A comedy hypnotist put daring volunteers into a trance that made them succumb to his suggestions Thursday night at Shippensburg University’s Ceddia Union Building.
Certified hypnotherapist Eric Mina, began by proving the power of suggestion by performing a couple of tricks on the audience. Mina asked them to close their eyes, hold out their hands 6 inches apart and keep that distance while he spoke. He put the idea into their heads that their hands were connected to magnets and were drawing closer together. Despite people’s efforts to keep them apart, many hands moved toward each other.
“That’s all that hypnosis is, is dealing with suggestions,” he said. “Your body is a slave to the mind.”
When he asked for volunteers, people rushed to the stage to get a spot. Mina then recited some rules.
Some of the rules were, no gum — it is a choking hazard, you cannot be pregnant or have injuries — it is too risky, you must be fun, and no full bladders or you may have an accident. Half of the volunteers left the stage and headed straight to the restrooms.
Upon their return, he asked them to breathe deeply and relax. “Each and every time I say a number I want you to double the present relaxation you are feeling at that very moment,” he said. “Starting with your feet. Ten.”
He went through parts of the body, repeating that he wanted their muscles to feel “warm and heavy.” One by one the volunteers fell asleep. Some slumped against each other, and some slid out of their seats, passed out on the stage floor.
“People get hypnotized, and they don’t even know it,” he said.
Throughout the show, he created a shaky reality by making them becomes cats, dogs, models, musicians and actors. Like scenes from a play, they meowed, chased imaginary balls, twerked, played imaginary instruments, strutted on an imaginary runway and acted in an imaginary commercial. Every time he said, “sleep” they would fall back in their chairs.
He also made them believe he had hypno-dust and a hypno-gun that would knock them out cold. At one point he told the entranced group that the room was a hundred degrees. They started fanning themselves, turning on imaginary air conditioners and even discarded clothing.
“Just remember you are in a public place, okay?” he said.
Then he made them believe the room was freezing, and without hesitation the volunteers held each other as if keeping warm with each other’s body heat. When they opened their eyes, they found themselves in the arms of strangers.
“Have you ever driven your car, and have no clue how you got somewhere?” he said, describing the state of a hypnotized mind.
He told one volunteer, Abbey Ptak, that every time he shook her hand, it would feel as if the person sitting next to her pinched her butt. He proceeded to shake her hand, and she immediately reacted by slapping the person next to her.
“Asshole!” she said.
Mina told another volunteer that his name was Tinkerbell, and when Mina said his name wrong, the volunteer grew angry.
“Tinkerbill, right?” asked Mina.
“With an E,” said Tinkerbell, clearly agitated. “A, B, C, D, E. Tinkerbell.”
After the show Ptak said she was fuzzy on the details.
“I remember falling asleep,” she said, “I remember waking [up]. Oh my God, what was I doing?”
When she approached Mina he snapped his fingers and said, “Remember everything.” Her eyes grew wide as she remembered the chaos.
Another volunteer said she remembered her experience with hypnotism but felt compelled to do as Mina suggested anyway.
“You were hypnotized,” he said. “You’re actually super aware when you’re hypnotized. People don’t realize that…they have to understand what I’m saying.”