Chapter Three

The Art of Stage Hypnosis

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As you learned from the muscular catalepsy tests in the last chapter, some subjects will experience deeper levels of hypnosis than others. The deeper the level, the higher the degree of influence your suggestions will exert.

As a stage hypnotist, it is important to understand the various depth levels of hypnosis and the associated phenomena of each. There are four basic stages of hypnosis: 1) Hypnoidal; 2) Light Trance; 3) Medium Trance; and 4) Deep Trance-also called "Somnambulism," a state in which an individual performs actions appropriate to the waking state while actually deep asleep. People who walk or talk in their sleep are exhibiting somnambulistic behavior.

The Davis-Husband Scale on the next page shows the four basic stages of hypnosis. Many stage hypnotists simplify this rating system further into two major states-light and deep hypnosis. Subjects in a hypnoidal state or light trance are considered to be in the former, and those in a medium or deep trance are grouped into the latter.

This simplification is made from a purely practical standpoint, since a subject in a state of light hypnosis is considered to be susceptible to muscular catalepsy (Eyes Wide Shut, Stiff Arm, etc.) and other basic elimination tests (Falling for You), while the entire range of stage hypnotic phenomena (catalepsy, control, role playing, illusion, hallucination and posthypnotic effects) is open to the hypnotist once the subject enters deep hypnosis. The stage hypnotist need make no finer distinction.

As already discussed, the Stiff Arm test in the last chapter provides the perfect tool to gauge whether or not a subject has entered a state of deep hypnosis.



Insusceptible Hypnoidal

Light Trance

Medium Trance

Deep Trance (Somnambulism)

Test Suggestion and Responses Relaxation

Fluttering of the eyelids Closing of the eyes Complete physical relaxation Catalepsy of the eyes Limb catalepsies Rigid catalepsies Glove anesthesia Partial posthypnotic amnesia Start of Deep Hypnosis-


26 2l 28 29 SO

Posthypnotic amnesia Personality changes Kinesthetic delusions

Ability to open eyes without affecting the trance

Complete somnambulism

Positive visual hallucinations (posthypnotic)

Positive auditory hallucinations (posthypnotic)

Systematized posthypnotic amnesias

Negative auditory hallucinations

Negative visual hallucinations



While it is true that almost all people can be hypnotized to some degree or another, it is estimated only about 20% are potential somnambulists, also referred to as "hypnotics"-people who have the capacity to enter deep hypnosis. This small, but highly suggestible segment of the population makes the best subjects for hypnotic stage performances.

This is not to say that all subjects who are not somnambulists should be excluded from your training. Indeed, quite the contrary is true. By learning to successfully hypnotize even subjects with lesser hypnotic capabilities, you will become far more adept at handling highly suggestible subjects on stage.

In addition to natural ability, there are two other factors which affect a subject's ability to enter a deep state of hypnosis-cooperation or resistance (either conscious or unconscious) and motivation. This latter factor is usually heightened in an emotionally-charged situation, such as a live performance. The bright lights, music, mystery, audience, and expectations of extraordinary events in a stage show all help to intensify this effect.

One final note, a subject's natural capacity to enter deep hypnosis can grow significantly with each successful hypnotization. This process forms the basis of the "rehypnotization" technique on pages 31 and 32. It is a formidable tool for quickly deepening hypnosis in highly suggestible subjects and further screening out those who are not.


As a stage hypnotist, you should always strive to induce the deepest levels of hypnosis possible in your subjects. After all, the deeper the levels, the more influence your suggestions will carry.

However, the depth of hypnosis does not remain constant. Even a subject in a deep trance will tend to drift toward the lighter stages of hypnosis as time passes by. For this reason, the maintenance of the hypnotic state must be viewed as an ongoing process. On the next page, you'll find a number of techniques you can utilize to develop and maintain the deepest possible trance levels in your subjects.

• Whenever possible, use a "compound suggestion." This means adding the suggestion that the completion of a certain test will send the subject into a deeper sleep. In this way, success triggers deeper hypnosis and with it, the potential for even greater success in subsequent experiments.

• As discussed in the last chapter, allow subjects enough time to orient themselves to both the induction of the hypnotic state, as well as suggestions given afterward-especially complex ones.

These simple techniques will help assure you attain the deepest possible levels of hypnosis in your subjects and as a result, the highest degree of susceptibility to your suggestions.

• Whenever possible, frame suggestions in the context of a familiar situation. Whatever subjects will do in the normal waking state, they will also do in the hypnotic state.

• Avoid conflicting the subject by always removing the influence of a suggestion before giving a new one.

• And finally, try to integrate a subject's needs into your suggestions. The more needs that are met, the more likely your suggestions will be acted upon.


We know that repeated hypnotizations make it easier for a subject to enter hypnosis. It is like an athlete training the body to perform in a certain manner, except the hypnotic subject is conditioning his or her mind. Every time a subject undergoes hypnosis and awakens, that person's ability to concentrate more intently and focus on the operator's suggestions improves.

