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JohnOAS
SFN Regular

Australia
800 Posts

Posted - 04/30/2006 :  21:47:44  Show Profile  Visit JohnOAS's Homepage Send JohnOAS a Private Message
We were chatting with Matt in Sunday's (Monday for me) chat, who it turns out is a "sleep technician" and a stage hypnotist! Who could ask for more?

Anyway, Matt has been gracious enough to allow us to poke him with sticks, metaphorically speaking. The purpose of this thread is to allow us to put together some questions for Matt to respond to, either directly, or with an article on the practice as a whole.

Some questions I'd be interested in answers for:
1. What sorts of people make the best/worst subjects?
2. How did you get into the field and what keeps you there?
3. How effective is active resistance/denial in not being hypnotised?
4. What sorts of "serious" (non entertainment) uses to you see hypnosis being appropriate for?
5. How does it all work?
6. Does it all work?

Over to everyone else.

Matt's just (re)registered, I think his handle is "Archimedes", but I can't find that yet, maybe the mods have to approve it or some such thing. Once there are a few questions, Matt will either wander in and have a look, or I'll email him and remind him.

John's just this guy, you know.

Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 04/30/2006 :  22:16:58   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message
quote:
Anyway, Matt has been gracious enough to allow us to poke him with sticks, metaphorically speaking.


We were speaking in metaphors?!? Damnit, I had my stick all ready.

One of the things I want to knowe is how does one determine whether a person is a good subject or not. Is there a method to it? A standard list of questions?

Also, are there limits? For example, could you make an arachnophobic person think he is eating a live spider?

Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 04/30/2006 :  23:29:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
I can only answer #6. I have no particular questions. When my brother was 15 and I was 13, he and a friend went to a hypnotist show. His friend was hypnotized at the show. I can't remember if Ken was in the first row and accidentally hypnotized or if they just told me someone in the first row was and Ken was actually on stage. I do know one person on stage did not go under and one in the audience did.

After the show, they read how to do it and my brother actually was able to hypnotize some people.

Ken, who was hypnotized first at the show was easily hypnotized. He ate an onion like it was an apple. He complained because he said he burped onions all the next day.

My girlfriend, Teri was hypnotized. My brother told her she was on the ceiling looking down at everyone. She started screaming and kicking her legs. It kind of woke her up but not completely but my brother brought her out of it because she was truly upset.

I have no doubt, neither Ken nor Teri were faking. You would have had to be there but their actions and reactions were just too genuine. It was pretty incredible for teenagers to be doing.

I, OTOH, could not be hypnotized. I can't say if it was because it was my brother but my hypothesis is I just don't relax when told to. It's too boring. I even got annoyed when in a couple of my university classes the professors did this dumb thing that seemed to be a fad at the time. The would have you relax your forehead, then your cheeks, then lips, neck and so on down to your toes. I thought it was stupid. It annoyed me that more than one professor thought they had to demonstrate this to the class. You'd think they all went to some stupid staff building seminar together or something. But that's also very similar to how one hypnotizes a person.

After that experience with my brother and our friends I have found hypnosis incredible fascinating. But I haven't spent much more time on it since then.
Edited by - beskeptigal on 04/30/2006 23:32:17
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Snake
SFN Addict

USA
2511 Posts

Posted - 05/01/2006 :  00:00:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Snake's Homepage  Send Snake an ICQ Message  Send Snake a Yahoo! Message Send Snake a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by JohnOAS
Some questions I'd be interested in answers for:
1. What sorts of people make the best/worst subjects?
2. How did you get into the field and what keeps you there?
3. How effective is active resistance/denial in not being hypnotised?
4. What sorts of "serious" (non entertainment) uses to you see hypnosis being appropriate for?
5. How does it all work?
6. Does it all work?

Over to everyone else.


My therapist* uses hypnotism in her practice sometimes. Want me to ask her any questions? She legitimate. But my brothers girlfriend uses it to take people back to 'past lives',..... she's, ......well.......a nut.
I've never been hypnotized, that I know of, when they've tried. However I do use it to 'self hypnotize' myself.
*When my Dr. use it on me I wasn't or didn't feel hypnotized but it's relaxing.
As I recall, she told me some people can not be hypnotized but I'll ask her again.
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Valiant Dancer
Forum Goalie

USA
4826 Posts

Posted - 05/01/2006 :  05:17:55   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Valiant Dancer's Homepage Send Valiant Dancer a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Snake

quote:
Originally posted by JohnOAS
Some questions I'd be interested in answers for:
1. What sorts of people make the best/worst subjects?
2. How did you get into the field and what keeps you there?
3. How effective is active resistance/denial in not being hypnotised?
4. What sorts of "serious" (non entertainment) uses to you see hypnosis being appropriate for?
5. How does it all work?
6. Does it all work?

