Neil Kramer recently posted an interesting piece on hypnosis, Neural Linguistic Programing and social control. He began his essay with an analysis of the tricks of illusionist Darren Brown. While seemingly magic, they’re actually a skillful use of various psychological reading and manipulation techniques which exploit subconscious and unconscious processes (ie. mirroring, eye accessing cues, cold reading and NLP). To explain some of the psychological mechanisms behind such “Jedi mind tricks”, he provides the following description of a hypnotic handshake:
Many actions are learned and operate as a single chunk of behavior: shaking hands and tying shoelaces being two good examples. However, if the behavior is diverted or frozen midway, the person literally has no mental space for this. He is stopped in the middle of unconsciously executing a behavior without a corresponding pattern. The mind crashes, suspending itself in trance until either something happens to give a new direction, or it reboots itself. A skilled hypnotist uses that momentary confusion and suspension of normal processes to induce a TDS trance.
By interrupting the pattern of a normal handshake in a particular manner, the hypnotist causes the subject to wonder what is going on. If the handshake continues to develop in a way which is out-of-keeping with expectations, a simple, non-verbal trance is created, which may then be reinforced by the hypnotist. All these responses happen naturally and automatically without telling the subject to consciously focus on an idea.
Also intriguing and relevant to the current moment is Kramer’s analysis of how principles of hypnosis are used by corporate media as a tool for mass control and manipulation:
Confusion is a tool used by hypnotists to put the subject into an altered state. The slumbering brain state induced by injudiciously watching TV and surfing the net achieves exactly the same thing. This is how the Empire implants its messages deep into the minds of the great unwashed masses. To the unconscious observer, the messages are not properly perceived at the point of entry. They are nevertheless permanently recorded in precise detail and influence the individual emotionally, intellectually, and physically with their latent memes.
For this to have impact on a mass scale, people need to also believe that they are finite, separate, the world happens “out there”, and they are essentially powerless. Once this is achieved, the covert messaging is much more readily absorbed. The isolated little human seeks comfort and reassurance wherever he can find it. If the mind is suitably controlled, the thrill of a new gadget, the delight of a new snack food, the consolation of a new TV drama, and the platitudes of government, may constitute all the solace required to get through another day. The prescribed messaging sinks in and no-one is any the wiser.
This deception can be swiftly dismantled with one simple mental gear shift: for the common man to cease regarding his mind as some plain old fiddle churning out the tunes of unseen dubious impresarios – and instead to recognize it as an exquisite Stradivarius violin that is at its greatest when playing the authentic and beautiful music of his own making.
Read the complete essay here: http://neilkramer.com/hypnotic-handshakes-jedi-mind-tricks.html
YouTube user Hypernosis0’s channel features a number of clips deconstructing Darren Brown’s techniques including the following example:
This episode of Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know examines how marketers employ behavioral psychology and neuroscience to encourage consumerism: