From time to time, whether it be at a group show or in a one on one situation, I am asked ‘can everyone be hypnotized?’

For anyone shelling out hard earned money that’s a fair enough question. The short answer is “yes, if they wish to be.”

Occasionally we’ll come across someone who doesn’t really go very deeply into trance, however deep trance is not necessary for hypnotherapy. In some instances very deep trance can detract from good hypnotherapy, although it looks very dramatic and in a stage setting can be great.

The ideal state is a light state of relaxed trance, in which the client is receptive to suggestion. Many clients do not recognise trance states as it’s not really something they are particularly familiar with. If you’ve ever lost track of time while working on a spreadsheet, or playing video games, you’ve likely experienced a trance state. Equally, some people fall into a light trance when driving long distances. They check their watch and find that an hour or two has simply slipped by. This is neither unusual nor unsafe.

Trance is a perfectly natural brain state during which the mind is surprisingly receptive to suggestion. It can appear dramatic, as in some of my videos below. But keep in mind, these are extreme examples. Generally it’s very benign and surprisingly enjoyable.

In the videos below subjects go into hypnosis easily and swiftly. That’s because I do a lot of stage hypnosis, I use some great techniques in these situations, and they are entertaining. It’s not really what we’re aiming for in a therapy environment. However, it does illustrate how hypnosis can look.

Many people don’t even realise that they have been hypnotised. I apologise for the terrible sound quality below, however you’ll see what I mean if you watch the video.

Sometimes it’s so quick the subject has no idea they are even being hypnotised.

Now and then someone will come along and tell me their mind is ‘too strong’ to be hypnotised. This usually tells me a couple of things. Firstly the person has no idea what hypnosis really is, and secondly that they’re an idiot.

Hypnosis is a collaborative process between subject and hypnotist. No one can be hypnotised if they choose not to be. When I am confronted with someone ‘challenging’ me to hypnotise them I usually head for the door. It’s not going to be a productive exercise. During a comedy hypnosis show it’s not so much of a problem – I just tell the hypnotised subjects that they are a pack of dogs, and the person who can’t be hypnotised is a fire hydrant. It makes for a damp but amusing evening.

Mostly people who visualise well are great at hypnosis. They have the ability to concentrate and process ideas at both a visual and conceptual level. Many of the best hypnosis subjects are artists, theatre professionals and people who enjoy presenting ideas to others.

There are a few exceptions. I am told people who are clinically insane cannot be hypnotised. As someone who’s done quite a lot of work in the UBC Psychiatric centre I would dispute this. Equally, people who cannot concentrate do struggle to go into hypnosis, though there are techniques which can work. Finally there’s those who are drunk or under the influence of drugs. Again, my experience is that they can be hypnotised in some cases. So, while it’s a little hit or miss on the peripheries, yes – virtually everyone can be hypnotised if they wish to be.

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