© Helen Lesser, 2015
Stage Hypnosis – Real or Fake?
Britain will have the dubious pleasure of watching a game show on TV which purports to have the contestants performing under hypnosis.
“Back in the Room” is being aired from Saturday 14th March 2015, hosted by veteran presenter Philip Schofield.
There are bound to be many myths about hypnosis reborn because of this programme and many misconceptions will arise in its wake – hypnotisability, susceptibility, being ‘taken over’ or being ‘made’ to do things, the ‘power’ of a hypnotist, to name just the obvious ones.
If you have any questions, concerns or confusions which you would like to have answered, please use the comment box below.
Some points to consider:-
We have no way of knowing how many people originally put themselves forward to appear on the show – and how many of these were rejected.
We have no way of knowing how many were accepted initially, who then failed to live up to the expectations or wishes of the producers.
We have no way of knowing how many retakes there were before the final airing that we, the viewers, actually get to watch.
Once the producers have whittled down the contestants to the tiny percentage that eventually appear, the contestants have to work together to get the prize. This might seem a small point but in fact the entire show rests of this fact. Each person is far more willing to play along and throw their all into their performance because they can rely on the others to work towards the prize while they concentrate on being entertaining.
We know that people are happy to appear on TV for little or no prize money – think of the ‘prizes’ on Blankety-Blank, 3-2-1 or Weakest Link – a small ornament or a few hundred quid are sufficient for many people. The chance to entertain thousands, perhaps millions, of people is a far bigger incentive.
It is therefore the desire to entertain that ensures the contestants go along with the suggestion, not the ‘power’ of the hypnotist.
Do you remember watching The Generation Game? Do you recall how much fun both the contestants AND the audience had when tasks went awry? The more difficulty a person experienced the more entertaining it became.
This is the premise on which this programme is based – hardly a new concept! The difference this time is that someone else is suggesting the errors, difficulties and handicaps instead of relying solely on the contestants.
The most common question asked is about how much the contestant knows at the time or remembers after the event. According to a report in the Bolton News (10/3/15), one of the contestants – Leonie Hindley – is quoted as saying:-
“We had to play games under hypnosis and you kind of knew you were in a game and knew you had to do something but I just felt like I was in a bit of a dream but a dream I could remember.. .. . . . . . On one of the games they hypnotised me to feel like I was on a boat so I was just swaying everywhere…”.
As with all people and hypnosis, a person will only follow suggestions that they agree with – be that on stage or in the therapist’s practice. If the contestants were asked to do or say something that they found unpalatable, unacceptable or that went just too far, they would simply refuse.
One of the skills required by a stage entertainer is in understanding these limits, in being able to judge just how far an individual is prepared to go so that their show is not ruined by an unco-operative participant.
Following a number of requests for the information, this link will take you a page which lists qualified LCH therapists so that you can find your loal practitioners:- http://www.lesserian.co.uk/lch/therapists
6 Responses to “Hypnosis Game Show on TV”
Are there different types of hypnosis – one sort used to make people do things and another type used in therapy?
Hypnosis is hypnosis, there are not different types. There are, however, many different uses for it.
In just the same way that a hammer can be used by any of us to knock a nail into a wall; by a sculptor to create a fabulous statue; by a thug to cause serious harm or damage – the ‘tool’ remains the same, but the use is vastly different.
In just the same way, this ‘tool’ (hypnosis) can be used by a therapist to achieve a state in which therapy can proceed or by a hypnotist to help a person to feel less inhibited so that they can be more exuberant in their willingness to follow the entertainer’s suggestion.
I really like Helen Lesser’s example of hypnosis as a tool. This is really important when we consider the difference between a Hypnotist and a Hypnotherapist, which to my mind are chalk and cheese. It appears from his website that the performer credited with hypnotising the contestants on ITV’s new “Back in the Room” very much describes himself as a magician, mentalist and hypnotists – ie. an entertainer, possibly a very good one, but not a therapist in any way shape or form.
However, it interests me that some other stage performing hypnotists market themselves concurrently as both hypnotists AND hypnotherapists, appearing to infer from this that one improves and informs on the other. To my mind, this confuses the issue – they are different professions entirely that happen to share a common tool and (unfortunately, in my opinion) a similar looking title. A hypnotist is an entertainer while a hypnotherapist is a therapist.
If we take as a different example the idea of music and how it may be used (as a tool) by both Rock stars and music therapists alike. Now most people would acknowledge that these are two very different jobs – one using music for entertainment and the other for therapeutic purposes (yes entertainment can be therapeutic to our souls but it is not, on and of itself, therapy). Of course it may well be that some music therapists could also be Rock stars or performers in their spare time, performing local gigs or auditioning for The Voice. And even the other way round, perhaps some Rock Stars go and get the required qualifications and also become Music Therapists in their spare time. But either way, they are not doing these two jobs at the same time and the two jobs are most definitely not the same thing.
Most importantly it is worth reflecting that their skill using that tool in one environment does not (and should not) vouch for their skill using it in the other – the world’s greatest Rock Star might make an appalling music therapist, whilst a wonderful music therapist might be as dull as dishwater when they try to perform.
Neither should we base our assessment on what one does by looking at the other – to say “I don’t think I’ll go to see a music therapist because I might end up performing on stage like Ozzie Osbourne” is clearly illogical! And so in just the same way, for anyone considering seeking help from a reputable hypnotherapist to be deterred from doing so due to their concerns about stage hypnotism and the prospect of clucking like a chicken, is illogical and would be a great shame.
However, I worry that such a perception of hypnotherapy, however illogical, is one that will persist for as long as this damaging confusion surrounding the two separate vocations of hypnotist and hypnotherapist exists.
So are you saying the contestants are play-acting a role and the hypnosis is just acting like a placebo to give them permission to do so?
There is a little more to it than just play-acting; the situation they are in, the whole environment and the very reason they are there in the first place is to be entertaining, to have some fun. They are clearly more than willing to go along with the proceedings, the role of the hypnotist is to give them permission to do so and the excuse to do it with exuberance and enthusiasm.
The hypnotist’s role is therefore one of ‘facilitator’ rather than puppet-master.
For all those who have contacted asking how to find their nearest LCH practitioner, there is a listing of qualified therapists at: http://www.lesserian.co.uk/lch/therapists