Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy Holiday Hypnosis (Hurrah!)

One of the things I love about Christmastime is getting together with extended family at my sister's house. It's the one time of year that my siblings are all together, along with my nieces and nephew. Throw into the mix cousins, their spouses, a handful of dear friends, and of course...a couple truly awesome 2nd cousins who are also brilliant hypnosis subjects. Presto. All the ingredients for a perfect holiday get-together.

Last year at Christmas I was still studying hypnosis under the ingenious Nathan Thomas through the International Association of Teenage Hypnotists. At that family Christmas gathering, amidst all the food and fun, I first hypnotized my cousin Patty's remarkable son Brandon and my cousin Joe's wonderful son Caleb. Both of them, being very bright and cheerful young men, proved to be excellent subjects. But this year was the first year I had arrived to the party as an official Certified Hypnotist. We's was gonna haves us some fun.

Now, we had fun with our hypnosis session last year, make no mistake, but due to the actions of our junior town criers, my nephew Bobby and Caleb's little brother Ethan, racing through the house screaming, "Uncle Brain's HYPno-tizing people! Come SEE!!!" we drew an unexpected audience that put an unintentional damper on things. Having a cluster of relatives and curious passersby crowding the room and staring, a few shouting out unwelcome suggestions, the littlest ones giggling as if they've been sucking down ten-gallon vats of nitrous oxide, and an overexcited mom snapping pictures can all quickly drain the spontaneity from the room and make even the most brilliant subject tense and unresponsive. This year I planned on it being different.

Now, before I go on to describe my holiday hypnosis sessions, there's something else you must know. Thrilled as I was to share my good news with the family that I had passed my certification exam with flying colors, after the initial glow of pride and congratulations were shared, I quickly became the butt of many good-natured jokes and prods. Busting chops is an essential part of any show of family affection, and an Irish Catholic family like mine, perhaps a bit more so. My cousin Mike, an accomplished athlete as well as a medical professional, led the charge with some "probing questions" and as often as not had us all laughing. I happily played the straight man and answered without scorn or derision. ("No, I can't hypnotize your dislocated vertebrae to go back into place.") When Mike asked me "What if the subject is just a hopeless nutcase beyond the help of hypnosis, what do you do then?" I smiled and told him I'd guide the subject to the nearest phone book and help him look up a good doctor.

When our festive banter had died down, I was eager to have some hypno-fun with my 2nd cousins. Knowing that the younger boys would be hovering around waiting to pounce the moment I drifted toward my intended subjects, I devised a plan. I first approached Caleb, pretending to talk to him about something else (the youngsters were on us in a heartbeat, What are you doing? Are you hypnotizing yet? What's going on??), but I discreetly told my cousin's son to wait for me to leave the room, count to 20, and then follow me. It worked like a charm. Since we did not depart together, the little kids were none the wiser. Caleb and I found an empty room in the large house and had no end of fun.

I introduced Caleb to instant induction, which he took to like a fish to water. He face-planted into a spongy contour pillow upon the soft bed and seemed to love it there. We had fun with name amnesia, and I graciously gave him the name Marshmellow Fluff for a while (there was an incredible dessert tray in the kitchen that was clearly still on my mind) and later I gave him his "real" name back and he was glad to once again call himself Chocolatey Goodness (did I mention the dessert tray?). As Caleb realized the silly name was not truly his but could refer to himself as nothing else, he got to see me turn invisible and make a teddy bear seem to dance about on its own. Caleb himself found he could teleport from one spot in the room to another as I erased his memory of walking the distance to and from. At one point Caleb found his face stuck fast to the soft pillow, something he didn't seem to mind at all.

An approaching winter storm cut our visit short. The 90-minute car ride home would have to begin immediately if we were to avoid the blizzard. I quickly brought Caleb back to the waking world and removed all triggers, but he was left feeling fantastic and with a bright smile on his face to prove it. I hurriedly sought out my other subject Brandon, and gave a very speedy example of ZAP hypnosis, putting him under in less than a second. One of the younger kids was on hand for that, and seeing Brandon's fluttering eyelids and gently swaying form, the little one declared, "He's faking! He's not really asleep!" I told the lad that no, Brandon was not actually asleep, and that no one was controlling him. But because Brandon was so smart, he'd respond wonderfully. Which of course he did. I left the freckle-faced and handsome Brandon energized and feeling great. We both wished we'd had more time.

As coats were thrown back on and boots jumped into, I made my rounds and said my rushed goodbyes. Various cousins, Mike included, sat on the couch before the big-screen TV and wished us a safe trip, with a few jokes about my newly-certified skills thrown in. I looked at Caleb seated on the end of the couch and said to him, "Wanna show 'em what we can do?" My prize subject just smiled and nodded. With a quick arm pull and a command of "Sleep!", Caleb was out like a light, head flopped onto a thick comforter and body limp as a rag doll. Suddenly all jokes were forgotten. As I rested a gentle hand atop my 2nd cousin's head, suggesting how relaxed he was and how good he'd feel, questions came in surprised whispers, "Is he faking that?" "Is that for real?" "Holy cow, he's really under!"

I left Caleb with an extra burst of positive energy and even an added plus that all the food he chose to eat the rest of the evening would taste even better than it already did. Shared hugs and kisses were peppered with new remarks, along the lines of "Can you use that to help with migraines?", "I so need to relax at work!", and "I have this friend who wants to quit smoking." As I left, I was smiling as broadly as before, but this time for altogether different reasons.

Like I said, I love Christmas with the family.

Blessings to all,

[Photos shown above: My charming and delightful 2nd cousin Caleb, shown BEFORE and DURING hypnosis. We need to do this more than once a year!]

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Modern Hypnotist's Worst Enemy

Motivational speaker and self-help guru Tony Robbins once made a wisecrack to the effect that he couldn't understand why so many people spent exorbitant amounts of money to go through hypnotherapy and be put into trance. To Tony Robbins, the big challenge was getting people out of trance.

