When we hear the word hypnosis, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Maybe it conjures up images of people sitting in chairs and being told to sleep or wake on command. Maybe you picture yourself being in a deep, relaxing trance, hearing the peaceful sound of imagined waves crashing against an idyllic shore. Maybe it’s the words “when you wake up, you will believe you’re a chicken!”
While this is all fine, there is much more to hypnosis than simple clichés. The idea of hypnosis being a mind-altering supernatural ability possessed only by characters in Marvel movies is a myth and misconception that science and hypnotists are working hard to debunk.
There are many theories as how to hypnosis truly works. Some people believe that a hypnotized person is simply ‘playing the part’ of a hypnotized person, others believe a person under hypnosis is able to have their brain activity directly altered by the hypnotist. Whatever theory you might believe, the end result is always the same: we are communicating with a person’s unconscious mind.
We can split our brain activity up into two sections: the conscious and the unconscious. The conscious mind is the sort of day-to-day “us”. It’s what we’re aware of. I’m writing these words using my conscious mind.The conscious mind can only hold of to a certain amount of information before the unconscious takes over. 7 plus or minus 2.
The unconscious mind is far more complex. The unconscious handles everything we aren’t aware of. It monitors our heart rate, it tells us we need oxygen so we inhale. When we walk, it’s telling us to put one foot in front of the other. It organizes all our previous thoughts and decisions and makes new decisions based on them. Over time, our thoughts, opinions and decisions turn into our beliefs. That’s why we get stubborn and more rigid in our beliefs as we get older. When information is received by our unconscious, we are more likely to accept the information as true as we believe “we” have decided it’s what’s best for us.
Most psychology experts believe that the unconscious mind is very difficult to access, and doing so could cause all manner of problems. As hypnotists, we’ve learned that this is not true. Milton Erickson was able to access the unconscious easily. So will you when you become a student of Stage Hypnosis University.
This is where the hypnotist comes in. Accessing the unconscious mind while the conscious mind is still in full-control is like exposing the wires of a computer and leaving it out in the rain. Through hypnosis we can ask the conscious mind to take a break and we can then access the unconscious directly. The unconscious isn’t critical like the conscious mind. That’s why hypnotherapist can easily create change and why a stage hypnotist cause cause someone to believe outlandish suggestions.
The stage hypnotist is altering the participant’s perception based on their willingness to enter hypnosis. Before the volunteer came onto the stage, he was just a viewer. Once he’s on the stage, the hypnotist is changing his status from viewer to participant through their unconscious. Once the hypnotist plants some entertaining suggestion, the games begin!
The science behind it all isn’t necessarily easy for the audience to understand. but it doesn’t matter because it’s just plain fun to watch!