On Saturday Bill, Graham, and I went to the Bunk guy's
house to talk to he and his friends about hypnosis. Since he'd told me that he wanted me to speak to some friends who were interested in the subject, I anticipated a fairly laid back, fun visit with some casual discussion and perhaps some demonstrations. Bill and Graham have been hypnotized a number of times and both are good subjects so I thought demonstrating with them would be more effective than a technical explanation alone.
Besides Bunk guy four other people were present - two women and two men. While they had a lot of questions, all but one seemed at least open to the idea that hypnosis was "real" and that it could be used for both creative and recreational purposes. I thought I was pushing the envelope by addressing the recreational (aka erotic) uses of hypnosis but they seemed fairly laid back. They weren't, however, laid back enough for me to bring up the D/s uses ;)
One guy (I'll call him Thomas) was a true skeptic, doubting there were any uses for hypnosis or even that people were genuinely hypnotized. I assured him that I understood his doubts and had spoken with many people over the years who felt the same way. I finally coaxed a reluctant reassurance that he would at least try to keep an open mind.
We talked briefly about how hypnosis worked, what it was, and what it wasn't. When I finally offered a demonstration, all but Thomas seemed eager to watch.
Bill has been hypnotized so many times over the past few years that he is quite easy to hypnotize. He has verbal and physical triggers that help him relax and also those that take him completely under. I thought that would probably be the easiest place to start, so I reached over and ran my fingertip in a slow circle on the back of his hand. Immediately his eyes closed and his breathing began to slow. I uttered his trance trigger and he went deeper - his head dropped forward and his shoulders slumped. Of course I'm aware that a rapid response like this can be perceived as faking, but from their body language and facial expressions during our discussion I was fairly certain that everyone except Thomas was quite positive about what they had heard and would recognize Bill's sincerity.
I reminded Bill how easy it was to accept suggestions when he was under, how eager in fact that he was to do just that, and suggested that he would forget all about the existence of the number 6. After suggesting he would only begin to remember the existence of the number six again when I said it, I brought him up telling him he would feel relaxed and very happy that he was visiting with his new friend Bunk Guy.
He opened his eyes and began smiling. Now Bill smiles and laughs as much as everyone, but he's not the sort to sit around doing the Chesire thing for no reason. I asked him how he felt and his smile grew as he replied, "Great! I'm really enjoying being here." With that reply he elicited smiles from all but Thomas.
I asked Bill if he remembered that he'd been hypnotized and he responded that he did. He admitted, however, that he didn't really remember the suggestions he'd been given. "You didn't tell me to do something totally embarrassing, did you?" he grinned. Lately I've been teasing him that I'm going to hypnotize him and make him do embarrassing things like walk around saying "AFLAC" like the AFLAC duck and quacking. I assured him I had behaved myself fairly well and then asked him if he'd help me. He agreed.
"Can you tell Bunk Guy your phone number?"
"XXX-XX...", he began. Puzzled, he began again. "XXX-XX..."
"6.." I suggested.
"Oh yeah, duh. XXX-XXXX". Everyone except Thomas laughed while Bill continued to look confused. After a moment he laughed as realization struck. "Not bad," he said, laughing a little at himself.
I could see that Thomas was absolutely unimpressed. To say that he had a skeptical look on his face would have been an understatement.
"You seem a bit dubious about all this, Thomas."
"Well you have to admit that's a little hard to believe especially for a really smart guy like me."
I acknowledged that I could see why he felt that way and asked the others what they thought. All four expressed fairly positive remarks, although it was clear they were not wholly convinced. I could understand that and wasn't offended at all. When they asked if I could "do some more", I did an actual induction with Graham. I watched their faces as I did, and again, all but Thomas were intrigued. As the induction continued I could see the non-skeptics relaxing a little. Bunk Guy appeared to be going under a little. Because I wasn't sure if any of them were reaching a place where they were suggestible, when Graham nodded that was completely under I gave him a couple of very benign suggestions and brought him up.
Again all but Thomas were positive. They asked if I could "do" them too so I did a group relaxation induction leaving them with an invisible "tattoo" on the backs of their hands that would immediately take them back to the relaxing place they visited when they were under. Afterward I was really pleased as the overall impression seemed positive indeed.
Well (surprise) - except for Thomas. Finally he seemed unable to contain it any longer. He looked around the room and remarked that he thought hypnosis was nothing more than the behavior of people who were embarrassed either for the hypnotist or themselves if they didn't "play along". He mentioned again how someone as intelligent as him just didn't fall for things like that. In fact, he mentioned how highly cognitive he was at least three times during the afternoon. Poor dear. I was sort of glad he couldn't see the eye-rolls of the others in the room. I felt sorry for him because no one is impressed with someone who feels they have to tell everyone how smart they are.
While his comments about "playing along" didn't bother me - I'm used to hearing the comments some narrow-minded, ill-informed people online have made about hypnosis and hypnodomination - it *really* bothered Bill. He began to tell Thomas about his illness and his experiences with chemo and how he felt hypnosis had essentially kept him alive. Until he began hypnosis sessions, he suffered from anticipatory nausea and vomiting, (he'd get sick a couple of days before he even had his chemo), anxiety-related nausea and vomiting, insomnia, and a high level of anxiety. Hypnosis didn't eliminate his nausea and vomiting - after all, poisons were being pumped into his body - but it did eliminate the avoidable aspects. It also massively reduced his stress level, allowing him to sleep through the night and keeping his body from who knows how much additional damage from the stress.
Thomas remained unimpressed - and that's ok.
Overall, what I had anticipated being a really fun time was an ok time that seemed a bit too much like work. I was disappointed a little, but overall I felt good about Bunk Guy's reaction and that was my reason for going in the first place. He called me on Monday and told me that his "tattoo" had helped him relax quite a bit in a *very* tense situation, allowing him to be calm enough to do what he needed to do. He was very happy with that and so was I.
Labels: Hypnosis, Personal