The Science Behind Hypnosis

MRI of brain

According to scientific research and experimentation, nearly everyone can be hypnotised otherwise we couldn’t learn or advertising wouldn’t work. Even animals can be hypnotised. See here to watch a chicken being hypnotised.

A ground-breaking experiment that emerged in the New York Times which has further validated the success and effectiveness of hypnosis through the application of the “Stroop Effect”. In this test the subject reads aloud the colour of the words but not the text. Try it here:

The task is easy when the words are in a foreign language, but almost impossible in the subjects native language. However, with a post-hypnotic suggestion, subjects were able to do this test effortlessly. This experiment has proved that hypnosis can truly alter the perception and cognitive abilities of an individual, and the results have provided sound biological evidence using technical procedures such as fMRI brain scans and visual tests. The fMRI revealed that the subject perceived the words to be in a foreign language and the brain actually processed them as if they were.

So, what is hypnosis really?

According to psychologists and scientific evidence, hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness. Consciousness can also be altered using meditation, hallucinogenic drugs and psychosis. However, because there is no concrete interpretation of consciousness, it is not very well understood.

However, most psychologists have agreed to term hypnosis as “suggestibility”. This suggestible state is demonstrated in advertisements, religious cults, and the placebo effect.

So, we can say that while hypnosis is not a magical force, it is just the strategic manipulation of attention and linguistics which leads to the alteration of cognitive perceptions, beliefs, behaviours and actions.

Hypnosis can be understood by dividing it into three essential steps:
  • The course of concentration
  • Unconventional language of communication
  • Assessment and testing

The course of concentration serves to determine what the individual is to perceive. While unconventional language serves to distract consciousness and understanding. Assessments include task that demonstrate that the subject has been hypnotised and now lacks control and direction. For instance, the hypnotist can make you believe that you won millions of dollars in the lotto and you can see them react accordingly.

Even though the general belief is that it is hard to make humans act against their will, hypnosis has the ability to make subjects not see objects, perceive different colours, become unaware of pain and forget words.

Even with all the above evidence people will still be sceptical about hypnosis. I hear it all the time before my shows. Then after they have seen my show their opinion is changed because either they got hypnotised or they saw their friend on stage. But as my mentor Justin Tranz says “For those of you that believe no explanation is really necessary. But for those of you who do not believe there is no explanation that I could give you, that would ever be good enough.”

Hypnosis Replaces Anaesthetic

Surgery with Doctors and Nurses
Many operations have been successfully carried out recently where hypnosis has replaced general anaesthetic. In 2013, a hypnotist by the name of Alex Lenkei put himself into a trance while a surgeon sawed through his ankle. He mentions his pain control techniques are better than any anaesthetic, and he recovers quicker from operations because his body doesn’t have to deal with the drugs.

In fact, back in the 1830s an English surgeon by the name of John Elliotson performed nearly 2000 surgeries using hypnosis to manage pain.

More and more people in the Europe and the UK are opting to using hypnosis instead of general anaesthetic. Which also benefits the hospital, as it costs less money to treat the patient as no sedatives are required.

Derren Brown has done a number of demonstrations on his TV specials showing the power of hypnosis for pain control.

In the first video he hypnotises a guy to make his hand go numb. Then proceeds to stick a needle through the skin on the back of his hand to show that he can’t feel anything.

In the second video he hypnotises a guy into feeling no pain while he submerges his body into an ice bath that drops to a temperature of 1.4C.

Dancers Get Hypnotised

jumping dancers
The Parisian electro-pop artist Yanis decided to take a unique approach to filming the music video for his hit debut single “Hypnotized”. Instead of the usual rowdy club scenes and random make out sessions often featured in today's music videos, he chose to feature dancers who are under hypnosis. He has been quoted as saying that he made the decision to use hypnotised dancers in his video because when hypnotised “You don't really have complete control.” Yanis believed the idea to be so groundbreaking that he decided to undergo hypnosis for the filming of the video as well. Since its release in April 2015, Yanis' exclusive video for “Hypnotized” has gone viral; as many people are intrigued by the revolutionary idea of hypnosis dancing.

The video itself features Yanis along with a number of voluntary dancers, both men and women, who are hypnotised by a professional hypnotist by the name of Julian Hypnotiseur. The video was directed by Ludovic Zuili. One of the participants is Charlotte Le Bon who previously starred in the Yves Saint Laurent biopic back in 2014. And another was French actor Ruben Alves. Once the music begins to play in the room, you see the bodies of the dancers start to loosen up and start to move to the beat all while their eyes are completely closed. Since individuals seemingly lose sight of all of their inhibitions while under hypnosis, the movements of the dancers are considered authentic and genuine reactions to the beat of the music. Some dancers display tight and controlled dance moves and others appear to get a little more wild and carefree with their dancing, which shows that everyone interprets music differently. This is exactly the result that Yanis was hoping for before filming as he describes the dancing under hypnosis to be somewhere between a celestial dream and reality.

Yanis - Hypnotised Music Video:

Other great hypnosis themed Music Videos:

Damien Rice - Hypnosis:

N.E.R.D. - Hypnotise U:

The Notorious B.I.G. - Hypnotize: