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Mind Games

By Derek Halsey (

Article Published: Aug. 15, 2013 | Modified: Aug. 22, 2013
Mind Games

Hypnotist Paul Ramsay will perform Aug. 21 at ASU.

Photo submitted

The 2013-14 school year is about to begin at Appalachian State University, and one of the upcoming events scheduled for the new semester is “Mind Games” at the Holmes Convocation Center.

This free, interactive and students-only performance will be hosted by hypnotist Paul Ramsay on Wednesday evening, Aug. 21.

Ramsay has geared his hypnotism act to university students specifically, based on his history in education and the open-mindedness of college-age people.

“I’m doing 18 shows in 21 days, and it is a popular form of entertainment when schools open up again,” said Ramsay, who’d worked in student affairs at the University of New Hampshire, before delving into hypnosis.

Before that, he was an English teacher.

“So, I feel like I connect well with that age demographic, and I really enjoy working with them,” Ramsay said. “They make better hypnotic subjects than, let’s say, corporate folks. There are hypnotists that concentrate on the corporate world and that can be enjoyable, but college kids have great energy. They are fun. They are optimistic. They want to explore and have new experiences. They are really the ideal hypnosis candidate.”

It was a chance encounter with a veteran hypnotist that changed Ramsay’s career path. While at UNH, Ramsay was running a residence hall, the duties for which included social programming. Each year, he would hire a retired hypnotist to demonstrate in the main lounge.

“He would do his thing with the kids, and then the kids would leave, and he and I would sit around a little bit, and he would tell me about interesting case stories he had and clients he had worked with,” Ramsay said. “So, the third year, he told me a cool story, and I said, ‘Man, that is so cool. I’d love to learn how to do that.’ Without missing a beat, he said, ‘I’ll teach you. I think you would really be good at it.’

“I actually put him off for a whole year, and then I started meeting with him, and he taught me the basics of it. So, I left that very comfortable student affairs job with health benefits, and I sold my car and took the money and put it in the bank, so I could live on it as a safety net that first year. I started my business in 2004, and it is the best thing I have ever done.”

Ramsay’s “Mind Games” show on Aug. 21 will not only be full of hypnotic fun, but the audience will also be able to participate in an interactive way.

“It is the only truly interactive stage hypnotism show in the world as far as I know,” Ramsay said. “We do two things that make it really different. The first thing is that we don’t pull people up onstage and hypnotize them on the stage. I thought it would be really fun to watch your friends, your roommate, your boyfriend or girlfriend go into hypnosis sitting right next to you. I do a process that gets them into hypnosis while they are still in their seats, and then I have a way of figuring out who it is working for, and we get those people to come up.

“Then, we hand out remote controls to a sample group within the audience, and then we put choices up on a video screen, and the people with the remote controls get to vote on what they want to see happen. So, the kids that don’t have a remote are hollering at the kids who do, trying to influence the vote.”

Those who make it to the stage have been known to put on a show. In one instance, Ramsay said, a student believed she was pop artist Carly Rae Jepsen, performing “Call Me Maybe” in concert. Another time, a group of participants believed they were competing in the “Guitar Hero” World Championships. “They hallucinate the guitars as part of the experience,” he said.

People can see for themselves at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21, at the Holmes Convocation Center, located at the corner of Rivers Street and Blowing Rock Road in Boone. Admission is free. For more information, visit

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