Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hypnosis on TV

I finally saw it! The Mythbusters episode about hypnosis! They try to explode 2 myths about hypnosis. It’s funny, I have met the hypnotist who did the first segment, Seth. The first segment was an effort to see if someone will do something against their will, ethics or morals. They decided to hypnotize one of their staff and see if he would damage some of his own beloved technological equipment. Seth gave him 2 post-hypnotic suggestions to follow the next day. Both of them failed. When the person heard or saw the cues, he did not follow the suggestion, but broke out laughing instead. He said he knew what they wanted him to do, but he didn’t feel compelled to do it, not even to jump up and down when someone yawned. But he definitely wasn’t going to deface his favorite robot. Just for good measure they tried it with another staff member who wanted to use hypnosis to stop chewing on the tops of her pens. Seth hypnotized her and they didn’t show the parts where she gave her instructions about keeping the pen away from her mouth, but they did show her attempt to give a posthypnotic suggestion. The person opened her eyes and said I didn’t agree to this! This is trickery! Of course she works for the Mythbusters, and may have been suspicious when they offered her a free hypnosis session as part of their research. This confirmed the “myth” that you can’t be forced to do something against your will.

The next segment explored the “myth” that hypnosis can enhance memory, possibly for the purpose of a criminal investigation. They hired 2 actors to come in and start an altercation with the 2 featured players on the show. The other 3 who were involved in the first segment… Why can’t I remember their names? Wait, let me do a little memory-enhancing hypnosis. OK, Grant, Tory, and Kari answered questions in writing about the incident after it happened and they were told it had been staged for this purpose. Then another hypnotist came in and hypnotized the 3 of them as a group and instructed them to remember the incident, visualize it in their minds, and imagine that they can rewind, fast forward, or use slow motion to retrieve the details. He asked them each question on the form and instructed them to write their answers. And when the form was completed he aroused them from trance. All 3 of them remembered more details. And what they remembered was accurate! One remembered a name, the other remembered a tattoo, and the other remembered the dialog, almost word for word. The first 2 details would definitely be helpful in a criminal investigation, so They concluded that hypnosis can enhance memory. I am very pleased they revealed this to the public, even though their explanation of hypnosis was cursory. And they confirmed the information I was given by a former policeman in New York City. He did forensic hypnosis for the police over 10 years ago and he found, in a 6-year study that the information given by victims and witnesses was 52% relevant (notice 2 out of 3 gave relevant information for Mythbusters), and 95% accurate. Ninety-five percent accurate!!! That’s in line with what the Mythbusters found, and absolutely amazing!!!

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