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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » You are getting sleepy...very sleepy... » » Is stage hypnosis / street hypnosis unethical? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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setsuna83
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Ok, at first I became interested in hypnosis as a form of entertainment and to incorporate it into my magic routines. Then I became very interested in learning hypnotherapy and seriously considering it as a form of career as I understood how powerful this tool can be for helping people. spoke to a hypnotherapist from a school in my country to find out more and during the conversation, he talks about how he hates stage hypnosis and once he saw a demo of how a hypnotist makes a person forgets a number (the missing finger count routine) and counts 11 fingers. he says that is unethical and gives people a false impression that hypnotherapy allows you to make a fool out of someone and in turns makes the general public afraid to go for real hypnotherapy treatments that are beneficial for them. personally I believe that that hypnosis as a form of entertainment and therapy are different and we should not mention about the other when we are doing it so as not to confuse the public. for example, I would not say to a patient during the treatment that "oh by the way I can make you cluck like a chicken too if I want to..." wonder what are the thoughts of the more experienced guys here? especially those who do both forms of hypnosis; performance and therapy Smile
Mindpro
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Well the story and perception that you received from that hypnotherapist is pretty much the standard opinion of hypnotherapists, but it is only one side of the coin.

As I posted in another thread a couple of days ago....


"First let's not confuse trained hypnotherapist and trained entertainment hypnotists with magician's and hypnotists. Both trained hypnotherapists and entertainment hypnotists are skilled in hypnosis, magicians, while some can also be, most are not. Hypnosis is not and has nothing to do with magic.

In the hypnosis industry there is a difference. Hypnotherapists think they are the real practicioners of hypnosis and believe hypnosis performers tarnish or degrade the industry, even make a mockery of it.

In my experience most (and I mean the vast majority) hypnotherapists are terrible if they try entertainment hypnosis. The reason for this is simple, they are not entertainers. They do not know how to present hypnosis in an entertaining manner, they usually are too studious and technical, they do not have any experience in controlling a committee of subjects as they are used to more one on one applications, and they also have no experience in also working an audience at the same time.

A hypnotherapist typically focuses on a client one on one. Using approaches, methods and techniques most suitable for that person and their needs. A performance hypnotist is factoring applications for many at once. In a stage show with 15, 40, or 60 people there is much more going on than in a private session. An entertainer hypnotist has safety issues, on stage subject management, audience management, control concerns, music, sound cues, must be able to deal with any of hundreds of possible responses and situations, oh, and must hold and keep the audience, progress and build the progression of the performance, incorporate all the elements to a true performance (comedy, drama, suspense, improv, amazement, intrigue, etc.), have timing, and work on two levels simultaneously the onstage subjects and the audience. They also need to know when they (the hypnotist) is featured and should be in the fore, and when they should be in the back and let the subjects perform and be the stars and focal point.

All of these things are absolutely foreign to 99.9% of all hypnotherapists.

In my opinion and experience, hypnotherapists attempt to do performance hypnosis for the wrong reasons. They think it will help boost their practice or supplement their income. Ultimately it doesn't. Since most fail miserably at performance hypnosis it threatens to damage their image and credibility and often puts a bad taste of hypnosis in general in the mouths of the audience and participants.

On the other hand, I believe just the opposite when it comes to stage or performance hypnosis. I get emails, calls and letters all the time from local hypnotherapists after I have performed in their city stating "thank you for the show you did in our area. My phone has been ringing off the hook since your performance". They state that I exposed the audience (several hundred to sever thousand) to hypnosis and the possibility of change through hypnosis, and they then contacted them. If done correctly a good performance hypnosis will educate and perpetuate interest and understanding in hypnosis and hypnotherapy.

This is not reciprocated by the standard hypnotherapist. More typical are them saying things like "stage hypnotists (or hypnosis entertainers) are not really hypnotists..."

It's funny, at conventions and conferences, these hypnotherapists all seems supportive of each other, but on their own the perspective always seems to change to discredit the performer.

So I feel hypnotherapists should not attempt to try to be entertainers, because they do not know how to entertain."
Dannydoyle
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Unethical? Like selling cures that don't work?
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Pomdini
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Try to make a hypnotherapy client cluck like a chicken and see how far you get... !

I think most therapists underestimate how much stage workers help to market hypnosis. Ok in some cases it can create fear and resistance, but in general it improves the public perception of its power.

