Myths About Hypnosis – Is Hypnotism Real?

Common Myths About Hypnosis, and how they apply to Comedy Stage Hypnosis Shows.

Myths About Hypnosis
Myths About Hypnosis. (Picture: Danielle Buma)

8 MYTHS ABOUT HYPNOSIS
True or False?

#1: Only Mentally Weak People Can Be Hypnotized

FALSE. Anybody with an IQ over 70 CAN be hypnotized.

All it takes is willingness, paired with enough concentration to follow simple instructions. If you are capable of reading this article, YOU can be hypnotized.

While a traditional office setting offers virtually no distractions, a public Stage Hypnosis Show is a completely different animal.

A Comedy Hypnosis Show has the volunteers up on stage, with friends looking on from the audience. As with any group dynamic, there are lots of potential distractions.

The “best of the best” volunteers for a Stage Hypnosis Show have the following qualities:

  • Strong CREATIVE IMAGINATION,
  • Good CONCENTRATION and FOCUS,
  • MOTIVATED to participate, and
  • EXTROVERTED personality.

The first two on the list are generally accepted qualities of high intelligence!

#2: Hypnotized People Are Helpless

FALSE. Hypnotized people are NOT mindless automations subject to the bidding of the hypnotist.

It’s extremely difficult to get a hypnotized person to do anything against their moral principles.

Example: I’ve had deeply hypnotized volunteers “sit out” a routine that involves dancing. Some people just don’t want to have anything to do with dancing, ever!

That being said, Stage Hypnosis volunteers do become less inhibited during the performance. The combination of being in the trance state, plus the thrill of being up on stage, is a bit like having a few cocktails. It’s a party people!

#3: Hypnosis is Sleep

FALSE. While a hypnotized subject may have their eyes closed for an extended period of time, they are NOT sleeping.

Hypnotized persons ARE aware of their surroundings. Despite appearances, they actually have a HEIGHTENED sense of focus. It’s like comparing a laser beam (hypnosis) to a light bulb (wakeful alertness).

#4: A Hypnotist Can Cure You in One Session

MAYBE. This DOES happen.

Example: People often tell me they were able to stop smoking as a result of a single hypnosis session. Good for them!

Most behavioral change is going to require more dedication and persistence to produce lasting results. When working with a  Consulting Hypnotist, be prepared to commit to least 4-5 sessions for a singular issue.

#5: Hypnotists Are Flamboyant or Weird

This is actually TRUE!

#6: Hypnosis Can Retrieve Lost Memories

TRUE. It IS possible to use hypnosis to recover memories, but there is no guarantee of success.

Permanent memory is the realm of the subconscious mind.

The whole point of Hypnosis is to access the RESOURCES of the subconscious mind. Hypnosis techniques are the best, if not the only way to recover lost memories!

However, memories are extremely FRAGILE, and not necessarily a representation of the “truth.” Memories are strongly influenced by your age and emotional state at the time of the experience.

If a memory is not readily available, there may be a reason the subconscious mind is hiding it from conscious awareness.

#7: You Can’t Lie Under Hypnosis

FALSE. You can “lie like a rug,” when hypnotized!

I don’t know why people think hypnosis can be used as a “truth serum.” This is one of those myths about hypnosis that has no factual basis.

The enhanced creative imagination of a hypnotized person can lead them to say some outlandish things!

Example: The “World’s Biggest Liar” Stage Hypnosis routine is set up as follows, “Imagine that you are the World’s Greatest Liar. When I ask you anything, you’ll answer me back with the biggest lie your imagination can create.”

Example #2: The hypnotized volunteer in the VIDEO below is quite randomly hallucinating that she’s at a rock concert. Nothing was done prior to set up her “story.”

#8: You’ve Never Been Hypnotized

FALSE. If you’ve ever been married, you’ve been hypnotized!

Seriously, keeping in mind that there are different depths of hypnosis, we all enter hypnotic trance states on a daily basis.

Examples of Daily Trance States

  • Daydreams = Hypnosis.
  • Focused attention when watching an engaging TV program.
  • EMOTIONAL engagement, such as having sweaty palms while watching an intense action scene in a movie.
  • Brain wave cycles of deep meditation are equivalent to the theta trance state.
  • Hypnosis is part of your sleep cycle. You MUST enter the trance state in order to fall asleep, and you pass through the trance state in order to wake up.

