The other day I came across this clip on YouTube…

Hypnosis is controversial topic, with some arguing that the people involved at role-playing and others suggesting that it does involve some kind of trance state.  Either way, should that type of performance be allowed?  What do you think?


  1. I think this kind of stage hypnosis is what makes ALL hypnotists, including those that are involved in clinical applications and the hypnotherapists, look bad and gives the profession a bad name …

  2. If we imagine for a minute that the ladies are not playing along, and further imagine that they black-out when told to “sleep” with no recollection. Why don’t they at least act like normal members of the audience and actually respond to what the other ladies are doing, or what the host is doing?

    They actually seem to be completely uninterested, as if there’s something much more interesting just off camera about 90 degrees from where the host is and don’t even want to watch the show they paid for,…

  3. The theory behind hypnotism, as explained to me, is that almost everyone has the ability to go into trance, but when in trance people remain aware of everything that is going on around them and cannot be influenced by suggestions to do anything that is against their wishes/morals. Suggestions can be accepted or rejected by the individual and they can’t be made to bend to someone’s will. Perhaps the stage hypnotist in the video has the ability to spot particularly suggestible/disinhibited ladies? Or it’s a set up?
    Either way it’s not very edifying and not helpful to people who use hypnosis in therapy.

    1. Yes- that’s how I understand it too. I trained as a hypnotherapist to help people stop smoking. It really is just suggestion to a slightly more receptive pre-conscious due to the relaxed state. Left the proffesionals as hardly any of my peers adhered to any code of ethics, personal or otherwise. I’m now working as a counsellor.

    2. We’ll assume for the sake of discussion that the audience members aren’t stooges. Then it’s likely that most of what you see is mostly off-camera.

      The first thing to note is that the women in question chose to be in the audience for a stage hypnosis show. Someone who wasn’t interested in participating in a stage hypnosis show obviously would not be there, so we already have a self-selected group of people who are more willing to participate in a bit of harmless fun than the average person.

      The second thing to note is that they are probably not professional audience members. That is, this is a new experience for all of them, and hence are likely to get caught up in the excitement of a TV show. They’ve also been through the audience “warm up” act, which probably helped put them in the right frame of mind: excited about being there and enthusiastic about the possibility of participating in the show.

      There was also probably some screening going on in the lobby. It may not have been subtle, either. There were probably people who essentially interviewed the audience members to find out how receptive they’d be to doing various stunts, and seat them accordingly. It seems very likely, for example, that a bunch of women were identified as straight, single, and not too inhibited, and seated all in the same easily-accessible place.

      Finally, if there are some audience members who don’t play along for whatever reason, the hypnotist laughs it off, the audience member is congratulated for being a good sport anyway, and that part is edited out of the show.

  4. “Sure it should be legal. But frowned upon like masturbating on an airplane.” Hang-on (errr… over), Wrong Movie!

    First of – real Hypnosis is not roleplay but a rocess of creating an alternative subjecitive reality within the mind of the hypnotee – who then might as well act upon that new reality.

    Second – Hypnosis is NOT a state. Trance isn’t Hypnosis. It HELPs. It often co-incides. But it’s not the same thing. Hypnosis is a process of changing believes imagination and experience through the “ideodynamic process” (meaning that thoughts have an impact on the physical body the brain is connected to).

    Third – as said above: the worste part is that this kind of performance is what people think about when they hear the word “hypnosis”. And that’s a pity. Damages the whole of Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy. That’s what annoys me as a Hypnotherapist and Hypnosis Instructor. But sadly it can’t be changed other than by good example.

  5. I suspect that this is a sham anyway, since – as someone else has said – they don’t act consistent with the audience, as you would expect given the information we have. Moreover, the rest of the audience seems a bit fake too.

    Anyway, on the question of whether you can make people do things they wouldn’t normally do, Derran Brown got someone to assassinate Steven Fry, and I guess he wouldn’t normally do that sort of thing…

    1. The standard reply to that is that people who knows they are in a show (as anyone who was working with Derren Brown would know) will do things that seem dangerous, on the assumption that the producers wouldn’t let anyone come to actual harm.

