Frequently Asked Questions:

The answers to questions on hypnosis are simply my opinions, cannot be accepted as fact and may not necessarily be agreed upon by others in the field.
They are based on my own study and observation of hypnotic experimentation for nearly 30 years. In that time, I have managed to successfully hypnotise tens of thousands of people under a wide variety of circumstances and environments. It is also true that I have failed to hypnotise many thousands of people.
Every such failure has helped me to learn more about this fascinating craft and helped me to become a much more skillful hypnotist.


Is the ability to hypnotise a special gift?

If you mean; is it a supernormal power that comes at birth –  absolutely not.
Many years ago, it was widely believed, and assiduously promoted by the hypnotist, that he had some special, occult-type power. Thankfully, modern understanding has replaced this superstition. Because a subject is actively involved in bringing to fruition his or her own experience of hypnosis, all hypnosis is considered to be a sort of self-hypnosis. A hypnotist is an operator merely guiding the process.

Can anyone learn hypnosis?

Why not?
It is a skill and, like all skills, it can be acquired and learned.
I would love to see it taught in schools. It is skill that everyone could learn and benefit from in some way.
Anyone can pick up a cue and learn to play billiards, kick a ball about to play football, master a musical instrument or learn to paint.
It is similar with hypnosis.

How does hypnosis work?

This is too big a question. I’ll try to do it some justice, with a very simplistic explanation, but it really requires book or two.
When you watch a movie, you often suspend your critical faculty, the logical part of your brain, so that you can enter into the fantasy and enjoy it.
This is why you may duck if something flies towards the camera, or grip the edges of your seat during a car chase.
When you sleep, and are dreaming, this same critical faculty is in abeyance, or subdued. That’s why it seems normal that you can fly. You don’t question it, unless you are awakening.
When a good storyteller is telling you a tale, you can become completely engrossed and involved. You no longer question whether the story is true or even feasible. You have voluntarily, and temporarily, surrendered your critical thinking, and faculty, and become completely engrossed.

When someone consents to be hypnotised, the hypnotist will try to subdue this same, conscious, critical, logical part of the mind with the use of concentration, visualization, or breathing techniques.
A hypnotist may ask their subject to squeeze their hands together very tightly, or look at a spot, light, candle, or similar. During intense concentration, it is possible to bypass, or partially bypass the critical faculty. This gives greater access to the subconscious mind, including memory, for therapeutic purposes, or to the rich subconscious realms of fantasy which the performer can then utilize.

Do you consider yourself a stage hypnotist, a hypnotherapist, or both?

I consider myself a Hypnotist.
I am well known for performing on stage and television, but I do also use hypnosis to help people and have done so since 1984.
I don’t have a hypnotherapy practice or take bookings for hypnotherapy in the way that a therapist might.
I have private clients in some specialised areas, such as sports, and have gained expertise in a few other areas where my help is sometimes requested.

Why are hypnotherapists scathing or dismissive about stage hypnotists?

Not all hypnotherapists are. In fact, some involved in the field of stage hypnosis started out as hypnotherapists. Also, some stage performers are qualified to and provide hypnotherapy services as a dual profession.
Paul McKenna, once regarded as the most successful stage hypnotist in the world, is now billed as the most successful hypnotherapist in the world.
His skill and expertise in these areas has improved the lives of countless thousands of people around the world and inspired numerous to enter the fields of hypnotherapy and NLP.

