Can a Hypnotist Really Make You Cluck Like a Chicken?

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As habitual readers of this blog (obviously very discerning individuals) know all too well, I have been writing for years about the myths and misconceptions that surround the practice of hypnotherapy and hypnosis in general.  Many of these half-truths, lies, and nuggets of fake news emanate (not surprisingly) from mainstream media and from entertainment media in particular.

But what about some other questionable things that seem to have some basis in reality?  I refer to hypnosis ostensibly being employed in order to get people–usually audience members at a hypnosis show–to do strange and embarrassing things.  There is no question that such shows, both live and recorded, do exist, and that it certainly looks like we hypnotists have the ability to make the general public look like childish fools if we apply our mysterious powers to them.

A number of examples exist online, and I invite you to search for them.  In one particular video, the voice over claims that the subjects (all young women, for reasons on which I will not speculate) have all been hypnotized to start acting like chickens when they are prompted by the alleged hypnotist.  How this was accomplished is not shown, which leaves one wondering if any real hypnosis was involved, or if the video was just produced for entertainment purposes.

In another video, the hypnotist explains his suggestions, then shows the alleged effects in a stage show that features mostly women (do I sense a trend here?).  One woman in particular is quite an enthusiastic clucker, much to the delight of the audience and the other supposedly hypnotized individuals.  So let us at least admit that in some cases something like hypnosis occurs and individuals find themselves doing strange and embarrassing things.

Interestingly, none of these individuals behave as if they were embarrassed at exhibiting such behavior, at least in the clips I was able to find–and in my experience having attended such shows.  There is one logical reason for this: These people are not embarrassed!  These folks are enjoying being part of the entertainment, and they are completely comfortable acting silly for the enjoyment of others.

Further, there is no evidence whatsoever that any hypnotist is “making” these women do embarrassing things.  There is also a good reason for that phenomenon: We hypnotists can’t make people do things they wouldn’t ordinarily choose to do!

So, when any potential patient asks me whether or not I will make them cluck like a chicken, I answer in all honesty: “Only if that’s what you want me to do.”

Welcome to reality!