“Hypnosis? Wait, is this for real?” “I don’t believe in hypnosis.” “Hypnosis is so fake…just a lot of people acting like fools.” “Dude, hypnosis is definitely real. There’s no way people could act that realistically in front of a crowd.” On Friday, Hope College was visited by a hypnotist named Chris Jones, and as the comments above show, hypnosis is a highly disputed subject, even among college students. A Chicago native, Jones got his big break in 2015 on “America’s Got Talent,” where he hypnotized judge Howie Mandel on national television. Back in Holland, it was standing room only in the Bultman Student Center Great Room as Jones hypnotized over a dozen students. These students were completely unaware that they were under Jones’ control, and they obeyed a variety of commands, such as playing their classmates as instruments or creating superhero alteregos, complete with names and superpowers.
Chris Jones, often mistaken for Drake, had an instant connection with the audience and kept everyone on the edge of their seats throughout his entire act. He started with a repetitive meditation which involved holding the imaginary string of a balloon while inhaling and exhaling. Within minutes he had already successfully hypnotized three students. One student, Aidan Piwnicki (’21), was especially affected by Jones’ hypnotism because he had been hypnotized the previous year. Piwnicki was asked in an interview whether or not he expected to be hypnotized again. He responded, “I definitely did want to get hypnotized again, so I was expecting to. The first time I got hypnotized, I remember later asking the hypnotist if it’s possible to be hypnotized again. He said that after each hypnosis, your defenses are lowered, making your suggestibility more likely and faster.
In fact, I was out before he even started the exercise this time.” He was the first student to be hypnotized, and most of the audience was in shock, unable to believe that their fellow student was under the control of the hypnotist. The audience waited for him to break character, but for the next 90 minutes he never lost the haze in his eyes. Piwnicki described this feeling as “a lack of inhibition…I was aware, but my mind was empty. It’s like I was watching myself and being myself at the same time.” Each of the students under hypnosis reacted to the commands differently, but they all eventually complied. Jones would give an order, and his followers would go out and select people from the audience to help participate. They danced, gave advice and even tried to hide from the police, all because of Jones’ hypnosis. There was never a dull moment during the show, and the students in the audience were constantly laughing, watching their classmates complete the tasks without hesitation.
Jones played one audience-favorite prank on the hypnotized participants. While they were “asleep” he told them that he was Drake and that they were at his concert instead of a hypnotism show. As expected, the hypnotized students were shocked to see Drake performing when they woke up. At the end of the act, each student was asked to leave the stage. Once they took their third step off stage, their memory was restored. Their post-hypnotism reactions were priceless and served as the exact proof Hope needed to truly believe in Chris Jones’ powerful hypnosis abilities.