To kick off the school year, UNCG invited hypnotist Paul Ramsay to the annual 2016 Rawkin’ Welcome Week on Monday, August 22.
Cartoons, movies and childhood stories have led many people to believe that hypnosis is a form of mind control. This understanding of hypnotism is one of the most pervasive myths surrounding mental manipulation. Ramsay’s widely recognized stage show, “Mind Games,” allowed for each student in the audience to participate.
Ramsay began the show with the audience in a relaxed state, eyes closed, bodies still and slow breathing. He then introduced his use of code words such as “sleep” and “awake.” According to Ramsay, there’s a symbolic use of the word “awake.” “When I say the word ‘awake’ you’re going to take all the relaxation you’ve created, gather it up and put it into storage inside your mind,” said Ramsay.
He then explained what to do in the event that the word “sleep” is used. “Anytime this evening that your eyes are open, if I say the word ‘sleep’ you will instantaneously unlock your storage space and all that wonderful relaxation will return to the front of your mind, and your eyes will get so happy, they’ll want to close,” said Ramsay.
Being that many audience participants had never been hypnotized before, Ramsay went over the key signs of knowing whether the hypnosis is working. “Number one,” said Ramsay, “if you have tingly hands and fingers right now, that’s an associate feeling that some people get when they go into hypnosis.”
Another sign of hypnosis mentioned was the presence of watery eyes; a parasympathetic response upon awaking from a hypnotized state. Additionally, Ramsay said that if participants suddenly feel heat radiating off their bodies that is a good response to the hypnosis. “The last really common thing is to have a tremendous feeling of heaviness; if you feel like you’ve doubled your body weight,” said Ramsay.
During the length of the show, there were several times when Ramsay said the word “sleep,” and the majority of the audience members either fell asleep peacefully or fell deep enough to let their bodies slip out of their seats.
One of Ramsay’s famous activities was demonstrating the idea that to forget is not to truly lose information retained, but to know that it is stored elsewhere. He did this by telling each participant, “Inside your mind with confidence and authority, literally tell your first name to go away for five minutes and send it all the way to the back of your mind.”
Ramsay then added, “It’s not gone, it’s not lost, and you’re just moving it.” For the next five minutes, Ramsay told the audience to introduce themselves to their peers in the same row. Students discovered that they were unable to recall their first name.
To emphasize the point, Ramsay came into the audience to ask students questions like, “How many siblings do you have,” “what’s your middle name” which were easily answered, while each student froze when questioned, “what’s your first name.”
He said that this was only possible because the name was not stored in its normal access point. The students had instantaneous recall to all other questions, because only their name moved to the back of their minds as a consequence of hypnosis.
Ramsay then called volunteers to the stage for his next several acts. One of his final acts was a mock press panel event starring Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Dora the Explorer.
Once Ramsay put these stage participants to sleep, he assigned three individuals to one of the three presidents once he awoke them and the rest of the stage members were a part of the press; able to ask each candidate a question of their choice.
“When your eyes open, you have a very special event. UNCG has been the final host spot for the last presidential debate. When your eyes open you are no longer yourself, you are more than yourself, when your eyes open you are Donald Trump. You think like Donald Trump and you debate like Donald Trump because you are Donald Trump,” said Ramsay.
Once each stage participant was hypnotized, each president had the opportunity to explain why he or she should be the next president. “You’ll have ten seconds for opening remarks; we’ll start with Mr. Trump.” The student assigned to Donald Trump said, “Let’s build a wall.”
This was easily one of Ramsay’s most entertaining stunts of the night. Each of these events allowed for many people to see that hypnosis does not give a person control over external forces and people, but rather helps a person to unlock the powers of their own mind.