Hypnosis has been around for centuries. The earliest references to hypnosis date back to ancient Egypt and Greece. In Greek, the word “Hypnos” refers to the god of sleep. As time went on and into the modern age, hypnosis worked its way into mainstream society and gained momentum throughout the 1900s.
There has always been a shroud of mystery around hypnosis and the hypnotist. Hollywood has historically portrayed hypnosis as a power that can ensnare the mind: The hypnotist is usually characterized as a person with superpowers who’s tall, thin and gangly with a long thin mustache and a sharp point goatee, swinging a pocket watch to gain control over their prey with the power of hypnosis.
For 30 years, I’ve had the extraordinary experience of being a stage hypnotist. My stage hypnosis performances have given me the pleasure to entertain throughout the U.S. But it isn’t my degree in psychology or my many certifications as a hypnotist that have shown me (and my audiences) this discipline is an art form — it’s my years of experience, seeing my peers in entertainment that say that I’ve made them a believer. I, like many of my peers, am nothing like what Hollywood has portrayed as a hypnotist.
For centuries the power of hypnosis was deemed fake or the devil’s craft. Not until the early 1960s did hypnosis gain more mainstream popularity. Up until this time, it was largely the stage hypnotist who kept the craft alive. Here we are a mere 60 years later, and we have seen a boom in hypnosis throughout the world. People from all walks of life are learning the power and art of hypnosis.
But what about the art of hypnosis? What is it that makes a hypnotist a great entertainer?
Those who’ve experienced hypnosis, by watching a person become hypnotized or actually being hypnotized, have usually done so from attending a stage hypnosis performance. A stage hypnotist has an awesome responsibility to entertain an audience — they must deliver a great performance. Yet, a stage hypnotist must demonstrate that, like a singer or a magician, hypnosis is an art. A stage hypnotist uses music, dialect, voice control, drama, comedy and monologues. That’s just the stage hypnotist. Then there are the hypnotized subjects. It is, at this time, that the stage hypnotist becomes a true ringmaster of entertainment.
A stage hypnotist walks onto a completely empty stage — no props, no scenery, just the hypnotist and the power of hypnosis. Without prearranging anything, a stage hypnotist invites strangers to join them on stage to deliver an intricate performance.
But what will become of hypnosis as an art?
Hypnosis show attendees always have misconceptions about hypnosis: Some attend to see what a hypnosis show is all about, while others attend only because they do not believe hypnosis is real. There are also the people who attend because they want to be hypnotized.
People always ask me if I can hypnotize anyone and everyone — and I always reply that no person can be hypnotized if they do not want to be hypnotized. Many believe a hypnotist has complete control over a person, can read their mind or make them do something that is against everything they believe. All of these things are not true.
For the past 20 years, hypnosis has made an impact on entertainment. There have been hypnosis television specials, sitcom episodes featuring hypnosis and movies that show hypnosis in a positive light. Even one of the longer-running shows in Las Vegas is a stage hypnosis show at the Paris Hotel. Hypnosis performances are gaining popularity on college campuses and at comedy clubs and are quickly becoming a corporate entertainment favorite.
Entertainment has changed from being passive (sitting and watching) to interactive where you get to be part of the show. Audiences want more interactive entertainment and to be part of the show. The interactivity of a stage hypnosis show impacts the entire audience. Volunteers become part of the show, and their friends get to see them on stage while other audience members can ask the volunteers what it was like to be hypnotized. The interactivity of a hypnosis show has a wide impact on the entire audience.
Musical concerts are beginning to use technology to engage the audience during a live performance. Television is utilizing texting during live broadcasts. There are new services that can make your social media videos interactive. The stage hypnotist has had an impact on entertainment demonstrating the power of audience interactivity.
Hypnosis is a fascinating form of entertainment. The days of the dark mysterious person wearing a cape lurking in the shadows have long since vanished.