Most people would be aware that Channel 9 here in Australia will begin showing a new television comedy game show on 3 April 2016 and this show is titled “You’re Back in the Room”.  The show will be hosted by Darryl Somers and will star Keith Barry as the hypnotist hypnotising volunteers.  The show first aired in Britain in 2015 and has either shown or will be aired in France, Columbia and Slovenia.

As with stage hypnosis shows, I would expect this production to have some very funny skits however and based upon the advertising ‘teasers’ I have seen to date, I would also expect that some of the activities to be less so. One thing is for certain; the show will raise the topic of hypnosis to another level here in Australia.  It is how this is raised that is of interest to me and should be to other hypnotists – especially those operating as hypnotherapists.

It will be interesting to see how the production deals with the topic of hypnosis and I do hope that it does treat hypnosis with the respect that it deserves.  I suspect though that it will attempt to elevate hypnosis to the realm of the mystical and elevate the hypnotist to some ‘all powerful manipulator’. I hope not!!

For a number of years now, ever since I became the President of the Professional Hypnotists of Western Australia, and then the Professional Hypnotherapists of Australia Inc., I have worked to bring hypnosis (and hypnotherapy) in to being accepted as a better-known, credible modality. I have done television news spots, radio slots and continue to do public information session, presentation to medical practice personnel, presentations at libraries and presentations/ infotainment lectures for passengers on cruise ships. The purpose behind all of this has been to remove some of the myth and prejudice that has developed around or about hypnosis; in short; to remove the Hollywood hype! Even now at these presentations I will be asked about a person being ‘stuck’ in hypnosis or a hypnotist implanting a suggestion directing the individual to commit some heinous crime.

While these preconceived notions are easy to address at the time when asked, it is the fact that these ideas have developed at all that concerns me. I have seen movies/shows and read novels that place hypnosis and the hypnotists’ ability to turn people into mindless automatons as the forefront of the storyline but I have also seen movies/shows and read novels that show people travelling at warp-speed or people flying or people stopping bullets! The curious aspect is that people understand that all of these activities are fantasy and entertainment but see hypnosis and believe that it is being presented in documentary fashion.

Anyone that would care to do some research (and that research can consist of a quick Google search) will find that there exists a plethora of articles, commentaries, academic research papers and information on hypnosis. Some of this is aligned with the negative ‘it doesn’t really work’ opinion but the majority is favourable and positive about the ability for hypnosis to impact positively on people achieving change. No where (other than in non-fiction) have a I seen examples of, or suggestions that anyone can be turned into mass-murderer, mindless criminal or someone that can be made to do anything that is fundamentally against their morals, ethics or principals in the blink of an eye.

My sincere hope is that; when the television show “You’re Back in the Room” airs, it will not continually allude to the ‘power’ of the hypnotist and elevate hypnosis to anything beyond the entertainment. I would similarly hope that the host, the hypnotist and the producers treat the people on stage with the respect that they are entitled. After all, as Martin St James used to say, “they are actual stars of the show”.

I do suspect though that one of the perhaps unintended consequences of airing this game show is that the public’s understanding of hypnosis, trust in the modality of hypnosis and hypnotists in general and confidence when engaging hypnosis for therapeutic purposes will be diluted at best and negatively impacted at worst.

As I’ve done in the past and will continue to do in the future, I will persist in taking every avenue available to disband this belief, promote hypnosis and hypnotherapy as excellent stand-alone treatments or valuable adjuncts to other treatment options. I would encourage any and all hypnotists and hypnotherapists to do similar. After all, we all have an ongoing responsibility to the profession.

Michael Werts