14

Possible Duplicate:
Are participants in stage hypnosis paid stooges?

I ask this after watching a recent Derren Brown (UK stage magician and hypnotist) TV program in which he sets out to discredit faith healers, yet trains his accomplices in hypnotism, apparently without irony. I've always assumed that stage hypnotism was an obvious fake (specifically that participants pretend and lie), but am perplexed to find that the reality of the phenomenon is still controversial, at least if Google results are representative of scientific opinion.

There ought to be falsifiable predictions arising from the reality of hypnotism as a brain phenomenon. For example, can the response be elicited in people from cultures not exposed to Western TV?

  • It would be no surprise if the response couldn't be elicited (or at least not to the same extent) from people who are not exposed to the phenomenon through TV or anything such, because the psychological explanation relies heavily on suggestion and expectation. The idea of susceptibility to suggestion is a thin line away from "participants pretend", arguably distinguished only by the extent of the participants' awareness. – David Hedlund Apr 29 '11 at 11:30
  • 1
    Sigmund Freud used Hypnosis, which is undisputed, and Sigmund Freud lived, before TV was invented. If neccessary, I can provide citation for the invention of TV. – user unknown Apr 29 '11 at 16:19
  • 1
    @Sklivvz, who turned my answer into an comment: Did you mention the only clear part of the question, which is: "There ought to be falsifiable predictions arising from the reality of hypnotism as a brain phenomenon. For example, can the response be elicited in people from cultures not exposed to Western TV?" – user unknown Apr 29 '11 at 18:44
  • I'll merge this with the target if nobody complains... – Sklivvz May 19 '12 at 7:30
2

I haven't read this paper, so I don't know how it reaches its conclusions, but I would really like to:

Note: Re-formatted for Skeptics.SE. "Ss" stands for "subjects".

Explains stage hypnosis by 8 principles which do not utilize the concept of hypnotic state or trance. To produce an amazing performance, stage hypnotists rely primarily on

  • the high base rate of waking suggestibility,
  • a highly selective procedure for screening Ss,
  • the heightened suggestibility that is produced when the situation is defined to Ss as hypnosis, and
  • important social-psychological variables that are present in the stage situation.

In addition, some stage hypnotists at times use

  • the "stage whispers" technique (in which Ss are told privately, in whispers, to help make the demonstration a success);
  • the "failure to challenge" technique, where the audience is misled;
  • trained Ss to carry out the difficult stunts, and
  • 1 or more tricks, e.g., pressure on the carotid baroreceptors which produces stupor.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .