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.]