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Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Students hypnotized during “Magical Mystery Tour” on Saturday

UF junior Courtney Read said almost all she can recall from her hypnosis was riding a motorcycle in a sandy, cactus-filled desert in Arizona.

Hypnotist Rich Alexander put Read into a deep sleep on stage in front of about 200 students Saturday. Read said she couldn’t believe how up close and personal she became with the other participants, falling asleep on their laps and collapsing onto the floor.

Ten students were hypnotized during the Inter-Residence Hall Association’s “Magical Mystery Tour” in Jennings Hall Saturday evening.  They spoke imitation foreign languages, belly-danced, surfed and became Lady Gaga, when, in reality, their actions were merely figments of their imagination.

When the hypnotist put the volunteers into a deep sleep, spectators moved to the edge of their seats, some flooding the front of the stage to get a better view.

At one point, Alexander told the participants that the shoulder of the person next to them would have a heavenly scent. UF junior Lee Penn couldn’t believe he allowed himself to get so physically close to others.

“I don’t normally touch other people, yet I was getting all over some girl’s shoulder,” Penn said.

To be hypnotized, Penn said he had to put himself in a state of mind where he truly believed what Alexander was telling him.

“It’s like when you watch a movie and you have to suspend your disbelief to get into it,” Penn said. “I had to think that it was real.”

Although the students did things they usually wouldn’t do, Alexander said hypnosis can occur only by one’s own will.

“It’s a mental tool that we all have and most people don’t understand,” Alexander said. “If you have the attitude that you can’t be hypnotized, it’ll never happen.”

Having hypnotized about 20,000 people throughout his career, Alexander said he uses hypnotism not only to entertain but also to teach people how they can improve their lives.

Alexander has used clinical hypnosis to help people quit smoking, lose weight and relieve stress and anxiety.

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At the end of his act, Alexander told participants they would have the ability to set goals for themselves from that day forward.

Since the hypnotism, Read said she feels more driven to set and achieve goals.

“I don’t know if it’s me psyching myself out because I followed what he said to do while I was hypnotized,” Read said, “but I do believe it.”

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