Many hypnotherapists dislike hypnosis as entertainment and openly say so. Many entertainers, however provide therapy themselves and certainly do not talk ill of the therapists. I wonder who is the more positive and open minded...?
“If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it. If you don't ask, the answer is always no. If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place.”-Milton Erickson
dmkraig
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I would suggest that the entertainment-hypnosis-is-bad meme may be accurate for old school hypnotherapists (and for some of those who teach hypnotherapy), as well as among those who also use hypnotherapy (but are primarily psychologists, psychotherapists, etc.), but presenting that attitude has long been abandoned by modern hypnotherapists. Hypnotherapy conventions often feature lectures and demonstrations by entertainment hypnotists. Following Ericksonian usage concepts, since many people who see hypnosis shows assume that the hypnosis has special powers of skills, some hypnotherapists will use this to help make authority suggestions more acceptable. Teaching the observation skills of good entertainment hypnotists is often uses as models by hypnosis trainers. Some hypnotherapists even use stage presentations as advertising for their hypnotherapy business.

I agree with MindPro in that the major reason hypnotherapists make lousy stage hypnotists is that they're not entertainers. If you go back and look at my posts from people asking what they need to learn in order to be a stage hypnotist, I put inductions and skits lower in importance than stage presence, timing, public speaking, acting, movement, blocking, safety, etc.

Unlike MindPro, I can't say what 99.9% of all hypnotherapists believe because I don't know 99.9% of all hypnotherapists. Of the many hundreds I have met I would say that most are very familiar with the concepts he claims are foreign to them and either recognize that they are not entertainers or simply choose not to follow that path.

Contrary to MindPro's experience, my experience has been that some stage hypnotists have a very poor impression of hypnotherapists and frequently insult them.

The predisposition to believe that "the other" is incompetent is common in all professions. In reality, some people are competent and others are not. Rather than trying to support and expand on that meme, as seems to be going on here, I think it is far more valuable to become aware of what entertainment hypnotists and hypnotherapists are doing, support those who do good work, and learn from all of them.
Dannydoyle
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Well I have never asked anyone to cluck like a chicken. If that is your view of modern stage hypnosis my suggestion is totake a leap from the 19th century and join us in the present.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Pomdini
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Very well said dmk. Indeed we should "support those who do good work, and learn from all of them."

It is nice to muse about hypnotherapists and entertainment hypnotists and how they feel about each other, My fear is that to a large extent the general public don't discriminate so much. They put all 'hypno' in the same box and use that to create their opinion (there are always exceptions of course).

So best to just accept it and get on with it...
“If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it. If you don't ask, the answer is always no. If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place.”-Milton Erickson
Mindpro
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It skewed to ask about hypnotherapists here because those here that are hypnotherapists are also entertainers. My suggestions is to go to a hypnotherapy board or general hypnosis board and bring of the topic of what hypnotherapists think of stage hypnosis or just bring up stage hypnosis. Be sure to pop a huge bowl pf popcorn and take notes. I still believe the vast majority of feedback you get will be as stated above (okay maybe not 99.9%, but the majority).

I agree that the general public lumps t all together. That's why I believe its wrong to mix hypnosis with magic because they lump that all together too and think it's all just a "trick" or "fake".

I can honestly say I've seen many stage hypnotists in the last 40 years probably between 40-60 I would guess, and have never once seen a single one have someone cluck like a chicken. These days if that's the most entertaining and creative thing a performance hypnotist can come up with, he should leave the business.
quicknotist
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Tell your hypnotherapist friend (from me if you like) that just because it's entertainment hypnosis, that doesn't automatically mean that by definition it's unethical.
It can be done in an unethical way, but remind him that hypnotherapy can also be done in an unethical way.
setsuna83
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Hi everyone, thanks to all for contributing your opinions here. I agree mostly with you guys like Mindpro, dmkraig and the rest. Sorry for using the bad example of "clucking like chicken" as I was trying to describe from a layman's point of view about what they think of first when someone says he can do hypnosis. What I was trying to say were about making the participants doing things which makes them feel silly. Had recently finished "Deeper and Deeper" and I'm quite sure some of the stuff that the author did would definitely offend a lot of people in my country lol...anyway I have decided that I will still proceed to taking up hypnotherapy as a career sometime in the future but will also carry on doing "entertainment hypnosis" but of course doing it in an ethical way and not "cross the lines" ;-)
dmkraig
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Quote:
On 2013-02-26 15:47, Pomdini wrote:
My fear is that to a large extent the general public don't discriminate so much. They put all 'hypno' in the same box and use that to create their opinion (there are always exceptions of course).

So best to just accept it and get on with it...


I would suggest that you are correct, the general public doesn't discriminate. So IMNSHO, I would suggest that both entertainers and hypnotherapists might simply stop whining and get on with it. The general public also gets their idea of hypnosis from novels, movies, TV shows, and comic books. In all of those media hypnosis is rarely presented accurately. Rather, the lack of information among most of the general public allows a mythologized hypnosis to be used as a "plot point." Authors will bend the reality of hypnosis to move a plot just as science fiction writers will bend the laws of physics to move their stories.

