If you have ever watched stage hypnosis you see a pretty common pattern to the show. The performer gathers volunteers, uses some method to put people into a trance and then has them follow specific instructions intended most often for humorous impact. The suggestions are short, and not intended to harm the person’s subconscious mind. Because people from the audience get involved with the show, it become more fun and highly interactive.
The key difference between this “for fun” approach and clinical hypnosis is the personal factor. A stage hypnosis doesn’t study their subjects intently to determine the best way to hypnotize them. This is a one-pony show for inducing a trance for everyone involved. By comparison, therapeutic hypnosis typically occurs on an individual level with the method and approach tailored to that person. The problems for which people seek out hypnosis can be very serious, and therefore the approach must be likewise serious and selective.
This leads to the natural question of how a stage hypnotist gets many people into a trance at one time. There are various answers to this question. Some give into group think (following the herd, if you will). Others may react with wonderment toward the hypnotist making them more susceptible. Others still may comply as a way of responding to a perceived authority figure, or as a way to get away from everyday life without repercussions. Each person responds uniquely meaning a stage hypnotist needs to really build the relationship with his audience and his subjects equally well to pull off an entertaining show.
It’s interesting to note that there is very little in the way of formal training for stage hypnosis. So for the hopefuls out there, start with fundamental hypnotic techniques and psychology. From there, you can start studying some of the great stage hypnotists and see what of the theatrical elements you like best. Remember, this is still a show. Speaking of which, no matter what type of stage presence you create it’s important legally to stay away from more clinical issues. It’s normal for audience members to approach an artist requesting help with personal problems like obesity. ALWAYS refer them to a clinical hypnotherapist for consultation and treatment.
If you’re new to the stage, one great way to get some experience is on open mike nights at restaurants and comedy clubs. Of course practice your routine on family, friends etc. beforehand, but this is a free means of testing your material and building your credibility as an entertainer.