A certain amount of antagonism does exist in a small part of the profession. Some consider stage hypnosis to be, at best, frivolous, or even a misuse of hypnosis.
I respect this view. After all, therapists are helpers and want to use this powerful tool to improve people’s lives. It is a misconception, however, that the antics of stage hypnotists put people off seeking therapy.
In fact, the reverse is true. Wherever stage hypnosis is prevalent, hypnotherapy thrives.
Unfortunately, some schools of hypnotherapy teach their students to dismiss stage hypnosis with disingenuous, and even false, statements about their field.
I have heard such statements trotted out word for word numerous times; sometimes by newly qualified therapists who have only seen one or two of their first clients.
More enlightened therapists will, and do, respect the abilities of the more skilled stage performers and embrace them.
I am fortunate enough to have some distinguished hypnotherapists as my colleagues and friends, have helped to teach and pass on some of my experience to people in the profession too. This includes Doctors, Dentists and Surgeons who I have sometimes worked alongside.
There is no need, in my view, for a lack of harmony or unwitting dissemination of falsity.
Stage hypnotists receive many requests for therapeutic help and can pass those along to those who are qualified to assist.

Are people on the stage just stooges?

There is no need for hypnotists to use stooges. There are almost always volunteers who respond to hypnosis well.
With a little logical consideration, those of a skeptical nature would be better able to understand this.
It would be too difficult to arrange stooges. Where would you find them? Why would you want to? How would you keep them quiet and stop them from telling anyone? A hypnotist’s reputation and livelihood would be destroyed if he employed stooges.
Also, consider the logistics of organizing enough stooges when I tell you of one of my experiences in Australia.
I was given my first of two TV series in Australia. The production team and I needed to find around 100 volunteers for the first 10 shows.
We advertised in national print media. I made appearances on top-rating TV and radio shows; talking about my forthcoming series and asking for volunteers.
Millions of viewers, listeners and readers were exposed to my request, yet, we only just achieved the number we needed.
I had similar experiences in The UK and The Netherlands for TV series I made in those countries.
Now, in some previous tours of my live show, in Australia, I have hypnotised well over 2000 people (100 shows X 20 people each show).
It would be impossible to arrange this amount of stooges, or any stooges, for that matter, without such a fraud leaking out.
Any professional hypnotist, would surely not attempt to use stooges or hope to get away with it.
Just to over emphasise the point, on a few very rare occasions, in my career, I have been on stage, completely failed to hypnotise anyone, and had to issue a refund on tickets.
A few stooges would have prevented my having to suffer such an indignity.

Is hypnotism real?

Of course!
There are no serious detractors as to the reality of hypnotic phenomena, although theories continue as to what hypnosis actually is, whether it is a quantifiable ‘state’ or not.
The medical and dental professions, for many decades, have fully embraced hypnosis and used it effectively for many useful purposes.  In most developed countries of the world, there are strict laws and regulations governing the use of hypnosis and hypnotists. A full hypnotic induction cannot be broadcast on TV or radio, for example. These laws wouldn’t exist if hypnosis weren’t real.
It is now generally and widely accepted as a real phenomenon, whatever the arguments are as to its true nature.

How long does it take to hypnotise someone?

The average person should only take about 15 minutes to hypnotise. Very responsive subjects can be hypnotised much more quickly, even in minutes.
Susceptibility to hypnosis, in a person, is not fixed. *
Therefore, under optimum circumstances, when susceptibility can be massively increased, hypnosis can be achieved almost instantaneously.
I have demonstrated this technique hundreds of times and once even hypnotised 35 people, individually, with a simple tap on the head, in less than one minute.
*Others would refute my contention that an individual’s susceptibility to hypnosis is variable, and not fixed, but I stand by it resolutely.

In a therapeutic setting, some important preparations are necessary before hypnosis is induced. Many people have a natural apprehension about what they don’t know or understand. The knowledgeable therapist easily alleviates any misgivings or worries of this kind and a trust and rapport can be established.
For a first session of hypnotherapy, 40-50 minutes may be needed, but once a subject has successfully experienced hypnosis once, subsequent hypnotic inductions can be achieved in only a few minutes.
Anyone who has experienced hypnosis will accept and respond readily to hypnosis more quickly the second time.

Is it true that you have to ‘want’ to be hypnotised for it to work?

