How Much of Psychology Is All in Your Head?

Among the more appealing theories of hypnosis is it’s all in your head. That’s not to say it isn’t genuine. Sure, some folks (who’ve never invested ten minutes looking into the literature) don’t think it exists. That’s great, though not what I’m talking about. Researchers know hypnosis is genuine. It’s a well-researched area of psychology. […]

How Much of Psychology Is All in Your Head?

Among the more appealing theories of hypnosis is it’s all in your head.

That’s not to say it isn’t genuine. Sure, some folks (who’ve never invested ten minutes looking into the literature) don’t think it exists. That’s great, though not what I’m talking about.

Researchers know hypnosis is genuine.

It’s a well-researched area of psychology.

And it leads to things that would otherwise be difficult – like doing major surgery without anaesthetics.

Even so, some of these scientists say it’s all in the topic’s head.

There’s some evidence for this – and some of the more engaging demonstrations originate from an unlikely source:

Stage hypnosis.

If you’ve never ever seen a phase hypnosis show, I suggest it. Even much better, volunteer to be on-stage. As long as the hypnotist is sophisticated, considerate and experienced, you’ll have a blast.

Anyhow …

If you have actually never seen a program … well, each is different. However numerous shows get a group of volunteers – possibly 6, possibly over a lots – line them up and hypnotise them, one by one.

Now, when somebody goes into a hypnotic trance, they don’t constantly do the very same thing.

Someplace between the hypnotherapist yelling ‘sleep!’ and then telling them to sing like a pop star, the subject will most likely do one of the following:

They’ll close their eyes however, otherwise, it won’t be much various.

Or they might sit or stand upright, their head plunged forward.

Or their legs might remain upright, while their entire torso flops.

And then you get the rare person whose entire body goes limp. If they’re standing, they collapse to the flooring. If they’re in a chair, they’ll fall off it.

Phase hypnotists love these volunteers. It looks dramatic, even a little unsafe (although it’s more secure than it looks). They’re unusual, though. Just a couple of percent of the population react this strongly.

And many stage hypnotists have a story similar to this:

They line up their 8 or so volunteers.

They inform the first to ‘sleep!’ …

… and they fall out of their chair.

Then the therapist screams ‘sleep!’ to the second … and they tumble to the flooring too.

Then the 3rd.

Then the fourth, 5th, sixth, seventh, then 8th. Each of them gently plops to the floor.

It’s not impossible for all these folks to be natural floppers. You hear this happen so lots of times, it’s statistically difficult for it to be chance for all of them.

Which brings me to a design of hypnosis:

It’s all social compliance.

Hypnosis is a real process. Hypnotic trance states are real psychological phenomena. So this theory goes, hypnosis just puts people into a trance since they expect it to.

The volunteers see the first subject collapse, so they think that’s what hypnosis does.

Similarly, somebody sits on a therapist’s sofa, closes their eyes and counts backwards from 10 … and that puts them in a trance because they think it will.

It’s not that these individuals are devising. They aren’t playing the role of a hypnotic subject. It’s that they’re automatically following expectations.

According to the social compliance theory, if you thought consuming an apple would put you in a hypnotic trance, then it will.

And hypnotists can just hypnotise individuals because they state, with best conviction, “when I snap my fingers, you will enter a hypnotic trance”.

The breeze is absolutely nothing, but the instruction is everything.

I think there’s a lot to this model of hypnosis. And I think you could hypnotise thousands of individuals using this concept and absolutely nothing else.

Nevertheless …

Individuals all over the world go into hypnotic trances all the time.

And, yes, in some cases they do it since they anticipate to. They anticipate to ‘go into the dreamlands’ when they hear ‘the magic flute’, where the very same noise would do nothing for you and I.

However they also enter a trance from other triggers. The ideal mix of surprise and curiosity will put you in a trance – no matter your background, and even if you expect it won’t.

Besides, there are lots of folks who are convinced they’re ‘immune’ to hypnosis … or it isn’t real in the first place. Not just can you hypnotise them anyhow, it’s typically easy. If it were simply social compliance, then their belief would close down the hypnotic trance before it begins.

Social compliance describes a lot … but there’s something universal about the hypnotic experience too. Something that does not appreciate who you are … simply that you’re here, now, and totally human.

biggsob-20
US