2012: A hypnotist performing a show at a Montreal high school was forced to call his mentor for help after a group of teenaged girls couldn’t be awoken from his trance. One student at Collège du Sacré-Coeur was reportedly under the spell for more than five hours before the senior hypnotist arrived to sort the mess out. School officials are claiming they were unaware of the fact that hypnosis is not recommended for anyone under fourteen years of age, and suggest that the girls might have been motivated to stay under by the charm and good looks of the hypnotist. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports:
“Being in a trance is a state of well-being,” Nadeau explained. “I wasn't stressed. I knew they would get out of it.” He called his mentor and trainer, Richard Whitbread, who made the hour-long trek to the school from his home in the town of Danville. Whitbread found several girls were still under the effects of “mass hypnosis.” “There were a couple of students who had their heads lying on the table and there were [others] who, you could tell, were in trance,” he said. “The eyes were open and there was nobody home.”
The girls later described being under the sustained spell as feeling spaced out, with heavy limbs. One student who was watching the show said it felt like an out-of-body experience. “I don't know how to explain it. It's like you're no longer there,” Emilie Bertrand said. “You're spaced out.”
1844: Harriet Martineau, an English sociologist battling uterine cancer, found herself increasingly drawn to mesmerism, a mystical healing practice developed by German physician Franz Anton Mesmer. After finding an Englishman willing to put her in a trance, Martineau declared the treatment better than opiates. In Letters on Mesmerism, she attempts to put the feeling into words:
Nothing is to me more unquestionable and more striking about this influence than the absence of all reaction. Its highest exhilaration is followed, not by depression or exhaustion, but by a further renovation. From the first hour to the present, I have never fallen back a single step. Every point gained has been steadily held. Improved composure of nerve and spirits has followed upon every mesmeric exhilaration. I have been spared all the weaknesses of convalescence and carried through all the usually formidable enterprises of return from deep disease to health with a steadiness and tranquillity astonishing to all witnesses. At this time, before venturing to speak of my health as established, I believe myself more firm in nerve, more calm and steady in mind and spirits than at any time of my life before. So much, in consideration of the natural and common fear of the mesmeric influence as pernicious excitement, as a kind of intoxication.
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