Said to access human’s innermost feelings, hypnotism has found an upsurge of new recruits in Ho Chi Minh City who wanted to “control others” but would turn disillusioned as true mesmerizing skills are hard to come by.
A girl opening a hypnotism website
A hypnotism manual titled “Thuat thoi mien” or “Hypnotization Skills” has been widely circulated among would-be hypnotists, though little credibility can be ascertained from the book except the author’s name, “Pham Hoc Tan”.
A google search for the name turns up 1,280 results but most are from Vietnamese sites directly associated with the book. There is little information about the author.
Nevertheless, it has become the most searched e-book among Vietnamese bent on mastering the art of hypnotism.
T.H.N, an IT engineer from Phu Nhuan district, sang praises of the book, claiming he could bend his boss round to his will just after a week learning tricks from this book.
Meanwhile, H. M. H, a university student failed to win the heart of his dream girl after spending five hours a day practicing it for a month. “Maybe I need to spend more time to get to a higher level,” he consoled himself.
Catching up on the trend, numerous hypnotization courses have appeared online, promising learners with the power to heal all kinds of diseases and problems, such as obesity, pain, fear, gambling, smoking, and drinking.
However, for Nguyen Van Tap from district 12 who wanted to quit smoking via this method, whenever he closed his eyes to hypnotize himself out of the desire, he felt a stronger thirst for the nicotine instead.
L, the hypnotism trainer who is making a name for himself online, guaranteed success for all learners, charging each of them VND 1.5 millions for a five- or ten-day online training session.
Yet, when confronted with students who failed to effect the skills, he blamed it on their limited learning ability or their lack of aptitude for hypnotism.
Tuoi Tre found out that L simply regurgitated the same teaching material from the “Hypnotization Skills” book.
“Control others and get all you want” classes
In comparison, direct classes cost more, ranging from VND 10 millions ($500) for basic level to VND 16 millions ($810) for advanced level classes.
Attracting people of both sexes of all ages and from walks of life, the classes seem to spread everywhere in district 7, district 12 and Tan Binh district.
Some even had their flyers distributed to the public, boasting slogans like “Rule the world with the magic”, or “Control others and get all you want”.
Disguised as a hypnotism fan, Tuoi Tre reporters visited “Doctor” T. L in district 7, and asked to experience his hypnotizing skill.
T. L closed his eyes and murmured his spell for a while but all he got was an unfazed subject with a wide grin staring back at him. He made the excuse that too many people in the class was causing the distraction and hampered his ‘power’.
Thieves too play mind games
Meanwhile, hypnotism thefts could be real when con men put their victim under a trance and relieve them of their belongings.
A few days ago, a student waiting for a bus home in Thu Duc district was approached by a young man who put her into a mesmeric condition and had her hand over the cell phone and all money to him.
Only after she was on the bus did she realize what had happened.
The same thing happened to Ngo Thi Lan, from Go Vap district, when she lost VND8 million ($410) and a gold ring to a man who she said spell-bound her and made her take him to her room and give him the valuables.
The city police said these thieves usually targeted women with fairly good economic condition. After having gathered a good amount of personal information about them, they would approach them, sweet-talk them into dropping their guard and handing over their property.
According to Doctor Nguyen Ngoc Quang from The Ho Chi Minh City Institute of Forensic Psychiatry, the victims were put into a mesmeric state when hypnotized. With their imagination being highly stimulated, they remain uninfluenced by the stimulus of the surroundings.
This is what happened to Nguyen Manh Thin’s wife who runs a small grocery shop at home in Cay Dau Ward, District 9. When he had been out leaving his wife alone in the shop, two women came in and spoke to her at length, putting her into a mesmerized state. Only after they had driven off did she realize she had given them all the cash in the till.
These con artists also approach pedestrians in public places. The most common trick is to pretend to ask for directions or a ride. Some also disguise themselves as street vendors, lottery ticket sellers, or motorbike mechanics.
Two women from Districts 3 and Binh Thanh reported their loss of money, cell phones, and jewelry to some strangers who accosted them on the street and simply patted them on the back.
Many of the incidents happened near Tan Son Nhat International Airport and Hoang Van Thu Park in Tan Binh District, a known hangout of drug-users and prostitutes.
In reality, hypnotizing people to steal from them is not a new phenomenon. It was first reported in Viet Nam in 1975, according to Khong Nguyen, a kungfu teacher. The trick, originating in the southern provinces and HCMC, has now spread all the way to Ha Noi.
Houdini still far away
As a director and researcher in biogeography perception, Du Quang Chau from HCMC-based Hong Bang University revealed that to be a successful hypnotizer, learners must be exposed to frequent practices under the guidance of professional trainers from an accredited research center.
But only 10 percent of learners attending such professional courses were successful, he warned.
Attending amateur courses could result in detrimental effects on the learners’ mental health on top of financial losses, according to psychological doctor Ngo Xuan Diep, from the HCMC University of Social Sciences and Humanities.
She considers hypnotization as a kind of hypnotherapy not having any material effect on the physical body.