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” 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.