I only do hypnosis for entertainment, as opposed to therapy. Also, I only ever do it in a close up environment with a small group of people, as opposed to stage hypnosis. I have no desire to see anyone eating onions or dancing like Mick Jagger, and if i did, i would just watch clips of Paul McKenna on Youtube.
I prefer a more intimate setting and performing things such as making people forget their name for example, which to me is far more fascinating than seeing them dance like a chicken (unless I’m in a mischievous mood). Anyway, it was a performance of this nature the other night when I was attempting to make a woman forget her name, that got me thinking.
Now some of you will be familiar with the name Svengali. That is the fictional character, not the last Derren Brown stage show. Svengali was a famous, fictional hypnotist featured in George du Maurier’s 1894 novel in which he hypnotises the the main character, Trilby, into becoming a great singer. Because he has such power over her, she becomes entranced. That is probably why the term Svengali is now used as a sinister, manipulative term.
Anyway, what struck me was, if we as hypnotists can use hypnosis or suggestion techniques to make a person forget a piece of information (or dance like a chicken) even for a short time, what might be possible in the future?
There was a (apparently unconfirmed) newspaper story a few years ago about Russian street gangs who were using a form of hypnosis known as a “pattern interrupt” in order to get members of the public to hand over possessions such as wallets, keys, phones, credit cards etc just by asking them. This uses rapport, psychology and confusion in order to bemuse the person to act on your instructions without being fully aware of it. This was brilliantly demonstrated by the aforementioned Derren Brown on one of his Tricks of the Mind episodes. An example of a pattern interrupt would be, if a total stranger approached you in the street and said “It’s not quarter to 5”, the brain would go into a state of confusion, even for a second or two, which makes the brain a lot more suggestible.
The human brain is such a fascinating piece of equipment, that as more is discovered about it in years to come, who is to say what is possible. The more we find out about how it works and what it is capable of, the more there will be ways to decode or disable it. If modern day hypnotists are able to make people forget pieces of information for short periods of time, maybe we should be aware that thieves and vagabonds of the future may take a more “educated” and “sophisticated” approach. Rather than waiting behind you at the cashpoint and banging you over the head with a baseball bat, they may simply approach you calmly, ask you to hand over the money, and make you forget that you ever gave them it. Mind control techniques could be the new “ram raiding”. The criminal of the future could very well be armed only with his brain, and be a modern day, brain disabling, Svengali.