In a must-read book, “The Age of the Crowd”, the author, Serge Moscovici, writes on crowd psychology.
“The kinship between the amorous state and hypnosis is strikingly obvious.
There is the same submission to mesmeric fascination, the same renunciation of any judgement and the same over-valuation on the part of the person under its control. Nothing could be more normal than that he should do all that he is asked and have the feeling that he is acting or thinking for himself when in fact he is obeying suggestion. He acts like a lover who has adopted the feelings and judgements of the beloved and is obeying his or her orders. He abandons his own judgements and feelings and conforms to those of his partner. Nor is it in any way astonishing that the same individual should find himself in a dreaming or sleepwalking state. What happens in fact is that the hypnotist controls his access to reality and takes charge of his concrete experience. He sees and feels nothing except what he is told to see and feel by the super-ego embodied in the hypnotist. The latter becomes the sole object of his attention, a disturbing object who asks him to look into his eyes.
It is this gaze that transmits the man’s power. Words charm, dissimulate and prevaricate for it and are the servant, not the mistress. The gaze directs itself here and now to the person and searches his consciousness and silently reaches the old and familiar sentiments, desires and inclinations. And it is also:
the sight of the chieftain that is dangerous and unbearable for primitive people, just as later that of the Godhead is for mortals. Even Moses had to act as an intermediary between his people and Jehovah, since the people could not support the sight of God; and when he returned from the presence of God his face shone-some of the mana had been transferred on to him, just as happens with the intermediary among primitive people. (Freud: XVIII, 125)
Hypnosis can also be induced by asking the subject to look fixedly at a brilliant object or by getting him to listen to monotonous sound. This method distracts his attention from the diversity of the external world and the hypnotist's intentions, transferring every thought and affect to him, as happened with his parents in the past:
By the measures that he takes, then, the hypnotist awakens in the subject a portion of his archaic heritage which had also made him compliant towards his parents and which had experienced an individual re-animation in his relation to his father; what is thus awakened is the idea of a paramount and dangerous personality, towards whom only a passive-masochistic attitude is possible, to whom one's will has to be surrendered, - while to be alone with him, ‘to look him in the face’, appears a hazardous enterprise. (Freud: XVIII, 127)
Faced with such a powerful coalition of forces - those of his amorous feelings and his identification with the hypnotist and the image of his father that he creates - the ego realises that it cannot win. It does not, however, completely abandon all resistance and is still a spectator in the game that it cannot escape. Consequently, it attempts to secure the approval of the super-ego by espousing its desires and perceptions. In so far as any effective sexual relationship is excluded, the tendency to idealise the doctor and to be passively subject to him is greatly increased:
The hypnotic relation is the unlimited devotion of someone in love, but with sexual satisfaction excluded; whereas in the actual case of being in love this kind of satisfaction is only temporarily kept back, and remains in the background as a possible aim at some later time. (Freud: XVIII, 115)
Relationships of this kind are analogous to medical, pedagogical, religious and, of course, political ones. It is the fascination relationship described by Le Bon. We now know what causes it and gives it its strength. If the analogy is a valid one, we can assume that in all such cases the leader is forbidden to have sexual relationships with his followers, those whom he wishes to influence.
If he does have such relationships, or lets the possibility of them be glimpsed, his influence will be diminished and his charisma lessened. This would hold true for professors, priests and doctors and clearly also for political leaders. That is the price they pay for making use of their ascendancy to transform amorous admiration into an erotic conquest. The real meaning of the saying that no-one is a hero to his valet is perhaps that no-one is a hero to a lover.”