Many, if not most hypnotherapists are taught to remove misconceptions about the hypnotherapy process at the beginning of their first session. Complaining about this use of time to entertainers won't stop the TV shows, movies, novels, comic books, or tall tales told. So hypnotherapists reading this: don't whine, do the work. Entertainment hypnotists who complain about ***hat hypnotherapists claiming that the entertainers are bad for hypnosis: don't whine, just do better shows.

Then let's all get together, share a pint or two, and have some laughs!
dmkraig
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Quote:
On 2013-02-26 16:15, Mindpro wrote:
It skewed to ask about hypnotherapists here because those here that are hypnotherapists are also entertainers. My suggestions is to go to a hypnotherapy board or general hypnosis board and bring of the topic of what hypnotherapists think of stage hypnosis or just bring up stage hypnosis. Be sure to pop a huge bowl pf popcorn and take notes. I still believe the vast majority of feedback you get will be as stated above (okay maybe not 99.9%, but the majority).



I think you're correct about the skew, here. However, most sites that are focused on hypnotherapy also have forums for stage hypnosis. In my experience few hypnotherapy professionals have problems with stage hypnosis. It's mostly the old school practitioners ("Erickson? Who's that?") and the know-it-alls who have taken a "weekend wonder" class or read a book or two who do, indeed, complain about performers. However the time of the mainstream hypnotherapist whining about performers--at least here in the U.S.--ended a couple of decades ago.


Quote:
I agree that the general public lumps t all together. That's why I believe its wrong to mix hypnosis with magic because they lump that all together too and think it's all just a "trick" or "fake".


The problem with this is that the genii is out of the bag. People are going to believe what they will believe and complaining about what some entertainer does will only draw more attention to the performer. IMO neither Uri Geller nor the Amazing Randi would have achieved their notoriety without their symbiotic relationship to each other.


Quote:
I can honestly say I've seen many stage hypnotists in the last 40 years probably between 40-60 I would guess, and have never once seen a single one have someone cluck like a chicken. These days if that's the most entertaining and creative thing a performance hypnotist can come up with, he should leave the business.


I saw it once. I was a little kid and the hypnosis was part of what must have been one of the last traveling theater spook shows. I did everything I could to become one of the subjects. I wanted to be hypnotized! But I wasn't chosen. When I think about the show now, it's clear to me that all of the people on the stage were actors--and not very good ones at that.
Pomdini
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I'm up for a pint.
“If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it. If you don't ask, the answer is always no. If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place.”-Milton Erickson
Owen Mc Ginty
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Quote:
On 2013-02-28 15:03, Pomdini wrote:
I'm up for a pint.


are you buying?
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bobser
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Reg's post is spot on. It's not what it is it's rather how it is presented.
Also it's important what you, me, the individual thinks/believes what hypnosis actually IS.
ie: there are two MAIN arguments in hypnosis:
1) The hypnotist takes control and the hypnotee obeys
2) There is the element that says the hypnotee (or at least a part of the hypnotee) is happy to do what the hypnosist says.
Although there is an argument that 'may be' correct in that nobody can be forced to do something against their morals there might be a huge group out there who, in reality, do NOT mind having sex with a chair and orgasming I'm front of their families... AND they get to blame the hypnotist as (the first belief?) he's the guy resonsible! Smile
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Daeld
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Just adding my bit of fuel to the fire...

One of my biggest problems in using hypnosis for therapy is the amount of education needed for people who are familiar with stage-hypnosis shows. I spend a large part of the first session explaining that hypnosis is not mind-control; it is not a way to externalise control to the therapist; it will not make them stop eating/stop smoking/sleep better/etc/etc/etc if they are not willing to become engaged. The look of disappointment in their faces is common. I agree with an earlier comment that most therapists that use hypnosis don't have the first clue about entertaining a group. However, I did do some stage hypnosis when I started out. I thought it was cool. However, I very quickly learned that most of what I was doing, at least, was in one way or another at the expense of the subject. The other thing that I didn't like is the illusion of removal of agency. I think that this sends a potentially destructive message about the self. For these and other reasons, I decided to abandon hypnosis for entertainment. I still use hypnosis in therapy (however it is important to know that hypnosis is not a therapy, but rather a context for therapy). I still do group hypnosis - and the same elements of "audience awareness" are important in managing a hypnotherapy group. I still often use humour as a deepening technique. However, it is no longer at the expense of the subjects.

There is an argument to be made that, although it does create a large interest in the general population, the illusion of suspension of agency that often accompanies stage-hypnosis may be implicated in the relative decline in acceptance of hypnosis in the mainstream of medicine and psychology. In a way, we're living in a "dark-age" for hypnosis in which the general professional bodies do not readily accept it and many of the buffoons that do research into it still think of it as therapy in and of itself. In this sense, I think that much of therapeutic hypnosis research is as unethical, or perhaps in some ways more so, as some stage acts.

