Every driver’s education program in the United Statesemploys some type of graphic film about the dangers of drinking anddriving. Naturally, the point of such films is to employ a scaretactic that basically frightens people into making the rightchoice.
However, viewing just a few recent statistics might call theeffectiveness of such methods into question. Take for example thefact that, according to Fatality Analysis Reporting System, 43percent of highway fatalities in 2003 in the state of Washingtonwere alcohol-related. In addition, 1,400 college students arekilled each year in alcohol-related accidents, the majority ofwhich are caused by drunk driving.
This devastating, yet preventable, reality has sparkedmotivation for charismatic individuals like Terrance Ballinger,Master Hypnotist, to take part in preventative action on collegecampuses. Terrance B. (as he is more commonly referred to), has sofar conducted 100 hypnosis seminars across the country, all withone message in mind: “It’s about choices.” Thispast Thursday, in the Multi-Purpose Room of Eastern’s PUB,Ballinger used the second more serious part of his two-nighthypnosis program to achieve that objective.
Lights dimmed and an old country tune began to play, duringwhich he instructed everyone to absorb the lyrics about life andits choices.
Toward the end of the recording, there was a brief segment ofinterviews of college students on their opinion of drinking anddriving, all of which emphasized the impact of such a decision.Terrance briefly informed his audience that volunteers for theprogram would go through a hypnotic simulation of the emotionsinvolved in a fatal drunk-driving accident, but that it would bethe only drunk-driving accident that they would never remember orwould be able to walk away from.
He ended his message with a simple mission statement thateveryone in the room that night would walk away as”messengers” who would spread the word about making theright choices when it comes to alcohol and getting behind thewheel.
After lightening the mood of the audience with a comedichypnosis program similar to Wednesday night, Ballinger made a quicksegue back to his original program by offering the option ofleaving hypnosis for students who did not want to participate inthe “accident.”
Those still under hypnosis were put into two stage-created”cars,” one as a group of four drunk college students,and the other as a family with a mother, father and daughter.Ballinger set up the situation by touching each volunteer andtelling the audience their role in the scene. In the car with thefamily, the daughter was dead, the mother was slightly injured andthe father was unharmed.
In the student car, one passenger was severely cut in the face,and the other was paralyzed, while the driver and remainingpassenger were left unharmed. After playing a loud recording of acar crash, Ballinger whispered a repetition of each person’ssituation into their ear, and brought the situation to life.
Within seconds of the enactment, the room was filled withunforgettable shrieks of horror and violent sobbing that captivatedthe audience and left a considerable impression as the chaosensued.
Genuine screams of desperation came from the members of one carafter another as fists were shaken and students were in emotionaldisarray. After they were awakened from their emotional state, eachstudent was briefly interviewed, many showing shock and awe intheir glazed-over eyes.
One student who was paralyzed said that she had felt “pureshock … this could have been prevented.” Anotherstudent who had been the driver told the audience, “I justwanted to be dead.”
These types of reactions and thoughts are common among theplethora of students whom he has hypnotized. In fact, many studentshave reactions that are much more violent, according toBallinger.
“I’ve seen people go crazy … It catches themcompletely off guard. These (reactions) are very real; we get thatshock value right away,” he said, “and these weremostly the people in the audience.”
Surprising as it may seem, the most affected people attendingthis seminar were not the actual participants, but the spectators;these are the people who Terrance B. sends out as”messengers.
When asked what his main goal was, he stated firmly, “Iwant you to walk away and say ‘I’m not going to drinkand drive.'” Judging by the awe-struck faces leavingthe M.P.R. on Thursday, it looks like he’s making messengersalready.