On Aug. 18, the university invited the art of hypnosis into Berger Hall for students to enjoy as a part of Clyde’s Kickoff. However, the most thought-provoking time of the evening was the ending, as I tried to ponder whether or not what I saw was real, or truly just a ruse.
Several students from the audience were invited up on stage to take part in the event — to be the real stars of the show. The hypnotist asked for absolute silence, and then began to put all of the students into a state of hypnosis. Once students were put to sleep, the “magic” began.
Before I go further, I have to disclose that I am not well educated on hypnotism. I have known there to be hypnotism skills and tools used in psychological treatment, but I have not read any studies on the subject. Therefore, whether it is a real phenomenon or not is up to the viewers of the practice, or those who research it.
There are three key things that I thought were important for hypnotism as I observed. First, there was at least a five-minute period of silence in which the only sound was that of the hypnotist’s voice as he put the students into a trance-like state. There was a great deal of repetition and mental imagery, as well as suggestion.
Secondly, there was a portion in which the hypnotist went person to person and put them to sleep with a click of his tongue. This was the most aweing part of the performance; gasps could be heard from the audience as the students on stage appeared to fall asleep.
Third: everything is suggestion. So, there was free will involved and not every suggestion was actually acted on by participants.
These things persuaded me closer to believing in what I saw. However, three equally convincing things occurred to make me believe otherwise.
Not everyone appeared to be hypnotized, which could have been merely because not everyone can be, as was disclosed in the beginning. One student looked to be just playing along the entire time, giggling at times. But the hypnotist saw this and adjusted the performance for such.
Also, everything that was asked of them was easy to portray. I have been involved in theater and speech throughout my life. I am incredible at improv, and if I were to find myself the subject of hypnotism and it did not work, I would not be able to stop the winds of acting blowing me toward the ruse. Who is to say those other students who were on stage were any different?
Lastly, it was too good to be true. At one point, one student was told to portray Beyoncé, and he did an absolutely wonderful job at dancing to “Single Ladies,” as if he had been doing it his whole life.
There was a stipulation at the beginning of the show that people could not be suggested to do something out of their abilities, such as do a dance perfectly that they have never seen before, or even gymnastics. So, did “Beyoncé” already know the dance? Were they suggested to dance to such a great caliber and knew how to do so, or were they acting?
The show overall was fantastic and a riot in all the good ways. Happiness was all I felt during the show, no doubt all I felt afterward.
After the show, I overheard people talking with the students who were on stage, asking them what it was like. Some hesitated while others said something along the lines of “I just felt really sleepy the whole time.”
Yes, I will be researching hypnotism in my free time, and no, I was not truly convinced about what I saw on stage that night.