A hypnotist recently dazzled East Lyme with his talents in stage hypnosis leaving many wondering just how he did it. Unlike magic tricks where there is some physical indicator, hypnosis appears to be straight mind control. After researching and reading hypnotists explain their craft, it’s a lot simpler than you might think.
These shows begin with the selection process, where the hypnotist selects candidates. These candidates are up to the hypnotists educated guesses, based on experience. They guess who will be the least resistant to the act. People who want to be hypnotized, want to entertain the crowd, are extroverted, or are not out to prove hypnosis is fake.
The hypnotist then attempts to show confidence, leaving no doubt that the participants will indeed be hypnotized. Usually the first command in these shows is to put people to sleep.
Everyone will go to sleep because even those who feel nothing assume they are the ones messing up, not the hypnotist. They are not about to stand up and call the hypnotist out because they will feel like it worked for the other nine people, and they will just go along with it. Since they have acted like they are hypnotized, they will continue for the rest of the show and do anything within reason.
For the people that did fall “asleep”, they would have fallen asleep as soon as the hypnotist pointed at them due to their belief, confusion, and desire to be hypnotized. Truthfully, they will not feel to much different from everyone else.
The hypnotist tries to make the participants feel relaxed and confident through music, a soothing voice, and encouraging focus. These lower the social inhibition of the participants, and since they are “supposed” to be hypnotized they will going along with the small taks.
The tasks get odder as the show goes on to make people feel more confident, and usually the hypnotist will pick those that appear the least socially inhibited to take on solo tasks. Whether it be singing Taylor Swift or rapping mumbles, these people will have shown they are most likely to go along with it and want to entertain the crowd, due to their behavior in the previous tasks.
If they were asked to play an instrument or be a superhero, the ones that appear to put the most into their performance.
But why does anyone go along with the hypnosis? The hypnotist does not make anyone do anything, they simply give permission to do what would not be socially acceptable. What they do is change the social standard. When you are up on the stage you are supposed to be hypnotized, the volunteers volunteered knowing what would happen.
No hypnotist no matter how skilled will not be able to work his act if the people doing it don’t want to let go and act weirdly. It’s like having a drink at a party and acting completely unlike yourself, because in that atmosphere it is okay to do that, even if you are not even that particularly drunk.
Many know they are faking, but really act it out to make it look even more like they are hypnotized. The people on the stage for the most part want to be there, want to have fun, and most importantly know what is expected of them. A variety of sources, when being honest with themselves, described it as knowing they were faking on some level.
Some will claim they were truly out of it and had no control or recollection whatsoever. But those people are not being completely truthful to themselves about how much control they had. The truth is they could have stopped at anytime. Imagine if they were told to shoot someone or jump head first off the stage, they would stop because that is completely out of reason.
Hypnosis can feel like waking from a nap, due to the meditative and relaxing trance one is put in to achieve it. This kind of a state is necessary to make the participants feel relaxed enough to really let go of the restrictions of their critical minds that is used to doing things that are socially appropriate. Once these restrictions are lifted and a new social environment is created, all the hypnotist must do is direct tasks, and the participants will be more than happy to participate.