Jamaican hypnotist says he is no obeah man

“I am not an obeah man,” insisted “Sean Michaels”.

The resoluteness in the 24-year-old Jamaican hypnotist’s voice was obvious. The young man, whose real name is Sean Davidson, cognisant of what some Jamaicans think of hypnotism, told the Jamaica Observer that the craft which he uses to help his clients as a life coach is anything but obeah.

In fact, one of his companies, Cerebro Hypnotism, is dedicated to illustrating the different levels of trance and what hypnosis looks like to the naked eye, explaining and debunking common myths and fallacies, for example, that hypnotism is magical or spiritually based.

“Hypnosis is an altered state of mind characterised by high suggestibility — meaning your openness and willingness to accept new information — as well as relaxation,” said Davidson, who is also the man behind Kaizen Hypnotism, a company that helps people with everyday or deep-rooted problems, excluding clinically diagnosed disorders or mental illnesses.

Individuals enter this altered state of mind between 50 and 100 times daily, according to Davidson. He used the act of driving a car from one point to the next and not remembering the entire journey, but getting to the destination safely, as an example of when a person enters this state.

“Your unconscious mind realises that this is something that you need to do repetitively, so it basically takes that burden off [of] you, from having to concentrate on doing it,” he explained.

To initiate this state of consciousness, Davidson said a behavioural pattern must be broken.

“If you are shaking someone’s hand, you expect both hands to meet. But, if right at the moment both hands were supposed to meet the other person moves their hand, for a second, your brain goes into the critical factor, which is your fight or flight response,” he said, adding that there is also a third option called shock. “In that moment of shock, a hypnotist, for example, can give you the suggestion of sleep.

“Sleep is an associative word, so your brain understands that it means to be very relaxed, to relax your posture, for your eyes to close, so it’s autonomous,” he said, adding that that’s how people enter what is observed by others as a trance-like state.

According to Davidson, who told the Observer that he has hypnotised about 280 people to date, the practice is safe.

“…Especially if done by someone who is professional, or someone who has experience, or someone who is trained, whether formally or informally. The worst thing that can happen to you while under hypnosis is that you fall asleep, you are not going to die, you are not going to be stuck; no one has ever been stuck in trance, that does not happen,” he insisted.

The hypnotist did, however, acknowledge that there are potential side effects, such as drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, anxiety, and the creation of false memory.

“Emphasis on the word potential, [the] reason being [that] there is a lot of information about trance and hypnosis and how to enter it, but not as much information on how to do it yourself safely, comfortably and effectively,” he said.

Having had an interest in hypnotism since high school, reading and researching all he could, Davidson told the Observer that it was his desire to help a friend that made him start using his self-taught skills to offer services to the public. That was three years ago. According to Davidson, that friend, who also has a counsellor, was his first client and is doing well today.

Reiterating that he does not see individuals who have clinically diagnosed disorders or mental illnesses, Davidson explained that he helps people manage stress and anxiety, as well as those who need help with mild depression and pain management.

Undoubtedly an unconventional career choice, the 24-year-old believes he has made his dad and late mum who was a child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist proud.

“When I had my first show [my mum] was [there], and all the other seats were empty… she wasn’t into it, but she was still there. And, by the second show it was a full house; she could barely find somewhere to sit,” he recounted about his mum’s early reaction to him wanting to delve into hypnotism while also pursuing management studies at university.

“My dad is the discipline type, so first and foremost he definitely wants to know that I am not doing it for a game and it’s not just to mess around with people, and I actually want to help them,” Davidson said, adding that, as a child, his parents encouraged him to do what he loves.

Though not necessary, Davidson explained that one can be certified as a hypnotist outside of Jamaica. With his sights set on becoming a certified hypnotherapist, he is now focused on partnering with health professionals like dentists with clients who are afraid of needles.

Despite the naysayers, Davidson is encouraged by the reception from Jamaicans.

“I am very glad about the reception what I am doing has gotten, despite the one and two persons who have something negative to say. Everybody seems to be in search of something that helps… I am excited for my own future, and the potential is definitely there for this to be a market,” he said.

— Read related stories in Your Health, Your Wealth on Sunday.

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