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Hypnosis Doesn't Work Like That!/Adelaide Spenser

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The main character in Hypnosis Doesn't Work Like That!.

Adi is egotistical, and sure she's smarter than everyone else. Possibly autistic; shows some behaviours such as hyperfocus, and failing to interpret other people's comments in the context of what they do or don't know.


She ties her hair back for bed "so it won't strangle her in her sleep" (chapter 9). Assuming this means her hair is a bit longer than shoulder-length, but I don't think she would want the maintenance hassle of letting it grow too long.


She loves writing reviews and sees them as a kind of performance art, rather than being secondary to another art. She used to do them for music and movies, but later specialised in reviewing hypnosis files available online, because that's the only area she got any feedback at all. Her kind of review is more like a comedy roast than an actual analysis.

She also has tried learning to play bass; briefly dreamed of being in a band. She has some skill, but there's no way she'd ever have the confidence to play in front of someone else. One of her secret desires is a particular guitar that's on sale second hand in a local music shop. It's more expensive than she could ever afford, almost as expensive as a new one. But it's been on tour with a couple of relatively obscure bands, including at least one player who Adi idolised in the past. One of the bands was called Franklin’s Muse; they did a tour once that covered half the West Coast, but it's implied that's the most success they ever had. She can't tell her family about that, though, because she thinks it's illogical to want something like that and she knows her father would disapprove (because he judges presents purely in terms of their list price, and has an irrational distrust of buying anything that isn't new).


She has a few triggers, instilled by different hypnosis files:

  • "Adelaide" - makes her act out all her baby behaviours (chapter 1)
  • "If I was a baby I would ________." - Self-trigger only. Creates a new baby behaviour (chapter 1). Doesn't seem to need to be phrased precisely this way -- "... if I was really like a baby, like I didn't know how to ___" (chapter 9) works. So does "a baby wouldn't ___" works, and "they don't ____" (chapter 20).
  • "What baby behaviours do you follow?" - Makes her list all the behaviours she's following. (chapter 34; described in chapter 32)
  • "What's your baby name trigger?" - compelled to answer; was in the same file as the one above (chapter 34/32. First used by Mom in chapter 57)

Her current baby behaviours are:

  • "If I was a baby I’d wet myself” (chapter 2)
    • “Like I don’t know how to hold my pee at all." (added in chapter 9)
  • "If I was a baby I wouldn’t be embarrassed about wearing and using diapers," (chapter 20)
    • "but I still wouldn’t give the secret away to people who don’t already know it." (added in chapter 29 for safety)
    • text in chapter 29 is specifically "Even if I was a baby, and I wasn’t embarrassed about those suggestions, I still wouldn't give a secret away to people who don't already know it."
  • "If I was an adult baby I’d do what I could to get turned into more of a baby, or to change my room into a nursery." (chapter 51, in the mall with Toni)
  • "If I were a baby, then I’d assume a grown-up would take care of any problems I can’t solve" (added deliberately by Britney, chapter 63) (text is "If I were a baby, then I’d assume a grown-up would take care of any problems I can’t solve, so I wouldn’t worry …")
    • "If I was a baby, I'd only trust people and need to ..." (the rest unrevealed, chapter 78)
    • "If I was a baby I'd look up to
  • "If I was a baby, then I’d be able to watch a little kids film and think about it like a child, not overthinking it, so I could enjoy it properly." (chapter 106)
  • "If I was a baby, I’d keep on feeling like a baby as long as you’re treating me like one, or until it’s time to take off my babyish clothes." (to Toni, chapter 110)
  • "If I was a baby and you’re going to diaper me, then I’d lose all my potty training as long as I’m in diapers instead of wetting right away." (to Toni, chapter 112)
  • "If I was a baby, I’d follow any baby behaviours someone else suggested until the next time I got triggered, or until I get changed and grow up." (a massive game-changer, chapter 124)
  • “Baby can’t say big words!” - chapter 141. Repeating the suggestion given to her that she can't remember words with more than two syllables, or any compound word, but that she'll laugh and think about something else rather than stressing about it.
  • "If I was a baby I’d get super excited about playing dress up. If I was a baby I’d love the feeling of…" (the rest unrevealed, chapter 167)
  • "If I was a baby, when my Mommy or a babysitter asked me if I could read something I’d be so excited to try, and I’d find it hard to say the right words, so I would be really proud of however much I could understand. And even if I was a baby, when my Mommy or a babysitter asked me to read something that I’d be comfortable with, I would be able to read it all out, and I’ll be so excited about reading it that I won’t pay attention to what the words meant until something reminds me of it." (another massive game-changer, chapter 233)
  • "If I was a baby, I’d tell the person triggering me if it had been more than a day since I listened to the hypnosis file even if I don’t know why it’s important. And if I was a baby, I’d get really enthusiastic when I got a chance to listen to that file again, so that I could keep on enjoying it this much." (chapter 245)


