Into Hypnosis, Part I

I have been interested in hypnosis since I was a child. I used to watch Smilin’ Ed’s Gang on TV (later Andy’s Gang, after Smilin’ Ed McConnell died and Andy Devine took over), starting around age 7. There, “Froggy the Gremlin,” that irascible puppet, would introduce the day’s story, one of several serials. (Froggy could be very disrespectful to adults; he has been blamed for the youth rebellion of the 60s, though I doubt that all of it was his fault.)

The serial I liked best was set in India. It was about a young teenage boy, Gunga, battling the murderous fire cult that had killed his parents (foreshadowing Harry Potter). Gunga’s younger sidekick, Rama, was always getting captured by the cult’s leader, an evil magician. The magician would smash a ceramic bowl on the ground; then, through Rama’s eyes, we would watch amazed as the bowl shards came back together, and we would know that Rama had been hypnotized – now he could be made to tell secrets, betray his friends – made to do anything! To me it was frightening – and fascinating.  (Rama always got away, somehow.)

So I was fascinated with the idea of hypnosis but I never did anything about it – I never told anyone, never discussed it with anyone, never tried to hypnotize anyone; never sought out hypnosis. I just thought about it and imagined. Of course I saw all those comic book ads: “Hypnotize your friends!” “Make anyone do your bidding!” Though tempted I never sent away (I did get a power decoding ring or two, though) – what would my parents think? Would people think I was weird? Would I be a laughing stock? I kept my interest strictly private and internal – for over 55 years (there’s a lesson there somewhere!).

During that time I was hypnotized twice. The first time I was seventeen, at a teen party. My friend Phil, back from his first year of college, said he had learned hypnosis in his psychology class, and asked for a volunteer, who turned out to be me. Phil led me through a progressive relaxation (as I now know it) induction, having me relax everything starting with my eyes and proceeding down and down, step by step, to my toes. Then he took me down a flight of stairs, guiding me deeper. He told me that I would keep giggling as long as my girlfriend held a drink in her hand – I giggled – and the only way for me to stop was to take it from her – I did. He asked me a couple embarrassing questions and I forthrightly blurted out the answers (not knowing then that a hypnotized person can lie), to everyone’s amusement. I remember the whole thing, to this day – no hypnotic amnesia.

Some twelve years later I was hypnotized by a medical student friend who had learned some hypnosis in one of her classes. Renee took me into a nice trance but then had no idea of what to do – “I have to bring you out,” she said, panic in her voice, and started counting me up. “Nooo!” I screamed in my mind, but by the time she reached “ten”, I was back.

For years after that, I would attempt self-hypnosis, doing pretty well, to look back on it. But through two marriages, three children, two careers, and lots of living and experiences, I never mentioned to anyone my fascination with hypnosis.

And then one day in late 2006, surfing the web, I stumbled upon wendi.com. Wendi Friesen is a gifted hypnotherapist and a skilled marketer; her site has hundreds of recordings available for download or as CDs, on an enormous variety of issues and topics, in addition to ebooks (How to Hypnotize Your Lover is one). (Her sales are over $2 million per year.) I started out with her HYPNOQUIZ – “Can you be HYPNOIZED?” The answer was, as I expected, “yes” – the quiz predicted I would be a moderately good hypnotic subject. Wanting to know more, I purchased and downloaded a series of three “Introductory Trances.” In the first of these, Wendi guided me into a trance, than said, “Whenever you see the color red, you will ____,” leaving me to fill in the blank. “Well,” I thought to myself (you can think while in hypnosis, to a greater or lesser degree, depending), “I don’t have any really bad habits. Just cracking my knuckles, since I was ten – I’ve tried, but I’ve never been able to stop.” So I said to myself, “Whenever I see the color red, I will feel a warm, healing glow in my fingers, and will have no need to crack them.” And that was it – I have not cracked my knuckles since! (For a while, whenever they felt like they needed to be cracked, I would look around for something red.  After a few weeks the habit was gone.)

Was I ever impressed! Such a simple thing, yet so effective. What else can we do with this, I wondered? I went looking to find out.

[. . . continued in Into Hypnosis Part II]

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