||Posted by: Lee Darrow (Aug 1, 2005 11:28pm)
On 2005-07-27 13:42, Bob Baker wrote:
No, I don't think that hypnosis is itself inherently harmful. It is used therapeutically frequently in children. I myself have used it to help children prepare for upcoming surgery. It was wonderful to reduce their anxiety and improve their post-operative course.*
However, hypnosis cannot be taken out of context. I think that a stage performance has the potential to harm a child--not deep long-lasting psychological harm--but embarrassment in front of peers, adverse reaction, etc. Why put a child at even minimal risk simply for the sake of entertainment or a few bucks? Children are precious and potentially fragile (I have 7, so I speak from experience!) We should honor and elevate them, something which a performance of stage hypnosis simply is not designed to do.
Some excellent points, Dr. Bob, many of which I dealt with in my earlier post. Every performance that uses human volunteers has the potential for harm of the kind you note - embarrassmant and even adverse reactions can occur in the so-called "normal" waking state just as easily as in hypnosis, as any psychologist will testify in court.
By the way, just out of curiosity, are you aware of any show where a child did suffer harm (other than something like a slip and fall, which could happen in any show) from participating in a hypnosis show? I have been searching for years for a credible source of such a report and have yet to find a single one that was not third-hand and/or did not have other, mitigating circumstances surrounding the situation.
Your points on stage falls are accurate only to the point that anyone who uses audience volunteers takes the same liability issue into account when they perform - party game organizers are especially prone to this issue, yet they flourish in this litigious society we live in. Why? Because kids like to have fun and parents like their kids to have fun. And that's why it is prudent for ANY performer to carry a hefty liability insurancy policy, regardless of what kind of show they do.
Back on track - to me, the key to performing in these venues is to structure the act to eliminate the embarrassment and the probability of adverse reaction (properly "abreaction" I might add) so that the volunteers have just as much fun, perhaps even more fun, than the audience watching the show itself.
So, if one is going to take on the unique challenge of performing in these admittedly daunting environs, one has to change the way one thinks as a stage hypnotist.
I have always felt that the traditional approach to stage hypnosis had a slight undertone of sadism to them to begin with. When I started out in the business, I worked very hard to eliminate that undertone as I had grown up in a family where that sort of thing was simply not allowed (my father was a cartoonist, which probably explains a lot) and I was the neighborhood "Charlie Brown" character in many ways. I don't like being embarassed, so I structure my shows so that aspect is minimized or eliminated, completely.
By approaching the show as a series of "Let's Pretend" exercises and "Make Believe" games, but where the events seem much more real, the show goes into an improvisational theater games kind of format. The kids learn and explore, have fun, a lot of laughs, yet not at anyone else's expense.
In fact, the object of the exercise is to make sure that the next time I visit, every kid that saw the last show wants to "come up and play" because it was such a cool experience for their friends!
If that's dangerous or abusive, then even the former chairman of the American Medical Association in Chicago disagrees with you as he's seen my show and enjoyed it, thoroughly, several years ago and why several of the local chapters of the AMA here in the area and why the Society of GastroEnterological Nurses and Associates (for example) have had me, and are having me back for their national conference, as well as the American College of Physicians and Surgeons National Convention a few years ago, too.
Respect for the volunteers is all too rare in magic and stage hypnotism these days. I guess I just come at the biz in a different way. My goal is to have every member of the audience wishing that they HAD volunteered to be part of the show by the time I'm done for the evening because it was so much fun for the volunteers as well as for the audience.
Maybe if more stage hypnotists had that goal, the public's impression of stage hypnosis, wouldn't be so negative.
Lee Darrow, C.H.
My new ebook on Safety for the Stage Hypnotist and Lecturer is now available - PM me with your requests for further information. - LD