Svengali keeps reminding me of Richard. Svengalis exist in real life, not just in fiction.
The word “svengali” has come to refer to a person who, sometimes with evil intent, controls another person by persuasion or deceit. The Svengali may feign kindness and use manipulation to get the other person to yield his or her authority. –Wikipedia, Svengali
The story of Svengali is neatly summarized in Steve Taylor’s classic song, “Svengali”:
a Venetian parade
eyes on a starlet who was yet to be made
he had the thin blue lips
and a fingerless glove
he was a hunter for a prey
to put his prints on
wide eyes mesmerize
ain’t he clever
He set stages from Vienna to Rome
he promised flowers and footlights
if she’d only leave home
when he secured her passage on an Aegean ship
she didn’t know of the power
in an evil man’s grip
cried the madman
as he slapped her to life
and then a cold wind slowly sucked him into the night
so come away
to the refuge they can never control
they’ll try to steal your body
but they can’t touch your soul
It was popularly believed that George du Maurier later used the hypnotic control Nicolas-Charles Bochsa is said to have had over Anna Bishop as the basis for the characters Svengali and Trilby in his 1894 novel Trilby. —Anna Bishop, Wikipedia
Anna Bishop was a famous opera singer and Bochsa her manager and accompanist (he played the harp). While investigating the sources cited by Wikipedia, I found this quote (posted online by the National Library of New Zealand) in the Poverty Bay Herald, 28 October 1896, from Frederick Lyster,
a well-known manager, who was business head of Mme. Bishop’s company in an Australian tour.
Mr. Lyster says: –“The book of ‘Trilby,’ and the play as produced by Manager A.M. Palmer, seem to be founded on the career of Anna Bishop, for Svengali is simply an exaggerated presentation of Bochsa, her musical director, while the Madame of the story is a replica of Lizzie Phelan, dame de champagnie, the very shadow of the great artist for nearly 40 years.
“The relations between the singer and the harpist were purely professional yet his will dominated her every action. He rehearsed her songs in the strictest privacy, and when illness prevented Bochsa’s presence at general rehearsals Mme. Bishop would also remain away, leaving me to rehearse the band without her. On these occasions some of the clever instrumentalists would remark, ‘Bishop’s brains are sickabed.’
“Although Bochsa’s influence over the prima donna was evidently paramount, I never saw him descend to the slightest familiarities. He was her maestro, her friend, her guide, and nothing more, while she was almost childlike in her meek submission and dependence upon him.
“Personally she was a sweet, amiable woman, apparently without individual will power, and without even the faintest sense of ambition. She sang and acted because she was told to do so, seemingly as if in a prolonged dream. Even when pitted by Bochsa against Jenny Lind she appeared to take no interest in the rivalry, but obeyed and trusted to Bochsa and the management for the rest.”
I haven’t read the book Trilby or seen the other movie versions, but sandra-168 writes in an IMDB review,
Both the Svengali films (1931, 1954) differ from the Trilby novel, especially in the endings. In the book, after Svengali died Trilby was left in a weak psychological state that led to physical illness from which she never recovered.
A mysterious painting of Svengali in a military uniform arrived by courier to symbolize his return to take her. She uttered his name three times and died shortly after. Billy also died not too long after that.
Mrs. Bagot forgave Trilby and actually admired her for her humility and good nature. Taffy eventually married Billy’s sister and they lived a happy life.
The films dwelt heavily on the hypnotic trance that Svengali used to control Trilby. In the earlier film, Trilby never awoke as she immediately followed Svengali to her own death.
In the later film, it was implied that she awoke from the trance to start a new life with Billy after Svengali died. Both of the accounts are creative departures from the novel, and the later film is even misleading.
You can watch the 1931 version here.
The first few minutes of the movie, especially, remind me of Richard’s power over me. The ill-fated singing student was so under Svengali’s spell that she would die for him. When he cut her loose, she committed suicide. And he wasn’t even at all handsome, and with his poor hygiene, must have smelled awful.
I, too, was devoted to Richard, and I noted–from a combination of his stories and what I observed in his other friends, such as Todd, and Chris, who even fought tooth and nail with his own wife to be with Richard–that he had a powerful effect on people.
He didn’t shower often enough, but after a short time in his presence, it no longer mattered. When he devalued and discarded me, I, too, began to wish for death to end the pain.
