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  • Robert Farago

Hypnotism R.I.P.

The author hangs up his swinging watch

“I have a terrible short term memory.” The girl behind the counter was apologizing for not remembering the concoction she’d invented the last time I bellied-up to the juice bar. “No you don’t,” I said. “You have hyper-focus.”

When Sally (not her real name) made smoothies, she focused entirely on what she was doing, to the complete exclusion of anything else. “It’s true,” she admitted. “I also have OCD.”

Although the comely college student told me she wasn’t prone to typical obsessive-compulsive behavior (checking and rechecking the oven, door locks, etc.), she struggled with perfectionism.

“I can’t leave an answer on a test until I’m 100 percent sure it’s right. My grades are suffering.”

To quell her anxiety and increase her capability, Sally’s psychiatrist put her on max Xanax – to no avail. Her therapist wasn’t making progress, either.

“When you drive somewhere, do you forget how you got there when you arrive?” I asked. “All the time!” she replied.

Chances are Sally was hypnotic. That I could help her. I was willing to take a shot because well, why wouldn’t I? MYOB.

I’ve never been good at that, professionally or personally. White Knight Syndrome, or the behavior of a caring person? I like to think it’s the latter, but I’ve come to accept it’s the former.

Regular readers will know I’ve been toying with the idea of resurrecting my career as a hypnotist – an avocation that earned me fame and fortune in The Land of Hope and Glory. A couple of weekends before my smoothie session, I explored the possibility.

The plan: street hypnosis videos, riffing on the watch swinging “influencers” who've garnered millions of views. The hook: on-the-spot therapy rather than “look at how powerful I am that I can put this cute babe under my power and make her do stupid shit.”

When the Texas heat broke, I hit Sixth Street with a videographer. After numerous unsuccessful approaches, I convinced a bouncer to let me hypnotize him to give up smoking. An hour later, he was puffing on a death stick.

A street hustler was offering a hundred bucks to anyone who could ape hang off a raised steel bar for 200 seconds. Just $20 a go! I hypnotized three people to accomplish the task, to prove the power of the subconscious mind. None of them made it.

My hypnotic failures didn’t deep-six my desire to re-engage with my former craft. I’ve bombed before. The law of averages was on my side. If I’d kept at it long enough, I’d find a good subject and ta-da! Cured!

The thing is I felt dirty on Dirty Sixth. I was only marginally better than the ape hanger hustler. A drug dealer. Pimp. Worse, given the psychological come-on? After chasing drunken Millennials for video fodder, I wouldn’t argue the point.

I ended the night’s misadventure and retreated to my balcony. Sharing a cigar with the videographer, I analyzed my diss-ease…

When I was a big deal in the UK, clients came to me with their challenges: smoking, phobias, confidence, grieving, etc. Yes, I courted media attention. But I genuinely wanted to help people. And they genuinely wanted my help. Often as a last resort.

Street hypnosis was so not that. It was a lame attempt at show-boating, lacking any integrity. If there is a God, she did well to position non-hypnotic subjects in my path.

So here I am, now, a full-time writer. Bearing my soul and shaking my fist at the world for a small, but much appreciated audience. Wondering where, if anywhere, this chapter of my life will lead.

Somewhere. Every success I’ve achieved in life has come from paring down to a singular pursuit, then working on it with single-minded persistence. Tapping into the same hyper-focus bedeviling Sally.

In case you hadn’t clocked the timeline, my convo with Sally was a post-Sixth Street relapse. I will honor it should she desire, but I’m also done with therapeutic “conversations” leading to watch swinging offers.

I’ve put what I’ve learned about hypnosis into my second novel (serialized here) and shared my knowledge in this Stack. In the interests of being good to my “inner child,” I’ll let my inner Arthur Hoggett have the final word. “That’ll do pig. That’ll do.”

Thanks for reading The Truth About Everything. Please share this stack with significant others

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