Is Hypnosis Real?

Today, as I was scrolling through my Twitter timeline, I decided to stop and watch a video of individuals becoming hypnotized. They were on stage acting out crazy demands, such as shouting song lyrics or pretending like they were animals. It was certainly entertaining, to say the least. But I wondered, was this all part of an act, or was it actually real? Could people really be embarrassing themselves on television without being aware?

I decided to do some research to find out.

First, I decided to find out what exactly hypnosis was. According to How Stuff Works, hypnosis can be described as a way to enter the subconscious mind through a dreaming state, where the feelings of relaxation and imagination are heightened. So, in other words, hypnosis can be compared to daydreaming, reading, or watching television. In these stages, we are still conscious, we are just paying more attention to the activity that we are doing instead of what is around us. That’s basically what we experience during hypnosis, except we are more focused on the hypnotist rather than our surroundings.


I also found in the previous article that hypnosis occurs in the subconscious mind. Our subconscious mind, according to Brain Tracy, recalls all of our memories in complete clarity. In my psychology class, we learned that the function our subconscious mind is to save and gather information. Furthermore, the Brain Tracy website states that it is emotionally connected to us, so it behaves according to the way we are feeling in any given moment.

So, since hypnosis involves channeling the subconscious mind while we are in a calm, relaxed state, we are more prone to do what a hypnotist tells us to do. However, it is important to note that all the sources I’ve cited thus far agree that hypnotists cannot actually make a person do something he or she fully does not want to do.

clocksTherefore, since there is an obvious correlation between responding to demands and being under the state of hypnosis, it can be assumed that it is certainly plausible that there is some truth behind the practice. On the other hand, since we learned in class that all correlations do not equal causation, we can’t roll out the fact that there could be confounding variables in these observational studies. These confounding variables (such as the fact that individuals could be acting during the state of hypothesis for attention) could influence the results in order to show that individuals responded to the stimulus in a certain way, when they did not.

Furthermore, I think it’s important to not that the experimenter (or in this case, the hypnotizer) is most likely bias. Think about it – if you were hired to perform an act in front of large audiences, wouldn’t you want to make it seem like the results of hypnosis were actually working?

In class, we discussed how detrimental biasses can be when conducting a study. Since it would be hard conduct this type trial that is double-blind and randomly controlled, we can’t look at any of these results as completely accurate. However, it could be beneficial to simply know that there is a correlation between hypnosis and responding to demands (so, if it’s more entertaining for you to believe that the people on stage are actually under a state of hypnosis – it’s not entirely implausible!).

Although hypnosis performances are not entirely proven (I could not find much evidence that actually proves hypnosis works on people), nonetheless, there are some known benefits, according to WebMD, Hypnosis can be known to assist those who are suffering, especially mental health patients.

Through Psychotherapy, negative feelings associated with pain (including PTSD), sleeping disorders, anxiety, depression, stress, phobias, and any addictions can be reduced.

I found, through WebMd, that there are typically two different types of hypnosis therapy that patients can experience to help with their problems: suggestion therapy and analysis.

Through suggestion therapy, patients are more likely to stop addictions. When they are in the more relaxed hypnotical state, they are more apt to respond to suggestions.

The other approach, analysis, also uses the relaxed state of mind to dig through a patient’s past. This way, the therapist is able to find what caused a certain traumatic event. Once the event is targeted, the patient and therapist can work together to overcome the problem.

Although hypnotist therapy can be very beneficial in mental health patients, there are several downsides to this practice, according to WebMD. Hypnosis can cause hallucinations, and can cause people to create false scenarios when trying to recall a certain event.

So, overall, maybe everything we see on Twitter isn’t real. But it is interesting to see how and why hypnosis affects us, and the positives and negatives hypnotic therapy can bring.


Photo 1, 2, and 3 can be found here.


5 thoughts on “Is Hypnosis Real?

  1. Heather Grace McDermott

    I was immediately drawn to this post because I have been hypnotized! (At least thought I was) A hypnotist named Brian Eslik came to my high school my senior year and I was picked to be one of the volunteers! First he told every one to relax and focus on their breathing. He kept repeating how he was going to enter our subconscious. Before I knew it, I was blacked out and had no recall of what happened. My friends have a video of me screaming to the crowd that it was my birthday every time Brian said my name. After about an hour after he snapped us back to real life, I started to kind of remember what happened, but it was very blurry. I never really understood what was going on while I was under hypnosis, so thank you for this post! Here is a video of Brian Eslik’s trailer for his show of his performance. Yes, there are videos of me pretending to swim away from a shark as well.

  2. Hannah Gluck

    This was cool to read because when I was in high school we had a hypnotist come to our school and by the end of the performance some of my classmates were running in circles around the room, singing, dancing, and more. But I found all of this hard to believe. The idea of hypnotizing someone is hard for me to wrap my head around and to this day i’m not sure if my classmates were putting on an act or not. So I find hypnosis therapy to be very intriguing. But after reading your blog I still don’t get how hypnosis can cure addictions. What is doing to your brain? How does it just cause someone to end their addiction? Is it changing some sort of chemical in their brain? I would like to know more because at this point I am not very convinced.

  3. Olivia Mei Zhang

    Great blog post Rachel! For my all-night grad party as a senior in high school, we had a hypnosis act. I found it hilarious that my fellow classmates were dancing enthusiastically, rapping, falling asleep on each other, and saying the strangest things on stage in front of 100 people! After watching the act, I became more convinced in the act of hypnotism. I do agree that a main component of hypnosis is the mindset of the individual. After all, the hypnosis can’t force you to do anything you really dont wan’t to.

    I was curious to see what hypnosis is also used for, check out this article!

  4. Mallory Dixon

    Hey Rachel,
    The title of this article really caught my eye because for my senior lock in, my school had a professional hypnotist come to hypnotize some of the students in my class. He had about 30 volunteers on stage while he explained to us that none of the volunteers could be hypnotized unless they absolutely wanted to be. About 5 or 6 students had to leave the stage because they could not be hypnotized. I also briefly learned about hypnosis in my psychology class. My teacher told us that hypnosis can help cure a patient of phobias, PTSD, and other mental illnesses (like you mentioned). I personally have never been hypnotized, but it’s something I would like to try at some point in the future.


  5. Rachel Sara Anton

    Hey Rachel,
    I really like what you did with this blog by analyzing both entertainment hypnosis and therapeutic hypnosis. In my opinion, one is all an act and the other is a placebo effect. Last year, a hypnotist actually came to my school for a fundraiser and picked students out of the crowd to be hypnotized in front of everyone. At first, I was amazed that all the students were acting so strangely in front of a crowd and following such crazy demands. Then, I realized the baseline analysis done by the hypnotist; he asked all students who wanted to participate to stand up and dance if they wanted to be a part of the act. I think he did this to essentially pick out the most obnoxious, attention-seeking kids. This way, he knew that they would go along with his act to get a laugh out of the audience. He also knew that students would feel pressured to make the act realistic in order to not disappoint their peers and give away that the hypnotist did not actually have mental control over the students. As for therapeutic hypnosis, I believe that it can definitely help if you believe in it. I think if you truly believe that it works, you will reap the benefits of hypnosis. Here is a link to a hypnotist who claims to believe in the process. Could he truly believe it, or does he think that his personal claim that he believes in the process makes the audience believe it as well?

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