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Ziggy Stardust

Derren Brown - Hypnosis

45 posts in this topic

Derren Brown is a mentalist who uses a combination of NLP, covert hypnosis and suggestion techniques to perform amazing tricks.

Here, he goes shopping with plain paper bills rather than money. He succeeds because of subtle hypnosis cleverly ingrained into his conversation. For example, as he's handing over the paper - "I was hesitant to take the subway, but my friend said that's fine, just take it, it's fine."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZohpDS2aMc...feature=related

Here, exploiting the principles of social compliance, he manages to take a man's wallet just by asking.

There are many, many more videos of him. Let me know what you think.

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I'm not really sure what you want to discuss but yes he does use those methods you mention.

Something worth thinking of is that if one guy, a private person who learned this on his own, is able to do this - what do you think our governments are able to do with US considering their long time studies and research and experiments with these sort of things for decades (if not even longer)?

That doesn't only go for the governments, but also for the media, corporations, religious groups and organizations, societies and orders and so on.

It is stunningly easy to take abuse over other people if you know how, and trust me bigger guys than Derren Brown & Co does this.

-EA

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Brown is an interesting performer, but few show-business magicians are candid about how they perform their tricks. An exception would be Penn and Teller, who pride themselves on being able to accomplish a trick even after you know how it works.

There is little evidence that there is any distinct phenomenon of "hypnosis." The hypothesis is, of course, irrebuttable, like "God wills it" is irrebuttable. Or, you could adopt a convention that "hypnosis" refers to a collection of diverse psychological and physiological phenomena, brought together to wow "subjects" or audiences.

There is no evidence, of which I am aware, that anything can be done with "hypnosis" that cannot be done without it.

For example, what Brown is doing with the blank strips of paper is distraction. It works with a small, but not vanishing, portion of people. To say that "he goes shopping with plain paper rather than money" is an exaggeration. He can occasionally pass a blank piece of paper for money. So can you or I.

People consistently overestimate how difficult it is to do things which they have not personally tried. That is the foundational "psychological trick" upon which Brown relies. The main difficulty in getting a stranger's wallet by asking for it, for most people, is working up the nerve to ask for it in the first place.

I hope that this doesn't come across as critical of Brown. It isn't intended to be. He makes no bones about being a performer, and he is good at it. All I am saying is that there is no "unexplained mystery" in his work.

Edit: a long while back, I posted a "low rent" instance of the same sort of tricks, for profit rather than for entertainment:

http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum...howtopic=107119

The local TV station still has its version of the underlying story on-line:

http://www.wmur.com/news/14212889/detail.html

Anybody reading this could have walked off with this guy's money. It ain't magic, it ain't even rocket science.

Edited by eight bits

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I don't think anyone in this thread (the three of us so far) ever said there's any "unexplained mystery" behind what Brown does. I think we simply pointed out what he does which is indeed a psychological method and nothing more. Hypnosis is a state of mind, and it can be measured by brainwave activity and frequencies when it comes to the technical parts.

When it comes to what can be done with hypnosis and how it can be done without it, I think that may depend on what exactly is tried to be done in the first place. I'd like to hear some examples on how you can do the same things without hypnosis as you can with it?

Derren Brown mostly uses the "distraction technique" but there are many others employed as well, though I have not studied his work in detail I've seen some of it and easily understand how he does what he does as I've studied hypnosis, hypnotherapy, nlp and psychology etc for several years myself intending to get a degree within that field eventually.

Cheers,

-EA

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I think you'd make a fine psychologist, Edward Alexander, and it is a fascinating subject to study. Best wishes for your degree plans.

I mentioned "unexplained mystery" because that's the name of the site. I don't know Ziggy's views on this, but he did mention hypnosis in his title.

Part of Brown's act is to offer non-explanations of some of the things he does, like hypnosis, while on some other things, he does offer explanations. As I hope was clear from my post, I don't begrudge Brown any of that. He is an entertainer, and he is up front about it.

