Will I forget everything that happens while I’m in hypnosis?

By | Wednesday 11 October 2017

If you see a stage hypnosis show, you will be forgiven for believing that people are always totally unaware while in hypnosis, and that, afterwards, they forget everything that happened while they were hypnotised.

It is not well known (among non-hypnotists) that stage shows are carefully designed to attract the most susceptible hypnotic subjects onto stage, while leaving everyone else in their seats. The reason why is obvious: you don’t get much of a show with people who are hard to hypnotise or who make poor hypnotic subjects. After all, a hypnosis show is an entertainment show, and without that “wow!” factor, it’s just a boring variety act with bad actors.

So… what makes a “good” hypnotic subject (from the point of view of a stage show)? It is someone who is easy to hypnotise; responds quickly and fully to all suggestions; and shows strong hypnotic phenomena such as hallucinations, automatic obedience, and, yes, amnesia!

(Also not well known outside the hypnosis community is that some people on stage — though certainly not all of them — might actually be fully aware of what’s going on. It’s just that, having been hypnotised, they cannot help themselves!)

So, yes, a person on stage might well be totally unaware of what’s happening when their eyes are closed and the hypnotist is giving instructions. And they might well forget everything that happened if the hypnotist commands it so. They often will also experience time-warping, where a long time seems to slip by in moments.

But not everyone experiences unconsciousness or amnesia when in hypnosis, and in the therapy room at least, the hypnotherapist typically wants you to be fully aware throughout and to remember everything. After all, what’s the point of therapy if you’re just going to forget all about it when you leave the therapy room!

Don’t worry, then, that you will forget everything that happens to you in the therapy room or with a professional stage hypnotist. It’s usually quite the opposite.