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  • Writer's pictureChris Minor

Top 5 Fascinating Facts About Stage Hypnosis

The Funny Hypnotist at a hypnosis stage show

For over 15 years now, every single time I tell someone I am a hypnotist their eyes light up and a flood of questions follows. It's not everyday that people get to meet a hypnotist, so it's perfectly understandable. Aside from the typical myth busting questions, the most surprising things I tell people are not about what the audience sees, or experiences, it's what they don't see.

These are the top 5 fascinating facts about stage hypnosis that most people will never know! Enjoy!

#1: Volunteer Selection for Stage Hypnosis


#1: Volunteer Selection for Stage Hypnosis

Stage hypnosis is one of the very few live shows where members of the audience become the stars of the show. For this reason there is a lot of knowledge and experience required to ensure that the hypnotist is selecting the right people. This process is extremely thorough and practiced until it become so smooth that there are people who refuse to believe that volunteers aren't faking, or hired by the hypnotist.

The process is broken into 4 parts each with their own checks and balances. The hypnotist will usually not move on to the next part until they see indications of that particular part working. It's the same as when you are having a conversation with someone. There are many signs that they are paying attention, that they understand what you are saying, etc. The process of volunteer selection for a hypnosis stage show is very similar in that there are certain telltale signs the hypnotist is looking for at each part of the process.

Because the entire show hinges on selecting the right volunteers this process is probably the most important skill a stage show hypnotist can refine. The better this skill, the more unbelievable it is that what you are seeing is actually happening!

#2: Suggestibility

Everyone is suggestible, therefore everyone is hypnotizable. How much or how little depends on many factors such as set, setting and rapport. During a hypnosis stage show the hypnotist is looking for individuals who show a high level of suggestibility at that moment, as well as those whose suggestibility may be increased during the volunteer selection process. I would like to state that suggestible does not mean gullible. Suggestibility is simply someone's willingness to go along with what is being suggested.

To put it another way, we've all had one of those nights out where the plan was to go to one place and then the night turned into a story for the ages. If you were the one to go home instead of allowing the night to take a detour, you were just not suggestible to the suggestions provided at that time. That's all. In fact, maybe you were the one making the suggestions and got everyone to follow along. Were you, or they hypnotized? No. Would you call any of them gullible? No, just suggestible. Or not.

#3: Rapid Inductions

Top 5 questions I get asked as a hypnotist is how fast I can put people into a trance. The answer is instantly.

In stage shows hypnotists will use what is called a rapid induction. this is just the industry term for putting someone into a hypnotic trance very quickly. While these are not required for stage hypnosis they are very flashy and create a huge wow factor. Every time I use one for the first time at a show, it gets a very large vocal reaction from the audience. There are many different types and most hypnotists will know several of them to provide some variety to their shows.

Rapid inductions are mostly seen in stage shows and street hypnosis due to their flashy nature. Unfortunately people see this and think their hypnotherapist is going to use one on them in therapy. That is very unlikely to happen as it is a completely different setting, requiring a drastically different set of skills.

#4: Hypnotic Phenomenon

This is the part that everyone has a hard time processing mostly because unless you have experienced hypnotic phenomenon for yourself your brain has a hard time believing it. Hypnotic phenomenon is broken into three categories, of which we are only interested in two. Catalepsy and amnesia/hallucinations.

These two categories are where the majority of stage hypnosis skits are comprised. Catalepsy being the lighter and amnesia/hallucinations being the deeper. If a hypnotist has selected the right volunteers and tested their work properly they will know which skits to use with who for the best results.

As with all these points, the better the hypnotist's skills, the more unbelievable the show becomes. Unfortunately this is a good thing and bad thing. Good that the show is incredible, bad that people walk away unable to believe what they just saw and either chalk it up to it all being fake, or very cool that something like this exists in the world. Stage hypnosis is one of the few live performance industries where the better you become at your craft, the more people think it is fake.

 #5: Behavioral Inhibition

One of the things people have the most difficulty wrapping their head around is, why would anyone do the things the hypnotist is telling them to do?! They must be faking, or being paid to do it! This comes from a viewpoint of incomprehension because they lack the experience of hypnosis themselves and because of that believe they personally would never do those things. However, ask anyone who's been hypnotized and they would likely have said the same thing.

Until you have experienced hypnosis for yourself you will most likely not be able to understand the why simply because it's not something you can understand without having the experience. It's like trying to solve an equation while missing the information required to solve it.

Best I can do is say that hypnosis is a very pleasurable state where volunteers are more open to suggestion and so long as those suggestions do not cross any moral, or ethic boundaries they will act upon them in a way that is comfortable for them.

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