This concept forms the basis of the rehypnotization technique you are about to learn. It is an extremely effective tool for deepening the level of hypnosis in highly susceptible subjects-especially after a rapid (mass) induction on stage. In addition to this, it gives you an invaluable tool for further screening out those without the capacity to enter deep hypnosis.

Here's how it works. The group of subjects sleeping on stage are told that in a moment you will awaken them one at a time. As soon as they open their eyes and look into yours, they will fall back into an even deeper, more sound sleep than before. The operator approaches each subject and commands the person to look into his eyes as he suggests, "Your eyes are getting heavy, very, very heavy. You cannot keep them open any longer, close your eyes and go to sleep. Go deep asleep." If any subject fails to respond and re-enter hypnosis, that person is immediately dismissed. Next, the remaining responsive subjects are awakened as a group and again told as soon as they look into the hypnotist's eyes, they will fall back into an even deeper sleep. Again, unresponsive subjects are dismissed. The subjects may now be given a group test with the added (compound) suggestion that its completion will send them down even further. You get the idea. This technique works-so use it!


As we already know, under hypnosis, suggestions bypass the critical faculties of normal consciousness and directly enter the subconscious mind-where "if accepted," they are acted upon.

The key phrase here is "if accepted." As a stage hypnotist, your success depends upon the acceptance of your suggestions by the subconscious minds of your subjects. Even under hypnosis, this acceptance is not always automatic-but rather relies upon proper timing, repetition and delivery.

Timing is the single most important element in presenting a suggestion.

Always begin by suggesting what "will" happen and gradually work up to reinforcing what "has" has happened. Never get ahead of yourself and suggest that something has taken place, if it has not, or will not in the next moment.

Think of repetition in giving suggestions as the glue that holds your timing together. It helps assure you are able to maintain proper timing with regard to your suggestions. In addition, the persuasive power of repetitive, monotonous suggestions tends to be cumulative in effect.

How you actually deliver suggestions is also fundamental to their success. This includes how each suggestion is phrased, as well as your vocal tone and inflection at the time it is given.


In addition to the proper timing, repetition and delivery of suggestions, here are some other ways you can gain an edge in influencing subjects:

• Build early successes. Since the impact of your suggestions grows with each success and diminishes with each failure, always begin with tests which offer you the highest possibility of success and progress to increasingly more challenging ones.

• Get subjects into an early pattern of compliance. Voluntary responses to instructions increase acceptance to involuntary suggestions later. In other words, when you tell a subject to sit or stand, hold out his arm in a certain way, etc., the uncritical way in which the subject complies will often carry over to hypnotic suggestions as well.

• Use counting to intensify the influence of a suggestion. Whenever appropriate, suggest that on the count of three, five, etc., the subject will do such and such. This very powerful technique helps cue the subject as to the exact moment in time a desired response is expected.

• Employ non-verbal suggestions to reinforce verbal ones. Showmanship is an intrinsic component of stage hypnosis. Non-verbal suggestions in the form of physical gestures, body movements, and even breathing, can all help influence the outcome.

• Take advantage of the power of mass suggestion. Suggestions to a group, such as a committee, are always more effective than those to anindividual subject. Subjects in a group tend to lose their inhibitions and are also influenced by the successful responses of other subjects.


Most people have been conditioned by popular culture and the media to expect amnesia upon awakening from hypnosis. In fact, posthypnotic amnesia is not a criterion for hypnosis at all. Indeed, its occurrence varies greatly from subject to subject.

If you refer back to the Davis-Husband Scale on page 29, you'll see that the suggestion of posthypnotic amnesia does not even take effect until a subject reaches a medium trance-the point considered by most stage performers to mark the beginning of deep hypnosis.

The majority of evidence on the subject supports the conclusion that spontaneous posthypnotic amnesia (without suggestion) is a rare occurrence. Even so, subjects who do not experience it, often feel cheated and may even doubt whether or not they were actually ever hypnotized. Sometimes remarking, "I was awake the whole time and could have resisted if I wanted to, but I didn't ."

For this reason, most stage hypnotists suggest posthypnotic amnesia as a matter of course. This suggestion is generally given just before a subject is awakened by saying something along the lines, "In a moment you will wake up feeling completely refreshed from a wonderful, brief sleep without dreams. All memories of what occurred on stage tonight will fade far away. And when you're friends tell you about all of the interesting things you did, you will not believe them. It will seem as if you only drifted off to sleep for a few brief moments."

In your concluding remarks to the audience say, "Your friends on stage tonight have been living in a wonderful world of dreams where anything is possible. And like all dreams, sometimes we remember them in vivid detail and sometimes we do not. Everyone is different. Let me just say to everyone here this evening, may all of your wonderful dreams come true. Thank you ladies and gentlemen, and good night."

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Hypnosis Plain and Simple

Hypnosis Plain and Simple

These techniques will work for stage hypnosis or hypnotherapy, however, they are taught here for information purposes only. After reading this book you will have the knowledge and ability necessary to hypnotise people, but please do not practice hypnosis without first undergoing more intensive study.

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