“Are you going to make me cluck like a chicken?”

“Only if you want to.”

Let me tell you, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve had that exchange…

Here we are, forging our way into the 21st Century… we carry our ten thousand “favorite” songs around in our ipods, NASA is blasting probes into comets just as in those horrible (horrible) movies from 1998, scientists are able to clone anything that moves, and an overwhelming majority of the civilized world still thinks hypnosis is something that causes you to behave like a fool in public.

I’m here to bust up a few myths for all of you interested in gaining some enlightenment. Today…

MYTH #1: The hypnotist controls his subjects.

The Truth: The hypnotist’s subjects cooperate with him.

Stage hypnosis shows can be highly entertaining. Unfortunately, they also do a great job of convincing people to NEVER allow themselves to be “controlled” like those morons on stage. Truthfully, no one can be hypnotized against their will. One must willingly follow instructions to be hypnotized.

Once a person is relaxing in a nice, deep trance, those nervous feelings of self-consciousness can disappear for a while. Think about it… relaxation is the exact opposite of tension. You can’t be both at the same time. Once a person is relaxed, as long as the hypnotist doesn’t suggest anything that is against that person’s moral code (ex. “kill the guy sitting next to you”), they’re more or less willing to follow along.

Hypnosis loosens up inhibitions… almost like a couple of stiff drinks. The difference is that afterwards, instead of feeling worse, you feel great.

Context has a great impact on what a person will do in a trance. For example, if a client seeks my assistance to stop smoking, and in the middle of the session I throw in a suggestion that he’ll have a strong desire to wash my car on his way through the parking lot, he has the presence of mind to ignore that bogus suggestion (though I often wish it did work that way).

Those people on stage know they’re up there to have a good time. They know they’ll be asked to do strange things. Remember, they volunteered in the first place. They weren’t dragged from their seats and chained to the stage.

A hypnotized person arguably has more control than normal, since his mind is free from distractions and focused on the moment. At any time while hypnotized, he is able to awaken and return to a normal state of awareness. However, most people find that it just feels better to hang out in a trance for a while.

So remember, when you see a magic show it’s not really magic that’s happening up there… we all know that. In a hypnosis show, the illusion often being presented is that the all-powerful hypnotist controls his subjects like puppets on strings.

The truth is much less impressive, yet makes for an equally entertaining show.