"Hypnotic Orgasms," the press release read, "are one of the most intense types of Orgasms and can be had by both women and men. The process is simple and scientific. Come see for yourself."
The email made me laugh, and not because of the all-too-obvious pun. I was skeptical. It's not that I don't believe in the possibility of a hypnotically induced orgasm — after all, the mind is the most powerful sexual organ — but because the person conducting the free workshop and demonstration billed himself as an "Erotic Comedy Hypnotist."
Not only should the terms "erotic" and "comedy" never be paired, but the Feb. 14 workshop was scheduled to take place at a Mexican restaurant in Marietta. You know, because nothing says orgasms quite like queso and guacamole. (Mmmmm ... queso.)
Upon reading the press release, I asked my best friend, Google, for some more information on erotic hypnosis. The search shared with me a video of a woman having a hypnotically induced orgasm on a couch.
As the male hypnotist snapped his fingers and said a key word used to create a post-hypnotic suggestion, or a suggestion given under hypnosis that is expected to be acted upon by the person in either an awake or hypnotic state, the woman writhed and moaned, bucking her hips toward the sky like she was trying to become one with Jesus.
I'm not gonna lie, I was impressed. I wanted badly to believe. As I watched the video, I pictured myself meeting a man and telling him I can make him come with my mind, as he rolls his eyes and gives a "bitchbecrazy" side-eye to his friend. Then I'd take him home with me and BAM! Like I'm some kind of orgasm sorcerer blessed with a magic wand. He'd never want to leave! (Muahahahaha!)
It wasn't just the men I bed that I wanted to share my findings with, but my female friends, too. According to the Kinsey Institute, 75 percent of men always reach orgasm with their partner, while only 29 percent of women said the same. But despite the small percentage of women who can always reach orgasm, a 2009 study conducted by researchers from the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University found that 74 percent of women have faked orgasm. Meanwhile, only 55 percent of men in the same sample believed they can tell when their female partner is faking.
That is to say, if you're a heterosexual man, chances are your woman is faking it and you don't even know. And if you're a heterosexual woman, you aren't just lying to your man, you're lying to yourself, and creating a false reality that ends up making the women who aren't afraid to say "I'm not gonna come" look like weirdos.
So on Valentine's Day, I put on my best erotic-hypnotism-workshop outfit and walked into a Mexican restaurant in Marietta alone (all my friends were "working"), secretly crossing my fingers that at least one person would be flailing like a fish out of water, and not because they were epileptic.
In the center of the room sat our erotic comedy hypnotist, a Guy Fieri look-alike in black liquid leather pants and a shirt with a design that easily could be mistaken for the snake on Metallica's Black Album. Sitting behind plates of tacos and refried beans sat three older men flying solo, and three couples in their 30s and 40s, including one couple I'm friends with who decided to try something different this Valentine's after they read my Facebook post about the workshop.
I decided to skip the tacos and burritos and ordered a beer.
"There are three conditions necessary for orgasms to happen," the hypnotist said. "The first is mental acceptance, the second is technique, and the third is the ability to trip over the trance plateau."
The trance plateau, he explained, is the peak in hypnosis which allows a person to be completely submerged within the trance state, or maintaining a relaxed state much like when a person reaches REM sleep, thus allowing the hypnotist to communicate with the person on a subconscious level.
One technique used to reach a hypnotic orgasm involves the hypnotist using a magic word paired with the proper vocal tone and delivery so as to create a specific reaction in the person, such as the word choices and delivery used when having slow, romantic sex, versus rougher, less romantic sex.
The hypnotist then uses these magic words to create a hypnotic suggestion, which can take place both in and out of a hypnotic state. These hypnotic suggestions serve as orgasm triggers, and are not limited to words, but can also be objects or even colors.
For example, if you were to attempt to hypnotize your partner for the purpose of inducing orgasms, you may use a word that you know your partner has positive associations with. Through the hypnotic process, you would then associate this word with pleasure and orgasms, so the next time you say the word to your partner, whether in or out of a hypnotic state, the person's brain makes the association based on the command and thus allows him or her to orgasm.
Our erotic comedy hypnotist suggests having a variety of orgasm triggers, including some that don't purely focus on the climax, but have a component that encourages a delayed reaction or buildup of pleasure to make the experience and, ultimately, the orgasm more intense and pleasurable.
Maybe it was the beer, or the enthusiasm in our hypnotist's voice, but as he spoke, I found my cynical side melting away — kinda (not really).
"So you guys want to give it a try?" he asked.
"Yes!" everyone in the room said.
I decided to pass on having a hypnotically induced orgasm in front of strangers and my married friends, and instead watched. My anticipation grew as our erotic comedy hypnotist neared (what would hopefully be) the happy ending his guests sought.
"By the time I count to number 10, your arousal level will be so high, you'll trip into orgasm. You'll feel that arousal level grow even higher. The kissing continues, the licking continues, the probing continues. Both on your nipples, on your breasts, and down low, in between your thighs. Teasing. Just a whirlwind of erotic pleasure," he calmly said.
"By the time I reach the number 10 and say the words 'orgasm now' you will feel such fantastic pleasure that you will allow that orgasm to wash over your body. Orgasm now! Feel it. Orgasm now! Let the pleasure wash over your body. Move it! Want it! Orgasm now! Orgasm now!"
I looked around at all the hypnotized bodies waiting for some sort of reaction. An orgasm. A sneeze. A laugh. Nothing. The situation was, pun intended, extremely anti-climactic. I was sad.
"So much for making dudes come with my mind," I thought. "Sometimes there's nothing like a good old-fashioned blowjob."
Cory Silverberg, from the New York Times' About.com's Guide to Sexuality, was kind enough to put us in touch with his father, Dr. Sy Silverberg M.D., a sex therapist and clinical hypnotherapist for more than 30 years, who gave us some feedback on erotic hypnosis.
Does erotic hypnosis work? To what capacity? Would you suggest erotic hypnosis for people who wish to overcome sexual dysfunction(s)?
Hypnosis to deal with sexual dysfunction is usually an adjunct to behavioural or psychotherapeutic approaches. I have rarely used it as the primary modality. For some it is very effective, for others not at all, and for others somewhere in between.
Does erotic hypnosis work as a one-time therapy session, or does one need to follow up with several sessions?
Rarely a one-time treatment.
Is there an organization or website you could suggest to people who wish to find a legitimate hypnotist in their area?
American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, www.asch.net.
Why should a person seek out erotic hypnosis for their sexual dysfunctions over other medical practices?
I don't think they should.
What about for those without sexual dysfunction, but who just want to heighten their sex life?
I haven't heard of anyone doing it (other than you) and your experience does not surprise me.
What are some good indicators that a person's hypnotist is either legit or not?
Membership in the ASCH.
Any last points you'd like to clarify or let people know when it comes to hypnosis, erotic or otherwise?
Be careful. Check credentials.