Ever been hypnotised?


Yesterday I saw a hypnotist. It was impressive!

So has anyone here been hypnotised? What can you tell me about it? Do you remember all the humiliating things you did?

And what about hypnosis in general? It seems that it could be used for some pretty horrible things. Can someone be hypnotised for their entire life? Does being casually hypnotised for a show change a person permanently in any way?


No. And I don’t believe in it, either. So which means I probably never will be, since they say you have to believe in it to have it done to you.

However, who isn’t curious? Tell us about your experience.

I can’t get Uncle Cecil’s column on the subject to come up in the search. The short version

With the atmosphere of a show, you can get people to come up on stage and cluck like chickens just by asking, no hypnosis required.

Some hypnotists will tell subjects to fake it.

The hypnotist talks to the audience establishing that the ability to be hypnotized is a good quality or tied to good qualities (I once heard one say that anybody with an IQ over 85 and an imagination could be hypnotized). This combines with other factors (desire to please the audience and the hypnotist) to get people who aren’t hypnotized to fake it, without being told by the hypnotist.

Hypnosis is not the amazing power shown in movies and comic books. It cannot make anybody do things that they don’t want to do. You cannot use a pocket watch to convince somebody to be your eternal sex slave. You cannot implant post-hypnotic triggers to make a person kill themself or assassinate the president. The debate over whether it can help in weightloss, or giving up cigaretttes is ongoing. Note that the hypnotism used by a legitimate therapist is very different from stage hypnotism. The use of hypnosis to ‘recover lost memories’ has been debunked. There is no credible evidence for the use of hypnosis for ‘past life regression’

I wasn’t on stage, but some years ago I saw another hypnotist work his charms on my friend’s ex-boyfriend, so I know it wasn’t rigged. Every time someone shook his hand that day he would stand up and yell “YA-HOOO!”.

The hypnotist (his name was Terry Stokes) first did a test where we held our fingers in front of our faces and he told us that they will move together. Mine twitched ever-so-slightly, but didn’t move together, and the same with my boyfriend. He asked whose fingers had gone together, and about half of people’s did.

Then he asked some people whose fingers had gone together to come up on stage. There were about 20 at first. He told them to envision a single cloud in the sky, and to envision themselves on it. After that, he could pull their arms, make a clucking noise and say “Sleep” and they would fell over onto the person beside them. It worked on a little over half, and the others he sent off the stage, including a 6-year-old boy. My guess is that he just didn’t have a long enough attention span to get hypnotised.

Then he proceeded to embarass the others! It was great! One guy was told that whenever someone on stage said their name, he would come up to the hypnotist and introduce himself with that name. The best part of the show was when he woke up and called people with his cell phone and asked them to call him Cindy because it was ‘a pretty name’. He called his dad who, judging by the guy’s reactions, was pretty confused!

The hypnotist convinced one girl that she was Britney Spears, and she became a pretty good dancer! When he snapped her out of it she was confused about having a microphone and being on stage. Another guy had Homer Simpson on his shirt, and was convinced that he was spitting at him! Another man was convinced there was a voice in his hat saying “Let me out!”

At the end he told one guy that when he hears the word “cowboy” he has to stand up and spank himself while saying “Who’s your daddy???” and another guy had to go after him, spanking him and saying “I’m your daddy!”. When they snapped out of it the one guy rubbed his butt in confusion.

Another two guys were convinced they were Kermit and miss Piggy. When they snapped out of it and realized they were hugging each other, they were confused and “Cindy” put his arms up in an apologetic way.

I’m still not convinced it’s all acting. It’s unlikely that so many people are convincing actors/actresses - I’ve been to junior high school plays!:wink:

Also, the last hypnotist I saw got them to do stuff that they likely couldn’t do otherwise. One person was stretched out between chairs and kept her body straight, and some weight (maybe it was another person) was put on her and she didn’t budge.

I’ve hypnotized someone in the non-stage way (more in the, read a few books on it and tried it on some friends way). It works, but I don’t think I could ever make my friends act like chickens. Not that I would. Or that I tried. But I made them do things like clasp their hands together, and forget what had happened.

