Monday, December 29, 2008


Back in 1975 while attending the University of Connecticut, I was a member of the Student Union Board of Governors, a group that planned student activities for the UCONN students. I was co-chairman of the Media-Film & lecture committee that year and we hired Dr. Franz Polgar, a hypnotist, to perform at the Von Der Madden auditorium.

I still get a chuckle when I think about that night and reflect upon what transpired.

Dr. Polgar, at the time, had appeared on television shows, cruise ships, as well as performing for other university campuses and events. Before the evenings performance, he mentioned to me that he once played and beat a world class Chinese table tennis player by hypnotizing his opponent during the ping pong match.

As the evening commenced, I introduced Dr. Polgar to the crowd and took my seat in the audience. Dr. Polgar started his show by asking for volunteers. He picked about twenty students and had them join him on stage. He explained that when you are hypnotised that he wouldn't make anyone do anything that would make them uncomfortable and proceeded to put the twenty volunteers under a light trance. To each student he gave instructions on what he would have them do while they were on stage and what signals he would use for each of them to start the activity he programmed them to do. Of course, the audience heard all the instructions so we had an idea of what is to come.

Dr. Polgar brought an ordinary chair on to the stage. He had told one football player sized guy that this chair weighed 2,000 pounds. He told the guy to lift the chair and he struggled with all his might and couldn't lift up the chair. With the same chair he told a slightly built girl that the chair weighed 2 pounds and that she could lift the chair over her head with one arm. It was priceless to see the look of amazement on the guy's face.

There was a chalk board on stage. He asked one fellow named John to write his name on the board. Dr. Polgar then said "very good John, now you are 6 years old, please write your name."
John wrote very slowly and printed in big letters and showed a lot of concentration on his face.
Then Dr. Polgar said " John, it is now 1864, where are you?" John said he was a soldier in the union army.

Dr. Polar adjusted his tie. This was a prompt for a guy and girl who had never met to say "Dr. Polgar please take a picture of us". Later after they were out of their trance they couldn't believe that there was a picture of them.

When Dr. Polgar touched his ear, another student went to him and said "Please give me the microphone. I'm President Ferguson and I'd like to give a speech to the audience."

One person in particular had me in stitches and he didn't do anything. That's the point. Dr. Polgar forgot to program him under trance to do anything. Can you imagine going to a hypnotist show, volunteering to go on stage, and then face the audience under trance for the whole show, being brought out of the trance at the end and not remembering anything ?

A final memory from this show : Dr. Polgar said that he wouldn't be paid unless he could find his check. Dr. Polgar left the auditorium and the check was hidden. Dr. Polgar came back and said that the only help he wanted was to have someone from the audience hold his hand as he walked around the auditorium. He picked a random girl and walked around. Sure enough he found his check. Amazing!