Richard E. Darshwood
Mind Games Comedy Hypnosis Show
Frequently Asked Questions
Are participants really in a trance?
Are participants “asleep”?
What does it feel like to be hypnotized?
Can a person be hypnotized against their will?
If I can hear Darshwood, I’m really not hypnotized.
Can anyone be hypnotized?
Can a person be made to do something against their will when hypnotized?
Can a person be left hypnotized indefinitely?
Is stage hypnosis safe?
Who are the ideal participants?
How are volunteers selected?
Are children under the age of 15 invited on stage to be hypnotized?
Will the participants remember anything?
How do hypnotized participants feel afterwards?
Q. Are participants really in a trance?
A: No. There is really no such thing as “trance.” The word trance is a misnomer and misleading since people are neither asleep nor unconscious. Hypnotized people are simply and deeply relaxed both mentally and physically. They experience a heightened sense of awareness and a singular, focused concentration… on Darshwood’s voice and suggestions.
Therefore, all there is really is the combination of profound, deep mind and body relaxation and suggestion that are commonly known as hypnosis.
Q. Are participants “asleep”?
A. No. Despite the Greek derivation of the word “hypnosis” is from the mythological god of sleep, hypnos, a hypnotized person isn’t sleep. Hypnosis is not a state of deep sleep, but one of altered consciousness. When you are hypnotized, you are awake and conscious. Whereas, when you are asleep you are fully unconscious.
Again, a hypnotized person isn’t asleep. Hypnosis only resembles sleep. This common misconception came about because of the meaning of hypnosis, namely—that hypnosis is sleep. In fact, the word “hypnosis” comes from the ancient Greek god “hypnosis” their god of sleep. Many people think incorrectly that when they are hypnotized they are asleep and unaware of anything happening around them. Not true.
The word “SLEEP!” is said for dramatic affect and because people know what to do when they hear it—close their eyes and relax deeply… profoundly… and often in funny, slumped-together positions on stage.
Everyone every night passes through a hypnotic experience in the process of going to sleep. Hypnosis is a natural state that feels rather like that very relaxed and contented feeling you get right before you fall asleep at night.
After experiencing hypnosis, a person awakens naturally, just as they do after sleeping. Put another way, when you awaken from say, one hour of hypnosis, you feel fully refreshed and revitalized as if you slept or napped for many hours.
Q. What does it feel like to be hypnotized?
A: Surprisingly familiar. The by-product of all hypnosis is relaxation where mind and body relax. Some describe it as either like floating weightless or heavy and leaden, and relaxed deeply. In a word hypnosis feels—good—a wonderful and profoundly relaxed state both physically and mentally. And that’s why you see people on stage slumped over—because their body is so deeply relaxed they don’t care about sitting upright.
Hypnosis is relaxing and fun! Hypnotized people say they re-experience a wonderful feeling of child-like freedom. That “freedom” is what allows them to enjoy doing silly, playful things on stage. People also know they can choose to stop cooperating at any time, but don’t because they feel so good and are having great fun. In some ways being hypnotized on stage is like freeing the care-free, improv talents in each of us.
In fact, most people haven’t ever felt that loose, limp and deeply relaxed level of physical relaxation and mental calm and serenity like they do in hypnosis. There is a feeling of well-being, an ability to recall past events and the acceptance of new ideas not in conflict with personal values. There is also a higher threshold to pain.
Some people have described the hypnotic state as being like meditation where the body is relaxed but the mind has heightened awareness. The ability to vocalize can be limited, and the limbs feel leaden or light, tingly or somewhat numb. The perception of time is also distorted where an hour might seem like just a few minutes. A hypnotized person can be in hypnosis while daydreaming, running, dancing, driving, reading, or watching an engrossing television program or movie. On stage, hypnotized people are freer and more extroverted than they would be otherwise.
Another good example of what hypnosis feels like is this—have you ever driven down a long, dark, stretch of boring road when you’re tired, and then later on you can’t remember parts of the trip or you drive right past your exit—then, you’ve experienced hypnosis.
You’ve probably experienced this—like when you’re really into watching TV or an engrossing movie and even reading an intriguing book and time seems to stand still and you’re sort of oblivious to everything happening around you, although you hear it all, it’s just that you’re super-focused on the experience—that’s hypnosis and what you see and others experience on stage.
Q. Can a person be hypnotized against their will?
A: No. A person cannot be hypnotized against their will. If a person resists, hypnosis will not work. Hypnosis requires consent and cooperation—known in the trade as the “hypnotic contract”—between the willing participant and hypnotist.