I also noted that when Todd felt devalued and discarded by Richard, he was sucked into the whole drama, showing signs of dismay which came out in the things he wrote online.
And that when Todd found out that Richard choked one of his children, he felt sick over letting himself be friends with–and influenced by–Richard. Demonstrating that he, also, felt influenced and persuaded by Richard.
He, too, has moved away from Richard’s political influence in the years since Todd was devalued and discarded, now becoming more of a Democrat like me.
And there were various other influences as well, at least on my end: His religious influence is subtle but strong.
Real-life Svengalis don’t use the magical hypnotism of the movies, but there are real-life versions of hypnotism. I was hypnotized once by my child psychologist, a trained professional, not a stage hypnotist. I was aware the whole time, and didn’t think it was working, but when taken out of it, realized that I had indeed been put under a spell. I was relaxed, felt very odd, and noted the change in my perceptions when I came out.
Svengali taking away the girl’s headache through hypnotism, brought back to mind my ninja ex-boyfriend Peter’s claim to do the same. He would put two fingers together, press them to his temple, then take the pain from my head into his own, where he would then use his ninja training to eradicate the pain. Peter also hypnotized me a few times–though it was done with my knowledge and at my request. Story here.
Sonny’s powers of persuasion in The Apostle seem hypnotic; note that it is real-life, high-pressure salesman style, not magic.
Also, if you’ve ever been to a contemporary-style worship service, note how the music leader does a few rock/pop songs, then slows it way down with repetitive choruses which are meant to get you swaying, throwing up your hands and “feeling the Spirit.”
Altar calls can be similar, with slow, inviting, repetitive music (such as “Just As I Am”) playing with or without the congregation singing, and the preacher repeating in a low-toned voice, “Come to the altar….Say yes to Jesus….”
Doesn’t that sound like hypnotism and mind control? It’s done without the congregation realizing they’re being controlled, and though they did come to the service, they did not outright say, “Yes, please hypnotize us into thinking we’re feeling the Spirit rather than an emotional high from the music; please hypnotize us into becoming Christians.”
I began checking out of Evangelicalism and looking elsewhere, in my late 20s and early 30s, as I began to realize how I was being controlled.
Richard probably had experience with this as well, having grown up in and once been a preacher in Pentecostal churches–where he faked speaking in tongues, and the congregation bought it. He also had just the kind of voice–deep and sonorous–that could hypnotize easily.
There is also (allegedly) conversational hypnosis, along with various other forms of mind control. See here, in which Anna Valerious writes,
At the end of my commentary I’ll be providing a link to an interesting article on what is going on in your brain during hypnosis. Scientists have come to recognize and respect that hypnosis is something real. Real in the sense that it is possible to affect how someone may think or act by applying certain techniques….
Hypnosis is not magic. It is not supernatural. It is really quite simply a process that takes advantage of how our brains naturally work. It is potentially a very powerful tool of mind control and is therefore a dangerous tool.
I think it is wrong to assume control of another person’s mind for any reason. Humanity is too morally weak to always be benevolent with this type of power. But I am convinced that it is imperative to understand how hypnosis works because we’ve all been affected by it at some time or other.
The narcissist’s primary weapon of choice is that of hypnotic suggestion. Your best defense is to know yourself. Know how to recognize when someone is trying to hypnotize you by seeing the signs in your own reactions.
For the easiest and best handbook on how to recognize when hypnosis is coming at you I will again highly recommend the book, “Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry” by Albert J. Bernstein, Ph.D. He takes all the mystery out of hypnosis and gives practical advice on how to evade it.
Joyful Alive Woman writes,
I was under H’s spell. I couldn’t get enough of her. I became Codependent with her. It was pathetic.
No one else had that effect upon me, nor had they ever. My relationships with others were different.
That isn’t to say those relationships weren’t challenging, but there was a ‘hypnotic and obsessive quality’ to the relationship with H (strong characteristics of a codependent, dysfunctional relationship). —Joyful Alive Woman, from her blog
H had her so enthralled that, even though she didn’t acknowledge that JAW had wisdom and insight of her own, and her own superior attitude sometimes inspired JAW to rebel, JAW was always the one to go crawling back, contrite, while her objections were swept under the rug.
Richard actually came out and told me one day that he had learned a form of hypnotism from a professional hypnotist, a combination of eye tricks and words. He said this guy taught him how to hypnotize girls to dance with him and go out with him–and it worked. He used it often. He said he used it on me.
