Look into the eyes of Spencer the Hypnotist
Don Spencer’s interest in the mind sciences originally steered him to a career in hypnotherapy.
"I originally got involved in hypnosis because I wanted to help people and I realized early on in my psychology training in school that there were many different ways to do that," Spencer said during a phone interview from Montana. "When I discovered hypnosis, it changed my world view and I dove head first into a hypnotherapy training program that lasted a year and a half."
After a decade of helping people overcome addictions, lose weight and mentally heal from traumatic events, Spencer decided to use his talents to make people laugh.
"I really enjoyed my job, but I felt I was missing something," he said. "So, I started exploring the entertainment side of hypnosis and morphed in to that aspect of the profession.
"When you’re in the clinical world working with people day in and day out, it can be pretty heavy work, so the process of going on stage and helping people laugh was life changing for me."
Spencer the Hypnotist will present his family-friendly, comedy show at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., on Friday, Feb, 10, and Saturday, Feb. 11. Showtimes are 8 p.m.
Since he began working in the mind sciences back in 1986, Spencer has hypnotized more than 1 million people.
"I enjoy that process, but I always take time to educate people during my performance about how the mind works and how they can use their minds to change their lives and the lives of those around them," he said.
The first thing he does is try to clear up those ages-long misconceptions of hypnosis that include, but are not limited to mind-control and mysticism.
"When I began, there was the common fallacy that hypnotists were there to control your will," he said. "There was the superstition that hypnotism, for some reason, was against God and hypnotism got lumped in with concepts like Satanism."
Spencer spent a lot of time educating the public about what hypnosis really is and how people can benefit from it.
"The reality is the fact that people use hypnosis every day, whether they know it or not, because it’s a natural state of mind," he said. "It has to do with the power of suggestion and there is nothing unnatural or mystical about it, because real hypnosis is based on the idea that if you act upon a suggestion from me, you are hypnotized."
It’s like stopping at a stop sign because that’s what the sign is instructing.
"On that level, we realize everything we do is part of the hypnotic process," Spencer said. "Even while coming down Emigration Canyon, drivers oftentimes find themselves so focused on staying in the lines that nothing else matters. It’s in that mind-frame that hypnosis happens.
"Then think of how many times you have driven down the canyon and missed an exit from being so spaced out because you were so focused on just driving down the canyon," he said. "That’s the basis of hypnosis."
While conducting his sessions as a hypnotherapist, Spencer came to realize his patients could look into their minds to find what is holding someone back from reaching their goals.
"When I perform live, It’s the same process," he said. "During the show, I help people overcome their barriers so they can let loose and believe they are a movie star."
Spencer started entertaining as a hypnotist in various nightclubs in Salt Lake.
" It was different than working in a theatre because it was a party environment, but I did learn what worked and what didn’t work as far as the presentation and style went," he said.
One day, he was asked to perform at the Avalon Theatre, a gig he did for 320 straight weeks.
"I decided to do something different for those shows, so, I developed a performance that was a cross between a Rock ‘n’ Roll concert, with all the lights and sound, and comedy," he said. "That changed the scope of what I did as an entertainer and worked well."
From there, Spencer took on gigs around the world and learned to read an audience.
"During each show, I make a quick assessment of the audience and that determines how I want to approach the performance," he said. "I may talk more about hypnosis to one audience than another to make them feel more comfortable, and other times I’ll just grab people and say ‘Sleep’ and knock everybody out in two seconds."
Spencer the Hypnotist will bring his flashy, audience-partition comedy show to the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., on Friday, Feb. 10, and Saturday, Feb. 11, at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $15 at are available at http://www.parkcityshows.com.
Anita Lewis, Brent Ovard and Travis English were influential in shaping how residents interact with the county.