Archive for August, 2012

Are Those People On Stage Really Hypnotized?

(And are you going to make me cluck like a chicken?)

I get asked this question all the time.

Are those people hypnotized? Absolutely! Once you understand the process, you won’t find it so unbelievable. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy your next stage show even more.

hypnosis on stage

Stage Hypnosis pictures by Richard Nongard

I interviewed several people who have been hypnotized onstage so I could give you a vicarious experience of what it is like for them up there.

A stage hypnotist friend told me that when he is choosing people to go on stage, he looks for someone who would dance with a lampshade on his head at the office Christmas party. That means he wants someone who is not only willing, but eager to entertain by doing outrageous things in front of an audience. The first element necessary for hypnosis is consent. The second element is the participant’s depth of hypnosis. During a show, the hypnotist will often invite someone to leave the stage if he feels they are not in hypnosis and are just going through the motions. Now you have a stage full of willing performers who are deeply hypnotized. The fun begins.

One man I interviewed was a television journalist (and a skeptic) who became a volunteer in order to “expose” the hypnotic process. He decided to surrender to the experience, went deeply into hypnosis, and found himself being the star of the show. He described it as a highly focused state in which he really wanted to do what the hypnotist asked of him, although when the group was asked to do something against his moral code, he had no trouble rejecting the suggestion. When he was told the person next to him had a terrible smell, he re-experienced a bad smell from somewhere in his past. He didn’t analyze it. He was not aware of the audience. He was just having fun. This experience so impressed him that he decided to study hypnosis and became a professional hypnotherapist. Honestly!

The others I spoke with described a similar experience of being deeply focused and either being unaware of the audience’s laughter or experiencing it as ambient noise. All said they wanted to do what the hypnotist asked of them and all said they were having great fun. One told me, “My life isn’t fun, so I can’t wait to get onstage. It’s like fantasy and playing pretend—like a little kid”. She said, “One part knows it’s not real, but the other part feels compelled to follow along. It’s like I’m in my own little world”.

Often the hypnotist will give a post hypnotic suggestion of temporary amnesia about the experience and many people don’t remember what they did until a day or two later. Some remember vaguely.

I saw one show in which the hypnotist suggested that on the count of three, the performers would realize that they were naked.  One, two, three….and then we heard a crash as a beautiful young woman knocked down the chairs next to her to leap behind her chair. We roared. After the show I asked her what had been going on in her mind. She said “All I could think of was that they could see my breasts”.

hypnosis on stage

Stage Hypnosis Pictures by Richard Nongard

By the way, if you have been in the audience of a show and haven’t gone into hypnosis when the hypnotist suggested that your hands were stuck together, it doesn’t mean you can’t be hypnotized. It means that this venue is not the right time or place for you. Although I go quickly and easily into hypnosis in a therapeutic setting, I have never allowed myself to be hypnotized during a stage show. I don’t want to perform there. (I had enough of that when I was a children’s entertainer.)  No one can hypnotize me without my permission.

Am I going to make you cluck like a chicken? Only if you want to, and it will help you reach the goal you want to achieve in hypnosis. So far in the past 11 years, it has never happened.

If you can become the star of a stage show; if you can think you have the talent of Elvis, imagine how you can use hypnosis to convince yourself that you have the power to meet your goals and follow your dreams.

Here are two videos of some pretty funny shows:

My friend David Skale. The woman with a turkey baster cracks me up:

Try not to laugh at the 1:30 mark on this video.

Richard Nongard:

I welcome any questions you might have. Send them to me at

Warm wishes until the next issue,