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"the [science fiction] writer should be able to convince the reader (and himself) that the wonders he is describing really can come true...and that gets tricky when you take a good, hard look at the world around you."
- Frederik Pohl

Hypnotic injunction  
  A method of hypnosis that prevents people from revealing particular information.  

In Methuselah's Children, a significant part of the population has achieved a relatively long lifespan; as long as 200 years. These people are hidden among the general population, their secret having been kept hidden.

After some years, a small number of this group decided to reveal themselves and their capacity for long life. The political leaders of the general population decide to take the secret of long life from this group by force.

"On the advice of Ralph Schultz the trustees have been preceding quietly for the past three months to persuade revealed Members to undergo hypnotic instruction. We were largely successful." He paused.

"Make in march, Zack," Lazarus urged. "Are we covered? Or not?"

"We are not. At least two of our cousins certain to be arrested are not so protected."

Lazarus shrugged. "That tears it. Kinfolk, the game's over. One shot in the arm of babble juice and the 'masquerade' is over. It's a new situation or will be in a few hours. What you propose to do about it?"

From Methuselah's Children, by Robert Heinlein.
Published by Astounding Science-Fiction in 1941
Additional resources -

Hypnosis has a surprising long history. The ancient Egyptians used it in temples; a 3rd century (CE) manuscript has this interesting procedure:

"You take a boy and sit him upon another new brick, his face being turned to the lamp and you close his eyes and recite these things which are written above down into the boy's head, seven times. You make him open his eyes. You say to him: 'Do you see the light?' When he says to you, 'I see the light in the flame of the lamp', you cry at that moment, saying 'Heoue' nine times. You ask him concerning everything that you wish."

The modern history of hypnosis begins with a student of Franz Anton Mesmer used some of his techniques of "animal magnetism" to place people in an unusual state in the early 1800's. It looked like sleep, but the person could still respond to questions or commands. The term "hypnotism" was coined in 1843 by James Braid, a Scottish surgeon.

The idea of using hypnosis to plant a deep inhibition against revealing information is also explored in the novel the stars my destination by Alfred Bester, published in 1957 (see sympathetic block).

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Methuselah's Children
  More Ideas and Technology by Robert Heinlein
  Tech news articles related to Methuselah's Children
  Tech news articles related to works by Robert Heinlein

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