Hypnosis show captivates Wellesley crowd
Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 15:09
Last Friday, Wellesley students gathered in Tishman Commons to watch and participate in a show performed by Dr. Steve Taubman, hypnotist and best-selling author of “Unhypnosis,” a self-help book about using the unconscious mind as a tool for personal success. As part of the performance, 21 students were placed under hypnosis for one hour.
At the beginning of the show, all willing volunteers were asked to line up along the stage. Taubman then told them to imagine that their hands were stuck together, then raised by a helium balloon. The volunteers who either could not pull their hands apart or who raised their hands were asked to come onto the stage to participate in the show.
Over the next hour, Taubman used trigger words to make participants feel hot and then cold, smell horrible scents and react to imaginary movies that were sad, romantic and scary. One participant was led to believe that a male college student in the audience was Brad Pitt.
Although hypnotism is often subject to skepticism, most members of the audience said that they enjoyed the performance.
“[I was] impressed by the show,” Mariajose Rodriguez ’16 stated. “He could have made [the participants] do anything.”
At one point during the show, Taubman removed the participants’ names from their memories. When asked to state their name, the volunteers could only sputter a few syllables.
“I thought I remembered [my name],” Lena Berberich-Eerebout ’16, a participant in the hypnosis show, said. “But when I tried to say it, it wouldn’t come out of my mouth.”
Some volunteers, however, say they were not entirely affected. Nikita Saladi ’16 had a very different experience as a participant in the show.
“There were definitely points where I was on stage and I [knew] what was happening. I kind of went along with it, and I feel like a lot of people did that. I also remembered my name but didn’t want to say anything.”
Saladi went on to say she did believe she was hypnotized at certain parts show the show, and confirmed that she could not remember the whole experience.
Although participants’ experiences varied, many of the subjects attested to having no sense of the passage of time. Taubman woke the participants at the end of the show and asked them how long they’d been on the stage. Although over an hour had passed since the show began, most participants approximated 20 minutes while others said they had just gotten there.
According to Taubman, hypnotism works by “calming the conscious mind and letting the subconscious come forward.” When selecting from the volunteers, Taubman said he looked for a good imagination and rapid eye movement, which is often experienced at night while dreaming. In this state, the mind accepts abnormal situations and doesn’t question the hypnotist’s suggestions.
Taubman began his career as a chiropractor, at which time he studied the role of the mind in healing the body. He then became apprentice to an accomplished hypnotist and eventually earned his certification.
Taubman believes that the power of hypnotism can be used not only for entertainment, but also as a tool for self-help and relaxation. He often attempts to incorporate this idea into his show. At the end of his performance, Taubman told all of the volunteers, “Imagine your fear as a package… with density, color and a place inside you.” He then told them to remove that fear through their mouths, their hearts or their stomachs, and throw it away.
Taubman also suggests that the ability to focus is the key for Wellesley students dealing with stress. “[Stress] is usually because you’re in your head...You need to get out of your head and into your body…Trust the fact that whatever you’re thinking can be put aside for a little while,” said Taubman.
The show is organized by The Office of Student Involvement at the beginning of every academic year.
The associate director of the office, Megan Jordan, said, “The Office of Student Involvement plans events such as the Hypnosis Show during the first six weeks of the fall semester, especially because student organizations are usually not fully up and running and we want to have activities for students, especially first-years, to engage with at Wellesley.”