I stopped after someone pointed out that A.) I probably wasn’t actually hypnotizing my friends, and B.) if I was, I wasn’t a trained psychiatrist/psychologist, and could potentially mess someone up. ::shrug::

Yes, I have had theraputic hypnosis performed on me. However, it was by a licensed hypnotherapist, not a stage-event. I was having a medical issue at the time, and used it as complementary therapy to the standard medical care I was receiving. I remember every bit of it. It definitely helped me feel better and have some symptom relief.

As a therapist, I do believe hypnotherapy can be useful for certain conditions/situations, including smoking cessation, anxiety, stress management, boosting T cells in HIV paitents, and sports performance. I would not recommend it as a solo “cure” or therapy, but as a great addition to other common therapies for the particular condition.

Hypnosis is NOT what you have seen on the Montel show, or in Vegas. Actually, it’s pretty boring- relaxation exercises, quiet talking, visualization, etc. It cannot make you cluck like a chicken but have amnesia about it. It cannot make you bark and crap on your boss’ desk every time a bell rings.*

Certain people are more receptive to hypnosis, meditative, and dissociative states than others. Some theorized tests include tests of imagination, an eye closing exercise, etc, but results in trials seems to have been mixed.

You can always make this a GQ thread if you want more factual info, rather than just experiences.

*although, if it could, I would totally become a licensed hypnotherapist and wreak havoc on my friends’ personal lives.

My husband and I did this '70s thing called Silva mind control, which was essentially self-hypnotism. You spend a couple of minutes relaxing and focusing (on your goals, or whatever) before going to sleep, or before heading off to a job interview or a tennis match . . . whatever. Lots of visualization.

It works pretty well for some things. You can, for instance, program yourself to get up at a certain time of day, even if it’s a time you wouldn’t normally get up. I remember once when we were both doing it, and I asked him if he would make me breakfast the next morning, and he said to program him. So I described what time he’d get up and what he would cook. It didn’t work on him but it did on me–I got up at the prescribed time and cooked exactly what I’d asked him for.

Didn’t work at all for painless childbirth.

There was a bit of biofeedback involved as well. I have been popping myself out of bed in the mornings for the last 25 years by raising my body temperature so that it’s too hot to stay in bed. (Unfortunately I have to already be pretty much awake in order for this to work. So if I forgot to program myself the night before, too bad.)

I did it the stage/Vegas way. Well, not really, and here is what happened:

I was in Las Vegas with my mom and her husband this year. We went to a pretty cheesy hypnotist show – the hypnotist was a woman, and she featured a little dog. There were not that many people in the audience, so one person from each table were asked to go up there and give it a shot, and keep an open mind. Since my mom and her husband refused, that left me. Great! Well, I knew right away that it was bogus. So did some of the other people, and I guess the hypnotist spotted them right away and knew they weren’t going to play along and asked them to return to their seats. I am also pretty sure that one or two of the people on stage with me were confederates. (That is, in on it.). Still, I went along with it, as I didn’t want to spoil the show for the audience, in particular my mom. Just standing up and saying, “This is crap! I’m leaving!” would have been pretty disappointing for some of those people – it seemed like a jerky thing to do. And I guess I didn’t want to spoil it for the hypnotist herself, in some weird way. So I sucked it up and pretended to rap in Cantonese (yes! Cantonese! How DID I do it? Not very well.) I pretended to be a dog trainer with one of the other “hypnotics” as my dog, and then I had to go around to all the bald men in the audience, rub their heads and make a wish. This is where I started wishing the whole thing was over already, but still I played along. I think the finale was some kind of dance contest involving a lot of butt shaking. The assistant would whisper from behind me occasionally reminding me about whatever it was I supposed to be doing. Another thing that kept happening is the hypnotist kept saying things like, you are a STAR in VEGAS! I guess she was playing to our giant hammy egos. Well, as it turns out, my mom thought it was a riot. She thought I really was hypnotized. “Where did you learn cantonese???”

