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Why People Are Passing Out

I just got back from the Chicago Printer's Row Book Fair, Chuck gave a reading of Guts, it was great. Two more people passed out. My friend and I commented afterwards that we both felt a bit odd during the reading, not like passing out weird, but "off". I have speculated for a while about this phenomenon of Chuck's story GUTS being like the culling poem, except it just causes fainting... Anyway, it always seemed to me that Chuck might be employing some of those well researched, Tender Branson, crowd influencing/dynamics/fervor techniques that he's on about in Survivor. Coming back from the show today I think he's got some working structure of Ericksonian hypnosis going on.

Ericksonian hypnosis doesn't use the props, the "you are getting sleepy... and such of the stuff you see on stage and think of from Alien Abduction regressions, instead it's subtle and works without you being aware that' it's working. It's not a "now act like a chicken" kind of thing, but could set up certain, very basic trance like states.

This is from a site on Erickson:

"But not all hypnotherapists believe in direct suggestions. In fact, Ericksonian hypnotherapy uses more of what it is called indirect suggestions. Indirect suggestions are much harder to resist because they are often not even recognized as suggestions by the conscious mind, since they usually disguise themselves as stories or metaphors. An example of an indirect suggestion is "... and perhaps your eyes will grow tried as you listen to this story, and you will want to close them, because people can, you know, experience a pleasant, deepening sense of comfort as they allow their eyes to close, and they relax deeply." This would all be said in such a way as to mark out key words and phrases (indicate here in italics) by subtle shifts in the tone of voice. The person's unconscious awareness thus responds to these "imbedded commands."

Guts opens with, "Hold your breath." And you don't, not really, but it sort of sets up your body for that thinking, subconsciously. Couple that with his cadence, and his excellent delivery and you get something that causes some sort of shift in say alpha wave states, and for a few people it zones them in so much they pass out. The graphic language helps of course, the content and all that, but these are Chuck fans here, and I don't think the "shocking" nature of the material is causing the feinting going on, not so much.

Now pack everyone in this tent we were in, everyone breathing out carbon dioxide, intent, fixated on Chuck, his voice, this enthralling story and his use of a little parlor trick Ericksonian technique and there you go.

I got you buddy, busted Chucky P!

But you don't care at the end anyway because it was still cool as hell even if there was a little stage illusion going on.

All right, I know this may seem like a stretch, but I don’t think it is. I’ve been thinking about this for a bit and now I saw it up close and there just isn’t any reason why people would be dropping like flies at these things. The story isn’t that bad. People weren’t dropping at The Passion of the Christ and that had torture and religious extasis going for it. This is more like some mild hangover version of an Evangelical rally, really, really diluted… It’s working the crowd, doing a bit of mind play. Or, I could be reading in too much. But I think Chuck’s having a good laugh over all this and what he pulled over here. I for one hope he is.

Now if I can just figure out how he pulled it off in Italian, via an actor reading the story....