To no small extent, the good Mr. Robbins is right. As anyone with even a modicum of understanding about hypnosis knows, we put ourselves into trance(s) every single day. We have trained ourselves rigorously--intentionally or otherwise--to respond to all manner of triggers which cause us to fade in and fade out on cue all day long. Be it the sound of our alarm clock, a particular voice familiar to us, or a visual indicator, we can pop into trance instantly and experience changes in our behavior, conditioned responses, and a host of other things due to our personal trance-inducing triggers.

Young people especially are susceptible to self-hypnosis triggers and are guilty of continually reinforcing, if not clinging to one, repeatedly. I am speaking of what I consider to be the bane of the modern hypnotist's existence:

Cell phones.

I don't think there is an instrument large enough to measure my loathing of cell phones. Many's a time when what would have been an otherwise successful hypnosis session was ruined by those ringing, singing, buzzing, and vibrating little bastards of technology. One very responsive subject of 22 sat for fifteen minutes on the couch across from me fielding call after call on his little pocket telephone. It was doing what we of old once called "ringing off the hook". That is, if the damnable little device had a hook. When I insisted he shut it off so we could proceed, he assured me, "I'll turn the ringer off." He then spent an additional twenty minutes responding to text messages. GAH!!

I once had a rather brilliant young man of 18 deep in trance, flopped over in a comfy chair like a rag doll, breathing deeply and receiving and accepting my commands. Then his cell phone rang. Instantly--and I do mean instantly--he sprang upright, fully awake, eyes wide and totally alert, body stiff. Out of nowhere he had his wretched cell phone in his hand, up to his ear, saying, "Hello?" I had never seen anything like it. I have helped people quit smoking, stick to their diets, improve their exercise regimen. I have turned intelligent men into yapping puppy dogs, made pals cluck like chickens, and had subjects think the rubber farm boots I stuck them in were magic enough to make them dance around the room as if they were at a barn dance. Yet I have never induced anyone to respond so promptly, so completely, so irresistibly, as when a god-cursed cell phone goes off.

After that incident, the session was pretty much over. I had the lad set his phone down on the coffee table, and although he did, it held his entire concentration. He glanced back at it 17 times in the course of one minute. Yes, I counted. I urged him to put his focus back on what we were doing, but he responded with a babbled, "Yeah, but my friend said she was gonna call me and let me know about this thing and I don't want to be under when she does, 'cause then I might miss it and we really—" He went on for a few minutes, not even remotely aware of the fact that I could've put him under with chloroform and he'd still most likely spring to his feet wide awake if his cell rang.

Another subject, 19, and brilliantly responsive, cannot even get into trance if he has his cell phone with him. He suggested we try some ZAP hypnosis while he waited on a friend, saying we had "about 25 minutes". ZAP hypnosis induces trance in less than one second. I figured we had time. I figured wrong. He kept referring to his phone, pulling it out of his pocket, putting it back, setting it down, picking it up, all to double-check to see if he'd somehow mysteriously missed his call. It was maddening! And this subject, who can usually be put under by nothing more than a snap of the fingers and the suggestion to "Sleep", could have been yanked around the room then by consecutive arm pulls and still never gone under.

Don't get me wrong, I know what it's like to be young and self-programmed with my own trance responses. In the summer of 1984, when the movie Ghostbusters hit the silver screen, it was impossible to flip on the radio without hearing its theme song being hollered out by Ray Parker Jr. For whatever reason, I loved that song and no matter what I was doing when it came on, I always stopped to get up and dance. I even had my own moves and routines worked out (yeah, I was a geek). Well, imagine my surprise when one evening, after a long day of school, my paper route, time with friends, and whatnot, I collapsed on my bed and fell asleep with the radio playing...only to find myself being shaken awake not long after, and coming to my senses to find myself, alone, dancing in the middle of the room because the Ghostbusters theme had come on. Sound asleep (read: in trance state) and dead to the world, I still got up and danced when I heard my trigger.

But this cell phone business takes things to a degree well beyond throwing yourself into a favorite Top 40 hit. Telling a young subject to leave the cell phone off, or worse yet, in the car, is not unlike telling a terminal kidney patient that you need them to leave their dialysis machine in the next room for a couple of hours. Plus, the phones seem to breed tremendous impatience, particularly with the young ladies. I had one subject under for a session, and he was among those whose phone buzzed or vibrated in excess of fifty times a minute. Not knowing how to deactivate the darn thing myself, once my subject was under I buried his phone under a mound of pillows. During our hypnosis time, I heard the damned thing buzzing away, but thankfully my subject did not. After our ten-minute session was over, I returned his phone and he was in awe to find that he had missed six calls. I am not making this up. I am not exaggerating. Six calls. All from his impatient, overbearing girlfriend. She was coming to pick him up, and kept calling to both let my subject know she was en route and also to verify the correct address. By the time he dialed her back, she was in a fit of pique, swearing a blue streak, and already back on the expressway heading toward the next county at high speed. "If you're going to ignore my calls and not even bother to get back to me, you can just go to hell!"

Our hypnosis session had lasted, please recall, only ten minutes. The snotty and inconsiderate girlfriend's half dozen cell phone calls spanned a time frame of less than four. All within the last five minutes of my subject's trance.

So take the advice of a frustrated hypnotist and leave the cell phone behind if you are going to be hypnotized. It will enrich your experience immeasurably and allow you to fully enjoy the wonder and joy that comes of an uninterrupted session of hypnosis. Please free yourself of the distraction. Turn the thing off, put it away, leave it in the car, or better yet, leave it at home. Otherwise, I will be more than happy to put you under deeply, slip you into a pair of huge, heavy-soled boots, and make you dance to your heart's content to the strains of Ghostbusters. With the miserable little cursed cell phone placed beneath your heels.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Interview with professional hypnotist RICH WILSON!

HypnoBriz Blog Interview with HYPNORICH!
Professional Stage Hypnotist Rich Wilson

Rich Wilson is a professional hypnotist who works both as a performer and entertainer and also offers his expertise in hypnosis to others through therapeutic means. I am very fortunate to have him here for this, the very first HypnoBriz blogspot interview.

