Many people are afraid of hypnosis because they see people doing crazy things at a hypnosis “show”. These people have seemingly lost control under the all-powerful influence of the hypnotist. However, this “control” is just an illusion. Hypnosis can’t control anyone, or make them do anything they don’t want to do.
Consider pro wrestling (WWE). If well executed, the moves look real, but in reality, it is just illusion. The wrestlers are not really punching or hurting each other. Instead they are working together to create the illusion of a real fight. Stage hypnosis is like pro wrestling in the sense that the “control” the hypnotist wields is mostly illusion.
What you see in a stage show, might NOT be hypnosis
There are certain things you see in a stage show that seem to prove that the person is hypnotized. However, some of these “tests” have nothing to do with hypnosis. For example, lace your fingers together, turn your hands around, and put them over your head. Now, try to pull them apart. Most likely you couldn’t pull them apart.
But, not because you were in hypnosis. It was because putting your hands into that position and over your head causes the muscles to work against each other. This makes it difficult to pull your hands apart. Yet, if you saw this demonstrated at a stage show, it would appear to be genuine “proof” of a powerfully hypnotized person.
How participants are selected
No one is picked at random for participation at a stage show. The people who come up on stage are volunteers, and because they volunteer, they expect to do something crazy. After inviting a certain number of people up on stage, the hypnotist selects those that are most likely to “put on a good show” for the audience.
The volunteers EXPECT to do something crazy
We tend to get what we expect. Think about the way a stage show is set up. These people have volunteered to come up on stage. They have been selected by the hypnotist as the most likely to put on a good show. All their friends are in the audience. Maybe they’ve even had a few drinks. Given these circumstances, of course they’re going to do something crazy. In fact, they want to. They are exhibitionists in that sense.
Most likely, the volunteers are going to follow the suggestions given, exaggerating their responses to a great extent. Being hypnotized is the perfect excuse for them to act like total buffoons during the show!
As crazy as people at a bar on a Friday night
In Self-hypnosis the Complete Manual for Health and Self Change, authors Brian M. Alman, Ph.D. and Peter Lambrou, Ph.D. comment on the true reason the participants of a hypnosis show seem so out of control.
“It’s not necessary to hypnotize people to get them to quack like a duck, croon like Frank Sinatra, or laugh uncontrollably. People will do both foolish and fantastic things without being hypnotized. A visit to a singles’ bar on a Friday night can attest to that fact.”
Is stage hypnosis real?
The people you see in a stage show may or may not be hypnotized. But, as I said earlier, it really doesn’t matter. Stage show participants expect to do something ridiculous, so they do just that. Whatever happens on stage, the perfect excuse is “I was hypnotized.”
Stage hypnosis is as real as a magician’s act or WWE match. It looks dramatically real, but it is mostly illusion. It’s just entertainment. Nothing more, nothing less.
Stage hypnosis is as similar to therapeutic hypnosis as snow globes are to real snow. Don’t let anything you see in a stage show deter you from trying the real deal!by Sean Maness, CHP