..The Hypnotist.. Presidents, Pregnant Boys and Pepto-Bismol

Only a master hypnotist could have made Faiyad Ahmad ’10 scream “I’m so sexy” in front of hundreds of students in Tang Theatre last weekend. In addition to hypnotizing our dear school president, guest performer Steve Taubman also transformed Jeremy Hutton ’11 into Tarzan, Andrew Lee ’10 into Brad Pitt and Braxton Carr ’12 into a pregnant boy. The show started with Taubman asking all audience members interested in being hypnotized to stand up and form a circle. He then selected a group of about twenty volunteers to go up on stage. Taubman said that he looked for “rapid eye movement [and] relaxation of facial muscles” when choosing his group of volunteers. Then, Taubman started to count down from ten, helping his volunteers relax. Seyoung Lee ’12, one of the hypnotized volunteers, said, “[At] the very beginning, your body is really relaxed. My body was losing its tension.” Looking back on the night, most students who were hypnotized remember only bits and pieces of their experiences on stage. Taubman worked his magic, making the students talk into audience members’ shoes, which they believed to be cell phones connected to President Obama. Billy Fowkes ’10 said, “I remember holding someone’s shoe, but having no clue why I was holding it.” In another act, whenever Taubman said “Pepto-Bismol,” the hypnotized volunteers would smell a very bad odor. His “magic perfume,” on the other hand, would make the hypnotized students smell their favorite scent. Andrew Mitchell ’11, who was also hypnotized, said, “[Taubman] made us smell something, and I remember [it was] the best smell I’ve ever smelled in my life.” At one point, Taubman told his volunteers to focus on their greatest fear, and he would get rid of it. However, this did not work perfectly for all students. “Everyone keeps asking me if I got rid of my greatest fear,” said Fowkes. “But I can’t remember what I chose as my greatest fear. I assume I probably picked bugs because I hate bugs, but I haven’t come into contact with any bugs worth being scared of recently. I’ll let you know.” One of the funniest acts of the night was about a movie theater. Taubman hypnotized the volunteers into seeing a comedy that made them laugh hysterically, a tragedy that nearly made them cry and even a petrifying horror movie. Ben Manuel ’12, an audience member, said, “I nearly thought that the [hypnotized students] were about to die of fear [during the scary movie]. They looked so horrified.” Next came a romantic movie. Fowkes said, “All I can remember is being in a romantic movie with some girl, but not knowing who the girl [was] or [what the] movie was.” The final movie was a “dirty” movie, in which the hypnotized volunteers were startled to see their parents on the screen. The expressions on the volunteers’ faces were priceless. Some students in the audience felt glad that they were not picked to be hypnotized. Manuel said, “It was really funny to see [the volunteers] get hypnotized, but I’m glad that I wasn’t up there tonight.” In general, most volunteers reported that hypnosis was similar to dreaming. Fowkes said that when he woke up, he “felt as if someone had just woken [him] up in the middle of the night.” Mitchell said, “[During the hypnosis] I was kind of half awake. I sort of had free will, as if I was asleep but not quite.” Taubman confirmed this theory. “One hour of hypnosis is worth four hours of sleep,” he said. He also spoke of other benefits of hypnosis. “[Hypnosis] gets rid of fears and bad habits. [It] empowers people, helps [them] forget a bad memory such as trauma, or [helps them] do the opposite and remember a good memory,” Taubman said. Taubman began a career as a hypnotist thirteen years ago, when he graduated from the American Board of Hypnotherapy. Although he still does some clinical hypnosis on the side, he currently performs shows at colleges and other venues across the country and he occasionally gives speeches about the power of the mind. We can only hope that Steve Taubman will come back once more next year to hypnotize our students into imitating Disney characters, celebrities and more pregnant boys in labor.