Covert hypnosis (as seen all over YouTube) is a mind-control myth, a fraud; so, too, is it a Hollywood movie myth a’ la Dracula; frankly, it’s a false urban legend. There is a common idea that those with ‘a strong will’ cannot be hypnotized. However, it has been shown that intelligent people can be hypnotized faster and deeper because they have greater access to their imagination, and can follow instructions better. The biggest prerequisite to someone being able to be hypnotized is their willingness, their expectation hypnosis will happen.
Q. If I can hear Darshwood, I’m really not hypnotized.
A: Wrong. All hypnotized persons can hear the hypnotist and sounds around them acutely because their senses become enhanced. Hypnotized people are really hyper- or super-aware… of how good they feel and are tuned-in to the hypnotist’s voice.
Think about it this way: If the hypnotized person lost all connection with the hypnotist, how can they follow the hypnotist’s instructions (suggestions)? Well, they wouldn’t / couldn’t then act on the suggestion unless the hypnotized person was really awake, conscious, and not asleep. The fact that stage hypnotists typically say, “SLEEP!” doesn’t serve to dispel this misconception.
Q. Can anyone be hypnotized?
A: No. Only people who want to be hypnotized, expect to be hypnotized and can and do follow simple instructions can usually be hypnotized. That said, then yes, most ready, willing and able people can be hypnotized when they want to experience it. Different people go into hypnosis in different ways. Part of the hypnotist’s job is to identify what approach will work best for each person.
People are fascinated with hypnosis. Everyone can be hypnotized when they are willing. That’s because all hypnosis is really guided self-hypnosis. Anyone wanting to experience hypnosis can and will be hypnotized. Hypnosis is not something one does to another person. Rather hypnosis is something people do together. Co-operation isn’t optional. Co-operation is how you are hypnotized.
Sometimes hypnosis is distrusted because often the view of the subject surrendering their will is part of the affects presented for entertainment by stage hypnotists. It is helpful to remember stage hypnotists design their shows for entertainment purposes, which include participants doing seemingly strange things they might not do otherwise.
What most people don’t realize is the stage hypnotist chooses only those volunteers who are tested and shown to be highly suggestible, and may have a desire to have a “different” or less inhibited experience of themselves. In a hypnotic state, people can give themselves permission to do many things that they may not otherwise be able to do.
Generally, anyone of average intelligence can be hypnotized. From about 6 to 14 (at about puberty), the human mind changes and develops rapidly. The period from 14 to middle-aged is by far the best age group both for ease of induction and for depth of hypnosis. From adulthood (about age 22) on upward, there is a very slow, gradual decline in hypnotizability. In fact, the smarter and the more imaginative you are the more likely you are to be hypnotized. Regardless, the person must first be willing to be hypnotized.
Q. Can a person be made to do something against their will when hypnotized?
A: No. A person in a state of hypnosis will not allow themselves to do anything they wouldn’t do in a conscious state. In fact, your subconscious mind won’t allow you to do or say anything you would normally feel is against your moral or ethical beliefs. In fact, a few hypnotized people on stage have chosen not to respond to a suggestion, such as the man who wouldn’t put on lip balm (lipstick) as super male-model Rico Suave.
Your subconscious mind is literal. It doesn’t have a sense of humor. And it doesn’t know true from false, fact from fantasy, right from wrong. All your conscious mind knows is what you tell it (as in self-talk) and on stage what the hypnotist tells it (you) is reality, which on stage is made humorous.
Hypnosis can remove some of a person’s inhibitions (much the same way that alcohol can lower inhibitions)—meaning, that unless you would, say, take some of your clothes off or go wild when drinking a lot of alcohol, then you wouldn’t do that under hypnosis unless you were likely to do that anyway.
Contrary to some depictions of hypnosis in books, movies and television, the hypnotized person doesn’t lose control over their mind or body. The hypnotized person stays fully aware typically of who they are and where they are, and they generally remember what transpired during hypnosis. Hypnosis simply makes it easier for people to experience suggestions, but it does not force them to have the suggested experiences.
People hypnotized on a stage won’t do anything not already built into their own mental and moral mechanisms. Stage hypnotists do not create anything new—we’re only using and building upon what’s in the volunteers’ imaginations and what they already know and can do. In other words, a 50-year old knows enough about Elvis to act like him when given the suggestion. An 18-year old might not. But that same young person knows enough about Brittney Spears to act like her when given the suggestion to do so.
Comedy Stage Hypnotist DARSHWOOD knows what can and can’t be done with hypnosis and programs his suggestions accordingly. Rest assured that he always gives clean and appropriate suggestions.
Oh, I know exactly what you were thinking. And the answer is NO; you cannot be made to go out and rob a bank or kill someone.
Q. Can a person be left hypnotized indefinitely?
A: No. The human mind’s protective sense of self simply won’t let either of those happen. In the unlikely event a hypnotist failed to return a hypnotized person to full conscious awareness the person would drift off to sleep and would soon wake up (if you will) and out of the hypnosis.