Questions about Stage Hypnosis Shows? Post them in the comments below!

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60 comments on “Myths About Hypnosis – Is Hypnotism Real?

  1. It would have been great if you further write on this topic and include points like misconceptions of people, it’s dangers, the difference between clinical & stage hypnosis.

  2. I have wanted to experience stage hypnosis for quite sometime just to understand it better. I am very willing and have a very vivid imagination and love to daydream etc. but I have never seen to been able to go deep enough to experience a “convincer”. I have been to many hypnotists and hypnotherapists over the years and have had no real experience other than being relaxed. I have been tapped to leave the stage when trying to participate in a stage show. I feel that I should be a good subject but seem to be missing out on all the fun. I have practiced self-hypnosis a lot and use it for various improvements in my life. (one of them is being a better hypnotic subject) Is It just me or have I not found the right hypnotist.

  3. I wonder: Can you use hypnosis to memorize details you are studying for, and get 100% on an exam?
    What about Pain? if ISIS captured you and tortured you, can you hypnotize yourself out of the pain?

    • Some suggestions:
      1) Consider working with a different hypnotist that gives you more confidence in the process.
      2) Consider addressing whatever emotional triggers you have for smoking. Stress, anger, anxiety, depression, etc. This can also be done with hypnosis.
      3) Don’t passively expect the hypnosis to do all the work. While sessions will help you to be more mindful of your smoking habits, you need to make a strong conscious effort until you’ve developed the “habit” of being a nonsmoker. You choose the level of motivation your bringing to the process, so make it your TOP priority until it gets handled.
      4) Consider listening to a Stop Smoking Hypnosis Audio Program to reinforce your sessions.
      5) If cravings are a big issue for you, consider learning about Meridian Tapping (EFT). It’s a great technique for stopping the cravings in their tracks, and it can also be used to address the emotional triggers that lead you to smoke.

  4. Recently, I’ve seen an Indian movie named “7aum Arivu” in which villain is an expert in Hypnotic gaze. He just sees into eyes of people for 2-3 seconds, and makes them attack hero. Is this really possible?

  5. Good and elaborate description on Hypnotherapy. Keep posting this kind of blogs. Your stuff is very informative and helpful. Hypnosis is a great method for therapies.

  6. My daughter believes that her father sexually molested her. She wants to recall what happened in its entirety instead of fragments. She has nightmares about it, and suffers from PTSD, anxiety and depression. Can hypnosis give the answers that we are both searching for?

  7. I think I hypnotised myself by seeing a certain image many times (I work with hand-drawn animation). Now I cant seem to get the image out of my head. Initially I was freaking out that the image would stay in my thoughts forever, but lately I stopped reacting to it that negatively. I did notice that when I’m more stressed out the image bothers me more. I wonder if this is considered an intrusive thought, or is it something like a self-hypnosis?

  8. Erick,

    Are you aware of any double blind studies or actual scientific investigations done using MRI to see what happens in the brain of someone under hypnosis? I am looking for something more than anecdotal evidence which could be a placebo effect. Is there anything out there that actually takes a look at the neurology of hypnosis and attempts to subject it to the scientific method?

  9. Great article Erick,

    I love when people come up on stage and and say, “you can’t hypnotize me, no-one’s been able to” then become the star of the show and wonder what happened 75 minutes later.

    Keep up the good work!
    Comedy Hypnotist JimmyG

  10. My 36 year old daughter has indicated to me that her father molested her when she was 8 years old.

    I confronted her dad about this acquisition- he denied it ever happened. He is insistent that he did not. My daughter is not one to fabricate anything. I want to believe her dad but my gut tells me otherwise.

    He is willing to be hypnotized to put this issue to rest and be vindicated. Would he tell the truth under hypnosis?

    Thank you.

  11. Can somebody be hypnotized by looking at someone else’s eyes and they both would be at standstill forgetting their surroundings. Would that be a kind of hallucination?

  12. I am a teen who can’t really see a hypnotist. But I always see videos of hypnosis for helping with muscle gain and eating right and being more athletic. What I’m trying to say is that I see videos that will help you towards a goal you are going for if let’s say you want to do it but you just aren’t motivated enough. I want to know if those videos are true because if they are it would help me physically and mentally as well.

