Scott Adams, who is a hypnotist in addition to being the creator of Dilbert and an all-around interesting dude, has a very interesting and informative post about hypnosis. I learned more about hypnosis in the few minutes it took to read Scott’s post than I had learned from all the other information I’ve come across in my prior 46 years. Including the time I was hypnotized by the Amazing Kreskin.
It was around 1979-80, while I was in college. Kreskin came to Wake Forest and did a show in Wait Chapel, where large assemblies and concerts were held at the time.
Some buddies and I went to the show and, at some point, Kreskin asked for volunteers from the audience who would agree to be hypnotized. After reading Scott’s post, I suspect that taking volunteers is a way to increase the likelihood of success by obtaining a group of ready and willing subjects. All I know is that I raised my hand and was picked, along with a few other people. We went on stage and sat in some chairs that were placed in a semi-circle.
After giving us the pre-talk Scott writes about, he did a few inductions (I now know the proper lingo), and made us imagine that we were either really hot or really cold. I don’t remember too much about this part, but I must have responded, because he picked me to do a further, more detailed hypnosis.
First, he had me sit and talked me though the relaxation process, very much the way Scott describes. I remember everything that happened. I remember feeling very relaxed, but I also remember wondering during the early stages if it was “working.” As I soon found out, it was.
This was during the “who shot J.R.” period of the then very popular Dallas TV series. It was after J.R. was shot, but before we knew who did it. I didn’t watch the show, but like everyone else in America I knew who J.R. was and I knew the general story line.
At some point during the process Kreskin told me that when he brought me out of the trance (to borrow that misleading word), I would know who shot J.R. I have some vague recollection of him telling me that, but I don’t recall making any conclusions about who did it at that moment.
He then brought me back to normal consciousness and told me he had a question for me. I said OK, and he said “do you know who shot J.R.?” “Yes,” I replied. “Can you tell us?” he asked. I immediately pointed at some lady I did not know in the audience and said “that lady right there did.” Everyone howled with laughter. I remember thinking how weird it was to say that, but I don’t remember anything about the decision process that led to me picking that particular lady. I just somehow decided that she was the one, and for a moment or two it all made sense to me.
At no point was I unconscious or unaware of what was going on around me. I just felt a little out of it, like I was sleepy or maybe in that state between reality and a dream- but closer to a sleepy reality. It was weird.
But really fun.