Imagine being subjected to controlling your own body, but not having the power to control your own mind. This characterizes the general feeling of hypnosis.
“Who here would like to be hypnotized,” said Gabriel Holmes, a well-known hypnotist hosting a show at Sonoma State University last Friday.
Mainstream media has sensationalized hypnosis as waving an object in front of one’s face until they are consciously-unconscious committing acts they normally wouldn’t do if they were awake. According to Dictionary.com, hypnosis is defined as an artificially induced trance state resembling sleep, characterized by heightened susceptibility to suggestion. Holmes uses the aspect of suggestion to entertain and enlighten crowds all over the country, some of which including colleges, corporate events, comedy clubs and graduation parties.
“Buying something on impulse and being in a movie theater are both forms of hypnosis,” Holmes said. “Who has driven past your house without knowing you drove past your house? That’s hypnosis.”
Holmes then held a small demonstration of hypnosis where he asked the audience to hold out their hands, close their eyes and instructed them to slowly drop the arm that felt heavier. He then selected students from the audience, arm by arm, to experiencehypnosis first hand. Some eager audience members even ran on stage to participate without being chosen.
Holmes directed the participants to close their eyes and he began speaking in a soothing monotone voice, prompting many to fall asleep. He then started playing melodic music and told participants to perform various acts like dancing, laughing and conducting an orchestra. Most contestants followed suit, some more enthusiastically than others.
As time passed the requests got more and more strange.
Holmes commanded participants to “make a face as if you just farted and you’re proud of it.” Students screwed up their faces to match the command, others were compelled to exit the stage, too consumed with laughter.
“ I actually felt like I was being hypnotized, it almost felt as if I was in a trance,” said sophomore Parker Neely, and audience member chosen for hypnotism.
Neely was asked by Holmes to pretend he was James Bond. Neely began swiftly running around the room shooting imaginary objects with his hands formed in the shape of a gun.
“It felt fun, I’ve done it once before and I would definitely do it again,” Neely said.
Holmes commanded another participant to pretend to be the best singer in the world. The student instantly belted out “Work” by Rihanna as the crowd chuckled.
Holmes even hypnotized the same participant so deeply that she forgot her own name. “I’m going to count to ten and by the time I finish, your name is going to be gone from your memory,” Holmes said.
Holmes counted down and when he asked for the student’s name she stumbled a bit and appeared speechless at the simple question.
“I found it entertaining, but when I saw they had to sing I knew I wouldn’t want participate and sing in front of everyone,” freshman Lea Grgich said.
Hypnosis is a concept that has been used for decades but most people don’t believe it is actually possible.
“I think some is real but when they were singing it was hard to tell. For some [participants] it could feel real. but not for others,” freshman Christina Monisteri said.