Although I don't agree with it anymore, I have been impressed by recent efforts by stage-hypnotists to be aware of some of these issues. Nevertheless, there are still some very bad hypnotists out there (both in the stage and in the clinic).
dmkraig
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I have to respectfully disagree with Daeld. Although this may be his experience, here in the U.S., for the last quarter-century (at least), hypnotherapy has been undergoing a renaissance in popularity and professional acceptance. There are organizations for hypnotherapists that are limited to licensed medical professionals. While "old school" psychologists pooh-poohed hypnosis as a viable therapeutic modality, more and more are researching it. In fact, hypnotherapy has become one of the most well-documented psychological healing modalities around.

One well-known hypnotherapy trainer, Don Mottin, said that every time there is a report on hypnosis on TV—even if the results are negative—results in an increase in business at his clinic. So the fictionalization of hypno-entertainment being the same as hypnotherapy has, as you've noted, increased the interest in hypnotherapy. It is also true, as you've noted, that hypnotherapists have to spend time with first-time clients eliminating misunderstandings about hypnosis. In my experience this can be completely done in five minutes or less. And while restructuring a client's understanding of hypnosis is usually seen as time that could be better spent doing actual changework, I've always used it as an opportunity to enhance rapport, resulting in greater efficiency of changework.

While your stopping doing performing seems to be perfectly fine for you, I would suggest that whether or not you perform, you'll still have to spend time correcting false images given by performers, movies, TV, novels, video games, comic books, etc. Prospective clients will still come to you thinking that you have magic powers and that you can control their wills. Your not performing won't change that, but I do respect you for taking an ethical stand. I do think you could still perform and, during your introduction and opening talk, make clear that THEY have the power and you're just helping them release it, but that's up to you.

BTW, I do like your expression, "hypnosis is not a therapy, but rather a context for therapy." I hope you don't mind if I...ahem!...borrow it. I would point out, however, that there has been some research showing that just putting someone into a trance for a period and not giving any suggestions can result in beneficial change. In which case hypnosis, in and of itself, may actually be a therapy. However, until that is more fully investigated, I think your statement is accurate.
Daeld
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Hi dmkraig, I don't know if this is the forum for it, but I'd like to comment on your last paragraph.

I would suggest to you that if you put someone in a hypnotic state through relaxation, then you are doing relaxation in the context of hypnosis. There are ways to hypnotise a person in a way that will be counter-therapeutic without doing anything more than an induction. The statement that hypnosis is not a therapy comes from my view of hypnosis, which is that it is a normal physio-psychological process or "state" of focused dissociation (which can be do varying degrees - see neo-dissociation theories). In this sense, hypnosis is no more a therapy than breathing is a therapy - but one can use breathing as a context for therapy. One can also use hypnosis as a context for therapy (whether formal or informal).

Feel free to use the quote. Although they are my words, the idea is not new by any means and I can't claim it Smile.

By the way, I agree that in the US there is a bit of a revival, particularly with the various wars and increase in PTSD. In fact, the first person who trained me in hypnoanalytic hypnotherapy was an American psychiatrist on exchange. Here in Australia, the scene is VERY different. We still have MANY MORE charlatans than not and there is not much regulation of the industry (like in most places). Despite some good research, it is still viewed with suspicion by mainstream medicine and, to make things worse, some of my colleagues are an embarrassment to the art.
Dannydoyle
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This is a stage hypnosis forum.

If you can't manage to do a show not at the expense of the volunteer, then that is on you and speaks only to your inability.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Daeld
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Quote:
On 2013-03-28 02:20, Dannydoyle wrote:
This is a stage hypnosis forum.

If you can't manage to do a show not at the expense of the volunteer, then that is on you and speaks only to your inability.


Peace Dannydoyle! Like I said when I first came to the Café, I don't agree with stage hypnosis anymore but I'm certainly not here to change anyone's mind about it (see forum rules). However, the OP had a genuine question that has sparked a genuine discussion. I gave my genuine answer about my decision for my situation.

If you have found a way to truly entertain, but not at the expense of the volunteer (whom I know is expecting it anyway), then that is commendable. I suspect, however, that I have a different interpretation of the term "at [his] expense" than you.

However, I have not come to this forum to be drawn into a trade of insults. If I misread your tone, I sincerely apologise.

I suppose that in such a long post my point may have been lost, so I'll make it in here again in brief:

Initially, I dabbled in a bit of hypnosis for entertainment, when I started to learn hypnotherapy. I did not like the laugh-at-volunteer's-expense aspect of it (as that is how I did it at the time). I stopped. Once I was much more comfortable with hypnosis, the other aspect that kept me away from using it for entertainment was the illusion of removal of agency, which is such a fundamental principle of what makes us who we are. For these and other reasons, I do not do it.

Anyway, this is my story.
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