It was during the time he lived with my husband and me, during our many conversations. He said I would resist telling him something, put up a “block,” but he would use the hypnotism to get me to open up and tell it to him.
He didn’t tell me what I said, how often this happened, or when he used it. I certainly had no idea he ever did this to me. But he said he was so used to doing this to people that he would do it without even realizing it. But another time after this, he told me he had stopped doing it. So–could he or could he not control it?
I know I did not imagine this conversation, because much of it was on IRC, so I printed it up and saved it. I’ve re-read it; my husband has read it. At the time, I thought it was really cool.
Now, I see it as highly manipulative. After all, he had gotten me to open up so much with him–so much more than I usually do with people–that for me to resist telling him something, it must have been very personal, very private.
Conversational techniques help even a stranger open up to you. With this powerful hypnosis you can quickly build up a rapport with a stranger who can reveal many inner things and you can easily instruct her to do things your way.
It is important to constantly smile while performing this way of hypnosis. Look straight into her eyes and maintain the contact for two seconds while you remain confident. You may now shift your eyes but keep the smile. This will put the girl at ease and while you perform hypnosis successfully.
Start with some smart talk and keep appreciating and showering her with sweet words. Once you build a sexual rapport, the girl is yours and you know what to do. —Conversational Hypnosis
Richard did have this magnetism about him that I couldn’t explain, what with his hygiene issues and losing his looks. It seemed to constantly be catching women in its tractor beam, and even men, heterosexual men!
The websites and videos I’ve been finding about hypnotism and influencing people, talk about how to make people love being around you by reflecting to them what they’re like, what they want to find in a friend, and doing various other things that pull them to you.
So–what exactly did he get me to say? But when he told me about this, it was more than a year later, and it just sounded cool. I trusted him too much to suspect he was not telling me everything. But now, I do suspect.
Even now I have trouble breaking free from the spell he wove. I keep thinking of the good things, and have to remind myself of the bad things, why Jeff and I broke off the friendship. I see him reading something on my blog that makes it look like he still cares, and have to catch myself, fight off getting back into his control.
More pages about this kind of hypnosis, showing why I find it appalling that he used this on me. They talk about such things as making a person “addicted” to you through hypnosis.
I was addicted to Richard, which is common among those who are caught in the web of a narcissist, not just those who are romantically involved but friends, even same-sex heterosexual friends. Todd, Chris and other friends also seemed addicted to him.
And these pages show how such a web could easily have been woven through these techniques, such things as using a deep, slow tone, pointing to yourself at certain times, using certain wording, or arousing pity, things which don’t require “magic” or even a crystal, things which you can find every day in advertisements, and even in many church worship services:
The science of hypnotizing others without someone being aware of it is all about the art of subconscious communication. Whatever may be your motive behind it, you can use the phenomenon of subconscious mind control to effect a marked change in the way others view you and respond to you, leading to their acting in the manner you want them to do….
Arouse pity in others: It has been observed that when feelings of pity, mercy and sympathy are stirred in people’s hearts their crystallized egos melt away, leaving them vulnerable to your influences.
One of the ways to bring it about is to use your power of imagination to invent a pitiable and pathetic condition for yourself and confide it in them. An instant rapport will be established between both of you enabling you to implant your suggestions. —How to Secretly Hypnotize Someone in 3 Minutes Or Less
“Yes, Thomas! I Want To Learn The Secrets Of Controlling Others And Make Them Do What I Want With Conversational Hypnosis!”–Conversational Hypnosis.net
I Also Reveal How To:…’hypnotize’ seemingly ordinary people to follow you simply because you have an attractable presence they’re almost addicted to. —The art of covert hypnosis.com
I have developed a way to get women to imagine “doing sexual things you with you” and doing it by directly saying it to her (but smoothly removing yourself from the picture where you’re there–meaning she’ll unconsciously associate those things with you, but to her conscious mind, you aren’t there.
This technique is astounding and even funny. Hardly anybody ever notices that you’re doing it. –Nathan Blaszak, Secret Seduction Techniques
If you are the hypnotist you should maintain eye contact with the subject for just a couple of seconds longer than normal and then shift your eyes away. This should be frequently repeated during the conversation and will lead to arousing primal thoughts in her mind making her open to being seduced….