BRIZ: First of all, Rich, two things: Thanks a gazillion for agreeing to do this interview. I truly appreciate it! Next, I must ask- How do you know Nathan Thomas, young hypnosis genius from New Zealand and my teacher?
RICH: Briz, first, let me thank you for including me in your fabulous blog that I believe will grow and grow within the hypnosis community. Like many, I began to learn about Nathan Thomas through his first few videos on YouTube …I was amazed at his incredible diligence and his creative interest in hypnosis and more importantly, his desire to share his knowledge on the subject. We began a casual correspondence over the internet that, I believe, has become a good friendship between two people who continually desire to build hypnosis into a well respected procedure that more and more people will turn to for a very natural way to improve their lives. Nathan has a long life ahead of him in hypnosis and I am looking forward to what he has to offer.

BRIZ: Hey, thanks! I appreciate that. I also found Nathan online—reading his emphasis on ethics told me he was the teacher I wanted to learn from. Back to you, on the main page of your web site, http://www.hypnorich.com/, there is a great shot of you smiling brightly behind three zonked-out tranced young people. Beneath the legend "Hypnotized!" we find a lovely gal with her hair flopped everywhere and two adorable young men—with their shirts off! Did they come up on stage like that (as in an outdoor summer show) or did you get these poor guys to strip off their shirts? What did you get these kids to do? Tell me the story. (I also noted in one of your video clips, HypnoRich - Movie Scene, one lad has no shirt and his shoes are in his lap. Related situation?)

RICH: The young people you see in that picture did not come up undressed, it was a high school event and most young men come up dressed in t-shirts so it isn’t much of a change. Sometime during that evening I suggested that the young men were male dancers and remarkably, they tend to shed their shirts without a suggestion from me! Now, the movie scene came sometime after the “skit” I previously mentioned. The shoe or sneaker on his lap was no doubt from a routine where I suggest that they hear their shoe ringing like a telephone and in return they take off their shoe and begin talking or shouting at the person they believe is on the other end. It is comical to the audiences just because of the absurdity of the situation. Quite innocent for those volunteers really.

BRIZ: It's true that happy subjects can really throw themselves into an imagined role.
How did you get started doing hypnosis? What was your age at the time, and what fueled your interest?
RICH: Well, I have been a professional entertainer for the last 33 years. As a singer, I have worked everywhere from Las Vegas to Atlantic City and many places in between. I continue to sing as a profession but I truly prefer to do hypnosis shows these days. As far as how and when I got started doing hypnosis, I recall being in Memphis, Tennessee one evening and experiencing an actual hypnosis show for the very first time and I was blown away but thought it was a trick. I thought at that time that it would be cool to do such a show but left it there and didn’t think much about it after that. Several years later I began to have some problems with my voice and was told to back off but still required surgery. While contemplating the surgery, I wondered what else this full-time entertainer would do if I couldn’t sing again …and a bell went off! I immediately thought back to that night I saw the hypnosis show and began doing some investigation into what hypnosis was all about. I don’t think I am saying anything new for anyone who has an interest in hypnosis …I was hooked and it became a passion. I just couldn’t get enough information about hypnosis and hypnosis showmanship …I still dig into everything I can find. I finally became a stage hypnotist at the age of 39.

BRIZ: Excellent back-story, Rich! One thing I find quite noteworthy and of particular interest to me as a man of faith, is that you declare yourself quite openly as a "Christian Hypnotist". I practice strictly by a Code Of Ethics, as taught by Nathan Thomas, but how does being a Christian Hypnotist differ from that?

RICH: A few years back I was on stage doing a show and after the show I was approached by a woman who began to reprimand me about being a hypnotist and how I was doing the work of the Devil and that if I studied the Bible I would realize that I was practicing “black magic”! Wow …I was really taken back by this and although I was a Christian, I had to come-back, no answer for the woman except …I’m just an entertainer and what I did was entertain people. I have had a few of these people hit me with similar protests but have since learned a few ways of handling them. I know Nathan’s “Code Of Ethics” and agree with most of it but more importantly, I believe that I am hired to step out on that stage and give the audience a good, fun, and clean show without seriously offending people. Let’s face it, no matter how good you try to be…someone out there will take offense to “something” you do on stage. I follow through my night knowing that people want to laugh at how the volunteers react to my suggestions and the volunteers themselves want to have fun, show off and experience something special. Treating others well …in ways that I would like to be treated is the Christian way of living and very much falls in line to an “ethical” procedure. I have actually had fellow Christians tell me that they felt more comfortable knowing they had a fellow Christian doing hypnosis with them.

BRIZ: Some stage hypnotists will change their program depending on the venue. A family-friendly show will be given at a high school, but move on to university, a pub, or a nightclub and it can get very raunchy. Do you alter your act, or use the same humor for everyone?
RICH: I will tell you that “raunchy” is NOT part of my show. Yes, some routines I do might be better designed for an adult audience rather than a high school aged group. I do not feel that I even have to really consider changing my routines for adults but, adults will take some suggestions differently than someone who is much younger. I think once a performer goes “raunchy” he ruins his opportunity to be hired for a younger audience in the future. Honestly, as a father of four children, I would not feel comfortable knowing that some hypnotist who just did a sexually oriented show elsewhere would soon be attempting to entertain my child in school. There is really no need to go raunchy if you are creative enough. Although, I have been called upon to do explicit shows by club owners but I have always turned them down. I am proud to say the money did not sway me.

BRIZ: Good for you. That is good to hear. We can see far too many hypnotists online who seem to focus their talent on the lowest common denominator. I have never hypnotized any more than two people at once. In the Media section of your site, we can see what looks like literally two dozen subjects on stage—even more in your videos. How many people have you hypnotized at once—largest number? What do you feel are the limits to putting under larger groups, if any? Do you prefer to work with a lot of subjects or just a few, and why? (Sorry, this is becoming much like an essay exam, isn't it?)
RICH: I love exams! Indeed I have had some pretty large groups on stage and to be honest, it’s not always the greatest of situations to put yourself into. Let me explain. The average school stage is more wide than deep so, you always have to be concerned about the safety of everyone on that stage ..at all times. Whenever I do a show I know that there are many people who want the opportunity to experience hypnosis and I am not one for letting people down. After my pre-talk, which is only a few minutes in length, I then tell my audience that anyone …anyone who is interested in experiencing hypnosis is welcome to come up on stage ….needless to say …people, many people charge the stage. One evening we had 74 students on stage and we kept 62 or 63. Yes! They all went into hypnosis! I was floored myself. This eventually turned into more of a headache because you only have so many chairs to start off with and only so much room on the stage floor for people to sit or lie down and it soon became a serious issue as to which routines I could use because of safety issues. I certainly didn’t want someone falling off of the stage and getting hurt. I know of some hypnotists who have worked arenas and have “claimed” to have hypnotized thousands at one show but these claims are hard to prove. I mean, did this guy go through every seat and aisle and count who actually went into hypnosis? The best is to work with 28-22 people for me …you can keep an eye on your volunteers and still keep some kind of order and flow to the show for those in the audience.

