I Was Mesmerized

Better I say that I was hypnotised.

Franz Anton Mesmer, who discovered the phenomenon in the late 1700s, believed that it worked through ‘animal magnetism,’ and treated it like a parlor trick, entertaining the social elite in their homes or small halls.  A hypnotised person is not supposed to do anything beyond their moral limits.  It was revealing and disturbing, the limits that the minor aristocracy would go to.  Eventually, he was booed off his entertainment stage, and the term mesmerism took on a negative connotation.

In the summer of 1958, when I was 14, an entertainer booked the auditorium of the Town Hall for five evenings – Monday to Friday.  He put up posters on lamp posts and handed out small flyers.  He was a stage hypnotist, who promised an interesting and amusing show that included people clucking like chickens.  I HAD to see this.

I attended the Monday show.  I never thought about where he would get willing subjects until he asked for audience volunteers.  I was the first on my feet.  I didn’t feel hypnotized – whatever that was.  I was awake and aware, but felt no drive to do anything but just stand there.  My part came toward the end of the act.  He had me and a girl about my age hold our right arms out.  He lit a candle and passed it beneath her fingers.

She never moved a muscle, while I waggled my hand and acted disturbed.  When he asked me why I was upset, I told the audience that my fingers were hot.  I don’t remember them actually feeling hot, but I remembered that his flyer said that someone would experience it, so I gave him what the crowd expected.

All the volunteers got a pass for a later show.  I was busy Tuesday and Wednesday, but went to the Thursday show.  A University Professor used to give lectures, and when he was done, would tell his classes that psychology inhibited people from being the first to respond, so he always offered to take the Second question.  Thursday night, when he asked for audience participation…. crickets, nobody moved.  I again stood up, and there were five more behind me when I reached the stage.

Some people claim that, “I’m too intelligent to be hypnotised,” but practitioners say that more intelligent people are better subjects, because they are able to focus, and accept the required control.  This night, he saved me for the final part of the act – the piéce de résistance.

He had two of those uncomfortable, tubular steel and formed plywood, chairs placed about four feet apart, and had two of the other subjects sit in them.  He told me, Stand up straight.  You are firm.  You are hard.  You are strong.  You are rigid.  You are like a tree.  You are powerful.  You are as stiff as a lamp-post.  Then he poked me in the chest, and I fell over backward.  Two of the other enchanted assistants caught me, lifted me horizontally, and placed me across the backs of the two chairs.

The one contacted me just below the collarbone and above the shoulder blades.  The other met the back of my calf muscles.  There I hung, suspended in midair, planking, long before it became trendy.  But the show isn’t over, ladies and gentlemen.  Watch this.  He placed another chair in front of me, climbed up onto it, slowly turned to face the audience…. and carefully sat down on my stomach.

Even I was amazed, a scrawny little stick of a kid like me, holding up a 160 pound man.  I was completely aware of what was happening.  I wondered if I had any control over my body.  I allowed my abdominal muscles to relax about a quarter or half an inch.  He felt it, and intoned, Steady!  Steady!  Rigid!  Rigid!

He climbed down to thunderous applause, and turned back to his onstage rogues’ gallery, to begin un-hypnotizing all six of us – and there were only five.  Who was missing?  Where?  When?  How??!  This had never happened to him.  Hypnosis will eventually wear off, but he worried about a suggestible victim being given a direct command in public.

The one missing was a lad, two years older than me.  The hypnotist enjoined us to go looking for him, and take care of him if need be.  I went to his house, and told his father what had happened.  He just laughed, and went back to watching The Honeymooners.  With a 90/95 IQ level, between stupid and stubborn, the boy apparently did not go into a hypnotic trance.

I met him the next day, and he explained.  Nothing exciting happened to him during the show, and he was bored, and felt like a fool, just standing there.  While I was doing my levitation act, he drifted into the wings, down the back stairs, and off to the bowling alley in search of French fries and tourist girls.

I guess that shows like this may still exist in Las Vegas or Atlantic City lounges, but hypnosis has come to be used much more professionally and effectively to aid in combating drug or tobacco use, stress, depression, psychiatric and relationship problems.  My two experiences were all in fun, but it can be quite serious.  Have any of you had hypnosis therapy?

12 thoughts on “I Was Mesmerized

  1. That picture was hypnotising indeed. That must have been quite an experience indeed. I have never experienced it myself and I don’t think I would have been a volunteer either!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Archon's Den says:

      It’s often safer, more educational, and more entertaining, to watch from the audience. I wanted to be like Dorothy in Oz, and see what went on behind the curtain. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Shweta and Archon,

      Since you are interested in hypnotizing optical play, an important aspect of vision, I would like to recommend to you my special post published at https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2017/09/28/optical-illusions/

      This said post covers the topics of optical illusions quite comprehensively with more than 200 examples. Given its length and scope, it will take some time to load fully. In addition, please be informed that you might need to use a desktop or laptop computer with a large screen to view the rich multimedia contents available for heightening your multisensory enjoyment at my websites, some of which could be too powerful and feature-rich for iPad, iPhone, tablet or other portable devices to handle properly or adequately.

      Many of the excellent examples included in the post are quite astonishing, even to the point of defying belief.

      Thank you, Archon, for your informative and well-written post detailing your arresting encounters.

      Happy August to both of you!

      Yours sincerely,

      Liked by 1 person

      • Archon's Den says:

        Thanx. Between old eyes, and old patterns, I conduct all my online activities with a tower CPU and a 20 ” monitor. Always interested in optical illusions, I’ll get to your post as soon as convenient.

        I’ll do what I can about the rest of August. I have to go to the den of iniquity the pits of Hell the Center For the COVID Spread, Toronto Airport, tomorrow. Double vaccination should protect me. They better!! I lost my Rosary. 😉 😆

        Liked by 2 people

      • That sounds interesting. Thanks a lot for letting me know. I’ll check it out later. Happy August to you too

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Rivergirl says:

    I’ve been trying to get my SIL to a hypnotist to quit smoking but she keeps cancelling. Think she’s afraid of it.


  3. Newbloggycat says:

    Hmm…interesting! I must check out this hypnosis therapy soon🤓😅


  4. rulesoflogic says:

    During a period of stress in the early 1990s a friend recommended a therapist who specialized in hypnosis. I saw him five or six times and the ability to enter an “altered” state of consciousness was quite therapeutic.

    Unfortunately, I have reached a point where my ability to concentrate is so poor I don’t think I could get anything out of that therapy.


  5. Jim Wheeler says:

    Interesting. I have seen hypnotist performances but remain skeptical. There is something there but I’m agnostic for now. Sure seems peculiar.


    • Archon's Den says:

      It’s probably one good reason why I am religiously skeptical and Atheistic. Like Dorothy, I’ve seen behind the curtain. I know that some apparent things are not real, and seemingly miraculous real things can come from inside each of us, not necessarily from a God. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

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