Hypnotist Joshua Seth came to Knox last Thursday and made it clear he knows how to run a smooth and entertaining show. Seth is the son of two psychologists; his father is both a hypnotherapist and psychologist. Hypnosis has always been a part of Seth’s life, which showed in the control he had over the hypnotized volunteers.
Seth said, “All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. I just act as the guide.”
Seth said he has always been able to put people into a state of hypnosis, but like all things the more he practiced the more quickly and easily he could hypnotize. He grew up with hypnosis because of his father but took it in another direction. Seth said he is an entertainer so it was natural for him to use the hypnosis he grew up with in a creative way.
Seth explained that each person reacts differently to hypnosis during and after. Some people remember the events like a dream and some don’t remember anything at all. Participant, freshman Molly Ralston said, “I don’t remember much of what was going on except for the things I was involved in…I remember some of the events that he made other people do, but I couldn’t recognize any of the voices, and I did know a couple of people on the stage.”
Seth said some people think hypnosis is “some sort of swinging watch mind control, but it is really about allowing yourself to be creative.” He said the more open a person is to being expressive and trying new things, the better they will respond to hypnosis. He loves performing at colleges because the students are so open to new experiences.
Seth started the show by explaining that hypnosis is not mind control but uses the power of suggestion when a person is in theta wave brain state. The stars of the show were audience members who either volunteered or were chosen by Seth. Before the selection began, Seth did two short tricks to reveal who would be the most receptive to the hypnosis. Once the stage was open to volunteers, students rushed from all sides of Kresge.
Not all volunteers were actually used in the show; some did not fall into a hypnotized state deep enough and some did not stay asleep the whole time. Seth could usually tell when someone was not going to respond well once they were in the process of being hypnotized. If they did not work, he quickly sent them back to the audience with barely an interruption in the show.
Two volunteers were actually taken from the audience because they responded to the mass hypnosis Seth performed. He identified these people and led them onto the stage. They were essentially asleep, yet not missing a step. All of the volunteers were properly under hypnosis and the show was fully underway.
Seth first demonstrated how people under hypnosis could be convinced of feeling extreme temperatures. They went from a nice summer day to stifling heat to holding each other for warmth in freezing temperatures. Some volunteers were very distressed by the gripping cold, even though the actual temperature never changed.
They went on to play orchestral instruments of various sizes and driving cars. While driving, Seth informed the participants that they were being pulled over by a cop and would have to give their best pick up line to escape the ticket. With a slight smile, one student said, “Use those cuffs often?” The lines and behaviors seemed to reflect the people, only less inhibited than they would be ordinarily.
One of the big hits of the show was when all the boys were pregnant on Jerry Springer. Some really cared for their baby and others didn’t want to be pregnant anymore. In the end they all went into labor while the girls assisted as nurses. It was amazing how all the volunteers were able to interact with each other even though they were not aware of their real surroundings.
The finale involved all the participants. They were Japanese rappers competing for the chance of a lifetime. Each person took the microphone at some point and rapped their heart out, either in real Japanese or completely made up sounds.
Seth put on an improvised show where even the participants did not know how they would act. He kept the show going the entire time, often speaking in an auctioneer voice to communicate the situation to the participants. Overall, the audience had fun, the volunteers had fun and Seth had fun.