Mirror and match her gestures during the conversation….She will experience a strong feeling of familiarity and will want to be close to you….You can also try matching speech patterns and posture. —How to Hypnotize Women
Weasel Phrases come in two forms both useful in covert hypnosis: 1 – A combination of words that when put together form another word in the middle that is not perceived by the conscious mind, but is heard by the subconscious mind. …
2 – A “set up” phrase which is used to set up the following command as a powerful suggestion. –Learn to Use Covert Hypnosis; page has disappeared from Web, but a snippet can still be found here
One site–which unfortunately I didn’t copy down and am having trouble finding again–talked about telling stories and making suggestions about things that get her subconsciously imagining doing these things with you. And Richard did occasionally make remarks that were “TMI” or brags about his sexual prowess that sound very much like this.
I wondered at the time if he told me these things to get me curious. I still wonder. And with his past as a self-professed dog with women, it was possible–even with his now-religious persona.
Of course, I can’t be certain this was on his agenda. He could have just been using hypnosis to get me to open up about things I didn’t want to talk about. But it’s still manipulative, either way. And I know that the “other” agenda was on his mind when he used this technique to get girls to dance with him.
Hypnosis, with its long and checkered history in medicine and entertainment, is receiving some new respect from neuroscientists. Recent brain studies of people who are susceptible to suggestion indicate that when they act on the suggestions their brains show profound changes in how they process information.
The suggestions, researchers report, literally change what people see, hear, feel and believe to be true. –Sandra Blakeslee, How Hypnosis is Gaining Respect
Discounting objective information — You’ve been swept off your feet in no time flat. You’re loving how you feel around this person — so much so that you are now avoiding objective sources of information about this person.
Or, if you do hear things you don’t want to hear, you tell yourself it is somehow different for you. He’s different with you. He was different back then.
When you find yourself avoiding getting objective information about this person you have a clear sign in yourself that you’re very happy in this little fantasy that’s been created for you and don’t want the bubble popped.
You’re in trouble if you keep this up. Remember, this doesn’t just apply to romantic partners. It can happen with a fellow church or club member, a co-worker, boss, employee, etc. –Anna Valerious, Signs You’ve Been Hypnotized
There was also the time Richard gave me a strange stare–an intent stare, which felt extremely inappropriate to me, like he had something on his mind that shouldn’t be, so I kept trying to break it by moving my eyes. But he kept staring. (This was in August 2008, as we chatted while watching The Apostle.)
He seemed to be staring me down, but there was no reason: He was not angry, and was not trying to get me to agree with a point; he just said some things about him or his life. I forget what exactly he was talking about, just that he suddenly got quiet and hit me with this long stare.
Ever after, I remembered the stare and wondered what that was all about.
When he later told me about the hypnotism, I thought that stare was him trying to hypnotize me, as you can read here. When I read about the “narcissistic stare” in 2011, I thought, that’s what he was doing!:
The Narcissistic Stare
The narcissistic stare has been experienced by many of us who have had the misfortune to associate with Ns. Presumably, not every N does The Stare but from all reports, a significant majority does.
The N’s stare is piercing, unwavering, reptilian. Seemingly flattering, this stare is unnerving–and is meant to be unnerving. The Ns look right through you.
A woman who is not familiar with Ns might think he is simply paying complete and rapt attention to her but he is not. The Ns are staring at you to see how vulnerable you are.
Some believe that the Ns use their stare to look through you to your soul for the sole purpose of determining whether you are viable prey or not.
Once you are in a relationship with an N, they stare at you in order to control you. Their withering glare is meant to cow you into submission. It is a strong woman indeed who does not back down under the malevolent narcissistic stare. –Pat Finley, Spotting the Wild Narcissist Part 2
1. Narcissistic Stare
Narcissists, indeed, stare intently when they intend to captivate their interlocutor or secure a new Source of Narcissistic Supply. It is as though they are trying to both gauge their impact on others and hypnotize them into submission. –Dr. Sam Vaknin, Excerpts from the Archives of the Narcissism List
It is an intense, relentless gaze that seems to preclude his destruction of his victim or target. Women, in particular, have reported this stare, which is related to the “predatorial” (reptilian) gaze; it is as if the psychopath is directing all of his intensity toward you through his eyes, a sensation that one woman reported as a feeling of “being eaten.”
They tend to invade peoples’ space either by their sudden intrusions or intimidating look-overs (which some women confuse for sexuality.)…
Trance & hypnosis also factor into the psychopaths modus operandi….
