I have to say, I don’t watch America’s Got Talent, although I am a big fan of Howie Mendel. Anyway, after hearing about a recent episode from both my aunt and my neighbor, I had to watch a clip. I am talking about Howie Mendel being hypnotized. Basically, Howie has really bad OCD and doesn’t ever shake people’s bare hands. He gets hypnotized into believing people are wearing gloves so he can shake their hands. You can watch it here if you’d like:
There is also an interview of him discussing his experience on the Today Show. After watching both clips, I started thinking of all the good and bad, this kind of hypnosis does for the hypnosis world.
To start with, the hypnotist in this clip is a stage performer. Yes, he really is using hypnosis, yes,,Howie Mendel really was hypnotized, and yes, you could go to a stage show and have a similar experience. I know this is a popular show so it is kind of exciting that hypnosis is getting some exposure. I think a lot of people will be interested in learning more about hypnosis and that is great.
HOWEVER, and yes, this is a BIG however, this type of show hypnosis can scare some people off from hypnosis. A lot of people get the wrong idea from Hollywood. Hypnosis can look like mind control. Even in this clip, it can be kind of confusing to understand that Howie is not doing anything against his will. He was hypnotized to believe that everyone he shook hands with was wearing gloves. It was kind of a deceptive trick in a way, but he was never hypnotized to shake anyone’s barre hand. The reason is, he would not have been able to be hypnotized to do so. You can only be hypnotized to do something you want to do. I will repeat that, you can only be hypnotized to do something you want to do.
Again, this clip is an example of stage hypnosis. When you come for a session, you will not be doing anything like this. In most sessions, you don’t have a need to even talk during the actual hypnosis.
Another problem I have with this, is during the interview, Howie spoke about seeing a therapist for his OCD and how this experience did not “cure him”. First of all, most psychotherapists, hypnotherapists, addiction counselors, and the like, are very leery of using the word “cured”. Being in recovery is a much better term. When it comes to anything related to the mind, you can relapse especially during times of stress. Hopefully a quick “tune up” session will help you get back on track, but it does happen.
Back to the interview, if Howie did want to see a hypnotherapist for this issue, he could probably have great success. A hypnotherapist might take him through different levels of comfort at each session, progressively moving toward being able to shake a stranger’s bare hand. It might take a while, and with an underlining condition such as OCD, it might be a bit more time consuming, but I do believe it can be done.
This hypnotist was not, in any way, shape, or form, trying to “cure” Howie of his OCD of shaking people’s hands. He was merely auditing for a stage show.
One last thought on this clip, I found it fascinating that Howie was such a deep subject. Since he is famous, was in front of an audience under bright lights, and has OCD, I was very impressed with how deep he was. I’m not sure if Howard Stern’s buzzer actually made the noise during taping or if it was added later, but the fact that it didn’t bother Howie at all was impressive as well.