BRIZ: You really do love exams, don't you? Is there a key to hypnotizing large groups of people? What is your approach or method to that? You mentioned that you use a pretalk--what do you say? In short, how do you do it??
RICH: This will sound like something you’ve heard or read over and over again but a pre-talk is so important to a show. I believe it is my most important key to hypnotizing anyone. Get rid of the fears and most will fall into place. One other really important factor is expectancy. If your audience is “expecting” to see a hypnosis show, they are more likely to ready themselves and build themselves up for it. Once we were hired for three shows at a resort and no one told the guest what type of show they were going to see on that first night …they had no idea and it really didn’t go over as well as the resort expected it to. The next day they really pushed it and we hung posters around and the next two shows went really well! Expectancy ….let them know what they are coming for and let them get excited about it. My pre-talk is very general …I explain what hypnosis is and is not. I eliminate a few misconceptions about hypnosis and do one or two “suggestibility exercises”. Notice I said “exercises” and not “test” …no one wants to possibly fail a test so I tell them they are exercises. Then I welcome volunteers to the stage.

BRIZ: That is a clever use of word choice. I like it! I may use that myself. Some subjects stand out in our minds, be it through wonderful reaction, powerful imagination, or ideal responses. Have you ever had a subject really perform well and make your show even more fun than planned?
RICH: You know, as corny as it sounds, they all seem to stand out. I say that because no matter how many times I get out there and go through my induction, I am completely amazed at those who go into hypnosis and perform. It is truly amazing to see how wonderful the human mind is. Once I had a student at a college who was told he had
x-ray vision like Superman ….well, he was enjoying the view until he realized his own grandmother was right in front of him! His reaction was about as funny as any thing I had ever seen.

BRIZ: Man, I would have loved to have seen that! Have you ever had a subject not respond as you had hoped or intended—be it through very limited responses or perhaps a bad reaction? What do you do in that situation, particularly during a show with an audience watching?
RICH: I don’t know of any hypnotists out there who hasn’t been in this situation before. One of the best things about my pre-talk is that I cover this by saying that some individuals just prefer to be totally relaxed and others will grab hold of just about any suggestion and run with it. Usually, if I do have this situation arise, I just turn to the audience and say, “I guess he/she just doesn’t like that suggestion”….and I move on.

BRIZ: Good call. Could you share your personal philosophy on hypnosis and how you use it to help and entertain others? What does hypnosis mean to you?
RICH: When I first started, it (hypnosis) meant another way for me to entertain people but after I began to see what good hypnosis can do for people …what remarkable things can be accomplished with hypnosis …well, my entire outlook changed. I have actually experienced things through hypnosis that few doctors or psychiatrists could have ever imagined. To me, hypnosis is a very rare opportunity to connect with and help others in a very natural and extraordinary way.

BRIZ: That's beautiful. I appreciate you sharing that. I am beginning to add advertisements and promotions from reputable people on my blog. If you have any products or services to promote, or a banner for your programs, may I include them on my page here?
RICH: Absolutely! Although I am in the process of reworking my site…I would certainly appreciate the plugs. My very best to your continued success and if I can help in any way …just drop me a line.

Will do! And thanks again so much for a wonderful interview!

Once I master all this ad-posting stuff, blog visitors can look forward to finding all they could want from the good Rich Wilson with only a mouse click. In the meantime, please do visit the following sites for all your Rich Wilson, HypnoRich needs!



In the meantime, enjoy the video clips included below of Rich's fine work!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Coolest Thing I've Seen This Month

There is a young hypnotist named Tyler who is, to my mind, one of the coolest hypnotists around. He has devised some of the most clever--and effective!--hypnosis inductions I have ever seen. Take a look at this one, the wholly original Patty Cake Induction. (I swear I am not making that up.)
Dig it:

I live for the day I can be hypnotized by this man.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

There's A Hypnotic Off-Switch

Yes, it's true. I have learned in my vast experience of about a year practicing hypnosis that there is indeed an "off switch" that can leave even the most responsive subject unresponsive, their trance states ineffective, and make your suggestions for their subconscious about as successful as trying to pass a cotton ball through a brick wall. It goes like this:

I've found that certain things will yank people right out of trance, regardless how relaxed and responsive they appear to be. I am already preparing another blog post about how cell phones can be the bane of a hypnotist's existence. But rather than think of outside cues and influences, consider here those of an internal variety.

A perfect example is my friend Cody, or rather his recent visit. He had a few hours to kill last week, and asked if he could stop by for a while and, as he put it, "do some hypnosis stuff". I never turn down the opportunity to practice hypnosis, to say nothing of spending time with a friend, so I said sure.

Once here, Cody plopped himself down on the soft couch and pretty much put himself in my hands. I mentioned that there were some hypnotic phenomena that I had never used with Cody, to which he said, "Whatever you want to do is fine." It was better than fine. Cody responded to everything I offered him, including things to which he had previously been unresponsive. He enjoyed negative hallucinations, and as I moved invisibly around the room, Cody had an entertaining conversation with a stuffed toy that seemed to move and speak entirely on its own. Cody next believed that he was a very happy puppydog. He so surrendered to that identity that when I patted his belly, he whined happily and thumped his leg upon the floor.

