Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

September 11, 2010


Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Television and  movies show some bearded doctor swinging a watch that causes a person to go into some type of trance.  He then gives instructions which create the person into his slave.  That certainly is an unreal characterization of a hypnotist.

I know.  I used to hypnotize individuals.  I must confess that I ceased doing it before I met my wife.  She was “not under such influence” when she said “yes.” But there were times in the 1950s that I practiced hypnosis.  And it was not a self-hypnosis.  I actually hypnotized people.

When I was in graduate school at Columbia, I studied psychotherapy.  As part of our discipline, we were taught hypnosis.  This was also an era when social hypnosis was popular.  It was used often for entertainment.  Fortunately, most of the use of it disappeared, although there are still entertainment companies that produce hypnosis shows.

I found that it was a good source of entertainment at youth events and social gatherings.  My use of it was primarily to get the subject to follow a suggestion that would bring laughter to the audience.  For example, the one who had been hypnotized might be told that if he heard a certain question asked, for example, “What time is it?, he would believe he had no pants on.

The subject would take his seat in the audience.  He would have no recollection of what had happened.  As we continued with the event, I would point to a person the group had designated to shout the question.  When the subject heard the question, “What time is it?”, he would jump up from his seat, and believing that he had no pants on, he would go charging out of the room with embarrassment.

In hypnosis, a person will never do anything against their will, but will respond to suggestions.  I had a friend that I worked with for several weeks.  He sought to quit smoking.  The hypnotic suggestion for him was that every time he wanted a cigarette, he would just start singing “I’ve been working on the railroad.”  He did not sing it outloud, but to himself — thankfully!

This friend became so easy to hypnotize that I did not have employ the usual techniques to hypnotize.  The usual method was to swing a bright object above the head and ask for eye fixation on it until the eyes showed strain, then the pupils contracted and then dilated. Then the person would soon be under hypnosis.  However, my friend, used to my voice, suggestions, and his willingness, could relax and simply respond to my voice.  He was an ideal person for demonstration.  Because people knew we worked together, some were skeptical.  To prove the validity of the hypnosis, another person could use a pin and stick him on the arm until there was evidence of blood.  Although one would normally react to that moment of pain and there would be a reflex action, he did not because of the hypnotic state.

He and I arranged ahead of time for a very special presentation.  He was able to psyche himself up so that he would not react to the sticking of the pin.  Following the usual hypnosis, and the sticking of the pin, I began to ask him questions.  Then I said I wanted to do something I had never attempted.  I wanted to take him back through his life.  So we went back and asked him questions about his childhood.  He made up some great stories — funny, as if he had never confessed the deeds.

Then I asked if I could take him back to a previous life — if he had one.  This was in a Christian setting and so no one would have thought this possible.  I asked him if he could see a previous life.  He responded yes, and I asked him if he knew where he was sometime in the year 1865.  He began to shout, “That Yankee shot me!”  He began to be so uncomfortable, I told him I was going to bring him back into his present life slowly through the years.  I began to call him to come to the year when he was ten years old.  He did not change.  I showed fear and expressed aloud, “I can’t bring him back.”  There was fear in the room.  Two young ladies dropped to their knees and began to pray.  Suddenly, I realized this was out of hand, and we both stood up and told them it was all concocted.

Funny . . . entertaining . . . or not. That was my last time!  Why would I ever play around with someone’s mind through hypnosis.  And fortunately the social use of it waned everywhere, partly because of a death on a college campus where the person was placed in danger and an accident occurred.  There is a positive side of hypnosis, but it is not a game!  It is only to be used as a medicine by someone well trained and credentialed.

Just thought I would make a confession . . . and encourage you as to the value and dangers of hypnosis.



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