From holiday parties to national sales meetings and major branding events, the corporate market can be a lucrative one for stage hypnotists.

There are approximately 4,000 colleges in the United States.  How do you get work with them as a stage hypnotist?

The high school market is a great market to work with!  In this video Paul shares some of the key features you need to know about when working with the high school market.

Take some time to think about the markets you might be working in if you get into stage hypnotism.  Some will fit your lifestyle better than others.  Some are more lucrative than others.

I've been hypnotizing people on stage since 2004, and in that span of time I've hypnotized approximately 12,000 people.  High school students, college students, and adults at corporate events and theater shows have shared the experience with me.  My audiences have been as small as 25 people, and as large as 1600.  Throughout it all, there have always been, and always will be, naysayers and skeptics.  And that's okay.

First of all, I think a healthy skepticism is an important quality of being a free-thinker.  I don't ever take it personally when people tell me they're skeptical about my profession.  I do get a bit perturbed when people make absolute statements like, "There's no way it's real" or "You'd have to be an idiot to believe in hypnosis." Those statements, and variations of them, have been shared with me many times.  Why are some people so harsh in their criticism of hypnotism?

It's due to a fundamental misunderstanding of what is going on for the person who is hypnotized, and as long as you haven't had the experience yourself, you can't fully appreciate what is happening on stage.  When you're an audience member at a stage hypnosis show, you sit in your seat and evaluate everything you see happening on stage through the critical thinking filter of your conscious mind.  It is only natural, then, for those critical thinking skills to raise red flags for you.

"Normal" people don't act like this.

"Regular" people would never do that.

This can't be real.

For an audience member, using their typical critical thinking skills that they use every day of their lives, what appears on stage at a hypnotism show looks to be simple spoofing, play acting.  It seems especially foolish when you only get to see a picture or a quick video clip from a show.  These things only capture a moment, without giving any window into the greater experience that volunteers at stage shows are having.

When a person volunteers to be in a stage hypnotism show, and successfully enters a hypnotic state, that person no longer thinks critically like all the other people in the audience.  The volunteer is now using their brain in a different way.  The frequency of the brain waves actually changes, slowing down.  They are more like a person who is having a powerful daydream than the astute and skeptical observers in the audience.

In this different set of brain activity, the hypnotized volunteer is typically experiencing some level of dissociation.  They can even have powerful hallucinations.  When the hypnotist gives a suggestion on stage, the way it is processed by the hypnotized volunteer is quite different from the way someone in the audience thinks about it.  Let me give you a specific example.

A long-standing bit in the world of stage hypnotism is to give a man the suggestion that he is having a baby.  As that suggestion is being given to a volunteer on stage, it would only be natural for a person in the audience to think of it as ridiculous.  Thinking critically, we know that men can't have babies.  They simply aren't built for it, biologically speaking.  But the volunteer on stage takes suggestions literally.  The volunteer does not think critically.  So when told that he will have a baby, the volunteer who accepts the suggestion fulfills it by having some level of a hallucination.

I have had men on stage weep with joy at the arrival of their newly birthed child.  I've watched them cradle the hallucinated baby in their arms.  For them, it isn't much different than having a dream.  Haven't you had a dream before that was so realistic at the time of the experience that you were completely exhilarated or terrified by the dream experience's realness?  That's how it is for highly hypnotizable people.  But for the person in the audience, still thinking critically about what they are watching, it just seems too implausible, sometimes.

The most common experience that "converts" skeptics into believers is a wonderfully simple experience: watching someone you know get hypnotized.  More times than I can count, I've had someone come up to me after one of my shows and say, "I never believed in hypnosis before tonight, but tonight my ______ was up on stage, and I know they would never do that on their own.  For them to be up there, like that, it has to be real."

One of the things I enjoy most about my work is that I can entertain people while also opening their minds to new and different experiences, and to new and different ways of thinking about themselves. In that way, I think stage hypnotism is a gift.

 

Paul Ramsay performs his interactive stage hypnotism show, "Mind Games" for audiences all over the United States.  To learn more about Paul's work as a stage hypnotist, visit www.paulramsay.com

If you're thinking of getting into stage hypnotism, you should spend some time considering the way that a job like that will affect your lifestyle.  There are some great aspects, but some challenges, as with any job.

Before you choose what price to charge for your stage show, spend some time thinking about the value you bring to your clients.  Pricing tends to feel pretty straightforward to folks, while value can be a better more difficult to qualify, but it's important that you work out some level of appreciation for the work you do as a hypnotist.  Why?

Because at some point, a potential client is going to ask you to justify the price you are charging.

That justification should not be a canned response like, "That's the standard in our industry." Your response should be a confident, heartfelt answer about the value you will bring to them.  When you communicate that, the lead will be more likely to take action and choose you.

Wendy Merron trains consulting hypnotists in Pennsylvania.  She's a great person, and a dedicated professional.  She wanted her students to get some perspective from another practicing hypnotist, so she was kind enough to invite me to a Q&A with her class.

When I speak with people about my profession, I think it's important to be honest and open about all the different aspects of the work we do.  I think there's too much secret keeping and question dodging in our community, so when I get these opportunities to speak with students, I don't hold back.

I was disappointed, this morning, to find what I perceived as a dig at hypnotists in a post from one of my favorite TV hosts, Mike Rowe.  To see the full post from Mike Rowe, go here.  Given the greater context of the piece, I'm sure Mike was not making a big effort to slight the profession of hypnotism, but I think challenging these stereotypes, even when they are casually made, is important.

The Stroop Test is an exercise that measures attention.  The premise is pretty simple.  The word for a color is written in a color that may or not be congruent with the word itself...

Stroop

 

The objective is to identify the actual color of the text.  In this case, it's red, even though the text says "green." Sometimes the color matches the text; sometimes it doesn't.  In the test, participants are asked to repeat this process over and over, and there's a tally of how many correct responses are given.  If you'd like to give it a try, you can do so here.

Semantic processing, your understanding of the word, happens automatically.  It takes attention to work through whether the actual color of the text is congruent with what the text says.  In an effort to be as quick as possible when performing the exercise, the conflict between reading the word and seeing the color produces errors.

But not if you're hypnotized.

When subjects are hypnotized and given the suggestion that they can't read the text ("These words are written in a language you don't understand.") the people in the study only recognize the color, and they get the color responses correct.  The only catch is that the people who have succeeded in the studies are highly hypnotizable.  The low hypnotizable subjects didn't fare as well.  Here is one of those published studies.

This is a great example of how hypnosis can actually change brain function.  In this case, the simple suggestion that they couldn't read the words turned off that function in their brain and allowed them to focus on the colors.  This encourages us to look at hypnosis as related, to some extent, to attention and how we allocate brain space and usage to attention.