Toward the end of his visit, he accepted that he was a puppet named Pinocchio and jumped into a bright white & yellow costume I offered him—with face paint!—in which he felt right at home. He even talked happily about his life as a puppet ("You just have to get used to people controlling you, but it's fun.") and shared a family history conjured from his own imagination without any prompting from me ("Oh, I'm not the Pinocchio in the stories, that's my great-great grandfather. I come from a long line of puppets."). He gave his contemporary take on the classic Disney song and rapped "Buh-boom-thoom-boom, I got no strings, yo!" while striking 'gangsta' poses. Then forgetting the theme of his own song, he next danced about whenever I played music, carried and maneuvered by invisible strings he believed were attached to him. He hopped, skipped, spun in circles, and jerked about while laughing and smiling. We both had a great time.

Then he checked his phone (thankfully he'd turned it to 'silent' before having me put him under). He had messages from his girlfriend and had to meet her at a certain place at a certain time. I asked if he'd care to continue our session, and although he agreed, his response was half-hearted. He went back under as quickly as ever when I gave him the "Sleep" command, but from that moment on, no suggestions or triggers stuck. He barely noticed going under, mostly not remembering it at all, and even those commands to which he responded beautifully only minutes before proved unsuccessful.

It occurred to me that Cody's mind was done with the session. He had come in willingly enough, responded accordingly, but no sooner did he get the summons from his demanding girlfriend than his reception shut down. Aware of his actions or not (I suspect that latter), he had tripped his own hypnotic off-switch and ceased being able to respond.

It's no wonder that even the most gifted stage hypnotists call for volunteers rather than randomly selecting people from the audience. A subject needs to be invested in the program/process, and fully willing to not only give in to it, but to enjoy the experience. We may very well each have our own hypnotic off-switch which cuts us off from enjoying any given experience, be it going into trance or otherwise. I know that mine tends to kick in whenever dinner table conversation turns to the topics of sports.

So the lesson I learned here is not that some people cannot be hypnotized, but that some people cannot be hypnotized unless they are fully tuned to the experience—unless they are "switched on". It's up to us as hypnotists to be able to not only spot those subjects who are switched off to begin with, but those who get switched off during their session. Yet that's only part of it. The real challenge with the switched-off subject lies in being able to turn them back on.

[Photos: Top image, Cody enjoys his life as a puppet. Center image, Cody deeply in trance while my dog Misty looks on. Image at right, a fun time being had by hypnotist and subject.]

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

When Hypnosis Was Hip...Knox!

You know what's really fun? Looking back on how hypnosis was viewed when it was still a big mystery to much of the world at large. Misconceptions abounded and were taken as fact, regardless how hopelessly ridiculous they were. This misunderstanding and, let's face it, flat-out fear of hypnosis was wonderfully rampant in the comic books of old. The farther you go back, the more absurd the ideas become, it seems. As a professional cartoonist, this is of particular interest to me.

There have always been hypnotists populating the various comic book universes. Often regulated to villains, such as Marvel Comics' Mesmero, who played into the general trepidation about the art of hypnosis, but here and there a hero would appear with hypnotic ability. Mandrake the Magician, the long-lived and arguably most popular of all the comic strip hypnotists, actually got it right in many of his four-color adventures, often using positive hallucination to frighten and confound his enemies. From time to time, I get the extreme pleasure of happening upon a comics hero hypnotist whom I'd never heard of before.

Enter: Hip Knox, the Super-Hypnotist! The heroic Hip was pointed out to me by a friend, who found one of his escapades posted on Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine. The URL can be found below this article. The adventure Pappy chose to share is utterly hysterical, especially for us hypnotists whose understanding vastly exceeds the cartoon writers of comics' Golden Age. Villains render poor Hip helpless by placing a mask over his face and thus nullifying his mighty hypnotic powers. Now, if the mask included a blindfold and a gag, I could see the threat, but as it's a mesh mask made of some type of see-through gauze with big eyeholes, I have no clue what it was these ne'er-do-wells thought they were holding back. Still able to see, make eye contact, and speak, Hip is nevertheless rendered completely helpless as the thugs proceed to do away with him—in such a manner that is so outlandish it has to be seen to be believed.

Of course, the hero makes a daring escape, and goes on to use his hypnotic (excuse me, SUPER hypnotic) powers to do such things as hypnotize a flock of condors and even a band of jungle natives who do not speak the same language to do his bidding and see him safely home. The act of revenge he unleashes upon the gangsters is a sheer delight, and if I may so observe, considerably less brutal than many of us have seen done to vacationers on the Las Vegas stage.

Enjoy the splendid, highly improbable and wholly misinformed adventure of Hip Knox, SUPER-Hypnotist. It'll make you laugh, and it's inaccuracies may even point out to you just how much you knew about hypnosis that you didn't even know you knew. And please do stay a while and visit Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine. It's a wonderful site clearly created with love and full of delightful treats you'd want to see anyway.


[Please note that all characters mentioned and shown are copyright by their respective owners.]

Monday, November 2, 2009

Is YOUR Brain Hypnotically Retarded?!

I hate to start off this blog entry by hitting you with such complicated and sophisticated technical language as "hypnotically retarded", an official term I just invented a full 17 seconds ago, but by golly, it needed to be said. Here's my situation that begs the question which calls upon such high-falutin' serious jargon.

Those of you who are hypnotists already know that there are some magnificent people out there who are what is known as somnambulists. The strict definition of the term, if you look it up in the dictionary, pretty much translates into a sleepwalker. Someone who gets up and wanders around, perfectly ambulatory, sometimes responding when spoken to, all while sound asleep. In the hypnosis field, a somnambulist is perhaps the most wonderful thing in the world to encounter. As I understand it, a somnambulist is someone who not only responds well to hypnosis, but goes very deep, and can experience absolutely EVERYTHING that you suggest him to. Somnambulists are wonderful and they bring joy to hypnotists and audiences alike.

I have worked with a handful of people who are somnambulists and they always bring a smile to my face and put a tap dance in my heart. A somnambulist will, when told to forget his own name or the number 2, experience complete and stunning memory loss for whatever you direct him to. The somnambulist will see whatever positive hallucination you say stands before him, and usually with astounding clarity and detail. If you choose to make yourself invisible, the somnambulist will see right through you as if you have clouded his mind with all the power of The Shadow, since in his perceptions, you have. This type of subject will drop like a brick when you snap your fingers and say "Sleep!", will in fact not only experience absolutely everything you command him to, but will come out of the session feeling like a million bucks.

