Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Hypnotist and the Giant Tots

Today was a surprisingly fun day at work, work aside. Every once in a while we have a "safety stand down", which is oddly reminiscent of some kind of high school assembly, only with grown-ups who are paid to be there. We have to leave our desks, turn off our Blackberries, and sit in an auditorium - where the air conditioning often seems to fail - to be reminded Not To Die. Not to die from drinking too much alcohol, not to die on a boat, not to die in a car (I'd turn this into a Doctor Seuss poem if I were even less irreverent or more poetic -- either one). With Memorial Day and 4th of July coming up, it was time for another lesson on How Not To Be Completely Stupid And Waste Your Life.

The Powers Who Be do their best to make this experience entertaining, though, and so today's presentation included a hypnotist.

And whoa. I believed that hypnosis was real, to some extent; I think our brains can be manipulated. Otherwise, no one would buy iPads or Tiffany engagement rings. But it's one thing to appreciate a technical possibility and another thing to see it in real life.

 The hypnotist pulled about sixteen people from the audience, hypnotized them, and then put them to sleep by saying "Sleep" or shaking their hands, either way. 

Then things got crazy. First, he told them all to think back to when they were four years old, drawing them back through high school, middle school, fifth grade, fourth grade... to age four. He said that when they woke up, they'd be four years old. And when they all sat up in their chairs, one 30-year-old guy was already rocking back and forth in the infamous pee-pee dance.

It wasn't the fact that they followed orders, donning costumes and trick-or-treating amongst the crowd, that surprised me. That seemed par for the course.  What surprised me was the actual regression, like the boy - erm, man - who got up from his seat to go steal the Jason mask away from another subject, the adults skipping around and yelling "Trick or treat!" in high pitched voices, or the grown man and woman who bumped elbows while raising their hands and then began to catfight, swiping each other's hands.

One thing that I appreciated about the hypnotist's regression of those subjects, though, was that he told them, "You remember the toys you played with, the TV shows you liked, your bedroom. You remember all the happy things from being four years old, and only the happy things. You're four years old again, and you're happy." Because when he first started to take them back to childhood, I was nervous for them... some people don't have childhoods they need to return to.

Don't you wish that every child could just be four years old with only happy things to remember?


Aubrie said...

What a great wish! I had a wonderful childhood. I was lucky. But a lot of people I know don't.

Donna Hole said...

I would not want to remember being four, specifically because it was not a happy time.

But I'm glad he had them remember only happy stuff. Oddly enough, I find four year olds the most fun and fantastic age to be around.

Boy would a psychiatrist have fun with that one (lol).


Neurotic Workaholic said...

I like your description of the people who were hypnotized; what'd the people do when they came out of it? Were they totally embarrassed?
I was hypnotized once during freshman orientation at college in front of 100s of other freshmen. I don't remember a lot about it except that people kept pointing at me and laughing for days afterward.

Old Kitty said...


I'm very sorry but if that happened at my work place there would have been such a protest, a strike and threats of legal action! :-)

Anyway!! All that aside - it's a fabulous wish to have. I can only hope that each adult now had happy memories at 4. Sadly that probably isn't the case all round.

Take care

Jen said...

What a wonderful experience. The one thing I thought while reading this was "What if they had a bad childhood" but then you filled in the blanks and told them to remember the happy things. I didn't have a great childhood so the happy things are something I hold close to my heart, and at four I would not have wanted to relive that time.

Great post!

aLmYbNeNr said...

I'm always skeptical about that stuff. I even witnessed a hypnosis at school once, in college. One came to campus. So he hypnotized people I knew and it seemed real, but how did I know they weren't warned in advance to volunteer and do what was said? It would be really cool if it was real AND that you could have memory of it when it was over..or have someone tape you...I can't remember hardly anything before the age of 5. Sometimes images will come to me out of context. I really wish I could remember those years!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

That would be so beautiful! If only... :-)

Shelley Sly said...

That's so interesting! I'm with Donna, I'm glad he had them only remember happy memories. I suppose I had a mixed childhood, good and bad... my teen years were awful. Good thing I'm not getting hypnotized to relive those!

Guinevere said...

I had a pretty good childhood too, Aubrie. I wouldn't want to relive it, but I'm certainly not complaining.

Donna, I think four year olds are a lot of fun too... so much personality and wit, but still little at the same time.

Neurotic, that doesn't sound like a great hypnosis experience! I haven't talk to any of the folks that were up on stage, but the hypnotist told them that they wouldn't feel embarrassed about anything they did, and that if anyone tried to tease them, they would feel nothing but pride and tell them they participated in the safety skit for the benefit of all of us! I don't know how that's worked out, really... but I'd be curious.

Guinevere said...

Old Kitty, your workplace does not sound maximized for fun. :)

Jen, it's interesting that we thought of the same thing... I do think it'd be pretty cool to remember only happy things from your childhood. I wonder how those people felt afterwards - if they were still thinking about their childhoods.

Amber Lynn, I always feel skeptical about that too. In this case, though, I am pretty sure it was a random group of people. But I did find myself wondering at times if people were hamming it up or playing along a bit. I guess the only way to know for sure is go under ourselves? :p

Guinevere said...

Maybe someday, Shannon... :)

Shelley, same here, a bit mixed. There are times from HS I wouldn't mind going back to, but not most of it. Ohhh nooo. I survived being a teenager and I never want to go back!

Kittie Howard said...

I'm not sure if I'd want to be hypnotized in front of people, happy childhood or not. I had a happy childhood but reverting to acting like a child in front of adults, don't know...don't know....

aLmYbNeNr said...

Yup! I wouldn't be opposed to it as long as it was at least being video taped, that way I could watch it later and see what I did and hear what I said if it really IS real . :)