  6. brilliant stuff richard and yes i can see that it can be abused ….. however lets face it most of us men never manage to give the ladies an orgasm sooo er well 🙂 ….. sign me up for the next stage hypnosis course. i found the whole thing very funny although im not sure if id take it so well if it was me being made to orgasm. however it certainly puts hypnosis well and truly in the frame as a pretty amazing device for persuasion … thanks for sharing!

  7. It’s a fake. Didn’t the Mythbusters test this myth with Grant Imahara, one of their junior scientists? They tried to hypnotize him to – I believe – lick his robot whenever he heard a certain word. It didn’t work. Later on, they attempted the same on their producer, who didn’t expect it – despite being hypnotized, she corrected the hypnotizer when she tried to abuse her position with the words ‘I didn’t sign up for this’. It’s fake.

    1. (Grant was actually supposed to draw a loveheart on his robot when he heard the word experiment, and jump up and down when someone yawned but i’ll let that pass) :p It didnt work in the sense that he didnt actually draw on the robot or jump on cue, however he said that as soon as he heard this cue he got the urge and knew what was expected, he was just able to control him. I think this is also different in the sense that they were investigating post-hypnotic suggestion, this is suggestibility of a subject whilst in a supposedly hypnotised state. There have been a number of studies which have shown that post hypnotic suggestion is possible, and many that support the idea of suggestibility whilst hypnotised, but generally a person will not do something that is dangerous/harmful or something they really dont want to do whilst ‘under’. I think this is more an issue of the hypnotist abusing his position, it should be discussed beforehand between hypnotist and subject where the ‘line’ should be drawn, and if hypnotist doesnt respect it and crosses that line then he’s very unethical, shame on him!

  8. I used to perform adult stage hypnosis/magic shows for adult swing and private parties. The thing about hypnosis is that it is a real experience as a movie is a real experience. The effects and the methods are very similar. Basically, the people who react are reacting to hypnosis mainly because they want to (that’s what Alexander missed in his quote – in Mythbusters it was proven that one cannot do something they don’t want to do – not that hypnosis is fake), and they are so engrossed in what is being done and said, that they let their minds go as if watching a movie in a theater. This is why it works, to a point and to a person. It works very well in a stage setting because people want something to happen, and therefore more open to suggestions.

    Anyways, this guy’s performance is something I’d personally never do. No matter how dirty or naughty my show is, I followed these rules:

    I’m there to provide entertainment only. So I make the participate interact with oneself or other participates – never with me. I am not there to get an easy feel or kiss or more. I would never do a show in which the participant interacts with me (other than me touching a shoulder or hand to start the command) in any physical way. I am also very wary of how much physical touch is going on between participants. There are limits even in swing clubs.

    Second, I’m the facilitator, the participants are the star. Their safety is important. So for that I keep them somewhat limited in their range of where they can go. That last woman in white was throwing herself dangerously around on stairs.

    Also, their feelings after the performance must be kept in mind. I don’t make them do something that belittles them. My shows are basically little “what-if” skits, aimed to create a story of sorts to tease the audience. Participants are hypnotized into believing a situation is happening with a very sexual kick. For example, at one point in my show, I had two women seated next to a guy they are hypnotized to both slowly become very aroused by him, by what he says or does, they don’t leave their chairs but reach out to him, And he can’t see or hear them, just feel them. There’s a lot of teasing, flirting and nudity but no embarrassment, no belittlement or me “getting some”.

    I could go on, but I think I made my point. Adult hypnosis shows are fun if done right, the key is that the hypnotist isn’t the “star”. I really did not like this guy’s performance, nor his routine. There are much better ways to do this kind of show.

    Sorry for the rant. Obviously I feel very strongly about this kind of show. 🙂

  9. While in college a I participated in a hypnotist’s show. He had about 10 students on stage and made us close our eyes and pretend we were fishing and the harder we pretended to pull on the fishing poles, the deeper into hypnosis we would go. This had no effect on me and I was let go, but others were given queue words to do certain things when he mentioned them. One was given to a very good looking girl, and when her word was spoken, she would run back on stage and start stripping, which she did. He stopped her before she got very far though. I never understood how this could have happened to her and not me. I was a psychology major at the time and I asked the hypnotist why it didn’t work on some people. He didn’t seem to want to talk about it and said it works for some and not for others, he didn’t know why. So I have no doubt this is real, but what real is in this case is still up for debate. The girls seemed to enjoy it. Is it unethical? Is anything in show business ethical? He didn’t make them sleep with him against his will, and they probably knew what kind of show he was doing before they started, so no I would say this was within the loose borders of ethics that reality television already has.

