7 Ways Stage Hypnosis Fools You
4 min read
Whilst stage hypnosis and clinical hypnotherapy share some fundamental principles of hypnosis, their aims and outcomes could not be further apart!
Primarily, the stage illusionist’s goal is that of entertainment; to sell tickets and put on a show; to WOW! their audience and create a memorable experience for the whole family.
Subjects usually end up roaming the stage like chickens, or demonstrating their newly acquired skills as kung-fu masters, before being emerged from hypnosis at the end of the extravaganza with no lasting change or effects.
The hypnotherapist’s goal on the other hand, is to help people achieve their therapeutic goals, whether that's reducing anxiety, stopping smoking, or breaking through their emotional challenges. All carried out in a transparent, collaborative and professional manner.
While the onstage spectacle is certainly intriguing and really quite funny, it is a notable departure from the serious nature of hypnotherapy and the positive results it can achieve, and has, to an extent, devalued its credibility.
Because of this, we must dispel some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding hypnosis that television, movies and stage performances have propagated. Even if they are really, really funny.
Misleading The Audience: 7 Strategies & Techniques
To ensure the performance is an entertainment success, a variety of strategies and techniques are used in stage hypnosis to mislead the audience and heighten the impact of the illusion.
Let’s take a look at them now!
When it comes to stage hypnosis, suggestibility is the most important thing. Suggestibility is an individuals tendency to respond to hypnosis and hypnotic suggestions.
The more suggestible the subject, the more entertaining the show!
The stage hypnotist cherry-picks the most suggestible volunteers from the audience for the performance by using a variety of suggestibility tests. Inviting them on stage, they are further whittled down to get the most suitable people to be part of the performance.
2. Audience Expectation
The volunteers’ compliance is increased further by the pressures of being on stage in front of an expectant audience and being swept into the script of a well crafted stage-show.
These individuals are now so susceptible and ready to perform that the chance of them not going into hypnosis and performing for the audience is almost zero.
3. It’s magic!
Alongside traditional hypnotic techniques, an array of deceptions are employed.
‘Sleight of hand’ and ‘smoke and mirrors’ – normally the stuff of magic shows – are used deliberately to amplify the viewers’ experience.
4. Private Whispers
Communication between the hypnotist and subject is sometimes done via microphone and earpiece, asking them to play along in deceiving the audience.
5. Fake Hypnosis
There are number of fake hypnosis tricks employed by stage hypnotists to confuse the audience. For example ‘hypnotised animals’, ‘flameproof hypnosis’, ‘stuck in the chair’, ‘stopping of the pulse’ etc., with the most famous being the ‘human plank trick’.
6. Taking advantage of the knowledge gap
The audience’s lack of knowledge about hypnosis also plays into the hypnotist’s hands when it comes to his failure to challenge certain suggestions. For example, the subject can be told that their ‘arm is as rigid as steel’, but the instruction to attempt to ‘bend it' is withheld.
7. Nothing but a stooge!
Stage hypnosis productions can even plant stooges in the audience, who can be the first “volunteer” and the first to respond strongly to each suggestion the hypnotist gives. This in turn encourages the other volunteers to follow suit and imitate his responses.
Whilst the stage hypnotist is relying upon at least a few of the volunteers from the audience to be highly suggestible extroverts, having a stooge to hand will always make the more difficult and dramatic suggestions a definitive success, leading to rapturous applause from the audience, rave newspaper reviews, and a possible Netflix special.
Stage Hypnosis Vs. Hypnotherapy; Are there ANY similarities?
It should go without saying that hypnotherapy fails to match the pageantry of stage hypnosis. You will find no smoke and mirrors or performing stooges in hypnotherapy; no sleight of hand or enraptured audience.
But in spite of such clear differences between the two, there are things hypnotherapists can learn from stage hypnosis.
Firstly, it demonstrates the importance of the hypnotic subject’s motivation and willingness to participate in the process.
Much like carefully selected audience members, therapeutic subjects need to be goal driven, willing and compliant to make changes, and to be a dedicated participant in the process. Without active participation from subjects, any suggestions – be that to stop smoking in a therapeutic environment, or sing like Pavarotti on cue in front of a paying audience – are futile.