As to your question, it would seem more efficient to proceed the other way around. What can be done with hypnosis is anything one human being can talk another into doing, which is an unwieldy subject for discussion.

Is there anything which you feel can be done with hypnosis, but disbelieve that it can be done otherwise?

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Is there anything which you feel can be done with hypnosis, but disbelieve that it can be done otherwise?

Major surgery whilst awake without pain, for one.

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And your evidence that that cannot be done without hypnosis? (For example, a controlled study... btw, how do you suppose sedation in lieu of anaethesia works?)

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I thought the second video was hilarious, I couldn't stop myself from laughing :lol:

Although I do know how he does this. I don't know what the technique is called but I have done something similar myself.

Sometimes when someone is holding something in their hand which I want. I will talk to them, so they are concentrating on the converstaion. then I just simply take the item from their hands.

Since its the subconscious that is controlling their hand movements, taking the item simply confuses them.

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And your evidence that that cannot be done without hypnosis? (For example, a controlled study... btw, how do you suppose sedation in lieu of anaethesia works?)

I'm guessing that the number of volunteers for a controlled study that in essence asks "Hi, we'd like to take out one of your kidneys with no anaesthesia whilst you're still awake and see if you feel any pain or not" would be an integer value less than one.

I think there's a fairly established body of evidence pre-modern anaesthesia that would attest that major surgery is just a tad painful.

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Tiggs, with all respect, a story about why evidence might be hard to come by is not evidence.

A parody of the difficulty scarcely advances the discussion. One possible study design would compare two methods of drug-free acute pain management, for example, musical distraction and hypnosis. Both have been accepted by volunteers, so why not a controlled study? Or for that matter, hypnosis versus an ingested placebo (which will, by the way, work in a non-trivial number of cases).

I think there's a fairly established body of evidence pre-modern anaesthesia that would attest that major surgery is just a tad painful.

Pain is notorious as a complex and often counterintuitive perceptual and cognitive process. Everything that happens in surgery: childbirth, amputation, evisceration, ... also happens in non-clinical settings. There is tremendous variation in the reported pain associated with these non-clinical experiences.

This cannot be surprising, since shock is among the most predictable immediate physiological responses to gross bodily insult. Nobody is in their right mind in such circumstances. Other perceptions are altered, why would pain be the exception?

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Tiggs, with all respect, a story about why evidence might be hard to come by is not evidence.

A parody of the difficulty scarcely advances the discussion. One possible study design would compare two methods of drug-free acute pain management, for example, musical distraction and hypnosis. Both have been accepted by volunteers, so why not a controlled study? Or for that matter, hypnosis versus an ingested placebo (which will, by the way, work in a non-trivial number of cases).

I think my point is that it's unlikely that you'll be able to find a long list of volunteers to listen to Phil Collins whilst having their kidneys removed in the hope that it'll distract them from the pain, whilst, you might for elective surgery with Local Anaesthesia.

For example, Neurological tests have been run using MRI to demonstrate that at the level of neural mechanisms, hypnosis has actual effects in reducing pain perception.

I'm not claiming that Hypnosis is in any way magical. I believe that it's just the applied consequence of communication. To quote Bandler and Grinder:

Bandler: Everything is hypnosis.

Grinder: There's a profound disagreement between us. There is no such thing as hypnosis. I would really prefer that you didn't use such terms, since they don't refer to anything. We believe that all communication is hypnosis. That's the function of every conversation.

Neither Bandler nor Grinder claimed to know how NLP worked. Both of them were Modellers, in effect, copying techniques from other Hypnotherapists that worked. As such, the majority of NLP Practitioners today do not actually worry about whether or not hypnosis exists, per se, or even if it did, how it works. They're more focused on the point that the techniques they use actually do work.

Feel free to classify those techniques within whichever taxonomy you feel the most comfortable with. Personally, I prefer the much broader term "Communication".

