When you hear the word ‘hypnosis’, you tend to think of magic and ‘woo-woo’. We’ve all seen stage hypnotists encouraging their participants to believe they’re chickens or otherwise make a fool of themselves and we’ve all seen hypnotists in films who seem to be able to cure any ailment and solve any problem with the power of their minds. Some people believe that hypnotism is a form of brainwashing like this and that it can be used alongside the ‘dark arts’ for all kinds of villainy. Others don’t believe in it at all… so what’s the reality?

The Reality of Hypnotism

To understand what hypnotism really is, it can help to consider another term for it: persuasion. Hypnotism is sometimes referred to as ‘the art of persuasion’ which is an accurate description as that’s really all it is. When you hypnotize someone you are persuading them that something is true – whether that’s the idea that they don’t want another cigarette or whether it’s that they’re really a chicken.

The problem is, that when someone tells you something is true, you generally tend to reject it until you’re given proof. No one could really persuade you that you were a chicken using conventional means for instance, which is where hypnotism comes in.

And generally you’re still not going to convince anyone they’re a chicken unless they want to be a chicken or they’re already particularly persuadable. In general, hypnotism is best used as a kind of ‘nudge’ to get someone to think in the correct way and is most effective when they’re ‘playing ball’.

How it Works

So how then can you persuade someone to believe something they wouldn’t normally? There are a few methods but generally the idea is to get in ‘under the radar’ by speaking almost directly to that person’s unconscious.

The first way to do this is to get that person to feel completely at ease and relaxed so that they drop their guard. This is what you call putting someone in a ‘suggestible’ state. The right language can then be used to make that person trust in what the hypnotist is saying and to gradually ‘lead’ them. Careful phrasing is then also weaved into the subsequent ‘script’ in order to plant subtle ideas in such a way that the person does not ‘reject’ them. And when they then come around, the patient will likely have adopted those ideas as their own – almost like inception!