The Second Time I Was Ever Hypnotized

I use this story as a demonstration that a) hypnosis does exist and b) hypnosis does work.

It was the second time I was ever hypnotized. Paul Knight, a good friend of mine, just completed his training as a professional hypnotist and happened to be in town during the weekend our local Doctor Who club was having their meeting. As the coördinator of the video for the meeting, I chose the Fourth Doctor story “The Masque of Mandragora”, a classic story where Sarah Jane gets hypnotized into attempting an assassination on the Doctor. (Poor Sarah, she was always getting hypnotized or mind controlled in some fashion or another.) In addition, I edited a short sequence of Doctor Who scenes of hypnosis to present during the meeting.

After the video, Paul performed a short stage hypnosis demonstration, which was well received. After the meeting, one of the other members stayed afterward with myself and Paul, and eventually I volunteered for a short hypnosis demonstration. The last part of the demonstration was post-hypnotic amnesia: he gave me the standard suggestion and brought me out of trance.

And then it was like my mind was on pause.

I couldn’t speak, all I could do was mouth words. For about 15 seconds, all three of us were completely surprised.

Then Paul put me back under and removed the suggestion, and I was all right again. But afterward I wondered exactly what happened, and I eventually believed I found the answer.

It all ties back to the first time I was ever hypnotized. It was at Earthcon, an SF convention in Cleveland in November, 1984. (The event mentioned above was sometime in 1985.) I went there with the intent of meeting Marion Zimmer Bradley but I also met Katherine Kurtz at the same convention. At the time, I knew she was trained in Ericksonian hypnosis. Sunday afternoon, as part of a panel on hypnosis, she led the audience in a brief demonstration of hypnosis. As I said above, this was the first time I was ever hypnotized, and by someone I respect greatly. (Katherine is a lady in every positive sense of the word.) I can only believe that my subconscious interpreted the instruction to forget being hypnotized to forget ever being hypnotized, and that is something I would not have wanted to do. Hence the two imperatives were in conflict within me, causing the fugue state.

I can say this has not happened since. In fact, Paul hypnotized me sometime later, with the same kind of amnesia suggestion, and I know that it worked, because on some level I realized the projected direction of the conversation would cross into topics that were covered by the amnesia suggestion and quickly diverted it. Since then I have had additional successful (and a couple interesting) experiences with post-hypnotic amnesia.

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