Quack Like a Duck: Stage Hypnosis v. Hypnotherapy 

Stage Hypnosis v. Hypnotherapy

If you ever want a good laugh, just go on YouTube for Stage Hypnotists, there are some great ones.  They are really funny AND the amazing part is that the participants have no idea what they did. Let me explain how it works.


The stage hypnotist is very clever, quickly sorting out, from the volunteers, those who are most likely to be easily hypnotized and those who will be happy to go along with the act. The stage hypnotist’s job is to put on a show that the audience will enjoy. It is what his or her future success is based upon. Once the volunteers have been selected, the proficient stage hypnotist will say something like: “Now, you six are the cream of the crop – the best, which is why I selected you. And the ability to accept hypnosis has been proven to be linked with intelligence, so that says something about you all…” Just think about that statement for a powerful suggestion!

Once they have been selected, on stage, after a very brief induction, the participants are told to ‘sleep’. There are not a lot of people who would have the nerve, in front of an audience and under stage lighting, to say to someone who is known by all present to be a hypnotist: “Sorry! It hasn’t worked!” Many will believe it has not worked, but they will not think the fault lies with the hypnotist – they will think it lies with them!  Plus, of course, they have been told that the ability to accept hypnosis is linked to intelligence and they are not about to reveal that they are not intelligent after all. So they ‘sleep’, whether they feel as if ‘something’ has happened or not.

Now they have done it. They have tacitly accepted that they are hypnotized, and because everybody knows they are hypnotized, they will have to do whatever they are asked to do – within reason. Some will know ‘it’ has worked; they were the ones who believed without question that they would ‘go under’, believed almost without question that some special force is at work. Their belief system ensured that they would have become hypnotized as soon as the hypnotist so much as looked at them. But they will not actually feel so very much different from the others.

Hypnosis tends to make people feel relaxed and more confident within themselves, less inhibited, so those selected will cheerfully perform the small ‘tasks’ that they are asked to do. We cannot know for sure whether or not they would perform such acts in a normal waking state – shyness, introversion and inhibition will cover a multitude of secret wishes and desires, in both men and women.

They volunteered knowing full-well what was likely to happen. But it’s important to be clear… they are not being MADE to do anything – they are being ALLOWED to do something. Hypnosis will not ‘make’ people do things that they genuinely would not WANT to do. It is the moral code, the true underlying belief of what is wrong and what is right that cannot be breached by hypnosis. Remember, the hypnotist has sorted out those who actually want to be there, want to join in with the fun and who are very well aware of what is expected of them. Besides which, they will often have been told that they can easily ‘disown’ anything they want to afterwards by simply saying: “Well, I was hypnotized, wasn’t I?” But at all times, they most definitely do know what they are doing – which is usually nothing more than they might do for fun at a party after a drink or two – and will often believe they are only pretending to be hypnotized. They are wrong. They are hypnotized, but there really is no such thing as a hypnotized feeling, so they cannot recognize that fact. Stage hypnosis is not a ‘con’ but it is showmanship.


So how is clinical hypnotherapy, what we do together, different?  Well, for one thing, with me, our sessions are always one on one. You decide what your goals are and we work together to make those goals into reality. In the first part of the session, we talk cognitively about what your goals are and what you want to change. We explore how your fears, limiting beliefs and negative thoughts may be blocking you from achieving your goals. Then in hypnosis, positive thoughts are planted deep into your subconscious so that they make changes in your behavior. AND those changes are also your affirmations so that you can reinforce what we are doing in hypnosis by yourself.