Over to everyone else.


My therapist* uses hypnotism in her practice sometimes. Want me to ask her any questions? She legitimate. But my brothers girlfriend uses it to take people back to 'past lives',..... she's, ......well.......a nut.
I've never been hypnotized, that I know of, when they've tried. However I do use it to 'self hypnotize' myself.
*When my Dr. use it on me I wasn't or didn't feel hypnotized but it's relaxing.
As I recall, she told me some people can not be hypnotized but I'll ask her again.



The term you are looking for is "past life regression" and it's more of a faith based procedure and of dubious merit. Rarely do you hear of someone who lived before as a common peasant or minor lackey. Everyone is frelling Catherine the Great or a Knight of the Round Table.

The only form of hypnosis is self hypnosis. If a person is unwilling to surrender control of themselves, they cannot be hypnotized. They hypnotist works by gaining the trust of the person that is to hypnotized. By getting them to relax, the person will slip into a mental state which is open to suggestion but only if the hypnotist is trusted not to hurt them.

Cthulhu/Asmodeus when you're tired of voting for the lesser of two evils

Brother Cutlass of Reasoned Discussion
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JohnOAS
SFN Regular

Australia
800 Posts

Posted - 05/01/2006 :  07:38:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit JohnOAS's Homepage Send JohnOAS a Private Message
Thanks for all the responses, guys and gals!

I certainly don't want people to not give their own answers and experiences, however, my original intention was to put together a list of questions and/or topics we could collate and forward to someone practising in the field (namely Matt from the chat session) to answer/address.

When we started to probe him (again, metaphorically, put the cattle prod down Ricky!) we suggested it'd be good to get an article/thread going from someone with a perspective that was more than anecdotal. Matt asked us for some guidance or questions as to what he should tackle, and the rest is, or hopefully, soon will be, history.

Ricky or Marf, correct me if your take on this is different.

John's just this guy, you know.
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Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 05/01/2006 :  10:00:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message
Well you just take the fun out of everything, don't you John?

A few more hypotheticals I wanted to throw in there:

Can you get someone in such a deep trance that you can take out a weapon (say, a cattle prod or a gun) and act as if you were going to use it on them without them freaking out?

Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 05/01/2006 :  12:28:03   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
I played around with hypnotism quite a bit when I was about eleven or twelve. I'd read a very practical instruction book by a stage hypnotist. Stage hypnotists are probably the best at doing it. Unlike stage magicians, they tend to be open about what they do -- there aren't really any "secrets," just skills and additional showmanship.

The stage hypnotists know simple tricks to quickly screen out the potential good subjects from those who are not. These tests are observations of physical movements, not a set of questions. (The particular test I used is mainly lost to my memory now, but I think it involved watching what happened to an outstretched arm which was released after the subject was first given some quick hypnotic suggestions. I believe the average person's arm simply dropped when the hypnotist released it, while the potential good subjects arm dropped slowly and hesitantly. A stage hypnotist can line up a bunch of audience volunteers and quickly sort out those most likely to help them put on a good show.) I myself am unfortunately (?) not a good hypnotic subject. I suspect skeptics as a whole are, thought I have no data to support this.

My guess is that anyone actively resisting hypnotism is unlikely to hypnotized.

Hypnotism is much more art than science, and probably little about it can be quantified or made subject to good scientific study. Though, I'd contend, hypnotism is "real," it's an almost entirely subjective reality. In effect, it is simply the power of suggestion, a demonstration of the desire to do, or believe, as the hypnotist instructs them. And only about one-fifth of people are good subjects. But some of that one-fifth of people can be remarkable hypnotic subjects indeed.

Many of the famous cases of recalled "past lives" reaclled via hypnotic "regression" (as in the famous old case of "Bridey Murphy ") are doubtless due to the creative invention of good hypnotic subjects who were simply trying, while "under," to answer the leading questions of their hypnotists. It it easy to see how even an honest subject questioned by an honest hypnotist could come up with a startlingly realistic, but fictitious, past life, through hypnotism. In the "Bridey Murphy" case, there does seem to be considerable fraud and coaching added to the powers of suggestion. (Also see the Skeptic's Dictionary entry on Bridey Murphy.)

I have no doubt that many of the more successful salesmen, quacks, politicians, and religious speakers use forms of hypnotism in pursuit of their goals. I believe the effects may even become amplified in a sympathetic crowd. But as a therapeutic tool, hypnotism is limited by the fact that most people simply aren't good hypnotic subjects.

