Today’s post continues our audio retrospective and keeps the focus on the mental state of Sirhan Sirhan on the night of the shooting. On January 26, 1969, shortly before Sirhan’s trial, the defense and prosecution psychiatrists, Dr. Bernard Diamond and Dr Seymour Pollack, went up to see Sirhan with defense investigator Robert Blair Kaiser. They put him under hypnosis and had him try to re-enact the night of the shooting in one of the most disturbing sessions you’re ever likely to hear.
During his first summer on Death Row in San Quentin, Sirhan received twenty weekly visits from the prison’s senior psychologist Dr. Eduard Simson Kallas. They built a strong rapport and Sirhan wanted Simson-Kallas to use hypnosis to help him remember the night of the shooting but the warden terminated the visits before the hypnosis sessions could start. Here, Simson-Kallas reflects on the Sirhan case with Mae Brussell.
Diamond, Pollack, Kaiser and Simson-Kallas all believed Sirhan was in a hypnotic state when he fired his gun at the Ambassador. Sirhan practiced self-hypnosis at home in his room and Diamond believed that, triggered by the mirrors at the Ambassador Hotel, Sirhan had carried out the posthypnotic suggestion repeatedly inscribed in his notebooks “R.F.K. must die.” Kaiser and Simson-Kallas believed Sirhan was a Manchurian Candidate, hypnotically programmed by persons unknown to kill Kennedy. What they all agreed was that Sirhan was not in his right mind on the night of the shooting.