They say that seven out of ten people are susceptible to hypnosis. A hypnotist who entertains seeks these people out in an audience by giving numerous suggestions through his introduction and then watching who responds. Those are the folk who will end up on stage with him through the show.
It's not magic, it's about the ego. People want to believe, they need to believe. I've been doing demonstrations for a long time. They go like this. First, I ask for a volunteer, but I preface my request by stating that the experiment will only work with someone who is intelligent and creative. That being said, I give a person several suggestions. Voila, the suggestions hold. Why? Because if they didn't the ego might have to admit that the person wasn't creative or intelligent.
I remember once looking at a co-worker who was scheduled to meet a parent at the door. The parent was a short, offensive man, with buggy eyes.
You're going to laugh," I said. She looked at me in horror.
"Don't do this," she said.
"Too late, the suggestion has already been planted."
"Take it back."
Our supervisor stepped in. "Stewart, stop it. You're being ridiculous. And Sarah (that was my co-worker's name), you're not going to laugh."
"What if I do?" she asked, scratching herself. She was getting nervous. When she got nervous she broke out in hives. "Make him take it back."
"Stewart, take it back."
"I can't," I said. "It's out of my hands."
The day passed with Sarah becoming more and more anxious as the appointed hour neared. Being young, she worried about being taken seriously. Finally the parent arrived and Sarah met him at the door. She was wonderfully professional as she escorted him to the waiting room.
The supervisor, who had been worried about her, stopped by to make sure everything was going well. He poked his head into the waiting room to check on things. That was when I heard him laugh. Not a chuckle, but an uncouth bray that exploded into the room. He excused himself, hurrying away, face red, a vein rising at his temple.
As he passed me, he leaned close and spat: "You're an ass, Stewart."
Yeah, well...maybe he was right.