Is stage hypnosis real? The answer is yes and no. Yes, in the sense that the stage hypnotist is using hypnosis and the people on the stage are hypnotised. No, in the sense that the people on the stage are all volunteers and will not do anything that they don’t want to do.
People that are hypnotised will only do things that they consider “acceptable”. By “acceptable”, I mean that it must be both “reasonable” and “pleasing” to the person in hypnosis. Anyone that’s practiced hypnosis for any length of time will tell you that you can’t get people to do anything they don’t want to do in hypnosis.
What this means is that the stage hypnotist needs to be very selective about who he chooses from the audience if he wants to put on a good show. For example, are you the type of person that enjoys running around on stage like a fool? If you are, you’re the exact type of person the stage hypnotist wants on his stage. If not, he doesn’t want you, or anyone like you, anywhere near his stage! If he has ten people on his stage that don’t want to be there, his show will fail!
So, how on earth does a stage hypnotist get ten people that think it’s reasonable and pleasing onto his stage? It’s very easy! First of all the stage hypnotist will warm up the crowd. He’ll get his audience to relax a bit and start to enjoy the show by kicking off with some comedy and good laughs. Obviously, stage hypnotists need to be good comedians. Once the audience has had a few laughs he’ll ask them if they’re having fun, and then he watches very carefully to see the response.
Those people that most enthusiastically reply are the ones that are most likely to think that playing the fool on stage is reasonable and pleasing. They’re the ones he wants and they’re the ones who can’t wait for the invitation (yes, hard to believe for me too, but some people actually love being the centre of attention). He then warns the audience that they can’t have any fun seated in the audience because all of the fun is on the stage. He might even repeat that statement a few times to really make his point. He then announces to the audience that he’s about to count to ten, and that if they aren’t on the stage by the count of ten they will lose out on all the fun! He then he starts counting!
Of course, by the count of ten, all those people that love playing the fool are all standing on the stage staring at the audience. They think the audience is losing out on a lot fun and the audience thinks they’ve gone mad! Most people are afraid of public speaking or of being exposed to an audience and the stage hypnotist knows this. He also knows that a small percentage of people aren’t afraid and these are the people he wants. So now there are fifty people on stage that all want to be there. The stage hypnotists doesn’t want fifty people, he only wants the ten funniest people.
The stage hypnotist then guides the people on stage into hypnosis using an induction. Once they’re in hypnosis he gives them something silly to do and then watches them. It’s immediately obvious who he does and doesn’t want on his stage. He chooses the ten funniest people and dismisses the rest. The stage hypnotist now has the ten people in very deep hypnosis and they all want to be there. These people think it’s both reasonable and pleasing to run around the stage and play the fool. They’re waiting for his first suggestion so they can impress the audience with their comedy genius.
The stage hypnotist will then give them a suggestion such as “when I snap my fingers you’re a chicken” and then snaps his fingers and we all know what happens. These people start off acting like chickens. They start flapping their elbows and making the most peculiar sounds. They may start off very slowly but as they’re competing for attention they usually get into character very quickly.
The trouble with stage hypnosis is that sometimes the people in the audience don’t know what hypnosis is or how it works. They aren’t aware that the people on stage are quite happy to be running around playing the fool. They are afraid of being on stage and become afraid that they too may be made to run around on stage. This is a very frightening prospect to many from all walks of life. To make matters worse, some people will exploit these fears in the name of entertainment.
Fortunately, things are changing. Now that we’re in the internet era, it’s possible to spread ideas and information very quickly. People are learning what hypnosis really is and how many people are benefiting from it. Also, it would seem that the stage hypnotists have learned that their audience is more enlightened these days and enjoy the show even more when it’s not scary. For this reason most stage hypnotists are totally transparent with their methods and even go to lengths to explain what they’re doing to their audience. In many cases, laughter is the best medicine. Below is a short clip of my favourite stage hypnotist, Andre the Hilarious Hypnotist, in action.
Troy Robins - Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist based in Oxford & Witney, Oxfordshire in the UK.