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The Beginning of Hypnosis

My interest in hypnosis all started as a young boy (maybe eight or nine) when I overheard a conversation in which a cousin was telling my relatives about a “stage-show hypnotist” that had come to his school and how the hypnotist made some of his classmates do strange and curious things. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” he said. “The hypnotist made my best friend act like a dog and for five minutes he was down on the floor on hands and knees, crawling around in circles, chasing an imaginary tail and barking at it. He had another friend stretched between two chairs, like a board, balancing there just by his neck and his heels… and he even sat on him! But the strangest of all is what he made this very quiet, timid girl do. She is nice enough, but she is so shy that even our teacher can’t get her to stand up at her desk and read (let alone get up in front of the class). She hardly ever speaks unless you talk to her first. But the hypnotist somehow got her up on stage and made her act like she was in a minstrel show. She was up there strumming an imaginary banjo, dancing around and singing ‘Mammy,’ just like she was Al Jolson. He made her do a lot of other strange stuff too, but after (when she wasn’t hypnotized any more) she went right back to her old self and didn’t remember what she had done or how she had acted. I couldn’t believe it. It was like the Devil had gotten into her and left only when the hypnotist snapped his fingers!”

From that moment on I frequently wondered about hypnosis. I wondered about why a shy and withdrawn girl could become outgoing, even if it was just for a little while. I wondered what would have happened if he hadn’t snapped his fingers. Would she still be outgoing or would she be possessed by some demon? I wondered if a hypnotist could hypnotize me and make me confident and remove my limitations and social fears so I could feel good about myself. I had no one I could talk to about hypnosis on a rational level (because of its “satanic and demonic” nature, I would have been severely criticized and thought of as being satanic myself), nor did I know how to find a hypnotist that could enlighten me on the subject.

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