Most students most likely wouldn’t willingly get up in front of an audience of other college students and show off their best dance moves with two balloons underneath their shirts. However, this became the reality for some of Salisbury University’s students who volunteered to be hypnotized.
As a part of welcome week, Doug Thompson, a hypnotist, came and performed for SU students on August 26.
The show gave students the opportunity be hypnotized voluntarily by coming up onto the stage and sitting in one of the chairs that were set out. Once up on stage, the hypnotist asked for the audience to be quiet, and began to guide the volunteers into a hypnotic state.
“He had a ton of people come up onto the stage, he counted, told them to close their eyes, he gave them a lot of instructions and slowly a lot of them fell into their rest,” sophomore Stephanie Hof, an audience member, said.
The initial process of hypnosis was relatively quick, taking no more than five to 10 minutes. During the process, those being hypnotized were talked into a state of extreme relaxation.
When recounting his experience of falling into a hypnotic state, sophomore Brock Forsythe is one student who is convinced that he was not in control of his actions.
"It’s a weird feeling. It’s basically anything that the hypnotist says that you feel, you start to feel. [For example] if he says you feel cold, you feel colder, and in this case he just said that I would feel more relaxed, and I could feel my body start to loosen, so I kind of just slowly slumped over," Forsythe said.
Once hypnotized, the volunteers appeared to be asleep until the hypnotist awoke them. Once awoken, they would do whatever the hypnotist said to do, even if it was something that they would normally be too shy to do in front of many people. For example, many of the volunteers danced, some acted as though they were Australian hunters in the wilderness, some believed that their name was different than their real name and got angry when called anything else and much more.
“For me, he had me quiet the audience when they laughed, he had me do river dancing and he had me dancing to Beyonce," Forsythe said. "I would never normally do these things, especially not in front of hundreds of people. It’s kind of weird … we know what we are doing, [but] we don’t know why, so we just do it.”
While a number of students were quick to volunteer and be put under a hypnotic state, others were more hesitant about doing so. Hof was one such person who initially was nervous to volunteer; however, after watching the show, she became more comfortable with the idea.
“The lack of control is kind of scary, but I feel like after watching this hypnotist show, he was very light about it, like it was very silly and lighthearted and nobody, like, exposed themselves, so I feel like next time I’ll definitely consider it more,” Hof said.
It was also a stated possibility that even students who do not volunteer to go up onto the stage may fall under the hypnotic state, just from listening to the hypnotist give the instructions to the volunteers. One such person was Forsythe, who was aiming to just be a member of the audience.
“Last semester, I was hypnotized, and it was very interesting, the experience, so then this semester, I didn’t actually try to be hypnotized, yet somehow was still able to be … I was in the crowd and just by listening to the hypnotist’s commands," Forsythe said. "I slowly fell into a state of relaxed feeling, and then I was kind of just out.”
By LAURA AMRHEIN
Featured video from Laura Amrhein Images.