Hypnotist plans to put Facebookers in trance

A modern hypnotist is planning to put a world record number of people in a trance tonight using the internet.

Chris Hughes has signed up more than 6,000 people for the stunt being run through social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.

Mr Hughes, 34, said: "It started when someone suggested we do a mass hypnosis. "Nobody has ever tried this before on such a mass scale. There is no world record so we are attempting to set a world record for the largest online group hypnosis session.

"Since we launched it, I've had people register from 85 countries, from Peru to Israel, with Italians, Britons and Americans the most interested.

"Social media is all about bringing people together, so it is a perfect way to help educate the world about hypnosis. Now I'm getting one to two registrations a minute, it has gone absolutely mad."

Mr Hughes, from Banbury, Oxfordshire, has been a hypnotist for five years and is keen to promote its benefits. "Hypnotism is not just about doing silly things, although those are great for entertainment," he said. "It's really about accepting ideas for change and dealing with things in your life that you may be having trouble accepting – like cutting out cream cakes or giving up smoking. I truly believe that everyone can be hypnotised, and people shouldn't be afraid of it."

The event, called SocialTrance, which coincides with World Hypnotism Day, will begin at 8.30pm and is expected to make it into the Guinness World Records book.

A computer with an internet connection, speakers or headphones, and a comfy chair are needed to take part.

Mr Hughes asks that people put themselves in a quiet place where they will not be disturbed during the session. "This session will be designed to help people achieve what they want to in 2010 and give people a really good start to the year.

"When someone is hypnotised they can, at a subconscious level, accept ideas that they could otherwise think are too hard or too much effort to achieve," he said.

"Hypnosis helps people internalise change and make big differences in their lives. This session will give positive, fairly general, suggestions for change that can be applied to most individual's goals."

The session will feature an audio webcast, with Mr Hughes conducting the half-hour social trance live.

"Within a minute of starting the session, those listening will be gradually taken into a relaxing level of hypnosis and it should be very enjoyable.

"To make it interesting and to demonstrate the idea of suggestion in a fun way, those taking part will find themselves at times having a sensation of their eyes stuck together and experiencing relaxation like never before."

Mr Hughes stressed that he had designed the session to be safe at all times. Anyone over 18, except pregnant women, those with mental illness, and people under the influence of alcohol or drugs, can take part, although epileptics are advised to seek advice from their doctors.

And no one should worry that they will find themselves the butt of a mass joke, clucking like a chicken every time they hear a door bell ringing or involuntarily trying to chat up a lamp post.

"At any time people will be able to open their eyes and return to their normal state. As long as people are willing, the session will continue and it's completely consensual," Mr Hughes said.

Anyone interested in taking part should visit bit.ly/socialtran to sign up. At 8.30pm, visitors will be directed to another website to begin the session.

Under their spell: Hypnosis in history

*The Ancient Greeks are believed to have used "sleep temples" for mass relaxation and healing, which employed hypnosis techniques.

*In the 1890s, the "Indian Rope Trick" was widely reported in American newspapers as an infamous illusion sweeping India. The stunt involves a stage magician hurling rope into the air, which becomes solidly vertical before an assistant climbs it. At the time, many believed it to be evidence of successful audience hypnosis, but the story was later revealed as a hoax, made-up by a writer at The Chicago Tribune.

*In 2009, magician and illusionist Derren Brown attempted to hypnotise more than 4 million of his Channel 4 audience into believing they were stuck to their furniture. One in four participants claimed to have been affected.

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