ADvent Calendar Day 8
The marvellous book on offer from the New York Institute of Science in the first decade of the twentieth century was called The Philosophy of Influence, and promised ‘The secret of power, the science of health. Life’s mysteries unveiled.’ One would have to wait a little longer to unveil them, however, for the free book was mainly an advertisement for a $5 (reduced from $25!) correspondence course in ‘Personal Magnetism, Hypnotism, Mesmerism, Magnetic Healing, Suggestive Therapeutics, Psycho-therapeutics, Self-development, Development of the Will, Success-thought, Etc., Etc.‘ taught by Dr Xenophon La Motte Sage (not his real name).
The course involved repeating affirmations such as ‘my will-power is strong; no one can resist my influence,‘ and was supposed to enable the recipient to hypnotise people suddenly and without their consent. One advert said of a successful participant: ‘He also hypnotised an aged gentleman, and had him run through the streets shouting “Red-hot peanuts for sale”.’