Are the volunteers actually part of the performance (i.e. paid or in other ways compensated) to perform like chickens etc., or is it actually possible to hypnotize people in the short space of time that is given?

  • Related question
    – Casebash
    Commented Mar 28, 2011 at 7:39
  • 1
    I'm sure that some people use paid stooges
    – Casebash
    Commented Mar 28, 2011 at 7:46
  • poorly worded question. It's quite possible, maybe even likely, that part of them are paid, part are really hypnotised (whatever that is), and part just play the part for some other reason. That's I think actually the most likely scenario (the "hypnotist" would want some sure participants, and most people have stagefright, so having some of his own in the audience helps).
    – jwenting
    Commented Mar 28, 2011 at 11:12
  • Related question about stage magic.
    – unor
    Commented Apr 6, 2014 at 17:00

1 Answer 1


All hypnosis is a form of self hypnosis, and it is fairly well understood that you cannot hypnotize either:

  • someone unwilling to be hypnotized
  • someone to do something that they are utterly unwilling to do

Lots of studies cited, plus an interesting read nonetheless: CIA: Hypnosis in Interrogation

From my own experience being one of those fools willing to get on stage, the hypnotic suggestion just seems to be an "okay that sounds fun" as you're extremely relaxed and aware of the situation while not feeling so self-conscious. When the hypnotist suggested that we take our shirts off and turn them inside out (I being male) ... I snapped out as I'm very self-conscious of my body image and was excused from the stage.

I like the howstuffworks article on the subject and from my experiences it seems pretty spot on. You aren't so much asleep as you are hyper-aware of the suggestions of the hypnotist.

  • 9
    "you cannot someone unwilling to be hypnotized" is not something that you should claim without citing evidence.
    – Christian
    Commented Mar 27, 2011 at 21:14
  • 2
    Added citation from CIA factbook. Experimental studies have shown positive corrolation only when there was a positive association with the hypnotist. The other studies have not been verified as factual and there is no other independent evidence to support those findings.
    – iivel
    Commented Mar 27, 2011 at 21:36
  • 2
    Whilst this may technically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. Blockquotes are an excellent way to do this. Too much relevant information is left too outside sources, at the moment.
    – Borror0
    Commented Mar 28, 2011 at 7:51
  • The link is now useless, the web page saying the title has been deleted. It is possible to Google on the title, and find sources there (I found dagmar.lunarpages.com/~parasc2/ds/articles/hypnosisDoc.htm in searching). FWIW, the study did find that subjects could be hypnotized unwillingly if there was already a positive relationship (whatever that means) between subject and hypnotist. Commented May 24, 2011 at 23:57

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