  10. very interesting comments, the bottom line is hypnosis and all its related arts NLP should be subject to investigation the same way pyschics are, so that we can seperate the wheat from the chaf . some people make farfetched claims for hypnosis and the rest of us are unsure whats possible i think like everything else in life certain people will push the boundrys of whats acceptable then its up to science to replicate these results and show if hypnosis poses any dangers…

  11. The hypnotist ‘suggested’ that the women would feel sexual pleasure through their hands, he never asked any of them to jump up and kiss him. Only the fourh woman seemed to be excited about her own touch. When I’ve seen stage hypnotists before the participants can usually be put in three groups, those that act like the hypnotists want, those that don’t seem to be under his influence at all and those that turn into wild show offs. Whilst you are under hypnosis you are as self aware as you are at any other time, you can’t be made to do anything against your will, some people are so surprised at this state that they don’t accept any suggestion because they’re were expecting to be in a kind of zombie trance and some just go wild because they feel the shackles are off and as if they have permisssion to act daft, a similar affect to that of alcohol. The easiest people to hypnotise is those that are serving in the military as they’re more inclined to accept instruction without question. Finally, there’s a lot of stooges out there, did someone mention Derren Brown?

  12. Only 2 out of the 4 ladies really ‘reacted’ in the sense of giving the hypnotist a kiss, the other 2 clearly did not want to. This suggests to me that they perhaps werent acting “against their will” so much as playing along for the audience reaction? It is interesting that the second woman to kiss the hypnotist did exactly the same thing as the first, even though he didn’t specifically ask them to do that. It does look like enhanced “playing along” to me, bur it would be very interesting to know what the subjects involved think about this clip.

    1. I tend to agree with this opinion. Thinks like vocal audience and the fact of filming can lead, in my opinion, to the following two effects (maybe more):
      1) Peer pressure, when lady getting hypnotized feels the expectation to show the reaction and satisfy the crowd.
      2) Relief of any kind of responsibility under the pretext of being hypnotized. Lady can go all crazy in front of the others just because she’s able to, and then tell whoever might ask that “This horrible, horrible man exploited me in his dirty tricks”.
      Those two effects might not be conscious.

  13. In my view, the women here are either stooges or are playing along to help him, in the same way that if someone performs a card trick on me and gets it wrong (not deliberately as part of the trick), I usually say it was the right card to save their embarrassment.

    The women’s behaviour isn’t consistent with normal behaviour at all. If a stranger turned you on to that degree, you wouldn’t jump on them, you’d be embarrassed and try to hide it.

    If the hypnosis is real, which I strongly doubt, then it’s akin to giving someone Rohypnol and is, in my opinion, a sexual assault. That the women ‘seem to enjoy it’ somehow makes it worse. Where’s the informed consent? This is why I believe this example of hypnosis to be fake/staged, because if it isn’t, it’s unethical at the very least, if not illegal.

    1. I think you are right in that the consent is not informed, but hypnotism is real. Patients can slow down bleeding during dental treatment. I just wish I could be hypnotised.

    2. Sorry, I meant that in this case, consent was not informed – in the sense that her trust in the hypnotist was not informed, in that he did not disclose to her that he had no ethics or judgement.

  14. I can’t begin to answer whether it should be legal, until I at least know what’s real and possible and what’s not. It seems to me that you can’t separate it into “either way”. If it’s fake, then why shouldn’t it be legal? As long as he’s not charging people for a service he’s unable to provide, such as healing their diseases through his hypnosis, then it’s fine. There’s no evidence that he’s selling anything here other than entertainment. Frankly, I’m rather interested to know what the state of the science on hypnosis is, but I find that information difficult to come by. Nevertheless, from what I have been able to glean I’m convinced that nothing remotely like what is portrayed in this video is possible in terms of actually controlling people.

