Is mass hypnosis possible? I recently performed a demonstration of mass hypnosis at Hereticon 2022 at the Feana Theatre in Miami Beach to try to answer that question.
Hereticon is a new conference about thoughts you’re not allowed to think. Heresy. It was developed before the Pandemic, but cancelled due to The Pandemic. But then re-instituted due to the Pandemic. Some of the themes were predictable: Pandemic Censorship, Vaccine controversy, people being de-platformed, censorship by Facebook and Youtube. Some interesting people showed up like Elon Musk’s Ex, Grimes, a slew of doctors and academics who say they are being persecuted, and the controversial Dr Robert Malone, who blew up the internet a few weeks back with the claim on Joe Rogan that people are mass hypnotized around The Pandemic. Is there such thing as Mass Hypnosis or Mass Formation Psychosis as Dr. Malone suggests? It would seem nobody really knows? My take is that it's hiding in plain sight and is far more common than most people realize.
I was there partially to entertain but also to demonstrate that mass hypnosis was very real and could arguably be used to manipulate the public. I did not pretend my demonstration was scientific. I don’t feel qualified to have strong opinions about Dr. Malone’s vaccine theories nor would I like to argue about them but I think the wave of censorship and deplatforming is not healthy. (Dr Malone was banned from Twitter) It’s a slippery slope which is already affecting almost everyone on social media.
What I find curious is that one article, which featured the opinion of a psychologist, not a hypnotist or hypnotherapist was used to widely discredit Malone's assertion. Like a lot of people, the new media tendency to discredit or cancel someone with one simple sentence is troubling. My demonstration focussed on the lesser known subject of shock inductions in hypnosis, which are often used by hypnotists to hypnotize people rapidly. We’re talking a matter of seconds. If you attend a stage hypnosis show, which are rare these days, you would see shock or rapid inductions being used to put people into trance. You may have seen this with someone being seemingly hypnotized with a handshake. I played a youtube video which featured clips from the Hollywood movie Now You See Me. These are shock inductions.
Intriguingly the clip is labelled “Terrible Acting” as likely whoever put it up doesn’t believe that shock inductions are real. This is what most people think. At the beginning of the show I polled the audience about the clip. Maybe 5 per cent believed shock inductions were real.
Things were quite different at the end of the show.
Shock inductions are real, although slightly more complicated than a handshake but do happen very fast. In a sense, when a hypnotist snaps their fingers they are performing a shock induction. The reason shock inductions are relevant is they seem to work by startling a person, then with exact timing making a calming suggestion and guiding the person into trance. This parallels, the concept of Mass Formation Hypnosis where the theory is you take anxious and isolated people and startle them with frightening news, then you suddenly give them something calming and specific to focus on, and they jump in. While it might look like you can just walk up to someone and shock them into trance this isn't really true.
Shock inductions usually require a context of calm and relaxation. My presentation began by getting the volunteers to perform simple calming breathing instructions.
Without this "pre-calming" and consent state, shock inductions are almost impossible to perform. In fact, at hypnosis conferences, hypnotists often surprise each other by attempting shock inductions on each other in the hallways. They rarely work. Shock inductions can be easily resisted if you know it's coming. If you don't, however, that may be another story.
At the Feana theatre, I demonstrated a series of different shock inductions which showed that people can go into trance in seconds and enter a state of high suggestibility. Then I did some entertainment-oriented things - turned a guy into a cat, made someone instantly drunk, caused people to compulsively and contagiously laugh.
This was all accomplished through shock inductions. Shock inductions can hypnotize people deeply and in these states volunteers often become highly suggestible.
The crux? The volunteers easily passed the Mass Hypnosis test. They were shown a completely white slide, but they then insisted the slide was in fact black. After a shock induction they had been told that "when they see white they will always think it’s black. : “It’s black,” each one of them insisted. They were then brought out of trance, after I had a few of them scream “hypnosis is fake!” or course.
What is happening? In trance, people are more suggestible. For example when someone is turned into a chicken, they really believe they are a chicken for a short period. So it's not a stretch you could hypnotize someone to believe almost anything. However, things may be different when they come out of trance. People who were chickens in trance don't continue to have "chicken" thoughts. There's a kind of what happens in trance stays in trance, effect.
Is Mass Hypnosis real? Mass hypnosis is certainly possible. Every hypnosis stage show depends on it. I think we’ve all noticed the group think which has proliferated during these times. But could you be hypnotized by your TV or Youtube? Why not? The TV itself, as many people have claimed, is already hypnotic. Is causes people to focus on one point, and then add the flickering lights. All things that are hypnotic. If you then startle people with frightening news and quickly make a well timed suggestion, you might find those people become more compliant. But temporarily. Over time, maybe some of it sticks.
But are we being hypnotized to have the same Pandemic narrative? It would say it gets more complicated. There is a compelling scientific case for the current Pandemic narrative. You could arrive at it logically without hypnosis. But that doesn't mean that hypnotic tactics aren't being used. Fear, awe, authority and repetition can all be hypnotic.
I don’t believe, as Dr Malone suggests, that it’s specifically the pro-vaccine camp that uses mass hypnosis. It’s also clearly evident among anti-vaxxers where people are first fed shocking stories and then walked into a new sometimes fanatical philosophy. I believe like many hypnotists, that hypnosis is everywhere.
A lot of people asked me during the show, do you need training in hypnosis to do this? I don’t think so. Anyone in the business of persuasion, could easily notice that startling people or scaring people can work for you. Meaning you can easily fall into the business of mass hypnosis without being a hypnotist. Hitler did. Trump does. This is an essential part of human nature. Shock people and they will unconsciously seek safety. If you also provide them with safety, they become more suggestible.
I believe it’s worth noting that the principles of hypnotic shock inductions might help us understand our weird times. I felt it was really important to get this information out as most people simply don't even know this phenomenon even exists.