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Hypnotist bewilders students

Kayla Byler / Lantern photographer

Hypnotist Thomas Bresadola had students picking up their lost belly buttons and flying airplanes as a crowd looked on at an event Monday night.

The Ohio Union Activities Board hosted Bresadola in the U.S. Bank Conference Theatre at the Ohio Union.

Bresadola is widely known for his ability to put participants into a state of hypnosis and then elicit any behavior that he asks for. He has won the Stage Hypnotist of the World award, given out by S.H.O.W. five times.

Bresadola said that there are two kinds of people who come to the show: those who believe, and those who don’t. 

“The audience who comes to see a hypnosis show is a person who believes in hypnosis, and they want to show their friends,” Bresadola said.

“Then you have skeptics. They say, ‘Oh, it’s fake. I don’t believe it.’ Ninety-eight percent of the time, the skeptics change their minds.”

One of those skeptics was Ryan Monge, a fourth-year in communication, who said prior to the show he didn’t believe in power of hypnotism and was forced to come by his girlfriend, Mary Smith, a fourth-year in nursing.

“If I get picked tonight, I would put on an act like everyone else,” Monge said. “I just don’t believe in that altering state of mind, that some guy can have complete control over you. I think it’s a scam.”

Smith said she believed otherwise.

“It works. People quit smoking (because of hypnosis), and there are studies that prove it,” Smith said.

The show began with Bresadola explaining the six stages of hypnosis, of which the participants would only experience the first three. In the first three stages, participants are susceptible to suggestions from Bresadola and feel no pain, although no one was put in the position to get hurt. The last three stages are reserved for therapeutic purposes.

When volunteers were asked to come to the stage, students from the audience rushed to the open chairs, but only 15 were allowed to participate.

Bresadola relaxed the participants by asking them to visualize various scenarios such as walking through caves. Each scenario was meant to put the participants in a deeper sleep.

After counting down from seven to one and snapping his fingers, most of the participants should have been in a state of hypnosis.

Several participants left the stage, not feeling the effects of the state, but more than half remained in their chairs taking Bresadola’s commands.

Audience members were bent over in their seats laughing as they watched participants fly airplanes, cheer on horse races, pick up their belly buttons as they rolled on the floor, win bingo and fall in love with strangers, among other scenarios.

The night ended with Bresadola waking the participants up, but not without giving them a few more tasks.

Bresadola taught each participant a trick to help them focus on their homework more productively, which would last long after the show, he said.

Participant Charles Holbrook, a second-year in philosophy, said he didn’t remember anything after Bresadola took them through the caves and the sand, but he didn’t believe he was hypnotized.

“He was describing a scene to us, and then I just kind of zoned out. I think some people got hypnotized, but it wasn’t me,” Holbrook said.

Monge’s girlfriend recorded him flying a plane and doing the robot. He said his beliefs changed by the end.

“I believe now,” he said. “You can see all the commands that he gives to everybody, and they actually follow through. It’s pretty wild.”

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