SVENGALI - Definition and synonyms of Svengali in the English dictionary
The definition of Svengali in the dictionary is a person who controls another's . Over the years, myths were built up about my relationship with Fred Astaire. Svengali definition, a person who completely dominates another, usually with selfish or sinister motives. See more. Definition of Svengali - a person who exercises a controlling or mesmeric influence on another, especially for a sinister purpose.
Then we have to imagine what it would be like to live in a world of people who have no wish to help each other or to feel better. If we don't do this, the history of medicine, and of its country cousin psychiatry, not to mention the history of religion, will hardly seem different from a history of quacks and con-artists ingeniously exploiting the hopelessly vulnerable. The question has always been: Only when we acknowledge the very real drawbacks of living in a world in which everyone's unhappiness renders everyone else clueless, can we review our contemporary options and their histories with some sense of relief.
We may have very real doubts now about, say, aromatherapy, or ECT, or cognitive psychology - or even about people having personal trainers - but we quite literally have to do something when we begin to feel in some way troubled. It is fortunate that pain has made us so inventive. As unhappiness shows no sign of disappearing - and its staying power makes us look more like fashion victims than truth-seekers in our quest for therapies - we would do better to think of our solutions as inevitably provisional and uncertain, instead of sneering at them.
Our misgivings about the available treatments for our contemporary miseries too easily turns into a cover-story for an intolerance of, or impatience with, suffering itself.
Scepticism about treatments becomes suspicion about patients if the treatment is fraudulent, and it works, then the condition it was nominally treating must be fraudulent too: The contesting of cures, if it does nothing else, keeps the idea of cure alive; but it tends to make people in the so-called helping professions excessively judgmental of each other i.
On the other hand, the prestige involved in helping people has always been integral to the treatment, and it has been to the consumers and purveyors of charisma that historians and psychologists have increasingly turned their attention. As a psychoanalyst and a historian, Daniel Pick is unusually well-qualified to have written this often intriguing book.
The intricate complicity between symptoms and cures - and between what people are considered to be suffering from and what they claim to be suffering from - has made the history of medicine, in its broadest sense, of so much recent interest.
Suggestion and seduction: the sinister power of Svengali
Part of the fascination so to speak of mesmerism and hypnosis - and of the history that is so well told in Svengali's Web - is that, as potential cures for a wide range of miseries, they were so quickly seen to be at once remarkable breakthroughs, and disreputable, if not criminal activities. It was not clear whether like the psychoanalysis that was born of this tradition they were solutions, or problems in themselves, or both. Indeed for some people, the fact that these forms of treatment helped the patient was itself the patient's most serious and revealing symptom; and what it revealed was the patient's pathological naivety.
People were not being cured through hypnosis, the critics said, they were suffering from being hypnotisable: These new treatments, in other words, had ironically disclosed what some feared might be the most terrible, perhaps the most constitutively human problem of all: That bodies affected each other in daunting and undreamt of ways; that eyes and voices and hands - among other body-parts - were essentially rhetorical organs.
Both as a theatrical spectacle and as a medical treatment, hypnotism made it clear that bodies were persuasive, and that the appetite for persuasion and for being persuaded was exorbitant.
It may seem odd, in retrospect, that this should have seemed so shocking. Christianity, after all, was an extravagant acknowledgment of the power of the body; and sexuality, through its various historical formations and deformations, has always been spoken of as a fascination sex, too, has a reputation for being the problem and the solution.
But what the hypnotist exposed, perhaps most devastatingly in such a progressive age as the 19th century, was just how lowbrow people really were. It wasn't truth or goodness they were after: And it wasn't exactly the other person's logic, or their argument, or the information they provided or even their education that was convincing, so much as the look in their eye or their smile. As many commentators - then as now - were quick to point out, this makes politics more volatile than some want it to be, and science much less influential than some think it should be.
The hypnotist and his subject were like a tableau, or a model, of something fundamental and disturbing about human nature.
If we are sensual but not that sensible - if we only feel and are barely rational - then hypnotism is not much more than another word for human relations. The question was no longer, could hypnotism be disproved and therefore discreditedbut what was the alternative? What did people do together that wasn't hypnotism, or horribly akin to it? If politics, religion and sexual relations couldn't easily exempt themselves from such a dismaying comparison, why should medicine be able to? Hypnotism was like a terrible cartoon - a secular revelation - of the power people could have over each other, of the enthralled longing to be free from choice.
Svengali | Definition of Svengali in English by Oxford Dictionaries
Seeing the amazing things bodies could do to each other - witnessing just how manipulable people's limbs and memories were - made hypnotism as a phenomenon endlessly fascinating, if not actually hypnotic.