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think my point is that it's unlikely that you'll be able to find a long list of volunteers to listen to Phil Collins whilst having their kidneys removed in the hope that it'll distract them from the pain, whilst, you might for elective surgery with Local Anaesthesia.

I was unable to locate a case report of a nephrectomy done under hypnosis. If you have a citation, then please share it.

There is no controversy in this thread that it is possible to control acute pain without chemical anaesthesia. What it controversial is that there is a phenomenon called "hypnosis" which is the unique way to accomplish that in a conscious subject.

A controlled experiment which addressed the controversy in the thread, then, would show hypnosis successfully managing pain, and other non-pharmacological techniques failing.

The study which you cited does not show this. It shows that non-pharmacological pain management is accompanied by measurable physiological correlates. Yes, it is. That helps to establish that non-pharmacological pain control exists, God's work to be sure, but not that hypnosis is a distinctive state of physiology or psychology, different from other conscious states in which pain is mitigated.

I have no problem with calling "talking somebody into something" "communication." What I question is whether there is something that can be accomplished by hypnosis which cannot be accomplished otherwise.

And, umm, is it just me, or have we drifted away from anything which Mr. Brown claims is attributable to hypnosis?

Edited by eight bits

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There is no controversy in this thread that it is possible to control acute pain without chemical anaesthesia. What it controversial is that there is a phenomenon called "hypnosis" which is the unique way to accomplish that in a conscious subject.

A controlled experiment which addressed the controversy in the thread, then, would show hypnosis successfully managing pain, and other non-pharmacological techniques failing.

The study which you cited does not show this. It shows that non-pharmacological pain management is accompanied by measurable physiological correlates. Yes, it is. That helps to establish that non-pharmacological pain control exists, God's work to be sure, but not that hypnosis is a distinctive state of physiology or psychology, different from other conscious states in which pain is mitigated.

Ah. My apologies. I hadn't realised that you associated Hypnosis with an altered state of mind. As far as I'm aware, there's no such thing as a Hypnotic state, per se. The subconscious can be altered regardless of what state of conciousness you're currently in.

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I didn't have anything to discuss in particular, just wanted to show unenlightened people who he is, and hear opinions from people who have seen him.

Also, I'd be very interested to hear from people who have actually practised his techniques? Some of his hypnosis methods, for example covert/conversational hypnosis, in which suggestions are planted in seemingly innocent language appear relatively easy to master with practise. Also his use of anchoring.

Edited by Ziggy Stardust

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Ziggy, you are being misdirected.

Brown's goal for his audience is to make you believe that there is some causal relationship between what he does and what the subjects of his exploits do. It does not help him if you draw the obvious conclusion from what you are seeing with your own eyes: that people sometimes fail to watch their money, or sometimes hand over their wallets when asked, etc.

In order for Brown to be paid, you must think that Brown personally has something to do with what would happen anyway. Compare the similar plight of the performer called a "rain maker."

Brown pushes a lot of buttons in his patter. But Ziggy

Some of his hypnosis methods, for example covert/conversational hypnosis, in which suggestions are planted in seemingly innocent language appear relatively easy to master with practise.

is horse hockey. There are no "suggestions planted," unless you count avoiding the topics of con men, theft, and making a fool of someone in his distracting rivulet of words.

He could talk about the weather. In fact "rain makers" do exactly that, and it works just as well.

But Brown doesn't talk about the weather, because the hard part of his act is to convince you of something. Getting the wallet, passing the paper, getting people to babble against their interest, etc, is the easy part.

And the beauty of video, of course, is that you see the occasions when it works, but not the flops. Even though you know that about video, you discount it.

That is, you do part of Brown's work for him. Why?

How to say this delicately? A proverb among con men is "You cannot con an honest mark." Ziggy, part of you hopes that there is some "back door" in the psyche through which you, too, can get somebody's wallet. Ironically, there is. Ask 50 people politely, and you will get a wallet.