The Psychopath, like anyone else, can induce trance in others. Just surf the net under “Seduction Techniques” and you will see a hundred web sites teaching men how to use covert hypnotic and Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques to bypass a woman’s cognitive resistance to being “picked up” or “seduced.” If they didn’t work, there wouldn’t be so many men using these techniques.
However, psychopaths are different from these mere seduction students because most psychopaths don’t have to be taught how to use trance states, hypnosis, and suggestion. They are naturals at these….
Many people find it difficult to deal with the intense, “predatory state” of the psychopath. The fixated stare, is more a prelude to self-gratification and the exercise of power rather than simple interest or empathic caring and women seem to mistake this predatory stare for “sexuality.”
I remember being stared down in a pub by a male friend, I felt uncomfortable, and mistook that sign for “sexuality” and “attraction.”…
Some people respond to the emotionless stare of the psychopath with considerable discomfort, almost as if they feel like potential prey in the presence of the predator. Others may be completely overwhelmed and intimidated, perhaps even controlled, with little insight into what is happening to them.
Whatever the psychological meaning of their gaze, it is clear that intense eye contact is an important factor in the ability of some psychopaths to manipulate and dominate others. –PND, The Stare of the Psychopath: What Lies Behind Those Eyes?
The psychopath’s stare has its own allure and may be effective in the early luring stages. Many women, before they knew he was a psychopath, thought it was sexy. The stare has its own connection to trance induction. Even trained hypnotists say “Stare into my eyes.” …
Dr. Reid Melloy, in his book, Violent Attachments says that women and men have noted the psychopath’s unusual and unnerving stare. He referred to the stare as a “relentless gaze that seems to preclude the psychopath’s destruction of his victim or target.”
It’s also often referred to as The Reptilian Gaze because of its primitive predatory look. Robert Hare referred to the psychopath’s gaze as “intense eye contact and piercing eyes” and even suggested that people avoid having consistent eye contact with them.
Other writers refer to it as a “laser beam stare” or an “empty hypnotic look.” Our women labeled the gaze, “intense,” “sensual,” “disturbing” and intrusive.” …
Women have also described his look as invasive, intimidating…looking them up and down like an animal. Women mistook it for a sexual once-over when in all likelihood it was more predatory than that. Eye gazing as trance induction means that the words that follow the induction are seared in her mind with much more meaning and lasting power. –Sandra L. Brown, p. 67-68, Women Who Love Psychopaths
So what felt to me like an inappropriate stare, was most likely a narcissistic or hypnotic stare.
On Saturday, May 24, 2008, I had just been reading about the movie Holy Smoke, and said to Jeff, “It’s a good thing Richard isn’t a guru for some weird religion.” Jeff said, “Yes–Oh, wait, he is! You kiss pieces of wood!”
You see, even Jeff had noted how strongly Richard influenced me and others into converting to Orthodoxy, where you kiss icons.
Richard was very persuasive with his words; even his wife noted it, when explaining why he was not to assault the apartment manager.
Love bombing is also a common tactic used by abusers and narcissists. Not only does it happen in spiritually abusive cults and churches, but it also happens in other cases. It’s used by narcissists/abusers to suck in their narcissistic supply. Then when they hook you, they devalue and discard you, leaving you wondering what just happened.
This happened with Richard, who initially would tell me things like, “You’re the most awesome person I know,” and make me feel like his most special platonic friend, then began to subtly devalue and discard me, making me wonder why–and leaving me constantly feeling paranoid. I don’t feel that way with other friends.
“Love Bombing” refers to the show of (genuine or feigned) love and affection that a motivated individual or group bestows upon their “mark” in order to endear themselves.
The “mark,” (the person that a manipulator “marks” or targets as an object to be exploited) in a very subjective response to the overwhelming, pleasant experience of the great show of affection, becomes highly unlikely to recognize or even consider any negative information about the manipulator.
The “mark” does not realize the subtle and very powerful influence that the manipulator has initiated because their experience has been so pleasant.
The “mark” does not realize that their reasoning shifts from an objective perspective into a very subjective, emotional and experiential one.
The situation exploits deeply personal, very human needs, wants and desires so that the “mark” will likely not notice any hint of manipulation until they are deeply invested, entrenched or dependent upon the manipulator in some way so as to make leaving the relationship very difficult. –Cindy, Beware the Love Bomb
Many women and men have died hanging onto this fallacy. If you do some studying of how cults gain the trust and loyalty of their members, you will see that the machinations that the psychopath uses to lure you into the relationship are NO DIFFERENT.
