January 11, 2012 - Relax and focus on the swinging gold watch. You're getting very, very sleepy. Now, start clucking like a chicken.
Hypnotist Michael Brody is coming to OHS for a show at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13. (click for larger version)
Okay, so maybe that lead didn't hypnotize you, but it did get you read this story about Michael Brody, a master stage hypnotist and master clinical hypnotherapist who's bringing his unique act to the Oxford High School Fine Arts Center Friday, Jan. 13 at 6 p.m.
"It is entertainment for the whole family," said Brody, of Waterford. "The audience members become the stars of the show. People get instantly hypnotized and get to do very crazy, fun things."
Some of the things Brody hypnotizes his volunteers into doing include forgetting their name, thinking the person next to them is a teddy bear, believing their tongue falls out every time they speak, and watching their belly button roll around.
"The more descriptive of a suggestion I give, the more they can accept the suggestion," he explained. "They use their imagination to experience it like it's real."
The Jan. 13 show is being sponsored by the OHS junior class. Admission is $7 per person and the proceeds will be used to help the juniors finance this year's prom.
Brody's been a hypnotist for 20 years. He travels all over Michigan and Ohio, performing his act at all-night parties for high school seniors, conventions and small, private parties. He also does demonstrations for psychology classes.
A few years ago, Brody did his act at the OHS senior all-night party and he's "honored" to be returning.
Believe it or not, it was actually Brody's previous career as an international puppeteer that got him involved in hypnosis.
Back in the late 1980s, Brody was performing his act at the Westchester County Fair in New York when he met Russ Burgess, a famous stage hypnotist who amazed audiences for about 60 years before he retired in 2007.
"I really wasn't interested in hypnosis at all until I saw (Burgess') show," he said. "I just thought it was fascinating, incredibly fascinating."
As luck would have it, Burgess' hobby was puppeteering, so he and Brody decided to teach each other the tricks of their respective trades.
"The only way you can learn stage hypnosis is from another stage hypnotist," Brody said. "It took me about three weeks to learn everything I needed to know about stage hypnosis and about a year to perfect."
Brody started out performing for friends and things took off from there.
Brody's interest in hypnosis grew to the point where he wanted to go from entertaining people to actually helping them deal with their personal problems.
So, he studied to become a master clinical hypnotherapist and today, he uses his skills to help people quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, overcome phobias and boost their self-esteem.
But he still loves performing on stage.
Brody indicated he can hypnotize the average audience volunteer in about 2 seconds.
"For 20 years, I've been practicing and I've actually learned many, many techniques," he said. "I've researched how the brain works and how with certain words put together with focusing powers, you can actually hypnotize somebody within a second-and-a-half. Basically, shaking their hand and they're out."
Brody explained "the key to the whole thing" is a person must want to be hypnotized.
"Someone comes up to me and says, 'Mike, I bet you can't hypnotize me.' I can't. It's impossible," he said. "The people who come up on stage are the people who really want to be hypnotized. They really want the experience of what it feels like to be in your subconscious. I'm glad to show them how it feels."
Brody hypnotizes people by "breaking" their concentration while they're in a conscious state.
"The minute you do that, the minute you break that concentration, you instantaneously slip into a subconscious state and (it's) in your subconscious state where suggestions are given," he said.
It's while in a subconscious state that, according to Brody, people are "more susceptible" to suggestions "without being critical – asking questions like why and what's happening?"
"In your subconscious state, you basically hear the suggestion and if it's not against your morals, you don't think about why, you just automatically do it," he said. "Basically, what it does is frees up your inhibitions."
Brody stressed that hypnosis cannot force someone to do anything they wouldn't normally do while in a conscious state.
"If I said to them, I want you to jump off a roof, they're not going to do that unless they're a professional roof-jumper," he said. "They're not going to do anything that they don't want to do. Nothing that's against their morals or makes them feel uncomfortable. Anything that's endangering them, they will not do. In fact, they most likely will come out of the somnambulist state. They'll actually wake up."
A somnambulist state is basically the "deepest level" of stage hypnosis, according to Brody.
Somnambulism is more commonly known as sleepwalking and its the stage of consciousness that Brody tries to induce in his volunteers.
"When people dream, they go into something called a REM state, (which stands for) rapid eye movement – that's when they're dreaming," he explained. "In hypnosis, people go into REM, so they visualize those different things (being suggested). It's like a lucid dream, but you can actually use all your senses to experience it. You're seeing things that are not really there, even with your eyes open. You feel like you're actually there."
For instance, anyone can imagine himself or herself riding on a roller coaster, but hypnosis allows them to actually feel all the sensations associated with the experience.
"You can feel your stomach start to drop. You feel the wind going through your hair. You feel yourself going through a loop-de-loop," Brody said.
Brody noted "one of the big myths" about hypnosis is that it can only be successfully used on weak-minded folks.
"It's not (for) the weak of mind at all – it's just the opposite," he said. "You actually have to have a very strong mind to be hypnotized. You have to have a very strong focusing technique. People who have strong minds are the ones who have a good idea of what they want and how they want to do it."
Brody invites everyone to attend the Jan. 13 show at OHS and "be prepared" to see "something that basically seems like the impossible" happen right on stage.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.