    And this video is the most obvious fake ever, and I’ll tell you why. Because all he’s told them is that they’ll get an uncontrollable sexual thrill from the touch of their right hand. That doesn’t in any way indicate the kind of behavior in the video. They’re putting on an act of behaving as if turned on, but there’s no reason for them to behave that way based on his suggestion.

  15. Should that type of performance be allowed? Hell, yes. It should be mandatory, for all presentations of all kinds. From sales pitches to sermons, from physics lectures to theosophical seances – common sense dictates that all should be required to feature this. And NO exemption for food product samplers… too impractical, you say? Rubbish. Simply brush between performances.

  16. Looked like a Carni show to me. I’ve been hypnotized before and to me it’s just that your mind becomes so vacant of thought you are willing to do what is suggested just to have something to do – kind of a ‘nature abhors a vacuum’ (I know enough Cosmology to know better but just for the sake of illustration…) sort of thing. I don’t see how you would do something totally against your principals. I also don’t see how you could be that completely hypnotized in that setting. Too many distractions.

  17. Is this considered some kind of therapy??

    If it is, it must have its deontology and this hasn’t nothing to do with that.

    If all this stuff wasn’t so, so unethical it would be funny..

  18. Why can’t you get a woman with hypnosis? Hypnosis has consensus built in it. She doesn’t want to do something? She can leave. Hypnosis is interacting with the emotional being in front of you.

    1. Anonymous, consent issues aside (and that kind of stage hypnosis implies blindly obeying suggested ‘orders’ rather than reasoned, consenting behaviour), wouldn’t it be more than a little bit sad to ‘get’ a woman with hypnosis?

  19. So fake and not funny. The young women (it seems it’s always young women) either act like zombies or are smiling like they know it’s a joke. And since when or how often do/can women in a situation like that climax so quickly, unexpectedly and verbally. Is that even physiologically possible?

    As for allowing it, it should be allowed as much as pro wrestling is allowed.

  20. Suzanne, getting a woman is sad for a man only if he is gay (wich is ok, by the way).
    Getting a woman because you are rich, or popular or … shouldn’t be as sad as getting a woman with hypnosys? What’s wrong, as long a s you interact with the woman’s emotions and she has a great time with you?

  21. Seems like a hoax to me. Notice how the hypnotist willingly engages in the behaviour (kissing) when the third female grabs him (what a cheap way to get a thrill and ratings!). It would have seemed more legitimate if he randomly chose two males and two females varying in age and seating arrangements.

  22. I feel hypnosis is real and not to be taken lightly. There are some weird stuff on this planet.

    ———- Sent from my Nokia phone

  23. If this is genuine I do not think it is unethical – but a frightening display of the powers of hypnotism.
    If it is not genuine – I would say it is unethical.

  24. I have been to a hypnotist stage show, and have laughed, along with the rest of the audience, at the actions of the volunteers in response to a word or touch from the hypnotist. However, had this been the type of actions used when I attended I would have felt very uncomfortable.
    The hypnotist asked the ladies to have an intense reaction not to become physical with him and if he, as a man, had a decent code of ethics he would not have taken advantage of their hypnotised state.
    Best case if they were stooges it makes for uncomfortable viewing because you believe they are members if the public. If they were genuine I hope their actions are in keeping with their normal behaviour to save any distress when they realise what they have done.
    I was also wondering if these ladies attended the show alone, or went with someone. The likely hood is that at least one of the four had a partner is the audience, I would have been interested to see their reaction whilst this was going on!

  25. Hi all
    A bit late to comment here but it’s interesting to note how many misunderstandings derive from this clip.

    I have been performing a “hypnotist style show” as I prefer to put it since 1993. Althought I wasnt at THAT performance I can assure you with some confidence of a number of things about it based on knowledge and experience, even though I wasn’t there.

