Peddie Students Get Hypnotized

Shawn Kathuria '23, Staff Writer

On Friday, March 26th, Peddie students had the privilege of being visited by Brian Imbus, an award-winning hypnotist, at the Geiger Reeves theater. “At first, I was really scared of hypnosis,” said Jenna Kim ’23, but Imbus “…addressed many misconceptions about hypnosis,” and it was a surreal experience. From the audience, Kim ’23 detailed having been able to see the students selected for hypnosis “perfectly balanced, perfectly functioning, but their mind was not present,” as they walked around the theater seemingly not on their own accord.

“I was one of the lucky ones,” said Vicki Stollenwerk ’23, a student chosen to be hypnotized. Students were assessed on their ability to be hypnotized based on some tests of relaxation. In one of these tests, they were told to imagine one hand with a brick and another with a balloon – Stollenwerk’s hands dropped and floated in accordance with the thought exercise, and she was chosen to participate.

On stage, the hypnosis began by relaxing each body part “muscle by muscle,” and participants were then told to sleep. “While I was hypnotized, I was conscious of it,” said Stollenwerk ’23, but “you are so relaxed, you do not have your own strong will and will do what the person in front of you says.” She detailed randomly dancing in the middle of the stage, chopping onions, becoming “superheroes” and “flying on the stage” among other things. Amazingly, she was not embarrassed, and could only vaguely hear laughing. One interesting exercise was when Imbus told Stollenwerk that she was getting very hot and very cold – she actually felt these temperature shifts.

Some students wanted it [hypnosis] too much, Stollenwerk ’23 said, and some didn’t believe in it. When this was the case, their ability to be relaxed was impeded, and the hypnosis tactics employed by Imbus had no effect. “If you are not in deep relaxation,” she said, “you are not hypnotized.”

Although not all students who wished to participate were able, Kim admits that her perception of hypnosis “really changed” and that she would absolutely be open to doing it in the future, given the opportunity.