appeared to have lost his memory. He told his parents about the hypnosis and post-hypnotic suggestion, and they were furious with Monty. He was examined by a psychiatrist who told the family to take Jay away from the people and places involved in his hypnosis so that it would no longer influence him. I continued to be friends with Monty, but with far less ardor than before. At the end of the school year, Monty and his family went back to London. It was safe then.