When it was over, I thought, what if everyone was in on it but me?

So, I think stage hypnosis is a performance. If you are any kind of performer, you don’t want to disappoint your audience.

As a kid I styled myself an amateur magician. I read books on magic tricks and even performed magic shows to kids in the neighbourhood. Still get a kick out of the whole illusion-as-entertainment genre.

The interest in magic tricks never left, so naturally I’m interested in hypnosis. I bought a couple books by “The Amazing Kreskin” and others on the subject of hypnosis. Kreskin is of the opinion that there is no distinct state of hypnosis and it’s a good thing we’ve done away with using hypnosis on the witness stand. He did describe some pseudo-hypnotic tricks you can try at home (other books describe these too, so I don’t think I’m violating copyright):

[li] Have your subjects “sit comfortably, think happy thoughts, insert stage patter here.” Then have them close their eyes and imagine they can see through the top of their head. Tell is a red spot on the ceiling and have them stare at it (eyes closed, no tilting the head). Of course, use “hypnotic language” to describe all of this. Tell them the more they concentrate and stare at the spot, the clearer it comes. After a suitable time, “implant” the suggestion that they cannot open their eyes. The harder they try, the harder it becomes. Lo and behold, it works - they can’t![/li]
[li] Similar to the the above, set the hypnotic mood then have subjects clasp hands - tighter and tighter as the clasps of hypnosis take over. Then tell them you’re pouring imaginary glue on their hands. Like magic, they cannot open their hands.[/li]
You’ll have some that can open their eyes/hands. But surprisingly the rest cannot. The “reason” of course is physiological more than psychological. You can’t open your eyes if they’re rolled back in your head. If you clasp your hands tightly you cannot separate them. But couched in all the hypno-language, these facts are obscured, leaving your audience believing something special has happened.

This is why stage hypnotists use these as “tests,” to select out those “not in the mood” to pay attention and follow instructions, and to instill a belief in the remaining participants and in the audience that something amazing is going on.


[li] The above can work with a group of subjects. This one only works one on one. Set the hypnotic mood, lightly touch subject’s forehead. Tell them they’re stuck to their chair (magic glue, frozen muscles, whatever). When they try they can’t. If done right (there’s an art) this works because, while you’re touching their forehead they can’t lean forward - a necessary step in rising from a chair. [/li]
One time, when I did this for a bunch of friends in a bar, I encountered a bit of a scare. My subject was a very eager-to-believe young woman. In the noisy bar she didn’t hear my “release command” I started walking back to my seat to do come lame card trick, or whatever, and my friend starting yelling at me. “Hey, don’t leave me here!” By this time I was on the other side of the table, but she was visibly struggling to rise from her chair!! I declared in a solemn voice “You are released and can now rise effortlessly” and vary gracefully she stood - with looks of wonderment from all present (I tried to stifle my own surprise and play it off as if all was planned)


[li] Another one you can try at home - and this one must be more psychological than physiological: Have one subject, preferably a woman (you’ll see) stand with her elbow at 90° fist closed, arm at side, forearm at 90° to body. No hypnosis yet. Have a male volunteer push down on the fist, telling the woman to resist. Inevitably the man wins. Now comes the hypnosis. Induce a “trance” eyes closed, and implant the suggestion she’s made of steel. When I do this I lightly touch each part of her body (heh heh) and describe how “now the shoulder is hardening into rigid steel, now the upper arm…etc”, trying not to be boring, but being very emphatic. Once the suggestion is implanted, get the guy to try again. Sure as shooting this time the woman wins. Try it for yourself - you’ll be amazed![/li]

When a travelling hypnotist came to a bar near me, I was in!

The hypnotist started the show by performing a number of standard magic tricks. Highly entertaining, great sense of humour - not too serious attitude. Lots of fun. Then a break. After the break came the hypnosis part of the show.

My brother and I were amongst the volunteers. We went through the battery of “tests” as I’ve described - me all smug and “knowing” :slight_smile: One of the stunts was I received the suggestion that I was pregnant and my brother (lucky pick) was the “father” Hilarity ensued. We have the video - funny stuff.

