Parents Outraged After 17-Year-Old Son Left In ’Sunken Place’ During School Hypnosis Event

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A post-prom event at a Bellevue, Neb., high school has drawn concern from parents after one of the teen participants was hospitalized following hypnosis.

Senior Jaylin Cox volunteered to participate in a hypnosis event hosted at Bellevue West High School Saturday, April 28. The event was captured on video a person in the crowd, who watched as Jaylin fell to the ground at the instructions of the hypnotist.

According to Good Morning America, the hypnotist told participants to fall as if they were melting like a snowman. The 17-year-old fell three times resulting in what his parent said was an injury. Elizabeth and Harrell Cox said their son exhibited strange behavior upon coming home and wondered if it was because he hit his head or the hypnosis.

“We always thought it was like a party trick,” Harrell tells GMA.

“He was going in and out of consciousness,” wife Elizabeth says. “His head was just slumping down in his chest.”

They rushed their son to the hospital and doctors said he had a clean toxicology report and no concussion. But Jaylin said he cannot recall what happened.

“I just remember waking up in the middle of it and then he putting me back to sleep and me falling,” he says, noting he felt like he was outside of his own body.

The parent volunteer-organized event comes on the heels of the rising popularity of hypnotism experiences. The practice was thrust into headlines after last summer’s blockbuster, “Get Out.” The Oscar-winning film includes a key scene where the main character is hypnotized and falls into “the sunken place,” a trance-like state where Black people are suppressed of their freedom.

Dr. Daniel Chueh, medical director at Orange, Calif.’s NRC Research Institute, told GMA it’s likely Jaylin wasn’t completely woken up by the hypnotist.

“It’s very possible when the others were brought out of the trance, that he was so deep into the trance that he didn’t come out as much as everybody else,” Chueh says, noting typically such events would require parental consent for participants under 18.

As such, Jaylin’s parents are concerned about why minors were allowed to participate in such an event without getting parents’ permission.

“They were just … somebody asking minors to raise [their] hand and volunteer for it,” Harrell says. “That was concerning.”

Bellevue West High told GMA it has been working with the family and will continue to do so. The hypnotist in question ignored the program’s requests for comment.

Meanwhile, Twitter users have been sounding off on the matter.

“What’s wrong with that school? TF were they thinking?” someone tweeted. “How is this entertaining? [Should] have considered all angles including the fact that some of these were minors who were put in a vulnerable, suggestible state. NOT a good idea.”

“Very intriguing to know that the Black boy was put under deeper 🧐.”

“I have lots to say as a hypnotherapist,” said another user. “This is appalling behavior to me. Our job, is to help people. I will always find it NOT OK to support people who do hypnosis as a laughter gaining job. This work is serious! I have so much to say and not enough space in Twitter.”

And debates emerged between a Twitter user named Jas who said she was Jaylin’s older sister and several other users.

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