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Comedy Stage VS Modern Hypnotherapy

Most people tend to assume that individuals during stage hypnosis are under a “special state” that makes them behave in a certain manner, and as a result most people form their conception about hypnosis based on stage demonstrations usually exposed on TV shows for entertainment purposes. It has been observed that the apparent success in hypnosis during stage demonstrations is usually more apparent than real. This form of hypnosis is usually responsible for people’s misconceptions about the nature of hypnosis. It is very often that people tell me that they are scared of being hypnotised as they fear revealing unwanted information or do things that they wouldn’t feel comfortable doing in their normal state. This gives me the opportunity to explain that the hypnotherapy that I will be performing is evidence-based, it is conducted for therapy and treatment purposes as opposed to stage hypnosis which is done purely for entertainment purposes. One of the most predominant figures of stage hypnosis is Darren Brown. He does an incredible work in convincing the audience about his success in hypnosis however, his techniques have not been tested with regards to its accuracy.

When it comes to Hypnotherapy the only act available is “The Hypnotism Act 1952” related to stage hypnosis, referred as “public entertainment” which states that it can only be performed with a license which is authorized by the local authority. The act prohibits hypnosis to be conducted to any person under the age 18, the hypnotist should also ensure suitability for participation and therefore the hypnotist shall first address this to the audience before starting the performance. In addition to that, the act also includes “prohibited actions” and hypnotic or post-hypnotic suggestions should be completely removed from the mind of the subject and audience before the end of the show. This act plays a significant role in protecting the participants, based on the premise that there was no initial consultation which is important in order to ensure no harm.

McGill published “New Encyclopaedia of Stage Hypnosis” where he details a vast amount of the traditional tricks mostly used by stage hypnosis. In a stage hypnosis situation the "hypnotist" chooses their participants carefully. First they give the entire audience a few exercises to perform and plant ideas in their minds, such as: ''Only intelligent people can be hypnotised.''. Some of the variables used by stage hypnotists are selection of extraverted and hyper-suggestible subjects, they are able to select the subjects by using some tests that measure suggestibility and that allows them to quickly spot the most suitable subjects to go on stage; they benefit from being charismatic and authoritarian as it will attract the audience more. They also make use of deception, by deliberately using “sleight of hand” which is based on magic tricks and illusions to mislead the audience. 

Some of the techniques used for deception include, Private whispers, by whispering to the subject by their ear to ask for their compliance to deceive the audience by suggestions such as “play along”; they deliberately don’t challenge the audience, as an example, instead of saying “try to bend your finger” they will say “your finger is so stiff that you cannot bend it”; they use fake hypnosis tricks used by trickers, fakirs, illusionists and mentalists; and usually the first participant shall become a role model to other participants.

The evidence-based approach is similar with this approach in the fact that we also select the clients based on suitability, the use of suggestions and confidence in the approach. As hypnotists, we need to also believe in our approach considering that it is evidence-based and the percentage of successful treatments is very high. In addition to that, the evidence based approach makes the use of induction as the first step in the process whereas stage hypnotists either don’t use it or the use “instant induction” through methods such as click of the finger. Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy had been proven to be an effective method to treat conditions such as anxiety, unhealthy negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours, pain, insomnia, phobias, to mention a few.

Please feel free to contact me if you need any further information.




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