Finally, after the show the hypnotist did the post-hypnotic thing, where mine was when he said some key word I would jump on my chair and yell “Superman!”

I did all that was “required” of me, and it was just as meow described - out of a sense of showmanship, not some mysterious force.
Knowing all of this, would I go to see a hypnotist again? Yes! When given license, people can be highly creative. I love the bit where one “becomes” a martian translator for another who is the martian. The hypnotist interviews the martian via the interpreter. Funny stuff.

I could have sworn that I was hypnotized once, but for some reason, I have no recollection of the matter.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go back to my coop.

I participated in a show at the county fair last year. I volunteered out of curiosity, and went up on stage determined to give it my best shot. I did get relaxed, which I thought was pretty impressive, considering that I was on a stage being watched by a hundred people, with my head resting on a stranger’s shoulder, and another stranger’s head resting on my shoulder. But I knew I wasn’t hypnotized and I was trying to decide whether I should go along with the program or not, when the hypnotist asked me if I wore contact lenses. I told her yes, and she asked me and another person to return to the audience. The show progressed after that very much as **Thylacinewas taken ** described.
I could never decide if it was for real or not. Like **Thylacinewas taken ** also said, if it was acting, it was superb.

Two professionals - one a dentist, another an MD, tried to hypnotize me to quit smoking, but in vain.

Then a P.A. (Physician’s Assistant), tried—and succeded.

Two weeks later, on the way to work, Philip Morris (I think) had people on the street handing out free tobacco-less cigarettes. “What the hell, no harm in this,” I muttered, and after finishing a sample packet, promptly resumed smoking regular butts.

Finally kicked it on 2000 with Zyban (with an added incentive from carcinoma in situ of the bladder.)

A hypnotist performed at our high school. There was a guy behind me in the audience who got hypnotized accidentally. When the hypnotist told the people on stage that they had lost their bellybuttons, and that they should try to find them, this guy went nuts and was scrambling frantically all over the auditorium seats trying to find his. He was very reckless of his own safety and others’, and slipped once and nearly cracked his chin on a seatback, so I don’t think he was faking it. The hypnotist asked someone to guide him up to the stage for the rest of the act.

You can if it’s a really good pocket watch.

Yeah, but who wants someone who’s always looking at their watch in bed?

I really can’t imagine that all the hypnosis in the world is faked by people wanting to ham it up for the audience.

A year or so ago I went to Flip Orley and was really impressed.

Like stated above, you won’t do anything you don’t want to do. Flip invited 10 or so volunteers up on stage, one of them was with me, who happened to believe hypnotism was bullshit.

First he attempted to place all the people under hypnosis. During this exercise he asked that those people who were not hypnotized to quietly get up and go back to their seats. About 3 or 4 did. Among other things my friend was given a glass of fresh water poured straight from the bottle, and told to take a sip of it. It was then suggested to him that the water was skunky, and had the absolute worst taste. When he took another sip, he gagged and didn’t drink any more. After the show, and everyone was UN-hynotized, he came back to the table C0NVINCED that something was put in the water secretly. He swears he wasn’t hypnotized.



This can be done without hypnosis. Just place one foot on either side of the subject’s waist. Be careful not to stand directly on the waist, or the subject will fold right up.

Don’t some dentists use hypnotism successfully? I mean, if you can get a cavity drilled 'n filled without novacaine, doesn’t that sorta prove that at some level hypnotism does work?


I had a tooth drilled and filled with neither novocaine nor hypnosis, so the fact that it can be done with hypnosis doesn’t really prove anything.

I’d be willing to believe that stage hypnosis is pretty much bunk. It seems like it’s a way to make whatever you do socially acceptable; you don’t have to be nervous or embarassed. After that it’s just an improv show.

But…in Richard Feynman’s book he describes being hypnotized to go the long way around to his seat when he left the stage, and how he was unable to go back to his seat via the normal route even though he tried. I think Richard Feynman is a pretty credible witness, so it makes me wonder.

No, the doctor gave up after three tries. ;j