Pretty much everyone who’s never been hypnotized has at least one of these worries on the mind. So, without further ado… let’s destroy some myths!

1. You Lose Control When Hypnotized

This one comes mostly from watching comedy hypnosis shows. People in the audience see people on the stage doing such ridiculous things (like my rendition of Britney Spears’ “Hit Me Baby, One More Time” while hypnotized on stage in Las Vegas in ’07)… they think “Well, they would NEVER act like that if they knew what was going on!”

Hypnotized high school students during one of my shows

Well, well… let’s hold on there just a minute.

Yes, it’s true that, while hypnotized, people do things they wouldn’t otherwise do. However, they will only do what they feel is appropriate given the situation. For example, you behave differently when you’re around your best friend than you behave in an elevator, right? Most people do. Being hypnotized makes you feel very comfortable and relaxed, which allows you to goof around and take things less seriously. It also allows you to focus on what the hypnotist says, while forgetting about problems or distractions.

Sounds terrible, right? Ask me again why I do this for a living…

2. You Forget Everything You Do Under Hypnosis

Sometimes in the comedy shows, the hypnotist will suggest people forget what they did on stage. Pay special attention to the word “suggest.” It’s not a command. If the person chooses to accept the suggestion, they can forget most of what happened. Basically, it can be like a dream… that while vivid, disappears from awareness upon awakening.

This hypnotized subject remembered everything, and he wasn’t a bit upset!

However, most of the time, you’ll remember every detail. I know I do… and I’ve been hypnotized on stage many times. I’ve also spoken with people who volunteered during my own comedy shows, and they are usually surprised at how much they remember.

Hypnosis isn’t like going to sleep at night. It’s more like daydreaming. So yes, you can forget things… but it’s not required.

3. Some People Can’t Be Hypnotized

A Stanford Psychologist named Ernest R. Hilgard did some studies on hypnosis in the 1950’s, and one of the conclusions he came up with was that certain people were “unhypnotizable.” Not that his studies were ill-intentioned, but the findings ended up being a statement about the hypnotist, not the subjects being hypnotized.

Stanford psychologist Ernest Hilgard (left)

There’s a famous story about psychiatrist and hypnosis pioneer Milton H. Erickson, in which he takes three subjects described as “unhypnotizable” by Hilgard and very quickly puts them into a trance.


Psychiatrist Milton H. Erickson

The induction used by Hilgard in his experiments on “hypnotizability” was a slow, monotone voice on a tape recorder. Naturally, some people responded to it, while others did not. This is why some people don’t get hypnotized during comedy shows. This is also why, with a trained hypnotherapist, anyone can be hypnotized very easily.

The trick is to have enough flexibility as a hypnotist to notice how the individual is responding and alter the induction accordingly. When that’s the case, anyone can do it… but only if you want to!

The key thing to remember about hypnosis is that it takes place though cooperation, not control. You don’t “give up” anything and no one can “make you” do anything.

Now go watch The Manchurian Candidate (the original version) and have yourself a good laugh…