We’ve all seen those stage hypnosis shows where people seem to be tranced instantly and deeply with just a single word and made to do all sorts of weird and wonderful things. Looks impressive, doesn’t it?
Of course, what they don’t tell you is that the subjects are either faking it or have been carefully selected by the hypnotist because they are naturally highly susceptible to suggestion. Stage hypnosis is like the porn of the hypnosis world – showy and overhyped. Yes it *could* happen in normal day to day life but the odds are astronomical. hypnosis can be “real” but that doesn’t necessarily make it realistic.
Full disclosure – I am not a big fan of stage hypnosis (I know, surprising, right? Haha). I find it’s often exploitative and the potential lack of consent makes me uncomfortable (for those rare somnambulists who are exceptionally susceptible to trance they may not be able to consciously consent to the request to go up on stage, for example).
Stage hypnosis, like porn, has its place. It’s showy and entertaining. It can be exciting to watch, sure, but it can also give unrealistic expectations of what to expect, which can be very unhelpful when trying to achieve your goal.
Just as there are arguments to be made that porn leaves open the door for unrealistic expectations of how men and women should behave and what sex should look/feel like, stage hypnosis does the same. It makes it look as if everyone should be able to trance instantly, that hypnosis is big and showy and dramatic.
More negatively, it can also scare people. They may be worried that they would/could be made to embarrass themselves and/or be forced to do something that they are not comfortable with. This is not true, but if you don’t understand hypnosis and how it works and stage hypnosis is your only experience then it is easy for incorrect inferences to be made.
To use a porn parallel, I’ve heard it said that porn gives women an unrealistic expectation of how quickly a plumber will attend a call out and come to their house. Likewise if watching porn is your only experience of sex you’re going to have a pretty warped view of how things should play out.
Porn and stage hypnosis are entertainment. They can be fun and enjoyable but they don’t accurately reflect the depth of potential and possibilities that exist, nor the richness of the actual reality.
If not appreciated for the entertainment they are then both can also lead to unrealistic expectations which can have negative impacts and knock-on effects.
Having said all that, this doesn’t mean that what you see in stage hypnosis isn’t achievable. Given time and a hypnotist you trust many of the triggers, etc, you see played out on stage can be recreated and enjoyed. What’s important is to realise that this doesn’t happen instantly. You need to learn to run before you can walk, so enjoy the journey and enjoy the entertainment for what it is.