I haven't yet framed any coherent questions for Matt. It might also be interesting to hear what James Randi has to say about stage hypnotism and hypnotism in general, as he probably has had either direct experience with it, or has seen it used many times on stage.

[Edited for typos, style, and to insert mention of, and links about, the "Bridey Murphy" case.]


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 05/01/2006 18:18:41
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Snake
SFN Addict

USA
2511 Posts

Posted - 05/01/2006 :  17:23:10   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Snake's Homepage  Send Snake an ICQ Message  Send Snake a Yahoo! Message Send Snake a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Valiant Dancer
The term you are looking for is "past life regression"

Thanks Val but I wasn't looking, I know what it's called. AND she's still a nut! (in fairness, I don't think she's trying to dupe people out of money, she really believes. So it's the people who go who are just as much at fault, IMO)

quote:

and it's more of a faith based procedure

She's from Texas, what can I say! Those accents are so charming, they can lull one into a trance.
(Nothing against those who are from Texas and are not wacko)
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 05/01/2006 :  17:56:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
Snake noted:
quote:
My therapist* uses hypnotism in her practice sometimes. Want me to ask her any questions? She legitimate. But my brothers girlfriend uses it to take people back to 'past lives',..... she's, ......well.......a nut.
I think it would be very interesting to try this under controlled conditions, with plenty of skeptics on hand. With a good hypnotic subject, it might be possible to "reveal" a past life in that manner. I'm convinced that such past life "regressions" are either fraudulent, or simply the result of a good hypnotic subject unconsciously creating a fiction in order to satisfy the suggestion of a hypnotist. It would be fascinating to see latter happening. It doesn't require a "nut" to try a past-life regression, or even to get apparent results, but to believe in its reality, it might help to be one.




Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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ocheewah
Skeptic Friend

USA
50 Posts

Posted - 05/03/2006 :  05:57:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send ocheewah a Private Message
I took a class about three years ago that covered alternative counseling techniques. Hypnosis was one which was demonstrated and discussed as a form of therapy that could be quite helpful in treating some forms of mental illness (especially stres/anxiety disorders), addictions, and depression. In this situation, the therapist used only his voice and low lighting to create a mood and put individuals into a state of tranquility. I found that I was easily "hypnotized" and felt calm, rested, and refreshed after each session. I also discovered that I have some talent for hypnotizing others due mostly to the tone and timbre of my voice and my oral despcriptive ability in setting peaceful scenarios. I don't believe you could hyopnotize anyone not receptive to the idea or who is actively resisting. I also could not see using this form of therapy to treat serious illnesses or to regresssomeone into previous lives.

Those who danced were thought quite insane by those who could not hear the music.
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Snake
SFN Addict

USA
2511 Posts

Posted - 05/05/2006 :  00:00:41   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Snake's Homepage  Send Snake an ICQ Message  Send Snake a Yahoo! Message Send Snake a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by ocheewah

I took a class about three years ago that covered alternative counseling techniques. Hypnosis was one which was demonstrated and discussed as a form of therapy that could be quite helpful in treating some forms of mental illness (especially stres/anxiety disorders), addictions, and depression. In this situation, the therapist used only his voice and low lighting to create a mood and put individuals into a state of tranquility. I found that I was easily "hypnotized" and felt calm, rested, and refreshed after each session. I also discovered that I have some talent for hypnotizing others due mostly to the tone and timbre of my voice and my oral despcriptive ability in setting peaceful scenarios. I don't believe you could hyopnotize anyone not receptive to the idea or who is actively resisting. I also could not see using this form of therapy to treat serious illnesses or to regresssomeone into previous lives.

Wow! If I could better put things into words that's exactly what I would have said. You explained precisely what my doctor did. I stopped having so many headaches so don't do it anymore but when I did, I was fully conscious, except for a couple of times I dosed off.
With a soothing voice she told me to think of a place, a relaxing place. So I always went (in my mind) to a beach I'd been to many times for real where although it was on the mainland it was like being on a small island. No one ever around, the warm sun shinning down and the clear blue-green water with slight waves flowing gently back and forth, warm like a sauna with the palm trees all around.
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Archimedes
New Member

USA
4 Posts

Posted - 05/10/2006 :  08:17:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Archimedes's Homepage Send Archimedes a Private Message
Hi all, thanks for all the questions and here is a little (actually, far too long) article that deals with many of them. I will gladly answer the rest and any follow-up questions to the forum. Hope you enjoy,

Matt



On Stage Hypnosis
(and all the questions that go with it)


by Matt Dawson
April 10, 2006


As a full-time stage hypnotist, I often get asked many unusual questions. "How do you become one of those?", "Is hypnosis real?", "Can you do age regression?", "Isn't hypnosis the work of Satan?" Okay, that last question I've only had asked once. Nevertheless, many people find the subject of it fascinating and I suppose that's good for the likes of me who try to make a career out of it.

