© 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.