Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday Dead Racist Blogging: Hypnosis Edition

Drugs are for losers, and hypnosis is for losers with big, weird eyebrows!
--Philip J. Fry

Just as today there are many who will insist--no matter what professionals have to say--that homosexuality is a mental disorder, there were those who believed that anyone, but especially a white woman, who married outside of their race was legitimately insane.

My favorite example of this involves a 1909 case in San Francisco. Helen Gladys Emery was going to marry Gunjiro Aoki (the paper I'm about to quote gives his name as Gungiro, but other sources say Gunjiro). There was quite a bit of attention given to the marriage, and the story was turned into a play (Uncle Gunjiro's Girlfriend) by the grand-niece of the groom, Brenda Wong Aoki. She also wrote an article about it.

If you followed those links, you probably caught the headline that I'm referring to: "Friend of Emery Family Seeks Medical Advice as to Whether Hypnotism Can Explain Girl's Wild Infatuation for Japanese". That was part of a March 12, 1909 article in the San Francisco Chronicle. From page 2 of that issue:

An interesting fact in connection is the determination of Miss Emery to marry Aoki in spite of her father's violent opposition, which he has carried so far as to leave home, is that some time ago a relative of the Emerys called upon Dr. J. Wilson Shiels and asked him if it were possible that Aoki could be exercising a hypnotic influence upon Mrs. Emery and her daughter. Such a theory was held by the friends and relatives who are opposed to the match.

It was said that Miss Emery was a very strange girl and never made friends with young people of her own age, but was secretive and reserved. Not only has Aoki gained an influence over Miss Emery, but also over Mrs. Emery.


Dr. J. Wilson Shiels was seen at his residence, 2421 Green street, last night regarding the visit made to him by a friend of the Emery family, who had a theory that the Japanese suitor of Miss Emery had used hypnotic power to gain control of the young woman's affections and to acquire the consent of the mother. Dr. Shiels said:

"A woman who said she was a close friend of Archdeacon Emery called upon me a short time ago and asked me if it was possible that this Japanese had hypnotized Mrs. Emery and her daughter, and if I could do anything to counteract the influence. I told her that it was a matter which concerned the Emery family alone, and that an outsider would be showing bad taste, to say the least, if any attempt was made to interfere. I said that I would not under any circumstances take it upon myself to act in the matter, and I advised her to let the Emerys attend to their own affairs. Regarding the hypnotism theory, I told her that I did not take any stock in such a far-fetched idea, and that in my opinion it was simply one of those cases of unaccountable fascination of which we often head."

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