However, I'm very open about my opinions (and known facts) of hypnosis. I suppose some of my colleagues aren't and prefer to keep the "mystery" surrounding it just that. Either that or they're just bored with talking "hypnosis" and answering the same questions all the time. I hope to answer some of the most common questions I get asked in this article, especially the kinds of questions that come from fellow skeptics.

Before I get too far in, let me just say this: some of the subject matter I'm going to touch on in this article are simply my opinions. There are others in my field (who have been in it far longer than I have) that have polar opposite opinions and it's safe to say they think they're right and I think I am. Feel free to do a little research and come up with your own conclusions.

I suppose I should start with how I got into this field. Well, I was skeptical of hypnosis. In honesty, the only kind of experience I had with it was what I saw on television. An occasional talk show host would have a guest that would perform some stage hypnosis routines. And of course, I saw plenty of cheesy, ridiculous uses of hypnosis in episodes of Wonder Woman and hilariously bad movies like Telefon growing up. I just wanted to answer those questions, "What is hypnosis?" "Is it real?"

So I found a script (which wasn't easy back then), convinced my wife to participate (which was far more difficult than finding the script) and jumped into it without having any idea of what signs to look for or how to read the script. It worked. By sheer luck, my wife is one who is what I call a "natural trancer" (that's my own terminology) and can easily experience a deep, hypnotic state. It took me far longer to willfully experience it myself. I attribute that to the fact that I was waiting for "it" to happen and I overanalyze everything.

We all experience hypnotic trance states. When you lose track of time, daydream, talk in your sleep or sleepwalk. Perhaps you're reading this article now, but consciously you're not really absorbing it. Have you ever done that? Been reading a book, turning the pages, when it dawns on you that you have no idea what you've been reading. Your conscious mind just kind of wandered off? Things like this happen to us incidentally every day. I consider hypnosis to be the act of achieving these states of mind on purpose. Yes, everyone can be hypnotized. For some, it takes a bit of practice; for others, it's natural. Many people just won't allow themselves to be willfully hypnotized and when I'm performing, I have no patience for these individuals and I quickly boot them off the stage. Active resistance to hypnosis is very effective.

But can one be hypnotized against their will? That's often asked and I usually just respond with a no answer, but it's more complicated than that, really. I suppose the better question would be, why would anyone bother trying to hypnotize someone against their will? I can't think of any good reasons. Perhaps I will answer this in more detail in a future article, but for now I'll just say, "It may be difficult, but it is possible." In terms of stage hypnosis, we only have time to deal with willing participants, so one would never see this at a show.

The best subjects are the willing who can easily follow your instructions during the induction. Some may be willing, but may have a hard time concentrating. This could be attributed to many factors such as drunkenness, hearing loss or even being stressed. They could also be like I was: too busy analyzing the process, rather than experiencing it.

People often ask me why I kick off some participants and keep others. How do I know who goes under and who doesn't? Physical signs of the trance state are easy to spot. Flushness of the chest and cheeks, due to increased body temperature, fluttering of the eyes and complete relaxation of all facial muscles to name a few.

I'm also looking for those individuals that are responsive to the suggestions given to them. I had a show recently where one individual was very deep, but completely unresponsive to many of the suggestions. This is rare, but it occurs. Sometimes, you can reframe the suggestions or "bring them up" a bit and that will get them moving. Nothing worked on this guy, so I woke him up and sent him back to the audience.

I've also had shows where absolutely no one went under. This is also rare, but when it's happened to me, it's usually in an environment that is not congruent for a hypnosis show. It's happened to me three times over my career, two of those times where I was performing for fewer than 15 people. The other time it happened, the audience was just very disrespectful to the volunteers, yelling at them during the induction and throwing things at them, so I called the show. If any stage hypnotist tells you they have never had a show where no one went under, either they haven't done very many shows or they're lying to you.

A year or so ago, Penn & Teller had a Bullshit program on Hypnosis. I was somewhat disappointed of their take on it. They made it appear that hypnosis is only "play" between the hypnotist and the subject. It's hard to fake feeling no pain when some individuals use hypno-anesthesia when going in for dental work. I've even seen a show where a woman had reconstructive breast surgery without the use of traditional anesthesia and to me, that seems like fairly invasive surgery.

McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, used a PET (positron emissions tomography) Scan to record brain activity of subjects. These subjects listened to an audio track in a wakened state, then imagined listening to it and then they were hypnotized to believe they were listening to it. The right anterior cingulated cortex was just as active when hypnotized and hallucinating this experience as it was when they were actually hearing it. When they just imagined hearing it while in a fully conscious state of mind, this part of the brain was not active at all.

This isn't supernatural. It's not magic. Every day, we are learning more and more about how our conscious and subconscious minds work through scientific research. I usually agree with just about everything Penn & Teller's Bullshit show has to say, but in this case, they put very little effort in to discovering some of the true and beneficial aspects of understanding and self-controlling the hypnotic state.

With hypnosis, I have seen people get over "chronic" pains, enjoy a relatively stress-free life and yes, even assist those who desire to quit smoking. The subconscious mind can be a powerful reinforcement for the conscious mind and if hypnosis allows us to "communicate" with the subconscious, then we ought to learn how to apply it.

I will certainly agree with P&T over the matter of Past Life Regression. It is BS in my opinion. Many of my colleagues (though not all) do not share my opinion. Out of curiosity, I did a few experiments on my wife with PLR with her consent. Apparently, she had a previous life and lived in Siberia in the early
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Archimedes
New Member

USA
4 Posts

Posted - 05/10/2006 :  08:25:39   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Archimedes's Homepage Send Archimedes a Private Message
Oh, a bit about me. I've been doing hypnosis shows for several years now. I've been full time (as in, this is my only job) for over a year. i do not claim to know everything about the subject of hypnosis - I only offer my viewpoints that I have created through my experiences.

There were a couple questions asked that were not answered in the article. One was, can you get someone in such a deep state of trance that if you held a weapon on them threateningly, would they not freak out?

Well, if they are responsive hypnotic subjects, I could give them the suggestion that they actually enjoy having guns pulled on them and it relaxes them even more. Some may react well to that suggestion; others may not.

There are many sports pros that practice hypnosis, so that during stressful situations (making the perfect golf shot to win the game, for instance), they remain calm. In fact, they may ironically relax more during stressfull situations.

HalfMooner makes a couple of very good points and I'll touch on those later. I gotta run a few errands and do some real work now. :)

Thanks,
Matt

No, I cannot make your penis bigger with hypnosis. I can only make you think it's bigger.
Edited by - Archimedes on 05/10/2006 08:34:40
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 05/10/2006 :  12:27:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
Thank you, Archimedes, for your reply. You are very thoughtful about this subject. I envy you your profession, making honest money entertaining people through employing one of the mind's oddities. Your general comments on hypnosis agree with my own experiences and thoughts.

In a sense, Penn was right about hypnosis being "play" between hypnotist and subject. But only in a limited sense. Skeptics need to be skeptical about skeptics, too. Certainly, the hypnotic subject is unconsciously trying to please the hypnotist. This is a centrally subjective nature to hypnotism that makes it a difficult target for scientific study. Hypnotism could be called "playing." But the trace state can be deep and "real," as your cited PET experiment indicated. And undergoing breast surgery only protected from from pain by hypnosis is hardly what I'd call "play"!

You PLR experiences with your wife were most interesting. It occurs to me that this technique could be used in a writer's workshop venue, as a demonstration that normal people are quite capable of inventing (or compiling from earlier or "external" memories) complete character backgrounds.

I'm looking forward to your further comments!


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 05/10/2006 12:38:01
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Archimedes
New Member

USA
4 Posts

Posted - 05/10/2006 :  12:56:26   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Archimedes's Homepage Send Archimedes a Private Message
Hi Halfmooner,

You made another interesting comment:

"Certainly, the hypnotic subject is unconsciously trying to please the hypnotist. This is a centrally subjective nature to hypnotism that makes it a difficult target for scientific study."

I would say the hypnotic subject is consciously tring to please the hypnotist (and him or herself, as well). It's this willingness that brings success to the process. You may have heard the statement, "all hypnosis is self-induced" - and for the most part, that's true, especially in a stage setting. I'm just a guide to help you achieve that state of mind - follow the instructions and your chances for success will increase greatly.

As far as the scientific study of hypnosis. Honestly, it would be my dream job to do experiement after experiment, creating honest data. Many "therapists" kind of make shit up about the powers of hypnosis and ways it can help you. The National Guild of Hypnotists is the best organization we got and it has way too many whackos in it. People like Wendi belong to it and sell their whacky wares, without any physical evidence that these products actually work. It's my belief that hypnotic treatments should have more success than say, the placebo effect. Am I making sense?

Anybody wanna get me a grant?

Matt

PS. Remind me to get into NLP and give you my thoughts on that.
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