On Mar. 25, some students may have forgotten details of their evening, having successfully been put into a trance by Hypnotist Dan Lornitis. Lornitis has worked as a stage performer for 25 years, fifteen of it being spent as a college campus entertainer in Stage Hypnotism.
“I was a skeptic myself,” admitted Lornitis. “I was professionally trained by my mentor, Christopher Carter. I spent several months on the road with him as he performed and learned what I could.”
In beginning the evening’s show, Lornitis discussed some basic rules including not volunteering one’s friends nor going against personal moral or ethical codes by volunteering. Lornitis placed a heavy emphasis on the idea that he was not hypnotizing the volunteers, but rather guiding them in self-hypnosis through meditation.
As Lornitis prefaced his hypnotic guidance of the volunteers, he discussed various forms of trance which individuals experience absentmindedly. Some of these included highway hypnosis, conversational trances,and trances observed in sleep-walking. Highway hypnosis can occur when one is driving to a location but the last few miles can feel as though they have barely passed by. This can sometimes be a response of conditioning, in which one is not aware of their surroundings but acted upon habit.
Conversational trances occur when one is speaking to somebody, yet the listener zones out and upon consciously returning, they cannot repeat or recall what has been said to them. In sleep walking, an individual appears to be awake, but their brain activity is slowed almost to the degree of which neurological activity would occur during sleep. The Theta state is the third-deepest state of the brain, a precursor to the Delta state held in sleep. Linked with increased imagery, receptivity and memory, the Theta state can be associated with feelings of floating and spatial expansion.
“Although I say the word sleep, you will never be asleep like you would be in your bed,” Lornitis said.
All of the actions which volunteers acted out were given through verbal suggestions. Lornitis began by guiding the volunteers as a plane’s captain, as though they were on a plane which was overheating and was flying over a tropical setting. As the volunteers “flew” over the beach-setting, they transitioned their direction and flew over the Antarctic and were encouraged to wave to a penguin which was looking up at them.
As the show progressed, the volunteers were transformed in their trances as five-year-olds reacting to various genres of film including Disney’s Bambi, drivers speeding at 130 miles per hour and pulled over by police and spies who used their shoes as phones, binoculars and gas masks.
One of the best transition made by volunteers was the “cow-milking competition,” in which the students all mirrored the withholding of udders to their prize cows. Some of the names they gave for these no-existent cows were Olga, Chaw, Monica, Milky White and even the names of the students themselves.
An additional transitional state for the students was simultaneous reactions based upon trigger words or situations. One student stated “Who’s your daddy?” whenever hearing the hypnotist’s name, while another student blew a whistle and maintained the role of “laughter police,” blowing a whistle and scolding anyone whenever they laughed. Contrasting in their responses, one woman continually could not recall her first name only, while another always changed her first name.
The evening proved to be memorable for audience members, though many of the volunteers had to view the video taken to understand what had happened while entranced.