The true somnambulist will delight all who watch him and get the utmost out of any good hypnotic trance. Then there are others. Other subjects who can experience some things but not others. They can experience catalepsy, arm levitation, but possibly not hallucinations. Some may find they respond perfectly to name amnesia but not to having their feet stuck to the floor. A little of some things, not enough or none of another. As I understand the term, these are not true somnambulists. Theses people with partial responses can still be good subjects and, when guided by a competent hypnotist, still have a great time, but they are not true somnambulists as I understand the term.

Then there are subjects like me.

I cannot experience much of ANYthing under hypnosis, despite a complete and utter belief in the process, a willingness to invest myself fully in the endeavor, and a deep desire to experience whatever the hypnotist wishes me to. Zilch, nada, bupkiss.

Well, that's a bit harsh, I suppose. I can experience states of extreme relaxation and have had some success with catalepsy and levitation—it was even stronger back when I was in college. I have gone through guided meditations and come back with very vivid descriptions of my imagined surroundings, but it's difficult for me to see that as any great success, since as a cartoonist and a writer I do that frequently anyway whenever I get "in the zone" to create. There are things I long to experience that I just never have and begin to suspect I never will. I have no idea what name amnesia feels like. Or induced laughter, which is fucking fun as hell to invoke, by the way. I have a laundry list of things I would love to experience under hypnosis, one of the wackiest of which plays off the truism that while under hypnosis no one really takes control of you. So I often wondered what it would be like to be hypnotically turned into a puppet, a marionette—hinges, strings and all. I did that to a friend, by the way. I hypnotized him into being a puppet, and he said it was an amazing experience. I can only guess how much.

So, I have come to a shocking and somewhat distressing conclusion. I am not only NOT a somnambulist, I am hypnotically retarded. Yes, that has to be it. I can go under, I can come out feeling great, but cannot do any other things I really want to do. And I've been put under by some very skilled hypnotists, too. So if the problem is not with them, it has to be with me. Where others have a wrinkly gray supercomputer under their skull, I have the cerebral equivalent of Mortimer Snerd. I realize that even if I volunteerd at shows by the best stage hypnotists, I'd be the guy sent back to his seat. If I sat with a hypnotherapist, I'd be the guy who had to be told, with stoic face and grave tone, that there was just nothing that could be done for me (after bilking me for several thousand dollars first, no doubt). It's depressing.

Now, I can certainly help others experience everything under the sun, and suspect I will continue to do so for as long as I draw breath. The more joy, happiness, and fun I can bring to my subjects, the better. I shall relish the wonder of hypnosis vicariously through them. 'Cause until somebody invents a short bus for brain stems, that's as good as it's gonna get for me. Poopie.


[If you are a cool hypnotist and think you can get through to my hypnotically-retarded brain, leave a comment and let me know. I am willing to let you turn me into a chicken. Just as long as it works.]

Friday, October 30, 2009

Meet OTIS!

Meet OTIS!

I am lucky enough to have some friends who are very receptive to hypnosis and as such make fantastic subjects. Premiere among them is my pal Otis, a six-year career military man who is very much accustomed to taking orders. His intelligence, imagination, creativity, and good humor make him one of the best subjects I've ever had. It is always an absolute joy to work with him.

Below you can find the videos from our 7-part series on YouTube. Watch Otis experience everything from positive to negative hallucinations [seeing things that aren't there, not seeing others that are], name amnesia, levitation, ass-to-couch-gluing and feet-to-floor-cementing as well as inability-to-remove-his-bootsness [official terms], triggered dancing, and my all-time favorite, induced laughter!

Enjoy. And no, we have not seen the last of him.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Go Get 'Em, Gunter!

I wonder from time to time if my great love of hypnosis, and the joy that comes from hypnotizing others, may indicate some kind of hypnotic addiction on my part. When I meet someone new and make a connection--or reconnect with old friends--I find that I often get struck by the desire to hypnotize them. The idea of sharing the joy of hypnosis with others is a powerful thing.

Enter The Amazing Gunter. I discovered Gunter on YouTube. He seems to be of German decent, judging by his accent [or perhaps he's just a really gifted young English showman named Tom Anderson who can do vocal impressions], and his little video which runs less than two minutes long, indicates that his love of hypnosis shadows even my own. Watch him make the rounds in Cambridge hypnotizing strangers with no other apparent goal in mind than to see them drop to the ground like a sack of potatoes.

I stress here the it is considered unethical to put someone under without their consent, and it is just good manners to back off when they decline. Neither consideration seems to bother the energetic Gunter, and unethical as it may be, the result is flippin' hilarious.

Do not try this on your own college campus. Have The Amazing Gunter do it for you.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Hypnotic Glue Story

[Originally published in the IATH forums on May 31, 2009 under the subject heading: Hypnotic GLUE and SAFETY—Please read!]

Something happened today I would like everyone to know about. It's more than a little embarrassing and also a bit scary.

I have been practicing and studying for my Certification Exam and have had a few friends who have been very helpful in letting me put them under. Today a very good friend stopped by so I could practice basics with him as my subject (instant inductions, deepeners, phenomena, so forth).

When this friend goes under he goes VERY deep, VERY fast. He is of the type you sometimes see in video clips who falls so fast asleep that he tips over sideways on the couch to land in a pile of pillows. Well, my friend did that today, and as I set him upright, I told him that his palm was coated with hypnotic glue and that it was being stuck fast to his face. I pressed his palm gently to his cheek and told him that there it was, glued securely, and that he couldn't remove it. Then I had him open his eyes to experience it.

He screamed. Not loudly, just sort of raised his voice in surprise. But it completely threw me.

He complained that his face was burning, his skin stung, and he tugged furiously at his wrist in attempt to remove the hand but could not, since to him of course, was stuck fast. With another small shout, he yanked his hand away from his face (as I stared slack-jawed and stunned) and continued to tell me that his face and palm burned terribly. The episode lasted only a second or two, and thank Heaven Above I reacted for his safety and put him back to sleep straight away. He went back under rapidly and I spoke soothingly to him that the pain was gone, there was no glue, his palm was clean, his face was alright.

