Hypnotized in the Rotunda

Maria Perez and Krista Summerville

When you hear the word hypnotist, you might think of the mysterious hypnotist figure featured in movies, comic books and television. He is usually depicted as the man who waves a pocket watch back and forth in front of his subjects face until their subject falls into a zombie- like state. Once hypnotized, the subject must obey, no matter how strange the request may be.

Mercy College students got the chance to experience Joe Devito, The Comedy Hypnotist, last month in Dobbs Ferry. There, students experienced hypnotism in an entertaining and comedic way.

The laughter in the Rotunda was non-stop with Devito while he was hypnotizing Mercy College students. With the few students he chose as subjects, Devito used stage performance to entertain the rest of the audience. From hypnotizing two students to slow dance with each other, to having his subjects think they were world famous ballet dancers, Devito had the audience stunned and roaring with laughter. Some people felt it was an act while others felt hypnosis.

Camille Burke, a spectator during his questionable performance, really did believe in the whole act. “Being a hypnotist, if he or she tells you things to do, you start to actually believe it,” explained Burke.


During the performance, students in the audience had one question on their mind: Were the subjects really hypnotized?

“No,” said Shariah Bottex and Flora White, two of Devito’s many subjects whom he had hypnotized that night. The two both claimed that they were acting, but believed that they were both hypnotized during one point of the show.

“I started to believe I was hypnotized when he said that there would be a weird smell in the room. I really did smell a weird disgusting smell,” Bottex explained.

Various forms of hypnosis has existed for thousands of years dating back to the Far East Asian and Hindu practices. Western doctors began studying the practice in the 18th  century. Hypnosis is described a mental state or an imaginative role enactment. Although many feel hypnosis is a type of sleep stance, actually it is believed by doctors that patients are very much awake and more open to suggestion and instructions.

Sigmund Freud even began practicing hypnotism on patients before discovering psychoanalysis. Aside from entertainment, the practice is used to stop smoking, control weight issues and overcome fears and phobias, amongst other issues.


When asked if they believed that the other students chosen as subjects were under some hypnotic spell, both girls had different answers.

“Definitely, especially with the way most of them were acting,” White said.

“It all seemed like an act, but a couple of them seemed hypnotized,” Bottex stated.

Burke’s opinon about the result of the show was a little different.

“It was fun and very entertaining. Joe Devito seemed like he knew what he was doing, so it made the flow of the show smooth and didn’t seem fake”