As a hypnotherapist I had to watch the new Saturday night ITV show ‘You’re Back in the Room.’ It’s created waves in the field of hypnotherapy. For those of you who don’t know the programme, presented by Phillip Schofield, it involves Keith Barry, a mentalist, as he likes to call himself, putting members of the audience into a deep trance. They then cavort about the set doing normal things in ridiculous ways to win money, all to the hilarity, or desperate sighs, of the viewers.
I was sceptical, of course. What will people think of hypnosis if they watch this? I believe stage hypnosis to be a valid use of hypnotism but it can cause myths about hypnosis to be branded about. People also confuse hypnosis for entertainment with hypnosis for therapeutic benefit, the field I work in. I sometimes get asked “ Are you going to make me cluck like a chicken?” to which I reply “based on what I know so far that doesn’t appear to be one of your goals but if you want that then I can.” They never do.
When hypnotised suggestions are given to your subconscious mind. The mind will reject ones that are not in line with what you want. I am not going to give inappropriate suggestions and neither would any decent qualified hypnotherapist. Suggestions given for entertainment purpose are, of course, different to those given if you want to relieve anxiety, stop smoking or play better golf, for example. It would be unethical of me to have you prancing around my therapy room acting like James Brown if it wouldn’t benefit you in making the changes that you have come to see me about. However for entertainment, when the contestants know full well that they are there to be silly, that is a different kettle of fish.
As I watched ‘You’re Back in the Room’ I found myself having a few laugh out loud moments due to the occasional slapstick nature but I was also frustrated at the programme fuelling the myths around hypnosis. Oh how I wish they wouldn’t use incorrect statements such as “thought you were in control of your mind? think again”. There is also talk in the media and on twitter etc. that ‘You’re Back in the Room’ is morally wrong and that they use actors and and not hypnotised contestants at all. So let’s get a few things straight here.
- Hypnotic entertainers will always choose the most susceptible members of the audience for the show. Why wouldn’t they? They want maximum entertainment.
- Only the members of the audience who want to be hypnotised will be. You can always resist. If you have ever watched a live hypnotic show, felt yourself ‘going under’ only to then pull yourself back out then you’ll know what I am talking about. Some people do not want to go on stage and act the fool while others see it as a bit of fun even if they wouldn’t normally do it. As contestant, Stephen, 41 from Hertfordshire, explained at the end of the first episode “I came for fun and laughter and the money was a bonus”.
- You remain in control during hypnosis and you won’t do anything that is against your morals. Married contestant Kate was hypnotised to believe she was in love with Phillip Schofield and he loved her. However despite appearing besotted she only kissed him on the cheek, perhaps her morals are that she would consider anything beyond this as cheating.
- It is NOT sleep. We do go into trance states each and every day including just before we fall asleep at night and just before we wake up each day, and in this state we are more susceptible, but sleep is not hypnosis.The hypnotic trance is a natural state of our minds. Around 90% of the population are hypnotisable, with intelligent, imaginative individuals being more responsive. Given all this and that all hypnosis comes from ourselves there is absolutely no need to bring in actors. This belief is simply a lack of understanding of hypnosis.
Whether I am hypnotherapist or not, this show is really not my cup of tea, it’s a bit like watching holiday resort entertainment; cheap laughs and not a lot of substance. I can’t see this programme lasting very long on prime time tv. However, I still think there is a place for stage hypnosis alongside hypnotherapy. I’d love to know what you think of ‘You’re Back in the Room’ and if you have any more questions about hypnotherapy for positive change then contact me, Amy Brown, at www.thepowerofyourmind.co.uk Thank you for reading.
The Power of Your Mind is a private hypnotherapy practice based in Skipton, Yorkshire.