Cannon, Alexander (1896–1963)
British psychiatrist, hypnotist, and author of books on occultism.
He was born in Leeds, England, and educated at
Leeds, London, Vienna, Hong Kong, and several other universities
(eventually receiving both an M.D. and Ph.D.). Later he
reinforced his medical qualifications with titles reflecting his
training in various Eastern spiritual disciplines, such as
‘‘Kushog Yogi of Northern Thibet’’ and ‘‘Master-The-Fifth of
the Great White Lodge of the Himalayas.’’ He spent a number
of years in Hong Kong, where he was vice president of Hong
Kong Medical Society (1929 and 1934), medical officer in
charge of prisons, head of the Department of Morbid Anatomy
at the University of Hong Kong, and psychiatrist and medical
Camus, Philippe Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
jurist to the High Court of Justice. He also served as His Britannic
Majesty’s Consul and Port Medical Officer in Canton. He
later returned to England, serving as psychiatrist and research
scientist at Colney Hatch Mental Hospital. In 1939 he established
the Isle of Man Clinic for Nervous Diseases.
During his years in the Orient, Cannon studied occultism
and yoga and traveled in India and Tibet. His book The Invisible
Influence (1933) created something of a sensation with its claim
that during his travels he was levitated over a chasm in Tibet,
together with his porters and luggage. Because of this claim,
the London County Council dismissed him from his position
as psychiatrist on the grounds that he was unfit to practice in
charge of a mental hospital. However, Cannon was reinstated
after bringing action for wrongful dismissal. He subsequently
set up private practice in London, as a Harley Street consultant,
and he used the services of psychic mediums in diagnosis.
Cannon was regarded as an eccentric in prewar Britain,
when occultism was considered highly suspect, and the somewhat
wild statements in Cannon’s books did not help his reputation.
In his book Sleeping Through Space (1938) he gives directions
for bringing the dead back to life ‘‘[administer] a severe
kick with the knee between the shoulder blades’’ at the same
time shouting in [the] left ear ‘‘Oye,’’ ‘‘Oye,’’ ‘‘Oye.’’ He adds
‘‘It is rarely necessary to repeat the operation before life is
again resumed, but this can be repeated up to seven times in
long-standing cases.’’ Again, in an article, ‘‘Some Hypnotic Secrets,’’
published in The British Journal of Medical Hypnotism
(1949), he states, ‘‘If the patient wakes up at all before I have
got my hypnotic sleep suggestions home to him, I place both
of my thumbs on his carotid arteries vagus nerves and carotic
body firmly . . . until he is ‘off’ again. . . .’’ It would seem that
the unfortunate patient stood a fair chance of being strangled,
but doubtless he could be resuscitated by the redoubtable doctor’s
‘‘Oye, Oye, Oye’’ technique.
Cannon wrote a number of books on both psychiatry and the
occult. He was also an early experimenter in suggestion therapy
by means of gramophone recordings. In later life he retired
to the Isle of Man, where he died circa 1963.
Cannon, Alexander. Hypnotism, Suggestion & Faith-Healing.
———. The Invisible Influence. New York E. P. Dutton, 1934.
———. The Power of Karma. N.p., 1936.
———. Powers That Be. New York E. P. Dutton, 1935.
———. The Science of Hypnotism. N.p., 1936.
———. Sleeping Through Space. N.p., 1938.
———. ‘‘Some Hypnotic Secrets.’’ The British Journal of Medical
Hypnotism 1, 1 (1949).

Previous articleControl
Next articleCoates, James (ca. 1927)