Stage hypnosis is a style of hypnosis that is usually done on stage in front of an audience. Unlike clinical hypnosis which is used to help someone with a problem, stage hypnosis is designed to be entertainment. This type of hypnotism is generally done for the purpose of putting on a show and is not intended as any type of therapy. A stage hypnotist may be a certified hypnotherapist or he may be an entertainer with no professional credentials at all.
There are several different types of hypnosis practiced today, including self-hypnosis and styles developed by individuals for specific purposes. Stage hypnotism is considered a more traditional form of hypnosis. This type of mesmerism was often used either on stage or in private to impress and amaze an audience and the person who would be hypnotized. The focus was on putting a person or group of people into a trance and having them do things on command. Often, the hypnotized people would do things thought to be funny like barking, clucking or singing.
Some experts in hypnosis believe that this type of hypnosis for entertainment serves no purpose. Others argue that it might convince audience members that hypnosis is at least legitimate and effective. The claim is that people who find hypnosis to be a real phenomenon might be more likely to seek a hypnotist for real problems. There is also a question in many people's minds about how real stage hypnosis may be.
Some believe that most of the people chosen to be hypnotized are planted before the show and only pretend to be under a spell. Other people who look down on stage hypnotism claim that the subjects are not really hypnotized but are instead going along with a group dynamic, even if they do not realize that is what they are doing. Studies have typically found no danger in taking part in these displays. Experts tend to agree that hypnosis for entertainment is most likely harmless to the people who participate.
Learning stage hypnosis may be possible for those with an interest in this type of act. There are hypnosis courses available from some entertainers who perform the shows. More in-depth course are also available from organizations that promote hypnotism in general. Ormond McGill, an American hypnotist who popularized stage hypnosis in the mid 1900s, wrote what is considered by many to be the definite works on stage hypnotism. Someone interested in doing stage hypnosis or learning the in-depth history of the practice may benefit from reading his writings on the subject.