Many people who read this will not have seen any real hypnotherapy, but they will certainly have seen some form of Stage Hypnosis demonstration, even if it was only on TV. They will also have seen films or TV dramas in which ‘hypnosis’ has featured, and these presentations will have been constructed or scripted by people who have never seen any hypnotherapy either, but will certainly have seen Stage Hypnosis!
So we can see how the popular view of hypnosis is entirely based on the stage performances originally, even when that is not immediately obvious. As a result, the popular view of hypnosis is quite wrong, because those performances are really an elaborate hoax, aiming to hoodwink the audience into believing that the hypnotist has some mysterious power over the ‘hypnotised’ persons on the stage – just because they make it look like that on the face of it.
When we see an illusionist sawing a woman in half (why is it never a woman sawing a man in half?), the one thing that we know for sure is that he isn’t really cutting her body in two. However good he makes that illusion look, we already knew it was going to be an illusion before he began, so we are unsurprised when she steps out intact at the end. The difference with Stage Hypnosis is that many of the people watching it do not realise it is an illusion, so they assume that the participants are doing those things because the hypnotist is making them behave in that way!
The True Role of the Stage Hypnotist
In truth, the hypnotist is controlling nobody, he is only making suggestions. He is constantly playing off the fact that the audience – and the participants – know nothing about the Subconscious mind. It is the Subconscious that is directing our behaviour when we are in trance, not the conscious mind.
You may not have realised it, but we drift in and out of trance many times daily, usually without even noticing. We certainly don’t need a hypnotist to help us do that. Daydreaming is a trance state, for example. All dreaming is in fact Subconscious thinking, whether we are asleep or awake. The idea that hypnotic trance is different from that is just a false assumption that results from watching stage hypnosis, and drawing all the wrong conclusions.
A good deal of our ordinary behaviour is directed by the Subconscious mind, it is just that many people do not know that, because we are all inclined to assume that the conscious mind is in charge, and makes all the decisions about behaviour. The fact that conscious decisions to stop smoking, or eating fattening food, don’t change our usual behaviour gives the lie to this – proving that habitual behaviour is directed by the Subconscious, which knows nothing about that new conscious decision!
Much to the conscious mind’s amazement, an explanation to the Subconscious by a hypnotherapist, which includes details of the new decision and the reasons for it, will usually result in the behaviour changing as if by magic – but it is not magic, it is hypnotherapy!
The key to stage hypnosis is quite simple: you have to get the right people up there in the first place, but without the rest of the audience recognising that that’s what you did. No-one will respond to suggestions they don’t like the sound of, and the majority of people in any audience would not find the stage hypnotist’s suggestions appealing even if they were in the deepest trance possible.
Stage hypnosis requires a performance, and for that, you need performers. Most people are not, they are spectators by nature. But it is easy for the Stage Hypnotist to find the natural performers in the audience, and get them on the stage without the rest of the audience realising that these people have more or less selected themselves.
Performers Stand Out
If you are a Stage Hypnotist, all you have to do is approach people, and they react. They can’t help it – you are coming for volunteers for your stage hypnosis show! Most people (spectators) shy away and are obviously afraid that you are going to single them out. But a few people don’t look scared, they look keen! They have “Pick me!” written all over their faces, and are glad to see you approach. They stand out, but only to the hypnotist. Everyone in the audience is looking at the entertainer, they are not looking at each other. So they don’t realise they are giving that away, it is obvious body language to any seasoned performer.
So the stage hypnotist can pick people out apparently at random, but in reality he simply collected the natural-born performers and put them right where they wanted to be – in the spotlight! From then on, he is not making anyone do anything. He has given them an opportunity to do just what they want to do anyway – be the centre of attention and show off for a bit – and then he gives them the script, feeding them instructions moment by moment. They don’t have to do any of these things, but once they are up there on the stage, what else are they going to do? If they don’t put on a bit of a performance, it is all going to fall rather flat – and who wants to be in a lousy show?
In order to create the impression he is controlling people, it is important for the stage hypnotist to make these directions sound like commands, and so he behaves like a puppet-master, snapping his fingers or tapping people, to give the impression he is physically controlling them. In reality the participants don’t have to follow any of these directions, but these people are performers by nature, they understand that these are the hoops they have to jump through if they are going to win some applause.
Spectators wouldn’t do that – or they would do it so lamely that it would not be entertaining. So the participants in a stage hypnosis show are not really doing those things because they are in hypnosis, but because they like doing things like that, or at the very least they don’t mind. Most people would rather die than be seen doing things like that, but that’s just the difference between spectators and performers at the end of the day.
In hypnotherapy we can do away with all that nonsense, because hypnotherapists are not pretending to have any power over anyone else’s mind in the first place! We don’t need any, because the Subconscious mind is intelligent and can understand a perfectly good explanation when it hears one. It is also quite happy to change anything it is currently doing provided there is a clear advantage we can point to, and it doesn’t have any specific objection.
If you would like to read more about Stage Hypnosis, go to www.truthwillout.co.uk and click on Read The Book. When the Contents page appears, click on Section Two.