The airing of ITV’s new game show ‘You’re Back In The Room’ has set off a familiar fanfare of objections from hypnotherapists shouting the mantra ‘Hypnosis can’t make you do anything that you don’t want to do!’ which saddens me as a hypnotherapist myself.
What sparks this reaction is fear from hypnotherapists that entertainment such as this will reflect badly on their methods of helping people which, if they responded differently, would happen a lot less.
There are two reasons that this reaction saddens me and that this idea that hypnosis cannot make you do anything you do not want to do actually harms public perception of hypnosis:
- There are therapists out there who believe this mantra who are using hypnosis without a full appreciation of their own art.
- The statement is incorrect. If hypnosis could not make you do things you do not want to do hypnotherapists would not have a job.
This knee jerk cliché is spouted by therapists getting defensive about something that they really need not get defensive about, and this reaction actually confuses the issue.
Hypnosis Is Psychology
Hypnosis is psychology and ‘You’re Back In The Room’ is a medium through which this psychology can be used to entertain people. A game show is a game show – an opportunity for contestants to have some fun, make a fool of themselves and hopefully win some prizes. This game show is no different as it achieves exactly that.
If you have any unwanted feelings, thoughts or behaviours then this psychology can be used to change things in your mind so that you are thinking better thoughts, feeling better about things and behaving in a way that is more productive in your life.
They are two completely different contexts but both demonstrate that hypnosis can change an individual’s perception of reality, either for fun or for their wellbeing.
The reason that hypnosis works for a show such as ‘You’re Back In The Room’ is that the psychology can be used to give them a new reality. In the episode I saw for example one of the contestants thought the cake bases he was asked to use were scorching hot. This was his reality for that part of the show and for him it was very real – so much so that he removed his socks to wear on his hands to enable him to handle the cakes to win his cash prize.
If you go to see a hypnotherapist they will be using hypnosis to change your reality. For example if to feel fear in certain situations is your reality; to not feel fear in that situation is a new reality. The psychology is amazing and this type of show does not downplay it or shame it – it just demonstrates the phenomenon of hypnosis in a different context.
The show does not use actors. It is not necessary to use actors. Hypnosis is a very real phenomenon but it is psychology not magic. It is sad to hear a hypnotherapist in the article I have linked to above disbelieving that hypnosis can alter reality when he has so many years of experience doing just that for people.
The advantage of hypnosis over counselling is that it is usually a faster and simpler way to enable you to be more comfortable in your mind. Do not be put off by shows such as ‘You’re Back In The Room’, be encouraged that the reality that you are in, if it is not making you happy, can be changed using psychology.
Can Hypnosis make you do things that you do not want to do?
The answer is yes otherwise I and other hypnotherapists would not have a job.
When someone comes to me because they are scared of flying for example then they do not want to get on a plane. After seeing me, hopefully they will be perfectly comfortable getting on a plane.
If someone is suffering long term anxiety they come to see me so that I can help them continue with their life without that anxiety. The anxiety is coming from somewhere, at some level they are worried about something and that part of their mind is trying to warn them constantly, to stop them from doing things such as socialising, leaving the house, working etc. They do not want to do the things that they used to be perfectly happy doing. It is up to me to find that part of their mind and reassure them, direct their focus to the things that could go right instead of fixating on the things that might go wrong, to make them comfortable living a ‘normal’ life without the fear that has become their reality.
A smoker comes to see me to stop smoking. If they wanted to give up smoking wholeheartedly it would not be a problem. With hypnosis I can make them do something that at some level they did not want to do before.
Making someone do something that is against their own morals and values is another story and has been explored by Derren Brown in The Heist and in his Experiments Series. This is a powerful demonstration, but is done using a mixture of Derren’s skills, not only hypnosis, and took an incredibly elaborate amount of work to set up.
The other thing of course runs the risk of negating the point of this article but should be addressed: we need to bare in mind that these contestants are there to have a laugh, make a fool of themselves and hopefully win some prizes so no one is actually making them do anything that they do not want to do after all. To spout concerns that they are vulnerable people who are being exploited is unnecessarily condescending to them – in the show that I watched they all looked like they got exactly what they came for.