  13. This is a great blog on hypnotist in general as well as how it applies to stage shows.
    I know a wonderful women who is a clinical hynotherapist who also has a psychology degree. I’ve had many chats with her and it is quite apparent that people don’t yet full appreciate the power and benefits that hypnosis can provide from a medical point of view. She gets the occasional smoker that wants to quit, but she also uses hypnosis therapy very effectively for chronic pain management, weight loss, insomnia, addictions, phobia, anxiety and depression. She also teaches hypnosis to pregnant women seeking a pain-free birth experience. Amazing stuff.

    • If a suggestion is put in under hypnosis and reinforced say 10 times, could that instruction last more or less a lifetime? Would it be more likely if it were done to a pre-teen child.

  14. Someone I know (around 60 yrs old) was recently robbed. She was in a mall with her sister shopping, and a woman suddenly held her hand. She was taken in a car and then to the bank. While my aunt was withdrawing the money, she noticed that her sister was gone. After giving the criminal her money, cellphone, and jewelry, the robber disappeared. My aunt was able to go home, but her relatives said she arrived very pale and in a sort of shock.

    This is a common MO where I come from (Hong Kong). Usually old women who are alone get victimized. Is it possible that a hypnotist could look you in the eyes and instantly get you under their commands? How can one prevent being hypnotized against their will? I thought it takes some time to concentrate and/or meditate to get hypnotized. Thanks.

    • It sounds as if this person was purposefully confused, misdirected, and intimidated to the point of TRAUMA.

      That’s not “hypnosis.”

      Why do criminals target the elderly? An inability to adequately defend themselves, paired with possible mental weakness. You can push them around, overwhelm them, and put them into a state of SHOCK without too much effort.

      Terrorizing a person with limited ability to defend themselves could certainly induce a state of trauma, helplessness, and even memory loss. This is NOT “hypnosis,” which I define as being a collaborative effort.

      It would likely be embarrassing to be the victim of such a crime. A traumatized person with memory loss or confusion might like to believe or assume they’ve been put into a hypnotic trance, but that’s not the case.

      • There are sa plant substances that are made into a powder & can pass through the skin. These substances put on a person, such as by grabbing their hand make the person in a very suggestive trance state, like what is mythed as a zombie. The person is obedient but later doesn’t remember everything that happened or why.

        • That’s interesting. The potential use of topical drugs to make a victim even more helpless. Can’t say I’m an expert, because it’s got nothing to do with HYPNOSIS. 😛

          Side topic on drug victimization- “date rape” drugs. Secretly slipping drugs into other people’s drinks in order to take advantage of them sexually. I’ve met a few people who have been victimized this way.

        • This is almost certainly an urban legend. Every woman in Thailand believes this can happen, and yet when questioned why they think this it is always because it happened to “a friend of a friend”. Absolutely nobody has first hand experience of this, and there are never any police reports filed. Just anecdotal stories.

          If you know of an actual plant or chemical compound that has these properties please let us know, because I would love to study what actually occurs, but otherwise I hate to see these kinds of rumors passed on because there are those out there who might actually believe it. When pressed, most people looking for an actual substance with this property usually bring up scopolamine (because that is what you find on the internet when you look), but the actual science would indicate that real world topical application has almost no effect, and only by breathing it in could there be any chance of a physical response, and even that is extremely unlikely.

          I am trying to find out if there is actually any scientific value in hypnosis and what that neurological process might actually be, and I just hate to see hypnosis get associated to this, which in all likelihood is a myth.

          Skin is actually evolved to be incredibly robust at keeping unwanted substances out. There are very few drugs that don’t need to be taken internally to be effective.

          • scopolamine will render the victim fully awake and comprehensive, do everything that one is requested without question. Yet leaves the victim with no knowledge of what happened. Which may be the reason that nobody has any first hand experience simply because they have no knowledge of what happened. The thing about police reports is simple. The case is investigated but the individual complied willingly so the case is disregarded.

    • Hi Erick,

      Something similar i have heard about in south east asia. While on vacation with a friend we met this couple who were approached by this young female who just shook her hand. She became a bit light headed and followed her to the bank nearby. We thought it was a spell but it was never clear what happened that day.

      What do you think erick?