During the show, if there were an emergency or the volunteer no longer wanted to participate, s/he could awaken at any time and leave the stage or show area, which happens in most shows when you see a person get up and leave the stage. You see, generally speaking, without the external stimuli of DARSHWOOD’s voice upon which they are focused, the stage-show volunteer would either fall asleep or become fully alert and awake soon without harm.
If DARSHWOOD were (God forbid) to drop dead or leave the building before counting the volunteers up to full conscious awareness, they would realize sooner than later they no longer hear his voice. They’d then conclude the show had ended and would awaken on their own in a few minutes… like from a wakeful nap.
At the show’s end, DARSHWOOD awakens and removes all suggestions except one—that the volunteers feel refreshed, relaxed in every way and that they had a good time!
Q. Is stage hypnosis safe?
A: Yes. Hypnosis is as safe as daydreaming in a chair at home… lying on a picnic blanket watching clouds pass by, or the feeling of losing yourself in a great book or good movie. Hypnosis is no more dangerous than natural slumber. However, on stage, DARSHWOOD does his best to protect the volunteers from harming themselves. When they stand up and move around the stage, they do so with their eyes open.
You are conscious, but you tune out most of the other stimuli around you. Just as you focus intently on the book’s plot or the movie’s action, on stage the hypnotist is the focus of the hypnotized people to the near exclusion of most other thoughts—except generally the sensation of physical relaxation and mental focus on the suggestion. An that is why hypnotized people do silly things on stage. Hypnotized people are capable of saying no, or terminating hypnosis, all by themselves. And there is research available to show that is in fact the way it is, as well.
Hypnosis is as safe on stage as most other interactive or audience participation entertainment when it is practiced by a professionally trained, skilled and certified hypnotist like DARSHWOOD.
Remember—the state of hypnosis is a natural but altered state of mind and body consciousness, similar to daydreaming where your mind is focused and not distracted. This heightened, focused concentration combined with comic suggestions allows each volunteer to tap into their inner talents and imaginations… and entertain others. That is the fun of stage hypnotism.
DARSHWOOD’s number-one concern on stage is always for the physical safety and psychological well-being of his volunteers, even given the misconceptions about the safety of hypnosis. He explains what hypnosis isn’t and is to the audience.
Q. Who are the ideal participants?
A: Everyday people like me… you. The best hypnotic subjects have vivid imaginations, creative minds and are young mentally and physically. Generally speaking, the very young (under the age of 14 or pre-pubescent) and the very old (the retired+) aren’t good stage-show hypnotic subjects because their powers of concentration aren’t either fully developed or fading.
The best stage hypnosis subjects are intelligent, strong willed people with active imaginations.
Q. How are volunteers selected?
A: DARSHWOOD wants only willing volunteers on stage. He never selects people to come up and be the show, and he won’t force people to join in. If you just want to sit back and enjoy the show but not volunteer, then that’s OK. DARSHWOOD will respect your wishes and knows you’ll laugh and cheer your friends or colleagues on!
Audience members choose themselves; each person decides to be hypnotized during the show or not. Only audience members who are highly interested in participating will be invited to join DARSHWOOD on stage and are most likely to be kept in the show. We do not force anyone on stage.
Q. Are children under the age of 15 invited on stage to be hypnotized?
A: No. Sorry. And here’s why: children tend to change the social dynamic of the show, and so we do not invite kids to participate on stage. High-school age teens (15-18 years old) are invited on stage only at high school shows.
In every instance, when underage volunteers’ are invited on stage each must either have a parent or legal guardian present or their signed written authorization when required by the school.
Q. Will the participants remember anything?
A: Yes. Everything. Hypnosis doesn’t cause people to lose their memory. Your senses are heightened while in a state of hypnosis. And, the hypnotized volunteer is always in control—s/he is conscious and aware of events as they happen.
That’s because, first of all, stage-show suggestions are temporary. Second and more importantly, they will remember all they heard, saw, did, felt, etc. because DARSHWOOD tells them via “suggestions” at the show’s end they will remember everything and feel really good about being a star of the show. And they do! Ask any of them afterwards.
Q. How do hypnotized participants feel afterwards?
A: Marvelous! Like they’ve slept for hours and had amazing dreams about which they remember and feel good about..
Because Richard is a certified hypnotist, the safety of your guests is made a high priority as well. (Since hypnosis is not a regulated practice in many states many performers forego this important training and it puts you and your students at serious risk.) Worth noting that when Richard shows up to your venue, his performance is covered by a $1,000,000.00 insurance policy too. Protecting our clients and show participants is personally important to us.