For good measure, I then turned back time for him and said that the entire incident NEVER happened, and that he would now open his eyes and see me for the first time since he flopped over on his side, asleep in trance. I woke him as quickly as I could while still proceeding safely and asked him repeatedly how he was. He said he was fine, and he had no idea why I seemed so unnerved.

Here's the frightening part: My friend's face was red and blotchy when he pulled his hand away. I swear I am NOT making this up. It looked as if he were having an allergic reaction. The palm of his hand was also beet red and was actually radiating heat, as if it had been burned. After reversing the phenomena and waking him, his face returned to its normal color, as did his hand.

The rest of our visit went fine, but as he left to go home, he commented that his face did feel quite sore, as if I had "slapped him real hard." I told him about the episode with the hypnotic glue. His eyes got very big and he told me, "I have a severe skin reaction to glue! I can't touch it—not super glue, paste, rubber cement, Elmer's, Gorilla Glue, anything—or my skin breaks out and it burns me like acid." I had no idea. I apologized like crazy but he shrugged my concern away by saying, "Hey, you didn't know that. Forget about it."

Think about it. All I did was tell a subject in trance that his hand was glued to his face and his MIND created what he knew would be his reaction to actual glue. It astounds me that it happened when I could see it—and horrifies me that it happened to a subject whom I was responsible for.

Now, I suspect this was a one-in-a-million happening. I have stuck this same friend's feet to the floor, had his shoes turn into cement, had him fall over laughing—heck, I even put him in clown shoes(!!) with no ill effects. But this reinforces what we're taught that the subject is always under our protection and their safety is paramount.

It also reinforces what I've always believed about nasty-minded nightclub hypnotists who should never make light of telling an entranced subject he's been struck hard in the privates (I've seen this done way too many times), as the subject really does FEEL that pain!

In any case, my friend is fine and although I'm a bit rattled, I'm okay too. And I am now on my guard even more to take very good care of my subjects. While I will not look for trouble to occur—I will be certain I will be ready to help immediately if it does.

Take care, everyone. Of yourself AND your subjects!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Ol' Pregnant Man Trick

Okay, so I've been cruising around YouTube enjoying a variety of hypnosis videos, and there are plenty to see. Reputable professionals like Jim Wand giving demonstrations at colleges, adult entertainers in Vegas bringing in the laughs, younger novice hypnotists experimenting happily with their friends. Good stuff. But then, almost invariably it seems (and far too often as clips from daytime talk shows), an old chestnut appears...and reappears, and reappears again. The bit where the hypnotist makes a man, sometimes with his wife sitting nearby, believe that he's pregnant and experiencing the agonizing pain of childbirth. Oh, the hilarity that ensues. For every vindictive, malicious person in the audience.

There is not an instrument large enough to measure my distaste for this routine. Before the ladies in the audience leap on that remark as, "Oh, you're just saying that because you're a man!", permit me to reflect on what I've said.

I cannot say that I understand the pain of childbirth. To do so would be absurd. I can with certainty say that I feel for those whom I love who've experienced it. When I was old enough to hear the story, I learned that my mother not only was in terrible pain during my own delivery, but she hemorrhaged extensively. My sister, with her first child, was in labor for more than 36 hours, emotionally exhausted as she waited time and again for her daughter to appear, only to find that the time had not yet come and hours more pain lay ahead for her. Well, that's taking things out of context, you say. No one expects the man under hypnosis to undergo that. But how can you predict it? Each subject responds to suggestion in keeping with his own perceptions and understanding. I know this firsthand from seeing the very real physical pain of a subject after doing a simple "hypnotic glue" suggestion [see the article elsewhere on this blog]. It is always better to err on the side of caution. I suspect that should I be subjected to such a hypnotic experience as the 'pregnant man' gag, my mind would go right to the image most vivid in my mind, of my courageous mother in 1967, bleeding profusely, blinded by terrible pain in her efforts to bring me into this world. The idea of falling to my knees screaming as I felt my insides cut to ribbons while a mean-spirited crowd of cackling women look on is not appealing in the slightest. But I suppose if they all get a cheap laugh out of my discomfort and humiliation, it must be worth it, right?

If it's just a simple matter of finding humor in forced empathy between the sexes, why are there no routines in which the lady is made to experience prostate trouble? Or perhaps a circumcision? Or just a good swift kick in the crotch? Because that would be disgusting and offensive. It would be seen, and rightly so, as cruel and excessive. And yet, the sight of a man screaming in agony as he clutches his belly is accepted as just plain jolly good fun. And at least for some, it is.

Let's look at the spectacle itself. We're not talking about quick, unexpected, clownish step-on-the-loose-floorboard-and-have-it-smack-you-in-the-face humor here. I've had my share of chuckles over those. Even when it's happened to me. This is an instance of watching someone in steady, unrelenting, ever-increasing anguish. Fess up, now. There is only one reason to find this funny. And it has nothing to do with swapping genders. It's revenge. There is an underlying resentment among some females that can be summed up in childish statements like, "You don't know what it's like to have a baby!" and perhaps more accurately, "How do YOU like it??!!"

There isn't a man worth his salt who, being at the side of his wife and lover during childbirth, wouldn't give anything to take her pain away. There is no more profound agony than to be right next to a loved one in pain and know you can do nothing to lessen it beyond taking her hand, offering her words of devotion, and praying fervently that it will be over soon and she will find relief. What this tired hypnosis routine reinforces is the angry notion that the man's love for his wife will never be enough. He MUST be made to suffer physically. So we can laugh at him. But for him, there will be no hands to hold, no damp cloth applied lovingly to the forehead, no tender kiss upon the back of the hand. Just vicious laughter akin to the bully in the schoolyard, repeatedly kicking the skinny kid in the ribs as all his buddies watch.