  15. My worry is that I want a hypnotist to be able to make it to where I will be a workout warrior. Is this even possible? I need to have and keep the willpower to do this.

  16. I went to a hypnotist today for smoking. I was surprised we did not have much of a discussion prior. He mostly talked. We completed session and I felt confident. As soon as I walked in my home a horrible feeling of doom came over me and stayed. If my husband spoke to me, it aggravated me to no end. Anything he said. Not normal at all. I yelled at my 12 year old for really nothing. I have been weepy since I’ve been home. I was extensively abused from 3 to 13. Sexual, physical and verbal…. of course emotionally. I started smoking soon after I escaped the abuse at 14. It became my friend. Over the years I am nearly a reflection of who I was but cigarettes was always there. What I changed was I became a closet smoker. To the outside world. Not to my family. My desire to go today was I have an auto immune disorder that is exasperated by smoking. I have 5 grandchildren I want to remain active with. I have a 12 year old that I want to see grow into a man. I want to stop seeing myself as less because I smoke. My desires are right. Please, if anyone could explain my response, message Me? Thank you

    • Hi Kim,
      You’ve indicated that you have a substantial amount of unresolved traumas from the past that carry a lot of emotional weight. You may want to consider looking into tools like Hypnosis or Meridian Tapping to address those specifically.

      Consider getting on the email list at FearCureCourse to receive more information, plus some free training videos.

      Smoking is like a band-aid that temporarily stifles strong emotions, but it doesn’t solve the underlying problems. Also, it’s becoming more accepted that unresolved traumas potentially contribute to chronic illnesses and autoimmune disorders.

  17. Great way to shatter myths about hypnosis in general. I think hypnosis can be summed up as the power of suggestion or simply a form of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming)

  18. I am taking classes for certification as a clinical hypnotherapist with IMDHA. Is this a good beginning to learn how to induce the hypnotic state?

  19. If someone is hypnotized and thus very suggestible, wouldn’t it make sense that while their defenses are down the hypnotist can say anything and the subject’s mind will accept it as truth, and it becomes stronger the more you say it?

    I can’t accept when hypnotists say “You won’t do anything you don’t want to do while under hypnosis.” It’s not logical to me.

    • Hi Bethany!
      There’s an implied contract between the volunteer and the hypnotist when the self-selecting volunteer chooses to go on stage.

      The hypnotist has given certain assurances such as, “I will not ask you to bark like a dog or cluck like a chicken!” The opening remarks set the boundaries of what is about to take place. The volunteer would like to experience some cool hypnotic phenomena. If they didn’t, they would not have volunteered, isn’t that right?

      The volunteer has a moral and ethical belief system already in place. This does not go out the window when they are in the trance state. One of the primary functions of the subconscious mind is to protect you. If it senses that you are in REAL trouble, then “the deal is off” and the person is going to most likely pop out of the trance state and walk off the stage.

      If the hypnotist gives a suggestion that oversteps the boundaries of the implied contract of the opening pre-talk, or gives a suggestion that goes directly against the person’s moral compass belief system, then that suggestion is not going to “stick”.

      For example, I usually have some dance skits included in a typical performance. I’ve had a couple occasions where a deeply hypnotized subject chose to “sit this one out” on those routines because they had some sort of problem with dancing!

      Erick

  20. Hi , I’m very much intrested in Hypnotism, but I have some serious doubts about it.
    1. Should my eye-sight be good? I mean, can people become hypnotists even if they have sight problem?
    2. Should one have to practise hypnotism exclusively to become a good hypnotist?
    3. What are the studies relating to Hypnotism?
    4. Can we detect people who says that they are hypnotised, but actually they aren’t?

    • 1) It’s not necessary to have good eyesight to do hypnosis. If my eyesight was poor, I’d have to find ways to adapt.

      2) Hypnosis can be practiced as a hobby. However, just as with playing a musical instrument or learning how to roller skate, the more you practice the better you’ll get.

      3) I’m not into reading “studies”, so you’ll have to scout these out for yourself.

      4) There are signs of hypnosis that can be detected by a skilled practitioner.

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  22. Nice to see this article. I have a myths about hypnosis page on my own website because as a clinical hypnotherapist I still get asked a lot of questions from people who are just not sure on a regular basis.

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