As for entertainment hypnotism in shows, I’m sure that there are some instances out there that are fake, and some are not. For a good example of a fake one, check out the Bob Zmuda book “Andy Kaufman Revealed” and look for the section where they did the “Masked Hypnotist” show. THAT one went quite a bit beyond the “can’t make you do something that you would be totally against” thing – although that is, admittedly, a pretty extreme example…
As for tamer shows, we had a couple at my college. The first was a small hypnotist show that was put on for a fraternity rush event. One of the small group of volunteers variety. Some of the people in the audience went with it, too, and a friend who was sitting next to me was totally zonked out by the time he got the volunteers under. He was slumped over in his seat, as if he had fallen asleep in class. The hypnotist brought him up on stage to replace one of the volunteers that it didn’t work on.
That show was so well liked and talked about that the Student Government Assoc. booked a hypnotist show later in the year for one of their events. I volunteered on this one, because I wanted to see what it was like… and if it would work. And although I was curious and wanted it to work, and I wanted to see what it was like, I didn’t really feel anything different, and I just played along. (Yep, I faked it… Ladies, you wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?)
Most of the things he had everybody do were in a group, so I didn’t mind going along with that. I think if he had singled me out for anything particularly embarrassing, I probably would have blown it… (Although it would have given me a nice excuse to do something goofy on stage… )
So, some of you are probably thinking – maybe you WERE hypnotized, and just didn’t realize that was why you were playing along, and didn’t realize it would feel like normal consciousness, just more relaxed. I don’t think so, and here are a few reasons why:
- I saw the effects of it on some other people (like Mr. Zonk-out) and I certainly didn’t feel anything like that.
- I do remember consciously thinking “This isn’t working” during much of it, and like I said, he didn’t make everybody as a group do too much that was embarrassing.
- One of the “gags” was along the lines of “When I say the phrase ‘yadda yadda yadda’ (I don’t remember the phrase) your seat will feel burning hot, so much that you will not be able to stay seated” – one of the post-hypnotic suggestions for use once the volunteers had returned back to the audience. When this phrase came up, my seat felt no different to me – but yes, I jumped up when everybody else did, so as not to blow it. It was a good chance to practice my acting abilities (leaping up, feigning a shocked expression, etc). But I was consciously thinking at the time “The seat doesn’t feel any different”.
*I have also been to Comedy Clubs when a member of my party was hypnotized and acted in a manner their spouse said was VERY different from their personality. *
I think this is a little different from the claim that hypnotism can’t make you do something you are opposed to. One of the other incidents at that last show was another post-hypnotic suggestion – which had a girl running back up on stage and dancing and lip-synching to Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”. The girl was a person who would not have done this normally, because she was normally more reserved and introverted. I think the suggestion just loosened that up a bit, but she didn’t do anything that she would be totally against. A few beers might have the same effect – make her a little more outgoing.
However, I agree with the thought that hypnotism can’t make you suddenly do things that you would totally disagree with, like throwing off your clothes and letting the hypnotist fondle you onstage, or something…