Since the turn of the last century it has been assumed, or hoped, that a combination of science and history might break its spell. In its sober speculation, and its wealth of often fascinating research, Svengali's Web is in this honourable, but somehow forlorn tradition of lucid and intelligible enquiry into unfathomable craziness. It is the contention of Pick's book that Du Maurier's once extremely famous novel, Trilby, with its evil, hypnotising Jew, Svengali, was a sensation waiting to happen; and that we have to go back to the beginnings of mesmerism in the 18th century, and forward to the advent of psychoanalysis at the turn of the last century, to understand why.
The ground, as Pick shows in impressive detail, had been cleared - or rather, given the many theatrical adaptations of Trilby, the stage had been set - for this particular bestseller.
Wittingly or unwittingly, Du Maurier had tuned into the spirit of the age, and turned up the volume.How to Define the Relationship
Trilby, as Pick says, "is generally thought to have been the bestselling novel of the last century"; and this alone makes it, for better and for worse, what used to be called a "symptomatic text": Svengali's Web, in other words, is topical by academic standards; and is, in its turn, something of a symptomatic text itself.
What Pick uses cultural history to do is integral to his subject. And one of the things he uses it for is to promote a not unfamiliar progress myth - it was more or less Freud's own myth and so became, more or less, the official line - in which the follies of mesmerism and hypnosis are displaced by the stronger rationality of psychoanalysis. When Freud abrogates hypnosis as a therapeutic technique, psychoanalysis is born, and the 19th century begins to see sense where previously there had only been the hocus-pocus of suggestion.
In Freud's writing, Pick intimates, meaning is finally derived from all the bewildering psychopathology of everyday life. Proving that Freud was not Svengali is less promising than wondering why and whether this needs to be disproved. And the best critics of psychoanalysis are rather more interesting than Pick suggests, pointing out, as some of them do, that there are many ways of hypnotising people - saying very little and sitting out of sight is one - and that Freud's so-called movement has been rather more of a cult than his followers have been prepared to admit.
The interesting question is what is it about psychoanalysis that stops it being a form of hypnosis? Pick uses Trilby to answer this question, or at least to go some way towards doing so, making the whole issue into a kind of contest between the vulgar and the more refined, between the entertainers and the better educated.
Yet in the figure of the exploitative, beguiling conductor and his touching victim, Du Maurier had hit on a curiously resonant symbol. Trilby, first published inis the story of Trilby O'Ferrall, whom we first meet as an artist's model, and friend of three bohemian British artists living and working in Paris. She has her own terrible history as the orphaned daughter of alcoholic parents.
In flight from horrible memories she is - it soon becomes obvious - in desperate need of something; she has, the narrator tells us, "a singularly impressionable nature, as was shown by her quick and ready susceptibility to Svengali's hypnotic influence". Svengali, the archetypal alien enchanter of Pick's title, eases her pain, as well as facilitating a seemingly astonishing talent. In Henry James's well chosen words, Trilby is "mesmerised and made to sing by a little foreign Jew who has mesmeric power, infinite feeling, and no organ save as an accompanist of his own".
It is a story about exploitation, possession and artistry, and very self-consciously of its time. It is a strange and artful book; and Du Maurier seems to me more archly attentive to what he is up to than Pick gives him credit for.
A svengali can make your life hell.
So, what do you do? How do you approach a problem like this??? The first question to ask yourself is, what is it costing you to remain in the relationship?
Are you able to pursue your dreams, or does your svengali shoot down your ideas before they're allowed to flourish? Has your svengali made you feel less valuable as a human being?
As if you are unworthy of anything better? Like change is impossible so there's no point in trying? Do you feel hopeless and helpless? What about your identity?
Svengali - Wikipedia
Has your svengali twisted your sense of self to the extent that you've abandoned the principles that made you who you are? Real love raises you up, helps you become a better person. Helps you feel better about yourself. Helps you move toward realizing your dreams. In order to break free, you have to be strong enough to recognize your svengali's patterns.
You also have to recognize your responsibility in the situation. And forgive yourself when you do. In order to do that, you must believe you deserve the things your svengali has convinced you are outside of your reach. It's easy for someone we love to manipulate us. You are worth the effort it will take to find real love. Even if the prospect of being alone is daunting.
Ask yourself how your behavior and attitude enables your svengali to take control. By giving in to a svengali's emotional extortion, you are cheating yourself out of a better life. Is keeping the peace worth your hopes and dreams?