My girlfriend and I were in sitting on a bench in McCarren Park, talking about our struggles when a homeless man of 31 years approached us and told us he needed some help. We told him we could use some as well and that we didn’t have any money. He told us he didn’t want any money but that he wanted to kill himself and that he really needed someone to talk to. I told him that more and more people have been committing suicide these days. We told him that both of us have some suicidal tendencies of our own and that we could relate somewhat. He told us he was a heroine addict. He had needle marks all along his arms. His face was rough. He told us later on in the conversation that he had scars from being stabbed and shot all across his torso under his shirt. He was incredibly distraught. He kept saying he needed help and someone to talk too. I asked him if he would like to be hypnotized.
I asked him to put out his cigarette and get comfortable with his feet flat on the ground. I asked him to focus on some point off in the distance across the park, while he felt his stomach move out every intake of breath and in with every outpouring of breath. I told him that he might begin to feel his eyelids begin to flutter and feel heavy, and that he could keep them open or he could let them close tight. I told him that he had already experienced trance many times before without necessarily realizing it and that hypnosis has more to do with empowering the subconscious more so than it does with manipulating people as his head began to slump forward as he allowed himself fall into a trance. I asked him to think about the last time he was happy as he listened to the wind blowing through the trees and grass and also to the sounds of children playing. I asked him to let that feeling was over him and I told him that he could feel this state anytime he wanted and that he’d feel it every time I said the word ‘trance.’
His face lightened up after he came out of the brief trance and his speech became much more measured. He said that I had just saved his life. He offered me a drink from the bottle of cheap vodka he had in his pocket which we both politely declined in spite of how badly we had both wanted a drink. I wasn’t able to put him back into the trance with my ‘trigger word,’ but still, this was the first time I had ever used my amateur skills in hypnosis for anything other than giving women orgasms.
We sat with him for a little longer while he told us about how he had watched a group of Puerto Rican kids from the south side of Williamsburg kill a young Italian kid at McCarren Park pool near by throwing rocks at him while he was on the high dive. His friends had forced him to reluctantly take part in a stabbing of a kid who had presumably thrown some rocks at the boy at the pool. He told us how about 200 kids from his neighborhood went down to the south side armed with bats to beat up Puerto Ricans who had had nothing to do with the murder at the pool. He was thirteen at the time and this was quite some time ago when Williamsburg and Greenpoint were much rougher places.
He told us other stories of violence as well and that he couldn’t understand how he had managed to become accustomed to doing the things that he had done. He told us how he was sick of it all. I asked him what he wanted instead and he said that he wanted to be a lover and not a fighter. We listened to him talk a bit more about how he loved animals, his rescue pets, and his mother who was sweet but still sick of everything he had put her through and how he wanted to go into some detox programs before we excused ourselves before we became anymore familiar and intimate with him. He had begun to talk about how he felt like we would become a new part of his life but I honestly didn’t feel comfortable about becoming too friendly with a former murderer who was addicted to heroin. I took down his phone number but didn’t give him mine back. We both gave him a hug before we left and he told us that he’d never forget us for as long as he’d live.
I knew I had done a good deed for the day, but I didn’t feel any pride as much as I just felt disturbed. My mind paced as we left the park and headed back to our apartment. I realized I could’ve helped him more if I had let him talk and listened to him before I hypnotized him. Partially because I could have used more of his own language in the induction I gave him and partially because I realized that I had hypnotized him in order to help him without having to get too emotionally or even physically close to him. He mentioned right after he came out of the trance that he didn’t know why any stranger would ever bother to help him. I told him I did it for the sake of karma, and that I hoped the small favor I had done for him would somehow come back to me. I also subsequently realized that I wanted to hypnotize someone simply for the sake of doing so. I began to feel yet another calling as an obligation to continue to cultivate my relatively recently acquired knowledge and abilities in hypnosis for serious therapeutic work as opposed to mere kinky sex (even though this of course can certainly be a form of therapy as well). He needed positive friends and support in his life more so than a hypnotist and that’s always been a much harder role for me to occupy. I’d never felt quite as empowered and as futile all at the same time.