Hypnotists / Hypnosis Shows
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Stage hypnosis is hypnosis, or a show purporting to be hypnosis,
performed in front of an audience for the purposes of
entertainment, usually in a theatre or club. Expert opinion is
divided over whether participants' responses are best explained
as being due to an altered state of consciousness (hypnotic
trance) or by a combination of deliberate deception and ordinary
social psychological factors such as disorientation, compliance,
peer pressure, and ordinary suggestion. A modern stage hypnosis
performance regularly delivers a comedic performance rather than
a demonstration to impress an audience with powers of persuasion
- effects of amnesia, mood altering and hallucination are
demonstrated in a normal performance. Stage hypnosis
performances often get audience members to further look into the
benefits of mind powers.
Stage hypnosis evolved out of much older shows conducted by
Mesmerists and other performers in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Scottish surgeon James Braid developed his technique of
hypnotism after witnessing a stage performance by a Swiss
Mesmerist called Charles Lafontaine in 1841. Braid recounts
similar performances by "electro-biologists" in his day, e.g.,
the following pamphlet for an "electro-biology" performance by a
Mr. Stone which begins by clearly emphasizing that a "waking
state", as opposed to hypnotic or Mesmeric somnambulism, was
Persons in a perfectly wakeful state, of well-known character
and standing in society, who come forward voluntarily from among
the audience, will be experimented upon. They will be deprived
of the power of speech, hearing, sight. Their voluntary motions
will be completely controlled, so that, they can neither rise up
nor sit down, except at the will of the operator; their memory
will be taken away, so that they will forget their own name and
that of their most intimate friends; they will be made to
stammer, and to feel pain in any part of their body at the
option of the operator – a walking stick will be made to appear
a snake, the taste of water will be changed to vinegar, honey,
coffee, milk, brandy, wormwood, lemonade, etc., etc., etc. These
extraordinary experiments are really and truly performed without
the aid of trick, collusion, or deception, in the slightest
These are identical to many of the demonstrations which became
central to subsequent "stage hypnosis", in fact it seems that
little changes except the name and the introduction of the
hypnotic induction, etc. Likewise, the novelist Mark Twain
similarly recounts a Mesmeric performance which clearly
resembles 20th century stage hypnosis, in his autobiography.
The absence of any reference to "hypnotism" in these early
performances, indeed before the term was coined, and the fact
that they often lacked anything resembling a modern hypnotic
induction is consistent with the skeptical view, that stage
hypnosis is primarily the result of ordinary suggestion rather
than hypnotic trance. Indeed, early performers often claimed
that they were influencing their subjects by means of telepathy
and other supernatural powers.
Others, however, were delivering performances that displayed the
wide range of hypnotic manifestations to their audiences. In the
United States, for example, in the 1890s, there was a small
group of highly skilled stage hypnotists, all whom were managed
by Thomas F. Adkin, who toured country-wide, playing to packed
houses. Adkin's group included Sylvain A. Lee, Mr. and Mrs.
Herbert L. Flint,and Professor Xenophon LaMotte Sage.
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