A bit too harsh? Maybe, maybe not. But consider this: if I were given the chance, and perhaps a hefty fee, to perform the pregnant man routine, would I do it? Not in a million years. I would instead offer an alternative. Have both the husband and wife go under hypnosis together before the audience. Then give them both, or at the very least the husband, what they've always wished could have happened in that delivery room. I'd direct the husband to take his lovely wife's hands in his, as she reflects on all the discomfort and pain she had to endure to give birth to their wonderful children--remembering it but not physically reliving it. As they sit there connected, hand-in-hand, have the man express his feelings for his beloved through the simple phrase, "I love you."

Each time he says this, his wife feels a bit more of the discomfort, concern, stress, or worry drain from her body, to be replaced by their shared loved. At the same time, the husband can feel the darker sensations removed from the love of his life--drawn from her to him--as he too feels himself filled with their love. That same love, I hasten to add, is what inspired them to come together toward the miraculous end of creating a child in the first place. Before long, the husband is repeating the words that led them to marriage with increasing speed and compassion, and the wife's eyes are wet with tears of joy. Done correctly, the experience should end with the two of them falling into each other's arms. Not exactly a laugh-riot perhaps, but far more fulfilling for both participants and, I should think, the audience as well.

As a Certified Hypnotist, I uphold a Code Of Ethics. I am proud to do so. One of the rules in it stresses that the hypnotist is not to conjure dark emotions or painful sensations in his subject. Ever. Any hypnotist who later pooh-poohs away my position with the offhand remark of "Oh, he wasn't really in pain, he was just acting it out." or "The suggestion had no lasting effects", is full of horseshit. It does have lasting effects, even after the pain--which I assure you is genuine--disperses. Starting with the idea that the wife whom he so loved was on board with seeing him in agony and laughing at him because of it. What do you talk about in the car on the way home after that one?

It's not that I loathe the pregnant man routine because I am a man. I loathe it because I'm an ethical hypnotist. And I find it deeply disturbing to see a crowd of people laughing uproariously at the sight of someone--anyone--in pain.


Bubbles the Happy Hypnotized Clown

I saw a bit where a hypnotist put a guy deeply under while at a tattoo parlor and then woke him some time later to reveal he'd had the poor guy's face tattooed. The image is one I'll not soon forget, as the hapless subject gaped into a mirror to see his entire face covered in the unwanted tat, cursing as the hypnotic showman laughed at his predicament. A video clip of this was up on YouTube, and one of the viewers leaving comments remarked that she had seen the entire program when it was broadcast, and that the tattoo was not permanent but actually done with temporary henna. (I still would have been pissed, as the average henna tattoo lasts for close to a month before fading. I looked it up.) While the whole gag pretty much infuriated me, and I felt that I would never do such a malicious thing to any subject of mine, it did give me an idea.

If a subject could be put under only to wake to find himself altered solely for shock value to induce rage, why not do something similar for fun and create the response of joy?

Enter Alec, my friend's son, and one of the best subject's it's been my joy to work with. Alec goes under very deeply and responds to suggestion brilliantly. In this instance, I had him go under quite deeply, and then pulled out a costume for him. As I brought him to his feet, sound asleep and deep in trance, he was completely unaware as he stepped into a pair of baggy plaid suspender pants, gigantic clown shoes, then pulled on a black T-shirt and white cotton gloves. I told him he was reliving a moment from his childhood when his mom helped dress him, and he just went through the motions, eyes closed and fully accepting as he unknowingly duded up like a circus clown.

Now, I had previously altered Alec's name hypnotically. He already accepted that his name was Bubbles the Happy Clown. Before even pulling out the costume, I had engaged the sharp and cheerful Alec in conversation and he spoke very easily about how his friends called him "B.C." for short and so on. Once in costume, seated comfortably on a chair in my studio, Bubbles sat entranced with eyes closed as I applied circus paint to his face, giving him a big red smile, blue accents under his eyes, black definition for his lips and even added a big red sponge rubber nose to top it all off.

I picked up a few tricks from some professional hypnotists I'd seen online and as I applied the face paint, I repeated softly to Bubbles, "You're sleeping peacefully, very relaxed, very comfortable." And the one I really liked- "You don't remember this, it never happened."

When Bubbles awoke some 15 minutes later, as far as he was concerned, no time had passed and no changes had taken place. In fact, when he stood before the full-length mirror in my studio, he saw his reflection as if he were still in his normal clothes and his face was as it had always been. But with a trigger word and a snap of my fingers, Ta-DAA! Bubbles could see himself completely as he was, a clown.

Here's the fun part: I had programmed Bubbles while he was under to feel a sense of joy and supreme happiness every time he saw his clown reflection in the mirror. Moving about in his brightly-colored costume and giant shoes, even just looking down at himself, would inspire a feeling of incredible, almost intoxicating joy. Bubbles LOVED it. In fact, one would think he was a bit full of himself given how he kept jumping in front of the mirror and smiling and laughing. Even after I gave him back his name of Alec, he wanted to remain a clown. The soft-spoken, outwardly reserved fellow that he was, he was now sold on looking like a sideshow act. It took some time, but reluctantly, Bubbles agreed to go back to the way he was. So I performed another trick.

I stood Alec in front of the mirror again (still smiling brightly), and put him back under. This time I had him step out of the clown costume to reveal his own clothes underneath, step back into his tennis shoes, and then carefully, with damp cloth and such, removed all his face paint. Then when I woke him up, THIS time Alec still saw himself as a clown. I had him hold up his hands, fingers ready to snap. I had him say, "Back to Alec!" then snap his fingers. ZING! As far as he was concerned, he had just instantaneously transformed back into the remarkable boy he always was. It was something to see the tall, gangly young man looking himself over, lifting his size twelve shoes from the floor, and checking his shirt to find them all restored, marveling at his "sudden" alteration.

We both had a wonderful time. It seemed to take ages for me to pull off, whereas for Alec/Bubbles, it wasn't nearly as long, but the smiles remained on both our faces long after we parted company. There's a lesson in all this, I suppose. If you see a powerful hypnotic suggestion or trick applied in a way that irritates or offends you, find a way to make it your own and change it to your liking rather than just fuss and fume about it. It's a lot more fun, and far more beneficial for both you and your subject. Just ask Bubbles. He freakin' loved it.