What is very frightening about this, is that cult members will hang on so tightly to the pseudo love the psychopath instilled in them at the beginning, they would DIE for the leader.
There are too many examples in history to show us the power of love bombing. David Koresh is one example, as was Jim Jones. While looking at it on the outside, it’s hard to fathom, right?
But why? This is exactly what we were doing in the relationship. Fortunately, many of us will get out, but there are so many more who will not, as they blindly and dependently hold onto the psychopath’s initial presentation with love bombing and feigned devotion.
There is more to it than all the illusion that comes with this. Many of us are vulnerable when the psychopath happens on the scene. Many of us come from abuse backgrounds and psychopaths know it. Even loneliness can make you a target, but generally speaking there is more going on within us, that makes it open season for the psychopath to infiltrate our lives….
When you are out of the relationship, the love bombing the psychopath has done will be the greatest force with your cognitive dissonance, your obsessive and intrusive thoughts.
Your thoughts will not go immediately to the bad, it will go to THAT stage in the beginning when he was so NICE and LOVING and GIVING to you…it will not take into account the abuse. It will feel very much like an uncontrollable, addictive pull.
The addictive pull is related to the confusion regarding the love bombing he has done, and the abuse he committed afterward. Which one is the man you got into the relationship with?
People fail to understand that the abuse didn’t begin with the first WTF moment or evil act. It started at the very beginning with manipulative deception. —Why The “Love Bombing” stage Is The Most Dangerous Phase of the Psychopathic Bond
I know when we arrived at that church, if I would have been told that spanking of adult children was acceptable, I would have said, “I’m outta here – that’s crazy/abusive stuff.”
So . . . . . it led me to question . . . . . when did this subject get brought up during our two years there? It was definitely in the first year because Hannah left after the first year and she was spanked.
When it was brought up, how did the shift happen in my mind – where initially I would have rejected it and labeled it as abuse, but later spanking teens/adult children was somehow considered acceptable, permissible, even more appropriate than not spanking adult children? …
Thinking back, in my mind, I always hated it. But I think I justified the hate because I was physically abused my entire childhood. I squelched my normal emotional response because I didn’t trust it to be valid based on my frame of reference with my childhood abuse.
Also, this seemed different. This spanking was not done in a rage or in anger. It was done with a purpose. When I was abused, it was about rage and anger, it was unpredictable, for no apparent reason.
So, I justified this “discipline” in my mind as “good” – after all, a pastor has our best interest in mind, right? He wouldn’t lead us astray. I needed someone to trust. So many of my father figures had abandoned or abused me, but this man was caring for our souls – he was caring for us as parents and for our children, right???
We were told it was love to discipline our children. That it was unloving or even hatred against God to NOT discipline them – essentially, we would be enemies of God for not doing the right thing by disciplining (abusing) them in love. And besides, everyone else was doing it.
Most of the people there I’m sure did not have the abusive background that I had, they were more emotionally stable and rational, and if they believed our pastor to be trustworthy and to show us the biblical way of parenting, and they followed through with his ways of doing things, then my negative emotions were really not valid and I shouldn’t trust them.
I loved the people at church. They were good parents who loved their children. That was plain to see. They were kind and loving and I know they wouldn’t do anything to hurt their children.
They became my barometer for me. If they were doing it and had no problems with it, then it must be the right way of doing things. Of course our church would have the best ways of parenting – we did everything better than other churches. That is how my mind worked. That is how I came to condone the ABUSE of my daughter.
So you see that love-bombing is all part of keeping you under control. In the same way, after he’d been love-bombing me, Richard found me susceptible to believing him about all sorts of things: politics, spanking of children, his unbelievably eventful and wild and name-dropping life story, and of course, the perfect innocence and appropriateness of the things he did here.
If I was upset with him, all he had to do was talk to me about it (over the phone) or look at me a certain way and my anger would evaporate. I noticed even then how quickly and easily he made it go away, and mentioned it to my husband once, wondering how he did it.
So while magical hypnosis of the kind used by Svengali may be Hollywood fiction, and the kind used on the college circuit may be parlor tricks–hypnotism, love-bombing, and other mind control tactics used by narcissists, cults and high-pressure salesmen, are very real.
Svengali could be your pastor, your lover, your best friend, your employer, your senator. Keep an eye out.