Finally, stage hypnosis shows what people can do, outlandish as it may considered to be, when they commit their mind to something, when they are motivated and give maximum effort toward a desired outcome. To change their lives for the better.
Whilst the entertainment factor of hypnotherapy may be left wanting, the potential benefits toward emotional and psychological health and well-being are immense.
Check out our treatment plans to see how you could benefit from hypnosis and change your life for the better.
I had wanted to give up for ages but always failed until I came across this treatment.
Before treatment my day was geared around when I was going to have a cigarette and I would rush home sometimes to have one or rearrange my day around them. I only smoked when I was alone as I felt ashamed and the smell upset others. I can honestly say that the Stop-in-seven treatment was excellent and the support wonderfully reassuring. It was all encompassing about how one was making oneself ill but also encouraging about how much better one would feel after giving up. One of the hardest aspects of the week was when we had to change the brand of cigarette. Oh how I craved for my own brand of cigarette I had smoked for 30 years. As I write this I think I can now call myself a non-smoker and it is amazing I have given up. I had wanted to give up for ages but always failed until I came across this treatment. Physically I don’t cough anymore and I can smell better and am eating healthier and enjoying it more. Emotionally I feel stronger clearer and realise I am proud of myself for eventually stopping the habit which I never thought I would. I would recommend Stop-in7 treatment to anyone trying to stop smoking. It is well organised extremely supportive and it works. Thank you.
I have tried various methods including hypnosis sessions previously, but to no avail.
Alex, I just wanted to take a moment to contact you. Since taking your Stop Smoking course It’s been a revelation ! It’s not even like I am an ex-smoker… I am a NON SMOKER ! I literally have not had a single thought about wanting to have a smoke ! For years on and off I have stopped and started again.. The lead up to the main event and the fact that the videos are available after the main session have proven to be just what is needed ! I have tried various methods including hypnosis sessions previously, but to no avail. So I just wanted to say a big thank you from me and my wife.
30g of rolling tobacco is roughly equivalent to 60 cigarettes.
50g of rolling tobacco is roughly equivalent to 100 cigarettes.
1 bowl of tobacco is roughly equivalent to 2.5 cigarettes.
4 bowls of tobacco is roughly equivalent to 10 cigarettes.
8 bowls of tobacco is roughly equivalent to 20 cigarettes.
1 small cigar is roughly equivalent to 1.5 cigarettes.
1 medium cigar is roughly equivalent to 2 cigarettes.
1 large cigar is roughly equivalent to 4 cigarettes.
Heal’s online Stop-In-7 Smoking Cessation Treatment Plan is expertly curated and accessible from the comfort of your own home, without the need for face-to-face therapy.
Combining techniques from Hypnotherapy, C.B.T, and Mindfulness-based therapies, this 7 day course provides you with — and guides you through — everything you need to break through your habit and stop smoking once and for all.
Quit Smoking To Improve Your Mental Health and Wellbeing
In a recent review, a group of researchers set out to understand how stopping smoking really affects people's mental health.
These Ugly Facts Will Make You Want To Quit Smoking Cigarettes Today
Don't be fooled by the false friend of nicotine; the facts of tobacco smoking tell a different story.
Stop Smoking To Reduce Your Risk Of COVID-19
We look at the evidence from scientific experts on smoking and COVID-19.
4 Surprising Benefits Of Quitting Smoking
Read the top unexpected benefits smoking cessation clients report after quitting smoking with Heal.
Top 5 Reasons To Quit Smoking Now
There are 5 main reasons to stop smoking that we as therapists see again and again. Some you may be familiar with, some may surprise you.
Health Improvements After Quitting Smoking Timeline
Watch our video to see how your body will begin to repair itself once you quit smoking.
Bringing The Clinic Online; How Heal Got Started
Let’s take a look at how this pioneering digital platform originated and get to know the people behind it.
Hypnotherapy Vs. Nicotine Replacement Therapy; What's The Best Way To Quit Smoking?
A controlled study reveals interesting findings on the true efficacy of hypnotherapy.
The Financial Cost Of Cigarettes Calculator
Use our cost of cigarettes calculator to work out how much money you could save if you quit smoking today.
Chloe's Success - How Quitting Smoking Changed Her Life
38 year old Yoga Instructor, completed Stop-In-7 over 16 months ago. We caught up with her about life as a non-smoker and her advice to those looking to quit.