HBM091: Hypnosis of Hunger

Producer Bethany Denton found a box in her basement storage room with two old cassette tapes inside. It took her a moment to realize what they were.

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Content Note:

Descriptions of disordered eating

Bethany has been fat her whole life, even when she was a kid. She ate hidden stashes of food when she felt anxious. By the time she was eleven years old, Bethany’s parents worried she would have health problems as as an adult, and they thought weight-loss hypnotherapy could help. The hypnotherapist tried to guide Bethany’s subconscious mind into making choices that would help her lose weight, like developing the ability to control her hunger with an imaginary dial in her mind. The hypnotherapist had Bethany visualize her favorite greasy, salty potato chips covered in vomit.  She had Bethany visualize her ideal, thin body, and affirmed that this ideal body was “who you really are.”  The therapist recorded their sessions and gave them to Bethany on cassette tapes.  She was supposed to use them to relax.

Fifteen years later, Bethany never lost the weight, never achieved that ideal body. But she doesn't really eat potato chips anymore either.

For information about treatment for disordered eating, visit The Emily Program.


Bethany Denton produced this episode and Jeff Emtman edited it. Here Be Monsters is part of KCRW’s Independent Producer Project, edited by Nick White and managed by Kristen Lepore.

Music: The Black Spot

Do you have questions about how the show is made? Ever wonder how Jeff and Bethany work together? Who the hell is this “Nick White” guy? Give us a call, and we’ll answer it in an upcoming mailbag episode. Call us at (765) 374 - 5263 or email us a voice memo.

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HBM079: The Tingles

Devaan describes it as a pulsing, tingling feeling on the back of his neck.   His preferred stimuli are whispers, shuffling cards, scissors, tapping noises, anything that makes a crisp enough sound to trigger his ASMR.  These sounds make him feel relaxed, euphoric and drowsy.  

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response is a physical reaction experienced by some unknown percentage of the population (to varying degrees).  Due to being only recently recognized and named, ASMR is still poorly understood scientifically.  Its evolutionary purpose (if any) is uncertain, though one popular theory suggests that it might serve a social bonding or grooming purpose.

Devaan’s ASMR awakening came one day at work when a co-worker whispered into his ear.  He googled “Why does my brain tingle when I hear whispering?”  He stumbled into the online community of “ASMR artists” (aka. “ASMRtists”) who stimulate huge audiences with their preferred triggers.

He used these videos daily to combat his mild insomnia.  Soon he became reliant on them for sleep, consuming ASMR videos endlessly.  He became desensitized, even to his favorite videos, and thinks that he was (and maybe still is) addicted to them.

Today, Devaan still uses ASMR videos to fall asleep, though he says he’s now more careful with his consumption.

Molly Segal produced this episode.

Music: The Black Spot | | | AHEE

Additional Sounds: Arnaud Coutancier | | | Richard Frohlich

Screaming: Benjamin Harper | | | John Hill

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HBM077: Snow on Date Trees, then on Pines

Muhammad Tariq still doesn’t know who the men with guns were.  They wore masks on their faces when they came into the teachers’ lounge.  His small, gender-integrated school in Panjgur had been anonymously receiving literature that scolded them for teaching girls.  Tariq and the other teachers didn’t take it seriously until the six men showed up.

While they beat the maintenance worker with the butts of their guns and smashed the office’s computers, one of the masked men mentioned that he knew who Tariq was, that he knew Tariq’s history of educating Pakistani girls, his plans to turn them against true muslim religion and culture.  

After just fifteen minutes, they were gone again.  Tariq doesn’t know why they didn’t take him with them, as his province of Balochistan sees regular abductions and murders and sectarian violence (see documentary below).  Balochistan is also home to separatist movements, notably the hyper-nationalist Baloch Liberation Army.

Estimates for numbers of the disappeared Baloch people vary greatly, from 1,000 to about 20,000.  Since 2010, Human Rights Watch has documented first hand accounts of disappearances, which often happen in broad daylight.

Flag of Pakistan’s Balochistan Province

Flag of Pakistan’s Balochistan Province


Documentary on Balochistan conflict, from Al Jazeera

After the incident in his school, Tariq feared for his life; said he needed to get out of Pakistan.  So he applied for and received a J1 visa, a cultural exchange program run by the US State Department.  After the visa expires, J1 recipients are supposed to return to their home countries.  

In 2015, Tariq took a plane from Karachi to Washington DC, and when his J1 program was up, he filed for asylum with a personal certainty and faith that it would be granted to him.  The USCIS is supposed to schedule asylum interviews within 45 days, with a final decision within 180.  But (as of April 2017), the wait time for the initial asylum interview is an estimated 2 to 5 years.  