She has a bunch of badges she can use to indicate how old she wants to be treated. They came off birthday cards, saying she's 1, 2, 3, 6, 12, and 16 years old. She also has one saying "It's a girl!" which she can put on to indicate that she wants to be triggered but is too shy to ask.

The main indicator is a T-shirt which Toni bought for her. She has two copies of this one; one at the back of her closet at home, and one behind a drawer in the guest room closet at Toni's house. Pink, with yellow and orange butterflies made from tiny scraps of fabric sewn all across the shoulders, and the word “Babe” in large letters across the front. There was a unicorn on the back as well. It was really childish, but made in adult sizes.

If she wears this dress, that's a sign that she wants to be forced into babyhood no matter how much she protests. The only way she can stop after that point is to say the safeword "Deontological". However, at her birthday party she inadvertently gives herself the additional baby behaviour of being unable to say long words. This is further confused because Toni misremembered the safeword as "Teleological", and that's what she told Britney and Nyx. They might realise the mistake if Adi was able to get the whole safeword out (the two words are opposites); but who it is might change how long it takes them to make the connection.


  • Seems to be aiming to study some kind of media course (chapter 66-68).
    • Wants to do a proper academic study on the evolving role of literary reviews over the years
      • That's how she started the hypnosis thing
  • Is pretty good at maths
  • Not so good at literature, because she tends to reach too far for abstract interpretations of a work, and miss the surface layers
    • Learned a little from Toni, even if she won't admit it
  • Might have had a different course mentioned earlier; if I find that I need to correct it


Critical Mass

Adi was an active member of the website Critical Mass for several years before the events of the books. Along with her friend Locke, she used to post daily reviews of the top threads on a certain image board as if they were literary works. When Locke held a poll among his followers to choose a new area to move into, Adi did the same. But there were only a handful of responses, and a significant number of comments reviewing her poll, claiming that it was uninspired and derivative, and that she was copying Locke. One comment suggested a niche that seemed like it might be of interest, and a field in which there were few other CritMassers writing reviews for, so she decided to give it a chance.

For around a year, she posted reviews of popular r63 fanfic without reference to the original media they were based on, which some of the fans found hilarious. Her fanbase slowly grew, but before long she started to feel like she was getting stuck in a rut again. She allowed her focus to gradually move from fiction towards the discussions of gender politics that often surrounded them, and managed to pick up more fans here, although on looking back she will realise that she sounded more like whiny hater than a decent reviewer. From there, it was a slow progression to reviewing Internet hypnosis files, which she stuck with for around 18 months before the start of the stories.

Her CritMass name is "Professor Nimh".

Family background

Adelaide was conceived before her parents really had a stable relationship. It was a kind of on-again/off-again thing, which means that they were only about 90% sure that Aiden was really her father. This never mattered when she was young, because he did his best to be a good father and never raised the question. But her dad was married to his job, and always seemed a little detached from his family. Eventually he left, choosing his job over his family. He invites both Adi and Garfield on holidays two or three times per year, but they always seem to go to places that don't interest Adi, and he's never willing to schedule around other people. He'll take a week away when it's convenient for his work, and expect the kids to skip a week of school or whatever to be with him. Adi decided when she was thirteen that she cares about her education enough to start turning him down.


  • Adi is unable to roll her tongue or wiggle her ears (as mentioned in chapter 11).
  • Her ringtone is a jarring, electronic rendition of Greensleeves (chosen ironically; mentioned chapter 7)