This is generally true, with the rare exception I have already stated.
Motivation is one of the key factors in successful hypnotic induction. When someone approaches a therapist, it is usually with some kind of problem they are desperate to solve.
This gives the subject sufficient motivation to accept hypnosis. When someone volunteers to take part in a stage show, they may wish to have fun, want to test the hypnotist, or a variety of other reasons.
This sort of motivation, too, even on a subconscious level, makes people more predisposed to be responsive to hypnosis.
The desire to be hypnotised, though, isn’t the only factor and sometimes even the most keen to be hypnotised are the least suitable or responsive for entertainment purposes.

Is it possible to be hypnotized against your will?

For the vast majority of people, the answer is no. It is almost impossible to hypnotise someone who hasn’t given his or her consent, or isn’t cooperating with the procedure.
However, there are some individuals who are super sensitive to hypnosis and, under the optimum circumstances, and with correct technique, can be hypnotised even though they are trying to resist. Such people are a rarity. This is a controversial point and, those with less understanding or experience will dispute it.
Believe me. It can and has been done.
It would be unethical to hypnotise someone against his or her wishes.
I am completely repentant and vow never to do it again!

Is Hypnotherapy a totally different kind of hypnosis?

No. The only difference is; the Hypnotherapist employs hypnosis for a totally different purpose. It is still hypnosis.
Over the years, there have been some understandable attempts by the therapeutic profession to distance themselves, entirely, from performance hypnosis. This has often resulted in new definitions, titles, names and labels for what is STILL hypnosis. Of course, there are dozens of different methods and techniques to induce hypnosis and a person seeking therapy may observe a procedure entirely different to the one they may have seen in a public performance, but the end result is the same – hypnosis (hopefully!).
Interestingly, light ‘states’ of hypnosis are very useful for successful hypnotherapy. In contrast, the performer can only use people who have entered deeper hypnosis and must often discard those who have only achieved lighter ‘states’.

Some people can’t be hypnotized. Is that true?

I have more or less covered this question, but…..Most normal people can definitely be hypnotised. There isn’t a special non-hypnotisable characteristic that some ‘special’ people possess. It is known that people with mental disability or brain damage may not respond well (though I have had success with both), but generally, people who don’t respond to hypnosis are people who don’t want to be hypnotised. There can be many reasons for that; even below the level of consciousness. For the most part, it can be said, that hypnosis is achieved with consent, cooperation and when the subject ‘allows’ the hypnotist to help them achieve it.

Can anyone be hypnotized?

Yes. I believe so, or…..almost anyone. There is a lot of misconception about this. Most people think that they can’t be hypnotised, but they would be completely wrong. I only state this with confidence because this is what I have been doing all of my adult life. At least 80% of the people I have hypnotised have previously been skeptical non-believers, thinking; “It can’t happen to me”. This includes most of my best and deepest hypnotic subjects.
Experts consider the ability to be hypnotised as a natural faculty that every normal person possesses. If you are capable of going to sleep and dreaming, then you are, more than likely, also capable of being hypnotised. It may be hard for you to imagine that hypnosis will work for you, but this is quite normal.

How did you become a hypnotist?

I first attempted hypnosis after seeing an old movie when I was just 12 years old.
Of course, I hadn’t a clue what I was doing, but just copying some of the words and sounds I had heard. Unexpectedly, this fledgling attempt on my younger brother was partially successful.
The interest stayed with me and, a little later, in my teens, I started to read books and study the subject avidly. An intense, almost obsessive, desire to learn and plenty of practice were the key.
It was in my later teens that I gave my first public performance and then I turned it into a professional career.
I do have a vague memory, from much earlier, in which my older brother carried out a hypnosis-like induction on my younger brother and me. However, he doesn’t remember this. I can’t dismiss this experience as having played a part in my interest, but my memory of it is very cloudy (so it must have worked J).
This was the era of The Great Kreskin, Mentalist, who was on everyone’s TV sets in the early 70s – a forerunner to the amazing Derren Brown of today.
I can’t have been alone in my fascination with this and related fields but consider myself fortunate to have pursued it and found a vocation.

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