No. No one can ever control anyone else’s mind.
Medical mental imagery, also called medical hypnotherapy, is very different than stage hypnosis, and from the kind of hypnosis that is shown in children’s cartoons. Stage hypnotists are highly trained people who know how to put on a good show. They typically ask for volunteers from the audience, call several people onstage, and, after talking with them briefly, send all but a few back into the audience.
At this time, the hypnotist may tell the remaining subjects that they were chosen because they are smarter than the people who were asked to leave. This further (falsely) enhances their self-esteem and makes them even more willing to do what the hypnotist suggests. These individuals are often willing to do silly things such as bark like a dog or cluck like a chicken,—for reasons that the rest of us may not understand. Afterwards, they may say, “Oh, I can’t believe I actually did that!” Yet, at some level, they were willing to do these things.*
However, if a stage hypnotist were to tell a subject, “Take this gun and go rob the corner store,” the subject would not do it. No one would ever do anything that he or she is unwilling to do – even while in trance.
As Dr. Lazarus explains to patients, “I can teach you to hypnotize yourself, and I can teach other patients to hypnotize themselves, but the only person that I can hypnotize is myself.”
*After Yapko, Michael D., 2003. Trancework: An Introduction to the Practice of Clinical Hypnosis (3rd Edition)
More Medical Hypnosis FAQs
1. What myths exist about medical hypnosis?
2. How can I help my child do even better at self-hypnosis?
3. What if my child goes into trance and cannot come out of it?
4. What is the difference between a hypnotist and a hypnotherapist?