• Question: is hypnotism real

    Asked by urbanboss786 to Jemma, John, Lisa, Sam on 25 May 2012.
    • Photo: John Perry

      John Perry answered on 25 May 2012:

      That is a great question and one that I can only really answer with ‘sort of’.

      Hypnosis requires two main stages; induction and suggestion. The bit that causes the most controversy is the induction stage. This is where the hypnotized person appears to be lulled into a trance state (e.g. will sleep on command).

      The controversy surrounds the existence of a trance state. Rather than this being an actual, real life, mind control type state, it relies on the perception of the person being hypnotised to believe that the hypnotist has the power to put them in a trance state. This is how Derren Brown (whose live shows are brilliant by the way) can hypnotise someone immediately. It is because they already believe that he can do it… therefore, he can.

      Once inducted, the participant is very open to suggestion and will believe suggestion when it is mixed with truth. It takes a long time to master these skills though – you won’t be able to hypnotise your mates easily to make them do things!

    • Photo: Jemma Ransom

      Jemma Ransom answered on 28 May 2012:

      Hi @urbanboss786, how are you?

      In short, I agree with John! When someone believes themselves to be hypnotised, there are chemical changes in the brain – there is a real effect. But as John says, this isn’t because of some magical power of the hypnotist, but a very cleverly learned skill. People believe in the power of the hypnotist, therefore for them, it is real.

      The only other thing I would like to add is that some of these techniques are relevant clinically for people suffering from some forms of psychiatric disease. Take for instance depression, the clinician (a cognitive behavioural therapist) will use these techniques to change the way a person perceives their illness. In many cases, this leads to patients managing depression and other ilnesses better.

      Hope that answers your question