As far as skeptics go, it is necessary for a reporter to be objective. To fairly present all sides with as much support evidence as possible. It was with healthy skepticism that I attended the Hypnosis By Charmaine event on Monday, August 1 at the Community Centre.
Charmaine Shirley has lived in Tumbler Ridge since 1984, leaving to study hypnotism in order to attain her certificate, enabling her to perform hypnosis treatment safely. Her reasons for wanting to become a hypnotist stemmed from her work with dentistry and witnessing the anxiety some patient?s experience. Shirley worked with the local dentist in Tumbler Ridge and when he left for Edmonton in 2003, she continued to work for him out of his Edmonton office until this past year.
She has done one previous show. These are meant to entertain and as a result, ease people?s anxiety about possibly being hypnotized for less amusing reasons. A few examples might be to stop smoking, or lose weight among other things.
Approximately 55 people attended the show, which took place at 7:30 that night in rooms 4 & 5. The cost of the event was extremely reasonable at $5.00 a ticket. I toddled in to be one of the many, I?m sure, who were there to see how impossible this all was.
Among the crowd, as well, were former participants, although not necessarily hypnotized by Shirley. One woman in the crowd, unwilling to go onstage to take part, said that she had done it several times already and wanted to watch this time.
After an initial introduction and explanation of what was about to unfold, Shirley asked people to volunteer to come onstage and fill the chairs sitting there. This proved to be a dubious task, given the fact that people are quite familiar with their neighbour in this community — and perhaps quite timid about the what-if factor. After several minutes, 12 people were sitting onstage, awaiting the transmogrifications into another dimension. Okay that?s a bit dramatic, but you had to be there. There was an exciting tension in the air and you felt a little like perhaps you were standing at the cusp of self-control and freely giving it over. Not so. It was very interesting and not at all as frightening as one might imagine at first.
I will refrain from using names to protect people?s identities, as they may wish to remain anonymous. I have to admit I only knew a few people that sat on the spotlight flooded stage and at first, you do have this thought that they could all be there either as prearranged subjects or even as those thinking it might be amusing to ?act? hypnotized.
Speaking to Shirley following the show, she did not dispute that some people, of their own design, choose to act. But not because she has asked them to – just because they think that would be fun.
She also affirmed that she can usually tell the difference when a subject is truly under, as they have a different look in their eyes, almost inebriated.
But I did know one man quite well and understood him to always be very proper and with his military background, exceptionally careful how he conducts himself at all times.
First he was shy and would not get up to behave like a woman, when prompted to do so during Shirley?s instructions along with the music of ?Man, I Feel Like A Woman? by Shania Twain.
Shirley explained that if a person would not likely do that sort of thing while clearly conscious, then they wouldn?t necessarily break that pattern while under hypnosis. But he did a fine job acting the part of a law enforcement officer doing an impromptu speech on safety and then answered questions about bicycles in town. He retorted quickly ?Nobody rides bikes anymore.? He was quick on the gun – if you?ll pardon the reference. Still a smidge uncertain, it was the end of the show that convinced me. This man who would never break sober decorum in public, danced to Y.M.C.A. and with dance moves I?m sure he?d be feeling the next day, sent me over to the side of belief. I spoke to him following the show and asked him if he remembered anything. He said very stoically, ?I?m a poor subject.? I tried to remain composed as I asked him if he did anything while up on stage. ?No,? he said. ?I wouldn?t think so.? Okaaaaaaaaaaaaay. Sold.
The evening was fun and rather awe-inspiring. My head was flooded with questions of what kinds of things a hypnotist could accomplish in beneficial ways to the client. Shirley makes no guarantees, however she is open to discussing possibilities.
And for those of you who would not get up, I plan to next time and I want to videotape it so I can see for myself. Because if some of those people truly didn?t think they were under hypnosis, I saw it myself, and it was amazing. If all you got out of it, as a direct participant, was a good sleep ? then that?s pretty nice too.
This would be great for insomniacs, among other things. Appointments with Charmaine Shirley are available through her company, Helpful Hypnosis.