Will I be clucking like a chicken?
We have all seen the TV shows in which members of the public are "hypnotised" to do all sorts of weird and wonderful things. Just what is going on here? Is it all fake or are the hypnotists really able to "take over" the person's mind? I'll try my best in this short article, to answer these questions.
The stage hypnotist will find out who in the audience is the most susceptible to hypnosis using a number of tests. You can try a simple test yourself. Ask a group of friends to close their eyes and imagine they are on a boat, tell them the sea is getting choppier. Those that begin to sway are likely to be more susceptible to suggestion than your friends who sits upright and still.
Now, our stage hypnotist knows which candidates he would most like on stage, so he asks for volunteers. He will choose a volunteer he knows is susceptible to suggestion. As the person is a volunteer they are highly motivated to play along as they want to be up there on stage. He will have a lot of social pressure to go along with what he is told and not ruin everyone else's evening, so there he goes, running on stage, "clucking like a chicken".
This all sounds like the answer is, "it's all fake" but remember he is also highly suggestible, so he is likely to move into a hypnotic trance to some degree. He is also likely to feel a bit confused and out of his comfort zone - in this situation we are likely to respond to simple commands, to deliver us from the confused feeling.
So the answer is that there is an element of playing along and hypnotic trance. but it is also impossible to say where one stops and the other starts (even for the hypnotist or the volunteer!).
So how is a hypnotherapist different from a stage hypnotist? Most importantly, the reason we are doing this is not for entertainment but to help you. You are in a one to one environment and will only be given suggestions that are beneficial to you. A skilled hypnotherapist can employ a number of ways to help you to relax into a hypnotic trance and will use the ones best suited for you. Finally, the hypnotherapist's relationship to you should be one of trust and empathy. Whilst stage hypnotists have their place as entertainers, hypnotherapists are doing a very different job.
About the author
Steve Neesam is a Psychotherapist and a Hypnotherapist and this allows him to use both of these therapies in ways that are most beneficial for his clients. He is fully qualified and experienced in a wide range of issues. He has two practices in Eastbourne.
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