Every few years, the news media jumps back on the ignorance band wagon and looks to demonize hypnosis and hypnosis shows. And yet, I continue to be amazed by the media’s actions. I really shouldn’t be, especially when we continue to see the media creating news, rather than objectively reporting it.
In the latest “Sky is Falling” reporting, we have the case of a young man at an after-prom event in Nebraska who is at the center of the story. For those who may have missed it, the student volunteered to participate in a comedy hypnosis show that was part of a safe and sober after-prom event. The news station posted a short video clip that shows the student falling to the floor. It is clear in the video that this student did not strike his head, nor does it appear that he sustained any other injuries. The student claims that he did not remember anything from the show and that he had a difficult time emerging from hypnosis. He was later taken to the hospital where he was found to be uninjured, did not sustain a concussion and did not appear to be under the influence of any substances.
The parents, who were not present at the show, raise some questions regarding the appropriateness of having hypnosis show and the lasting impacts of the experience on their son. These are common questions that hypnotists answer and ones that the news media chose to ignore in their reporting.
For many people, their exposure to hypnosis are what they see from Hollywood and do not at all represent the reality of what hypnosis really is. In fact, if these facts were widely known, the mystique and excitement of the movie or TV show, would be crushed and a literary tool of suspense, and mystery would be gone.
So, the question really comes down to what is hypnosis? Hypnosis is a naturally occurring state that each of us experiences on a daily basis. It lies between the awake state and the sleeping state and characteristics of both, yet it is neither. The use of the word “sleep” tends to lead people to mistakenly believe that the volunteer is asleep or unconscious. Actually, the opposite is true. Hypnosis is a state of super-focus and concentration where a person has engaged the power of the sub-conscience mind. The hypnotized person is hyper-aware. They hear everything around them, have all their senses, and will ignore those suggestions that are against their principles and moral beliefs. Simply, a person in hypnosis will not do or say anything they would not do or say in their fully awake state. This is 180 degrees from where Hollywood would like us to think about hypnosis. Often, Hollywood depicts hypnosis as a state where the person is being controlled by some Svengali-like character. Plainly stated, it is not! Yet, we want to be titillated and entertained. Since most people don’t understand the workings of the human mind, directors and writers play on this ignorance and reinforce the stereotypes found In pop culture. The hypnotist has no “super-powers”. Rather, the trained hypnotist has studied the way the human mind works, the physiology of the brain and the mechanisms that aid a person’s path into the hypnotic state and works with those mechanisms to achieve the enhanced trance state.
Hypnosis is one of the most misunderstood conditions of the human mind. It is for this reason that there are so many false accusations by an uneducated media and general public. One of the most common myths is that of being stuck in hypnosis. You can no more get stuck in hypnosis than you can get stuck in sleep. Even if something were to happen to the hypnotist during a show or session, the hypnotized person would either spontaneously pop out of hypnosis or would enter into a natural sleep state and awaken as they would from any regular sleep.
In the most recent story that has been making the rounds, the volunteer says that he does not recall the events of the evening. This too is very common in hypnosis and often depends on the depth of the trance state. Since hypnosis involves the sub-conscious mind, it is common that a person is not consciously aware of the events. There are therapeutic benefits of this state that the clinical hypnotist uses to achieve the important changes that the client is seeking. In the case of the stage hypnotist, most will give a suggestion to help their volunteer remember and enjoy their time on the stage. As with sleep or conscience states, the hypnosis state is not at a constant depth. The depth achieved is the result of the state of receptivity of the client/volunteer, the process employed by the hypnotist, as well as the physical condition of the volunteer.
There are tremendous benefits of being in this state. First, it is incredibly relaxing. In a state of hypnosis, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are in a state of balance. This helps to achieve the depth of relaxation that is difficult to achieve in other ways. This is why people commonly see volunteers on stage slumping or seeming to “melt” out of their chairs.
Hypnosis is achieved through one of two mechanisms; fatigue of the nervous system or overload of the nervous system. In the first instance, the hypnotist or hypnotherapist will generally employ a talk-based patter such as progressive muscle relaxation or having the person focus on too many items at the same time.
The second method, which often is the most dramatic looking, and which is a result of taking advantage of the body’s fight/flight/freeze mechanism, is commonly called an instant induction. These are inductions that employ an arm-pull/drop, body-drop or similar physical movement that causes the firing of the amygdala. While it looks dramatic, the hypnotist is using the volunteers’ body mechanics to achieve the result. The force used is the same as shaking hands with someone. It is a “split-second” induction that allows the trained hypnotist to insert a suggestion at the exact moment the sub-conscious mind is off balance and seeking direction.
Hypnosis is safe! The news story plays on the ignorance of people with respect to the safety of hypnosis. Hypnosis, when performed by a trained hypnotist, is safe for both therapeutic and entertainment purposes. It is NOT mind-control. People in a state of hypnosis are fully aware of what is going on around them and even what they are doing. They have full free-will and can choose to not accept the hypnotist’s suggestion, just as easily as they choose to accept and act on it. There is no feeling of hypnosis, but there is a feeling of relaxation, peace and calm.
Hypnosis is NOT mind-control! Contrary to myth, Hollywood and media sensationalizing to sell more movies, books and papers, hypnotized volunteers will not do things that are against their morals or closely held beliefs.
I am not saying that the media is completely at fault for reporting on instances where the hypnotist has done something that resulted in an either performing an inappropriate or dangerous routine or has failed to properly instruct their volunteers to act in a safe manner. In those situations where the problem is caused by hypnotists that are either poorly trained, ignore their training, or allow their egos to override their common-sense, it is critical that the light be shined on the event. However, there is often a rush to judgement and a need to gain audience that is accomplished with “disaster” headlines and over-blown reporting.
I recently addressed this matter in my YouTube vlog (video blog) Hypnosis Hangout Episode 7 – Trouble Waking Up Hypnotists. (link to VLOG – https://youtu.be/vV5lEFR4tLw ) In the video, I specifically call on hypnotists to take Immediate action to insure they are protecting their volunteers and performing age and venue appropriate skits. In so doing, they help to eliminate the sensationalized claims and return the industry to the prominence of being a safe and highly sought after, premium entertainment experience. Removing the opportunity for negative publicity improves demand for shows and removes fears created by Hollywood, stereo-typing, and a news media hungry for audience engagement.
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About the Author:
Marc is an award winning, certified stage and clinical hypnotist, author and motivational speaker with experience entertaining both large and small gatherings.
Marc uses his skills and talents in a variety of areas that include self-improvement or clinical hypnosis, motivational speaking, and comedy stage hypnosis. He has worked with individuals and corporations throughout the United States to improve outcomes in personal lives and organizations.
As a clinical hypnotist, he has helped people resolve sleep issues, lose weight, stop smoking, deal with long held fears, deal with stress and anxiety, manage pain, improve sports performance, eliminate addictions, and improve sexual function.
His performance resume includes appearances on live shows for Refinery29 Live and Elite Daily’s TrashED. He has performed at comedy clubs, the Monroe County Fair (MI), the Osceola County Fair (Kissimmee, FL), the Red River Valley Fair (Fargo, ND), and for schools, proms, graduations, conferences, conventions and corporations. He was a featured performer for New Jersey’s premier First Night Celebration – First Night Morris for New Year’s Eve 2018.
Marc’s book, “Staying in the Moment – Helping Students Achieve More Through Mindfulness Meditation” helps educators, parents and students get better results in the classroom through the adoption of mindfulness exercises as part of the curriculum.
For more information about, or to book an appointment with Marc visit his website: www.hypnomarc.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.