I know it may sound strange, but one of the most fascinating phenomena of nature is the fact that you can actually hypnotize animals. I’m not talking about playing a recording with positive affirmations for your dog. Apparently that’s a thing. By animal hypnosis I mean inducing the state of immobility known as 'catalepsy,' which is also observed in humans in some states of hypnosis. Here’s how you do it.
Grasp a chicken by its neck and place it in a horizontal position with its head flat on a table. With chalk or a marker draw a line two feet directly out from its beak and the eye that is closest to the surface. Carefully remove your hands, and the chicken will remain motionless in a trance. To awaken the chicken, clap your hands loudly and move its head away from the line. You can also let it emerge from hypnosis on its own. Strangely, if you hypnotize several chickens together and leave them to awaken on their own, they will awaken together.
Guinea Pig Hypnosis
To hypnotize a guinea pig, roll it over a few times, then lay it on its back. It will remain still. To awaken the guinea pig from hypnosis, blow on its nose and turn it onto its feet.
Lay the rabbit on its back, and part its ears with one hand so that they are both laying flat on the table. With the other hand hold the rabbit’s legs down to the table so that it is completely stretched out on its back. Hold it in this position for about thirty seconds. Remove your hands carefully, and the rabbit will remain in position. To awaken the rabbit, blow on its nose and push it onto its side.
Grab hold of a pigeon and turn it upside down. Now wave it back and forth in a circle, then place it on the ground on its back. It will remain there. Clap your hands to awaken the pigeon.
If you are unlucky enough to be on top of an alligator, hold its jaws shut, turn it onto its back, and extend its neck. As long as the alligator is upside down it will remain motionless. To awaken the alligator, flip it back over onto its feet. After emerging from hypnosis alligators tend to be a lot less relaxed than people, and may want to kill you.
Frog and Lizard Hypnosis
The alligator method also works on lizards and frogs. To hypnotize a lizard or a frog, put it on its back and hold it still for a few seconds. Remove your hands, and it will remain motionless. To remove the hypnosis flip it back over.
Though they can sense vibrations, snakes are deaf. Cobras are not hypnotized by the sound of the snake charmer’s music, but by the back and forth movements of the instrument and the charmer.
Believe it or not, you can hypnotize a lobster by standing it on its head, using its claws to support it in that position. Hold it that way for a few moments, and it will go to sleep. To awaken the lobster just set it back onto its legs. This is actually in some cookbooks.
The female spiders that kill their mates often hypnotize the male into immobility before mating by stroking its belly.
In most of these examples, the catalepsy is produced in the animal by physical manipulation, such as forced immobility, movement, or touch. This is usually an instinctual response. Because predators can spot movement, freezing is an inborn survival mechanism. In general, a sudden fright or shock can cause certain animals, including humans, to have a death-feint, or to ‘freeze.’ Some theories assert that hypnosis in humans triggers this primitive response when the procedure demands so much focus that the rest of the environment is reduced or eliminated. Though some of the earliest oriental methods of hypnosis used a loud gong to shock the person into trance, modern hypnotherapy uses physical relaxation and the symbolic meanings of words to limit the attention and focus the mind.
As a final note, one interesting difference between hypnosis in humans and animals is that repetitive hypnosis decreases susceptibility to future hypnosis in animals, but increases susceptibility in humans. Humans tend to go deeper and deeper into trance with repeated hypnosis, then plateau at a particular depth specific to them.
So now it’s time to experiment. Does anyone know where I can find a chicken in New York City?