“I cannot be hypnotized!”

“I cannot be hypnotized!” by Peter Zapfella.

Since I began my career as a hypnotist in 1995 I have had so many people say something along the lines of “I volunteered to be hypnotized on stage once and the hypnotist sent me back to my seat in the audience. He said I cannot be hypnotized, so don’t try it on me now.” I always smile and laugh to myself when they say that.

I will tell you the truth. The stage hypnotist in me knows that the show must keep moving along and cannot wait for someone who refuses to cooperate. So, the stage hypnotist can either leave them sitting on stage where they may become a distraction for the audience or send them back to their seat in the audience where they can enjoy the show. The only reason people cannot be hypnotized are either;

I cannot be hypnotized. Everyone can be hypnotized, if they want. Everyone can refuse to be hypnotized if they want.
I cannot be hypnotized
  • Fear on their part. 
  • They are drunk or drugged and unable to concentrate.
  • They are an idiot. That is their Wechsler Intelligence Scale IQ is less than about 80 (low).
  • They are brain dead.

Intelligent, creative people make the best hypnotic subjects because they can relax and concentrate at the same time. Hypnotists who have been hypnotized many times by different hypnotists make the best hypnotists.

Stage hypnotists know this and quickly move uncooperative people off the stage because they simply do not have the time to waste on one person. The words “You cannot be hypnotized.” Is a polite way of saying ….  “I really do not have the time to hypnotize you right now.”

A stage hypnotist has the easy option of quickly rejecting volunteers while the hypnotherapist must assist his or her client to achieve the hypnotic trance, no choice about it. In the good old days, a hypnotherapist could ask his client to return every few days while they are trained to achieve deep and deeper trance states. Today people want it all now. People want it done in one session. If they fail to achieve trance they blame the hypnotherapist. To meet client expectations a hypnotherapist must have advanced hypnotic skills, flexibility to meet his or her client’s expectations, and advanced rapport skills.

Let’s get this myth out of the way now. A hypnotist does not do something to you. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. The hypnotist simply guides a person into the hypnotic trance, and then takes them on a journey with cooperation. Everyone can be hypnotized, if they want. Everyone can refuse to be hypnotized if they want.

Why would someone attend a stage hypnosis show and volunteer to go up onto the stage if they did not want to be hypnotized? The stage hypnotist stacks everything in his or her favor, but sometimes that is not enough. I think some people come up on to the stage for a bit of fun. Then when they take their seat on stage, looking back at the audience, they become self-conscious and fear they will be ridiculed, so they fight the hypnotic trance. Others fear losing control without knowing they are always in control.

I had been invited to the 21st birthday party of a young man whom I had assisted to quit smoking with hypnosis. His mother, cigarette in hand, told me she had been sent back to her seat in the audience at a stage hypnosis show. I knew she was actually telling me, in her own way, that she was not going to use hypnosis to quit her tobacco habit. I smiled and agreed with her. Truth is, I was there to enjoy the party, not recruit clients. 

On another occasion, a friend came to stay over a few days. He said the same thing, more or less. I decided to have some fun with him, so I agreed. “Of course, you cannot be hypnotized. But can we play a game?” He agreed. So, I hypnotized him.

Then I introduced his unconscious to conscious amnesia. In other words, I conspired with his deep inner mind to hide what I was about to say to his awake mind. I told his body that it would remain paralyzed from the neck down until I said the special code words. Then I awoke him.

I cannot be hypnotized
Coffee

“Would you like a cup of coffee?” I asked as I stood up and walked to the door. “Yes, I would” he replied as he continued to lie on the bed. I went into the kitchen and boiled the water and made two cups of coffee, as I continued to talk to him in the other room. “Are you coming out, or shall I bring your coffee in there?” I asked.

He was still lying on the bed wriggling his whole body as if it was inside a sleeping bag. I could have laughed, but I kept a straight face and engaged him in an irrelevant small talk as I drank my coffee. “It will be getting cold if you don’t drink it,” I said as I motioned toward his cup.

He made some excuse about not wanting a cup of coffee, so I teased him some more. “You said you wanted a cup so I made one for you. Now you say you don’t want it?” 

He was still wriggling like a worm on the bed as he said “I can’t move!” in a frustrated voice.”What do you mean you can’t move?” I replied in a concerned voice. “All I know is I cannot move until you say the secret code words.” “Code words? What code words are you talking about?” I asked. “I don’t know.” He was almost in tears. 

Then I dropped the bombshell on him. “Are you hypnotized?” I asked. “No. I told you I cannot be hypnotized.” “Hmmmm … if you are not hypnotized and you cannot move then you really have a problem. As a hypnotist, I could say the secret code words so you could move again. But if you are not hypnotized there is nothing much I can do for you.”

“Just say the bloody words, will you?” he begged. “Are you hypnotized?” I asked again. “No. I told you I cannot be hypnotized. Just say the words … please.” Well since you said please you can move now.” The secret code words were ‘move now’, and he did.

“I will make a fresh cup of coffee if you like,” I said as he sat up. “Were you hypnotized?” “No, he said. Since that day he continues to say he was not hypnotized.

That is why when people tell me they cannot be hypnotized I smile and laugh to myself.

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