Until Tariq gets that interview, he’s in a state of limbo—legally allowed to stay in the United States, though unable to find good work or afford college.

Tariq moved to Seattle, where he met his fiancé, Catherine Adams.  She hadn’t ever met a Muslim before, and she had a conservative, christian upbringing in rural Oregon.  She'd only ever heard and seen negative stereotypes of men like Tariq before they met. But they fell in love quickly and are planning to get married late in the summer of 2017.  They’ve since moved to Catherine's small hometown of Medford, Oregon.

On this episode, producer Jeff Emtman met the couple for a dinner of Pakistani biryani and apple pie, just three days before their move from Seattle, to Medford.

Music: Lucky Dragons | | | Serocell | | | The Black Spot | | |  AHEE

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HBM071: The Evangelists of Nudism

Growing up Mormon in Montana, Bethany Denton had a phrase drilled into her mind from an early age: “modest is hottest.”  To her, it became a mantra even while many of her friends, especially other girls, struggled with Mormonism’s strict modesty standards. But never Bethany–she was fat enough to know that no one wanted to see that anyway.

By the time Bethany moved to Washington State for college, she had rejected the church and was looking for new, broader experiences.  She got a job as a campus security officer, started drinking, and began wading into feminism.  She looked for new, non-Mormon role models to help her find adventure. That’s when she met Helen, a punk rock pirate who invited Bethany to join her for an all-expenses paid nude vacation, courtesy of an eccentric tech millionaire who evangelized the merits of nudism.

Bethany said yes, and went with Helen to California to bake in the sun for a week, and to learn about the body she’d been hiding for the past 20 years, learn to decouple nakedness from sexuality.

And when she returned, she felt utterly changed.  But she’d soon tearfully discover she was not entirely untangled from childhood guilt.

Names in this story have been changed.

"Artist's" Renderings of what Bethany Saw
Photos by Jeff Emtman

This episode was written and produced by Bethany Denton, and was edited by Jeff Emtman. Nick White is HBM’s editor at KCRW.

Music:  Nym | | | Half Ghost  | | |  Lucky Dragons 

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HBM059: When Cthulhu Calls

HP Lovecraft.  1934

HP Lovecraft's drawing of his own monster, Cthulhu.  1934

...Cthulhu still lives, too, I suppose, again in that chasm of stone which has shielded him since the sun was young...He must have been trapped by the sinking whilst within his black abyss, or else the world would by now be screaming with fright and frenzy. Who knows the end? What has risen may sink, and what has sunk may rise...

 

The most notable monster created by Howard Phillips Lovecraft was completely omnipotent, yet completely uncaring.  A massive, tentacled being that sleeps in the depths of the ocean--Cthulhu.  A creature that will one day rise again from its watery home to reclaim the Earth for itself.

In this episode of Here Be Monsters, we team up with Eric Molinsky of the Imaginary Worlds Podcast from Panoply Studios. 

Eric speaks with Sheldon Solomon, a psychologist who co-founded the study of Terror Management Theory.  Solomon explains the absurd lengths that humans go to avoid realizing their own mortality.  And thus, Eric embarks on a fictional journey to find out why a creature so loathsome is constantly being turned into Cthulhu plushy toys and Cthulhu onesies for babies

Eric visits a store call Love Craft in Redhook, New York, where he meets Roberta Suydam (played by Ann Scobie). Roberta tells him to look in the water off Rockaway point, Cthulhu is real.  Seeking confirmation, he visits the Lovecraft Archives, deep in a basement lab in Lovecraft's hometown of Providence, Rhode Island.  There, professor George Angell (played by Dan Truman) introduces him to the re-animated brain of "Howard" (played by Bill Lobely).  Howard Lovecraft turns out to be just as racist in death as he was in life.  Deciding to take matters into his own hands, Eric rents a boat to see what's out there in the waters off Rockaway Point, but as he draws closer to the dome rising from the water, he finds himself at wits' end.

Balancing the literary genius of Lovecraft's dark mythos with his unabashed xenophobia is no easy task.  Readers must either choose to ignore the troubling aspects of his personal character, or disgrace him for his beliefs.  Or possibly, they may superposition themselves in both camps at once, trying understand Lovecraft as if he's a just another creature in a universe of his own making.

Music: Serocell

Hey, by the way, we're having a Season 4 wrap party in Seattle in May.  Let us know if you can make it.

Domes in the water off the coast of Rockaway point.  Click through for map.

Domes in the water off the coast of Rockaway point.  Click through for map.

We produced this episode in collaboration with Imaginary Worlds from Panoply Studios. 

We produced this episode in collaboration with Imaginary Worlds from Panoply Studios. 

Domes in the water off the coast of Rockaway point.  Click through for map.

Domes in the water off the coast of Rockaway point.  Click through for map.