Culture Club – Hypnosis
By Nick Greenaway, Senior Account Executive, Publicis Resolute
Picture the scene. Sufficiently sauced, with a fair amount of adrenalin traversing your body and a renowned hypnotist’s charismatic voice in your ear, you find to your surprise that your arms are rising above your head on their own accord. Your arms have literally taken on a life of their own. Your arms no longer belong to you. You have no arms. This is the position I found myself in towards the end of ‘Hypnosis – Altering Consciousness,’ a Pint of Science event attended by myself and a few Resoluters, as part of our ‘Culture Club’ initiative.
During the event, my colleague Andrea and I (a pair of adventure-loving swashbucklers) both volunteered to be hypnotised, alongside numerous others. Once up on stage, under the instruction of the hypnotist Stuart Ashing, we closed our eyes and imagined a balloon tied to our hands. It was our physical response to this exercise that was used to test our susceptibility to hypnosis. With more extravagant hypnotic tricks up his sleeve, Stuart sent those showing any signs of resistance packing. It appeared I was unknowingly and ashamedly part of the resistance. I reluctantly returned to the audience. I checked for my arms – I still had my arms.
As I looked to the stage, I saw that Andrea had passed the first susceptibility test. She was now playing an invisible piano and she clearly had a talent for it. Alongside her fellow band members, they made for a ridiculous spectacle. I briefly considered the moral quandary of laughing at someone behind their back, before going ahead and also taking some hilarious photos. After a period of further observation, it was clear that Stuart sensed great susceptibility in Andrea, as he took her aside for the night’s best and most durable trick. He was impressively able to hypnotise Andrea into thinking she had been promoted to a Senior Account Executive here at Publicis Resolute. Not one to kill a joke, Resolute has sportingly decided to play along!
To give Pint of Science their due, I should say that there was some valuable explanation beforehand on the science behind conscious hypnosis and some interesting commentary on the hypnosis of society at large – there are some interesting articles over here if you want to learn more. But it’s a tough thing to get your head around when your arms are lifting off.