I still remember it, in about 1993, a TV show came on and a man stood in front of the camera and said "What you are about to see, is probably like nothing you've seen on TV before"
He was right.
It was the first show in the series of The Hypnotic World of Paul Mckenna. (way before he was an NLP guru)
I was completely awestruck.
Paul Mckenna came out, oozing class and good humour, you WANTED to be hypnotized on this show, you had no fear of looking like an idiot.
I had thankfully taped it and i watched it 10 times in a row, each time becoming more excited about what this person could get other people to do and how they all loved him for it.
After school i would run into 2nd hand book stores searching for hypnosis texts since i could find no local library that had them, the few books i could find were old but i devoured them all.
I found a hypnotherapist around the corner from my dance school and i would sit there and talk hypnosis with him for hours. I started doing inductions on my class mates, during lunch times little crowds would gather, the teacher even let me do it on everybody including him, it was great.
A stage hypnotist named Peter Powers came to Sydney and i snuck into his 'Adults Only Show' and seeing little me sitting there he pointed me out and we all had a large laugh about it. I spoke to him backstage and he could not have been more kind.
After all this, I did a little TV segment when i was 15 where i talked about hypnosis but then i started to get into trouble. Parents of my classmates started to complain and while i was confident that i was not venturing into areas of the mind that contained pain and possible psychosis, looking back, what the (BLANK) did i know ?
I am lucky i stopped before i screwed somebody up completely !
Regardless of my actual skill level, the belief and expectation somebody can have in hypnosis working on them can make it 50 times more powerful.
There are horror stories with hypnosis, and there are many of them. Derren Brown's story is one, which reminds me of when i started to do some pickpocketing in my act and every now and then somebody would ACTUALLY LOSE a watch or wallet and i would get blamed for it.
There is another of a hypnotherapist curing a woman of her headaches and then she died because apparently her headaches were due to a brain tumour and since she no longer had pain she saw no reason to see a doctor.
The reason you will not (or rarely) see a full hypnotic induction on TV is due to the fact they have done it in the past and people have been hypnotized over the TV and the network gets swamped with calls because their loved ones are dancing around like a chicken (or whatever the case may be).
There is a popular hypnosis trick where somebody is told they are strong and stiff as a plank of wood, they would be laid out between 2 chairs, their middle unsupported and the hypnotist would stand on this persons stomach and amazingly, the hypnotized person is strong enough to hold him.
I believe it was hypnotist Martin St James who wrote in a book a long time ago that he stopped doing this stunt due to realising it is a severe problem if you get somebody with a bad back up there.
He did not elaborate but i am sure you can appreciate this serious potential problem for what looked like a pretty cool little parlour trick which i had even tried before.
I have seen some of these 'rapid induction' things on the street of apparent strangers and it looks like russian roulette to me.
You have no idea who is walking up to you and what kind of mental state they are in and what kind of psychology they have.
I have met people that seem completely rational but can snap into a psychotic state in a heartbeat, they did not even have to be hypnotized ! They saw UFO's in a clear sky, angels and demons attacking them and then suddenly, they were back to normal again.
You can't always pick these people and if you do, you could make them 10 times worse and does anybody really want that on their mind ?
With something as fragile and as unpredictable as the mind, caution is essential when you start playing with it.
Sorry to sound alarmist, i still love hypnosis
If Paul Mckenna ever did another show like those he did, i would be first in line to buy a ticket. Great fun and joy can come out of them, my brother was in one once and it was wonderful.
I think hypnotherapy is great as well, it helps lots of people, not always assured but a great tool regardless.
Now that i think about it.... i want to see a hypnosis show, who's coming ?
Wow, this is a massive post, sorry. lol.