    First of all, the man appears to be Peter Powers who is long established in the UK. No well established hypnotist will ever use stooges. Firstly because just a single discovered instance would invalidate their entire reputation. Secondly because there is no need to. By the way, using stooges would never be financially viable for most hypnotists. We never earn enough to be able to pay for such a thing if we wanted to. And the stooges would be recognised at subsequent performances. Stooges are a bigger myth than even “hypnosis” itself.
    In an audience that large it is I can assure you easy to obtain a number of people from whomt to elicit behaviour like this. Moreover, with experience you learn to notice a pattern of authentic (that is to say, compliant and subjectively imagined) responses in contradistinction to simulation (that is, conscious fakery). There is no such thing as a “trance” or “hypnosis”. It works exactly as J.Frank Anastasio said earlier, by imaginitive engrossment, like watching a movie or reading a good book. Which means that the “real” response is like a person who really enjoys the movie whilst the “fake” is like someone who doesnt enjoy the movie but pretends they do to keep others happy. Those women in their reaction appear to be authentic.

    Volunteers very often smile in the midst of their compliance because they know what they are doing is ridiculous. Nonetheless, in the right social conditions a multitude of influences induce compliance. This is true for all of us, almost every time we are in a social or public interaction. Many people smile in real-life situations where they feel uncomfortable or amused by their own response to the situation. I emphasise, there is no such thing as a “trance” so you should not expect a real response of induced compliance to resemble a trance.

    It is this matter of compliance and social influence that is key. Surely folks, you must know about the experiments of Stanley Milgram at Yale. If not, Google it. A vast shedload of social science research backs up the observation of hypnotists that you can induce people to do things they would not have otherwise. Careful…I didn’t say you can get them to do things “against their will”…but things they would never do on their own elective initiative, simply in response to being askedto. You can get them to do such things by manipulating the situation. I have for more than the nearly 20 years that I have been performing. Thousandsof times, with many thousands of people. No such thing as a “trance” occurs.

    As for the content, the above puts it into perspective. You can easily get someone to pretend an orgasm. I get men to pretend they are girls in the 1950′ having orgasms when they touch “Elvis” (a man from the audience). But of course its just an imagined effect, as with everything in hypnotism. An “as if” behaviour that very often is very different to what would happen if the effect were real. For example,many hundreds of times I have told men they have had their penis stolen.None has ever thought he was bleeding to death, as would be if they really thought it so. They instead go around searching the audience to get it back! Its pure pantomime as the volunteer acts out their own internalised script for what a person does when hypnotised.

    Everything hinges on consensuality. Audiences for Peter Powers are aware in advance what they are going to be asked to do if they volunteer. Whether something consensual can be wrong is a wider debate. Its not altered by being hypnotised. Nobody is forced to volunteer. If you dissapriove all the same then I …suggest….you will need to reconsider many areas of everyday life and entertainment. That takes us into Taleban territory.

    I would say, however, that kissing is a legitimate health hazard and I would never countenance anything like that.

    Someone mentions that audience members are looking out of shot. Thats simply because they are watching the camera view on monitors. I see it a lot on my own videos.

    So, in summary, it is genuine, it may not be to your taste (stage hypnotism is a very distinctly proletarian remnant of the “lower class” music hall era whilst I sense a lot of bourgoiseattitudeabout on this site) but some of you seem to put it mildly, prudish. And as for banning things….my word, most of you do things others would like to ban. Just think about it honestly for yourself.


  26. very intresting comments alex T. this blind obedience to authority figures i have wittnessed. strangly enough its very hard to resist without specilised training for example i was once approached in the middle of a newsagents by a man who demanded i drive him home . he said i need a lift now come on get into the car his confidence was overwhelming i was embarrassed in a public place he was older than i and he acted like he knew me this cognitive overload was enough to gain compliance not only that but i have extensive training in both judo and boxing in short if the man had raised his hand in a threatening way training would have taken over as it has in the past and he would have been bashed. however this “brain engagement” was entirely effective speed plus unfamilarity with the method meant nil response….

    1. Very interesting. I think that yours is an experience of an extreme type. Most people would not have your insight. Some would accuse you of will-ful co-operation just as some accuse a hypnotists volunteers. However, there are fascinating experimental studies which have demonstrated similar situations. In one, I think it was Bickman, men dressed as security gaurds approached passers-by and pointed to someone a ta parking meter, saying “That man needs a dime, give him one”. By no means all complied but far more did than when it was repeated in a control condition with a non-uniformed man.

