Enlarge / You’re feeling sleeeeeeepy… (credit: Sim Dawdler)
The brain is a strange thing, and hypnosis may be one of the weirdest brain phenomena around.
Some dude waves a watch at you and tells you there is an elephant in the room.
Voila, your brain invents an elephant, acts out the elephant’s behavior, and the rest of your brain responds as if this is real.

This weirdness is partially why I noticed a paper on how hypnotism changes visual perception.

The rest is paranoia.
I’ve been suffering from a deadly combination of fascination and suspicion when it comes to hypnotists for a long time. When I was in my teens, I remember a hypnotist visiting town—this was before anyone in New Zealand thought that hypnotism was anything but entertainment, I guess. He set up a little stage in a shopping center and invited a couple of teenage boys on stage.
The two dudes strutted up, full of pride.

After hypnotizing them, the hypnotist got them to do all sorts of things, right down to performing a strip show.

They were down to their tighty-whities when the hypnotists woke them up. Needless to say the two young men were not just shocked, they were highly embarrassed.

To make matters worse for them, the crowd roared. No gentile clapping and polite laughter—these two got the full thank-god-that-isn’t-me belly laugh.

The hypnotist had chosen a particularly cruel joke to play on a pair of highly suggestible young men.
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