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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Being and Not-Quite-ness

If you listened closely to the ticking of a watch or looked deep into some swami's eyes, would you fall under his spell? Would you quack like a duck or divulge your darkest secrets to a room full of giggling strangers? Or could you stop biting your nails or eating chocolate, if he said you must?

If you answered no, perhaps you ought to think again. Although some charlatans certainly do exist, there are a few local hypnotists who might make you think twice.

Ivan Razygrayev is one of them.

At first glance, Razygrayev appears to be just an ordinary doctor. And, in fact, he has a degree in medicine. But Razygrayev, 38, is actually vice president of the Society for Creative and Curative Hypnosis, a commercial organization that provides hypnotic therapy for over 600 clients a year all over Russia.

Specializing mostly in curing alcoholics and drug addicts and providing post-hypnotic suggestions that assist patients with weight loss or, Razygrayev claims, even cure them of their ulcers or gastritis, the society has existed since 1993, a few years after the fall of the Soviet Union made it possible for organizations like it to come into being. Before that, there was only one place in the city to study hypnotism: the army, which had cornered the market on the unusual science because of its possible uses as a weapon during wartime.

Nevertheless, Razygrayev, a self-taught hypnotist, managed to use what he called an "ability to influence other people's behavior" that surfaced in his early childhood f without ever donning a uniform.

"To be honest, I used hypnosis to further my own interests at school," he says. "If I hadn't done my homework, for example, I'd just hypnotize the teacher not to ask for it. And, if I knew an answer, I'd make her ask me the question. I always got excellent grades."

No longer a student, Razygrayev has left hypnotism-assisted cheating behind and become a professional.

"Practically all our results are positive," said Razygrayev, who charges between $35 and $50 for a 60-minute session (most hypnotists in the United States charge approximately twice as much for a shorter session), although he said the cost of treating drug addicts is greater.

"Sometimes Russian sessions go longer," says Razygrayev, who informally studied hypnotism in the West. "Russian people aren't used to being asked to leave when their time is up. But everybody enters hypnosis the same way. For Russians and foreigners alike, hypnosis is a normal, natural state of being."

Psychiatrist Valery Ovsyannikov agrees.

"In a normal state, all the elements of the psyche are balanced. Under hypnosis, one component dominates and the rest are slowed down. This provides one with the opportunity to develop certain elements of one's psyche and weaken others," said Ovsyannikov, a professor at the psychiatry department at Moscow's Institute for Continuing Studies who uses hypnotism to cure patients of drug addiction.

Perhaps the most important uses for hypnotism are its medicinal ones.

"I once had a woman who was deathly afraid of injections," Razygrayev said. "It took just two visits to rid her of the problem. I persuaded her that her arms aren't sensitive to pain at all."

Another patient was a transsexual woman who complained that she still behaved like a man. Razygrayev said that several visits cured her.

Despite the opportunities to heal, Vladimir Raikov, a hypnotist at Moscow's Center for Preventative Medicine, prefers to use hypnosis to develop undiscovered talents.

"During hypnosis, you persuade the patient that he or she is Sergei Rakhmanninov or another famous person. And that inspires him or her to do unbelievable things," adding that, during such a session, one of patients who previously couldn't draw at all painted a beautiful portrait of his wife.

"She didn't believe that it was his work, though," Raikov said.

Another time, the practice backfired even more seriously.

"I persuaded a patient that he was the painter Ilya Repin," Raikin said. "But when I asked him something, he turned to me and said 'Who are you? How dare you advise me, a world-famous artist! You must not realize who I am."

Indeed, since hypnotism is so powerful, Raikov, a medical doctor by training with 10 years of hypnotism experience, warned, it's important that a practitioner be well educated in medicine.

"One must know when to use it and when not to," he said. For example, Raikov said that he would consider it dangerous to hypnotize patients who suffer from certain mental illnesses, like schizophrenia, because it creates a dependency in the patient on the hypnosis.

It can also trigger attacks in epileptic patients.

If neither of these conditions applies, however, one might consider a visit to Boris Sagitov (on cover), a kind of jack-of-all-trades of the mind control world who boasts that he can locate lost relatives in a few seconds, move objects with his mind (he refused to demonstrate) and "find things in dark rooms" f all in addition to ordinary hypnosis.

"Those other guys can do only one thing, but I can do everything," said Sagitov, who solicits new clients at hospitals. "It's all about my incredible abilities. I've had them since childhood.

"By the way, I can also add, subtract and multiply faster than any computer."

Contact the Society for Creative and Curative Hypnosis at 171-9477 or 954-4325.