      Your physical confidence might actually have made you more susceptible to influence as it may have made you feel safe to comply.

      Obviously someone like that can keep “trying it on” with people until he finds the ones who respond as he wishes. But the most obvious indication of how these things permeate our existence at a more basic level is if you are waiting to for lights to change before crossing a road and someone beside you steps out prematurely, causing you to do the same!

    2. indeed small details seem to make all the differance. because i as the mark was “switched off ” at the time and also because the man was much older ie father figure a cocktail of emotions were generated likewise the embarrassment of wittnesses (he behaved like he knew me). because the situation was so unexpected a suitable response was not employed. simply by keeping talking fast in an authority fashion it was like mentel judo keeping the mind directed outwards with short commands and offbalanced. likewise after i drove him to his home i was furious with myself i didnt brain him but that would not have fufilled the reasonable force as directed by law.what you can learn from all this that “doing ” any act of compliance from mimcry to the yes word could quickly freeze you up if engaged by a confident hypnotist or rogue. i would agree that those who feel physically confident tend to overestimate themselves and underestimate the enemy a mistake made everyday by martial artists . MA s tend to have pavlovian responses a stimulus most be provided before action happens. your last point is excellant an old lady was knocked down and killed in my home town she blindly followed two school children across a busy main road a fatal mistake. the uniform trick you mention is employed successfully in warfare many times ie “the miami showband murders” in ulster and even lately in iraq

    3. i hasten to point out that although the dynamics are similar, what you describe as having happenned to you is totally, utterly different in presentation to a hypnotist routine such as mine. In my case the options are set out clearly at the start, it is emphasised that nobody is to take part who does not want to. My first task is to weed out fake volunteers who only want to prove they can resist (I do that by emphatically stating at the start that anyone can resist). Nobody is ever tricked into participation. I even jokingly warn them when I invite them to try a test that they may find themselves wanting to do more. Thats my only “inducement”. A “free no commitment sample”. Even then I jokingly warn them in advance that its a kind of “more-ish” thing to try. Those for whom it works are liable to want more.

  27. well my own belief is that the worlds of hypnosis and persuasion collide all the time thats why authors such as yourself and richard wiseman have so much to offer. we the public ie the “sheep” need to know how hypnosis works so that we can reduce attempts to uneithically persuade any of us . again the persuaders will be sucessful alot of the time because of the massive amount of information imput that is directed at us daily. i like your inducement because these softly softly approaches are the ones that are most likely to be successful the slip in under the radar ie the are in a sense like carbon monixide posioning undetectable to the senses to it takes hold. of course many may read our little discussion and believe that they themselves could never be “taken” to them i say “the confidence of amateurs is the envy of professionals”. keep writing on this topic alex there is much to be learned from those with realworld experience and thankyou again for sharing .. bless you bert

  28. But Richard, you are a sceptic! Surely they are just faking it ? Or perhaps just complying with the hypnotist to please him ? It’s all nonsense of course ? (despite what the MRI evidence might show)

    1. We can see Anton is being ironic…but OH DEAR, Anton, you really dont understand the fMRI data.

      fMRI images supposedly “capturing” a “state of hypnosis” are …if you just pause to think about it…actually representations of differential activation of cerebral regions characterising WHATEVER the activity engaged in the hypnotic scenario. Social interactions do TOO have a cerebral “signature”. The differences in activity between “highs” and “lows” in these studies indicates the differences in their cognitive responses to the situation ( the irinternal behaviour). You might just as well say fMRI images of a composers brain indicate that when he thinks of music he enters a “state of music-nosis”.

      BTW, I am no expert on fMRI, but I did get a 78% mark in my Bsc degree assigbment on brain imaging and I can assure you, brain scans are NOT like photographs of the brain but abstract, gra\phic representations of statistical data. But that’s another topic. Albeit pertinent to the commonplac misleading of the layman.

  29. …BTW Anton, disregarding the “trance” paradigm does NOT equate to saying hypnotic behaviour is “fake”…social psychological phenomena are every bit as real as your notional “trance”..

  30. I love the dress but know you would appear fab in both! I cannot believe all the things in the store might be 1/2 off! WOW, wish I lived closer because I really like The Limited.

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