Hypnotist returns to after prom for ninth show

Hypnotist Al Snyder speaks to hypnotized senior Joey Dunning at the 2018 post prom celebration at Orchard Hill Church.

In 2010, hypnotist Dr. Al Snyder first visited Cedar Falls High School for the annual post-prom celebration, and he has been back every year since then. This year, Snyder will be continuing the tradition of his hypnotism act at the 2019 post prom at Orchard Hill Church in Cedar Falls. 

“There is nothing magical about hypnosis or paranormal. I don’t have any special skills. Hypnosis is nearly identical to sleepwalking. Your eyes are open and you hear and see everything, but you are in your dream state that is different from what everyone else sees in their conscious state,” Snyder said. 

Over the 30 years that Snyder has mastered hypnotism, he has hypnotized about 30,000 people in the 1,500 performances he has completed. 

“My background originally was studying psychology and education. I went along to become a veterinarian, and that is where I learned a lot of the neuroscience featured in hypnotism during that time. I didn’t fully start to study hypnotism until I spent some years traveling with another hypnotist to learn from him to learn the entertainment side. “

Snyder recognizes the various types of hypnotism, all attainable by anyone, even used by Snyder in his life. 

“Students can be sitting in class and have in-class hypnosis where you are in a state where you don’t realize what you are doing until you are out of it. There is also highway hypnosis where you can be driving for 10 minutes and not realize where you are,” Snyder said. “Intentional hypnosis is also a thing that I do for myself to help sleep. I can be sleeping on a plane before the door gets closed on a flight,” he said. 

When Snyder hypnotizes people, there are often factors that can make someone fall into the state or prevent them from hypnosis. 

“Every single night there will be people who don’t get hypnotized, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t be. They may break their concentration. They may be analyzing the process or concentrating on something in their subconscious,” he said. “It is like trying to go sleep but you can’t because you are focusing on something else. Hypnosis is the same way. You have to let it go and stop thinking about everything to get into it. Some people get interrupted and some people try to analyze and some people try too hard.”

Over the years, Snyder has refined his act to make the most memorable moments.  

“Sometimes I will let people think that they are looking at a certain channel watching a fake TV. I turn on the music to the movie ‘Jaws,’ and I hover a Nemo fish next to them. Their eyes think that here is a huge shark, so they get frightened and jump up into their chair,” Snyder said.  

Snyder also has different acts that he switches up during his performances, one featuring a hypnotized student turned into a superstar singer. 

“Sometimes I will make a singer during the show. Afterwards they will sign autographs, and their spouse will come up to them and ask, but the singer will ask them how to spell their name. It just shows how real it is,” he said. 

“If I am at a camp or a conference, I will leave the suggestion that the next day that the singer will perform it that day. That music pops on the day after, and they don’t have time to stop and think about it. They react and race for the stage to perform. Then, we stop the music and the person is on the middle of the stage and doesn’t know how they got there,” Snyder said. 

Snyder not only gets joy from his experiences as a hypnotist, but also by getting people out of their comfort zones and while giving people the chance to appreciate sides of themselves that they don’t know. 

“It is the realization that someone can reach another potential that they thought they couldn’t tap into. They could be in the worst mood before they get hypnotized, but I can show you something that is hilarious,” Snyder said. “So much of what we think is reality is only what we chose for a reality in that moment. It could be someone that would never ever sing in front of a group or speak in front of a group, but I can give them a microphone, and they act like someone who does that on a regular basis,” Snyder said.

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