Ian Curtis was hypnotised by Joy Division’s Bernard Sumner to 'try and shake him out of a death wish'

Sumner – who went onto front New Order – attempted to alleviate his bandmate from his depression

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Bernard Sumner tried to hypnotise his Joy Division bandmate Ian Curtis out of taking his own life.

The musician – who, following Curtis’ death, went on to become frontman of New Order – says he learned about hypnotism when he was at school and "used to do tricks like getting a really skinny guy to arm wrestle the local bully".

"Much later, when we were in Joy Division, I read a book on hypnotic regression and how it could be used for therapy," said Sumner.

"I first hypnotised Ian at our rehearsal room. He remembered nothing, but when we did it again exactly the same memories came up, about him being a mercenary in the hundred years war. I recorded it and when I played it back to him he was astounded. It was my feeble attempt to try and shake him out of a death wish he seemed to have. He’d already tried to commit suicide."

Although Sumner has never listened to the recording "because it was too tender", he transcribed it and included in his new autobiography, Chapter and Verse.

Curtis was found hanged on 18 May 1980, aged 23, in his Macclesfield home.

The singer’s marriage was allegedly floundering because of his close relationship with journalist Annik Honoré, although she always described their connection as platonic.

He was also battling with epilepsy.

"He had a wayward week," said Sumner of Curtis’ death. "People were suddenly writing amazing things about us and we were about to go on an American tour. It was probably like waking up from a dream and finding that the dream was actually happening, but he was feeling a lot of pressure from all sides.

"He had his relationship with his wife and Annik, and I think he felt very guilty about his daughter, Natalie. Love literally was tearing him apart. Also, to have very bad epilepsy and be expected to go out and do concerts. I guess it just pulled him in every way."

Curtis' death has a huge impact on Sumner. He refused to talk to anyone for three weeks, "then I snapped out of it and just sort of decided that life can’t just stop there".

"I’d had so many deaths in the family that I’d been toughened up," he told the Guardian. "I was still very shocked, saddened, depressed and because we’d put so much effort into making Joy Division our futures, I was really angry at Ian that he’d bailed out. But at the same time I felt very deeply sorry that he felt the need to take his own life. I understood why he did it."

Comments