Want to get hypnotized? 

By: Grace Gu ‘16
Staff Writer

The SNA committee invited Tom DeLuca, a professional hypnotist who came to Peddie two years ago, to perform and interact with students a second time at the Geiger Reeves Theater on April 5.

DeLuca travels around America to perform for schools and also holds workshops for business companies. He has won the National Association for Campus Activities College Entertainer of the Year Award four times.

DeLuca first learned about hypnotism from his college professor who was a psychologist. DeLuca initially hypnotized people one-on-one in his clinic.
“I initially hypnotized people at the clinic to help them lose weight or quit smoking,” DeLuca said. “After grad school, I started to do shows in colleges and night clubs. Soon, the shows became very popular and I was invited to perform at many colleges.”

At Peddie, DeLuca picked 20 volunteers from the crowd, mostly juniors and seniors, hypnotized them and made them follow his instructions. He first made the students imagine they were fishing and reel in the fishing rod. Then, he made them laugh at a funny movie and flinch at a scary movie about vampire rabbits.

Qadira Al-Mahi ’14 was hypnotized to act as the chief of the fun police. Whenever DeLuca said the word “fun” or the audience started laughing, Qadira would growl and tell them to stop having fun. However, after being woken up, Al-Mahi did not remember anything she did.

“All I heard was people clapping,” Al-Mahi said. “And when I woke up, I saw that one of my shoes was gone and I had a scratch on my head.”

Connor Brock ’14 was hypnotized to deem himself as the apple hero. DeLuca ordered Brock to believe that fruit had feelings. Afterwards, DeLuca made Brock feel hungry and Brock suddenly started eating an apple and a banana. When DeLuca turned Brock into being protective, he suddenly started panicking and tried to save the fruit. He was finally told he had saved the fruit and appeared to be very proud.

Kavita Oza ’14 was hypnotized to speak Martian in front of the audience and dance in the middle of the stage to the Macarena. Nevertheless, she expressed that she sometimes knew what she was doing but didn’t know why she did it. When she woke up, she felt she had only slept for a few minutes and felt very hot.

“I felt very heavy,” Oza said. “I remember him touching my fingertips. I also remember being grossed out by fruit. Someone was chewing and making that disgusting chewing sound, so I remember being really disgusted by that. I also remember leaping for the mike when Tom said ‘Thank you’. Also, I remember hearing parts of the Macarena. It was weird.”

DeLuca asked KaeLen Crowley ’14 to pick up a sponge but he subconsciously thought it was 500 pounds. Being a football player, Crowley seemed frustrated when he couldn’t lift the sponge up. When asked what he remembered, Crowley asked, “Remember what? I was hypnotized?”

While some audience members remained skeptical of hypnotism, others enjoyed the show and hoped that DeLuca would return.

“It was also hilarious to see all of the people on stage (pretending or not) dancing or acting on the hypnotists orders,” Russell Beckham ’17 said. “It was an amazing performance, I loved it.”

“[The show] was definitely entertaining, but I don’t know how much of it I really believe,” Erin Fago ’16 said.

DeLuca has already performed in many countries, such as Canada, England and France, and plans to continue his hypnotist career and workshops with different business companies.
“Sometimes performing overseas is difficult because the volunteers have to understand English well to avoid from being analytical,” DeLuca said. “Once they start to get analytical, hypnotism won’t really work on them anymore.”

Seeing the positive response from students, Katie Schwizer, the event’s organizer, wants to bring DeLuca back every other year.

“Unless I [hear] otherwise from students, I was thinking to bring him back every other year- so it keeps the activity exciting and less routine,” Schwizer said.