THE DANGERS OF STAGE HYPNOSIS
1.) PHYSICAL CASUALTIES
Physical casualties are one of the dangers of stage hypnosis. On many
occasions people will sustain minor injuries. These can occur from falling
off their chair to the more dangerous accidents like falling off the stage.
2) DEPRESSION FROM REJECTION AND DAMAGE TO THE PSYCHE
a hypnotist asks for volunteers quite often a large number of people,
maybe 20 or 30, will put themselves forward. Very quickly the hypnotist
will reduce this number of people down to 15 or 20, take them all into
trance as he continues with the start of his
show. His eventual goal is to have 10 or 12 subjects all of whom are in
deep somnambulism. Quite shortly it becomes obvious to the stage hypnotist
(and to the audience) that 2,3 4,5 or 6 or more of the volunteers are
not in very deep trance, and not responding to his suggestions like some
of the other volunteers are, so the hypnotist sends them back into the
audience. He really only wants to work with subjects that are in true
somnambulism, so he can produce these wild hallucinations and other bizarre
3.) MISINTERPRETATION OF SUGGESTIONS
When giving a suggestion to someone under hypnosis it is very easy for them to misinterpret what you have said. The above story of the girl at Glasgow Pavilion is an example of this. Also, one of the most important things that a stage hypnotist must do is to remove all suggestions at the end of the show. Sometimes when you give a suggestion to just one particular individual another person also will react to the suggestion given. Occasionally this will be a member of the audience. As previously mentioned true stage hypnosis is mass hypnosis. Without the hypnotist realizing this, how is he to know that the suggestion has been removed not only from the individual involved, but also from everyone's subconscious mind, including the audience, which then leads us onto the next danger....
4) RE-STIMULATION OF A POST-HYPNOTIC SUGGESTION
Going back to serious accidents happening in hypnotic shows reminds me of another story. It was during my early days as a stage hypnotist. A young lady had been involved in a hypnotic show that a colleague of mine, by the name of Ian, had performed. Ian was the very same person I had talked to in Malta about stage hypnosis. Four days later, having been in Ian's hypnotic show, this young lady was in a supermarket carrying out some shopping. Music started to play in the background. It was the very same music that she had heard during a suggestion she was given while in his hypnotic show. Suddenly she stopped shopping and started to prance around the supermarket as though she was a famous model. She was with some friends fortunately; they realized exactly what was happening. They took her to see three or four different hypnotherapists who couldn't help this young lady. Her friends then contacted the venue where the show had been performed. The venue contacted the agent and the agent contacted Ian the hypnotist. He in turn contacted me and asked if I could help (because he lived 200 miles away). Back through the chain, and the young lady eventually turned up on my doorstep in Nottingham. I could see immediately that she was in a very deep trance. A click of my fingers, a glare into her eyes, simultaneously stating, "Sleep", and she fell into the armchair behind her. I suggested she was in the hypnotic show in which she had participated. I had a good idea of this other hypnotist's act and ran a super-fast scenario of it. I then brought her out of trance slowly and gradually. She was in a level of shock not knowing where she was, how she got there, or what had happened over the previous week. I spent some time talking to her ensuring that she felt re-adjusted, and never saw or heard of her again.
5) LOSS OF CONTROL
for my own show, I would adjust the show to the audience. Family shows
were always a little tamer than an adult show, and a lot would depend
upon the audience’s reactions to how risqué I would allow
the show to become. I have never told or suggested for anyone to strip
naked. Having said that, quite often I would end my show with the Chippendales.
As soon as the men had stripped off to their boxer shorts or 'Y' fronts
I would stop the music, and the volunteers would come back to a level
of waking consciousness. One show at Butlin's, over two years ago, I was
performing in front of a family audience of around 3,000 people. It was
the end of the show and the male volunteers thought they were the Chippendales.
The moment this man undid the belt on his trousers a drunk member of the
audience, in fact his wife, rushed up on stage and pulled his trousers
and under pants down. The man was stark naked in front of this family
audience. Fortunately everyone seemed to see the funny side of the situation.
I didn't. I was quite upset, and took offence to the action from this
member of the audience. When situations like that arise it means that
the hypnotist has lost control of the situation, something that surprisingly
can happen quite often.
6) ALCOHOL AND DRUGS
about loss of control reminds of a show I performed in Germany, and another
danger of hypnosis. I was under contract to perform for the British army.
Having travelled overland to Germany I arrived at this base camp to discover
that a weekend charity event was taking place. All the soldiers were paralytically
drunk. It did not seem right to perform my show; everybody was too drunk
to start with, and I felt nobody would appreciate
it anyway due his or her drunken intoxication. My fee was £500,
plus my expenses for petrol and the ferry crossing. I protested to the
agent who was at the camp, and advised him it was not a good idea for
me to perform my show. His only comment was, no show, no money, no expenses
and his commission would still have to be paid. That would have meant
I would have been hundreds of pounds out of pocket and at a huge loss.
This conversation between the agent and myself created bad feelings. My
hands were tied so I performed the show with the agreement that he, as
the agent, would take full responsibility for any mishaps. The show went
well. The drunken soldiers enjoyed it, and everyone seemed impressed.
Sadly one of the members of the audience became unconsciousness. He couldn't
be aroused from his stupor. He had obviously fallen into trance while
watching the show. The combination of alcohol and the natural mass release
of endorphins in his brain led him into a comatose state.
7) GRIEF CHARGE
the most common occurrence and dangers of hypnosis is what I call a "grief
charge". The volunteer in question suddenly drops into deep trance.
When a person experiences deep hypnosis the brain waves slow down into
a cycle known as theta. The brain waves are slow, 4Hz to 7Hz cycles per
second. It is in theta that the subconscious mind really opens up. When
we experience painful and traumatic events in life the emotions are sometimes
locked away and forgotten about in the subconscious mind. As soon as the
subconscious mind is opened up the emotional pain is released. When I
wrote about the therapy case histories in the earlier chapters, these
clients overcame their psychosomatic disorders through the safely run
re-stimulation of their past upset emotions. Sadly for a few individuals,
during a hypnotic show, their subconscious minds open up and they will
suddenly for no apparent reason go into fits of hysterical crying or depression.
(During a situation like this in a show it is not possible to aid the
subject as you are entertaining an audience, not practising as a therapist.)
8) OBSERVER BECOMING THE VICTIM
as we have already stated in previous chapters, stage hypnosis is mass
hypnosis. In some ways this might be the biggest danger of all. On numerous
occasions I have had members of the audience fall into trance, and even
follow the suggestions given to the participants on stage. Also I have
had audience members experience a grief charge. Any danger that could
befall a volunteer on stage could also happen to an audience member.
9) HYPNOSIS CAUSING PSYCHOSIS
at a Butlin's holiday camp, right at the start of a show I dropped this
man into instant trance. A few minutes later I said, "Wakey wakey,
what are you doing down there lying on the floor?"