A professional hypnotist named Jim Wand has visited Creighton annually for many years. He’s coming this week. 

So, what is hypnotism? Is it fake? Is mind control real? 

In the 1953 book Hypnosis by André M. Weitzenhoffer, hypnotism is defined as “An artificially induced state, usually (though not always) resembling sleep, but physiologically distinct from it, which is characterized by heightened suggestibility and as a result of which certain sensory, motor and memory abnormalities may be induced more readily than in the normal state,” 

Is hypnotism real, or just a carefully manufactured magic trick? I asked Creighton professor of Cognitive Psychology Thomas Budesheim some questions regarding the reality of hypnotism. 

Do you consider hypnotism a legitimate scientific phenomenon, or more of a magic trick that fools the audience into believing in the power of suggestion? 

“It is certainly a phenomenon that occurs... But there are a lot of myths about hypnosis. The way it is typically portrayed in movies, TV and the media in general is not very accurate. When it comes to a stage hypnotist, it isn’t magic... I think it is best to describe what is happening this way: it’s one’s ability to be hypnotized rather than the hypnotist’s ability to hypnotize that really matters.” 

What do you know about hypnotism and how does it apply to your field of study, if it applies at all? 

“Hypnosis has been used and misused in psychology. For example, hypnosis has been used in treating pain, and as a component in therapy for anxiety disorders. But this may in part be a placebo effect, and in part, due to the relaxation that accompanies hypnosis.” 

If you could educate the Creighton student body about any part of hypnotism, the history of hypnotism, or its role in society today, what would you like to them to know? 

“Enjoy it as entertainment, just as you would a magic act or reading your horoscope. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking the hypnotist is exerting any real mind control, just like you don’t believe the magician is using real magic, or that your personality and the course of your life was somehow shaped by what constellations happened to be in the sky on the day you were born.” 

If you’d like to experience hypnotism first hand, I recommend going to Jim Wand’s show. I myself, was hypnotized at his show in 2016. The experience is difficult to explain without experiencing it yourself. 

Jim Wand will be back this Thursday, Sept. 19 to once again hypnotize the Creighton community. The show will begin at 6:00pm in the Skutt Ballroom.

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