What is Stagehypnosis?

Apart from therapy, there is no serious application for Hypnosis. However, some people are using hypnosis for entertainment.
When people think of hypnosis they will either think of

  • a hypnotherapist helping his client to eradicate unwanted behaviour or
  • they will think of a stage hypnotist turning participants into chickens.

Stage hypnosis is literally hypnosis - not hypnotherapy - on a stage. It is hypnosis performed in front of an audience for entertainment purposes. It typically is a rather comedic show aimed to impress the audience and facilitating the desire of some members of the audience to actively participate in this entertainment.

In addition, participants might feel social pressure on them which might lead to them pretending to be in trance even if they are not.

The main difference between hypnotherapy and stage hypnosis is the desired outcome.
A stage hypnotist puts on a show. He aims for the volunteers and the audience to have an entertaining and fun time. His suggestions are only meant to last for the duration of the show. They are removed after the participants are awakened at the end.

A hypnotherapist, on the other hand, wants to help clients reach their personal goals like

  • losing weight,
  • sleeping better,
  • giving up smoking
  • being more confident
  • overcome fears
  • changing habits, etc.

Therefore the hypnotherapist’s suggestions are intended to remain beyond the end of the session. The suggestions are meant to help the client experience a long-term change in their behaviour.

Despite the differences between hypnotherapy and stage hypnosis, there are some similarities too.
The outcomes of stage hypnosis and hypnotherapy are drastically different. But the techniques used are identical or at least similar. The state of hypnosis is the same no matter what the desired outcome.

Both, the hypnotist and the hypnotherapist use hypnotic inductions (rapid or progressive ones), and suggestibility testing/depth testing. 

The stage hypnotist The hypnotherapist
uses suggestibility testing to determine the most receptive people in the audience when he chooses his volunteers. uses the same tests to figure out what kind of suggestions the client is most receptive to.
might suggest to the volunteer “imagine you forgot the number three” or “imagine you are glued to the chair”. might suggest to his client “imagine you look in a mirror and see your new self. All the bad habits lie in the past.”
uses suggestions that are aimed at getting a more physical external response from the participants for the audience to watch. intends to get a more internal/psychological response from his client so to achieve a change of habit.