But that's too much like work, so you would like to think that Brown knows something that will cut the load down to 5 or 6. Well, there is that, too. As the saying goes, How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice.

Also his use of anchoring.

Then take up Tai Chi, or Qi Gong, and get something worthwhile from the phenomenon.

Yes, Ziggy, I have done parallel things in real life. Although the statute of limitations has passed, I would rather omit the details of some of my more colorful youthful misadventures. Suffice it to say that I know for a fact that an armed man can misdirect a cop who is frisking him to miss the weapon, stowed in a usual place.

There was some "psychology" to that - a cop often enough would rather not find a weapon, contrary to appearances. That can be used. But there is no magic in it.

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And the beauty of video, of course, is that you see the occasions when it works, but not the flops. Even though you know that about video, you discount it.

That is, you do part of Brown's work for him. Why?

How to say this delicately? A proverb among con men is "You cannot con an honest mark." Ziggy, part of you hopes that there is some "back door" in the psyche through which you, too, can get somebody's wallet. Ironically, there is. Ask 50 people politely, and you will get a wallet.

This reminds me of one of Derren Brown's other video's

(pretty long video, this is just part 1)

Here he convinces someone that he knows "the system" of horse racing and that he knows the winner of every game.

He sends someone an email with the winner of each race, and after a while tells them to bet money on the horses, and on camera you see him being right every single time.

How he did this?

He emailed al lot of people sending them all different horse-race outcomes untill he covered every possiblity and thus one of these people got an email with all the winners.

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I didn't have anything to discuss in particular, just wanted to show unenlightened people who he is, and hear opinions from people who have seen him.

Also, I'd be very interested to hear from people who have actually practised his techniques? Some of his hypnosis methods, for example covert/conversational hypnosis, in which suggestions are planted in seemingly innocent language appear relatively easy to master with practise. Also his use of anchoring.

The thing about the phrase, Covert/ Conversational Hypnosis, is that it suggests that there's some sort of magic going on.

I believe that all communication works in exactly the same way.

Communication between two people, whether it be visual, auditory or kinaesthetic has a single purpose. To change the other person's informational state.

What you refer to as covert/conversational hypnosis, is simply communication targeted to change that state without the other person being concious of that change being made.

There are many techniques that will allow you to do that. Overloading, or "a distracting rivulet of words" as eightbit's says, is probably the simplest, though I've rarely seen Derren use that.

What I have seen him use is congruence, mirroring, anchoring, reframing, pre-suggestion and forcing (especially in card tricks).

The majority of the techniques - Mirroring, anchoring, reframing etc are simple to learn, as far as the basic principles go. Putting it all together effectively, however, is a different matter, altogether. As a starting point, the best advice I can give you is to get some professional tution on self-hypnosis. That way, you'll be able to verify for yourself as to whether it works or not.

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And the beauty of video, of course, is that you see the occasions when it works, but not the flops. Even though you know that about video, you discount it.

Are you kidding? I've seen him mess up on numerous occasions. This isn't the occult we're dealing with here - he isn't trying to convince us of psychic powers. He's using psychological techniques, and if you know what to look for, you'll see exactly why he pulls it off - or fails.

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Are you kidding? I've seen him mess up on numerous occasions.

Your're right. I ought not to have written but not the flops.

I ought instead to have written but only a minusucule portion of the flops, creating an exaggerated impression of the reliability of his approach, and of the role that his "techniques" play in his successes, while still earning him credit for his candor.

An uncharacteristic flirtation with brevity resulted in a misstatement. I shall adhere to my customary verbosity from now on :) .

Edited by eight bits

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Ummmm.

He recently did a run of 70 live shows this year in the UK. I'd imagine that's quite difficult to do if you had a constantly high flop rate.

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Ummmm.

He recently did a run of 70 live shows this year in the UK. I'd imagine that's quite difficult to do if you had a constantly high flop rate.

yeah, his live shows were incredible. He always tells you that there is nothing "magic" about what he is doing and it's all an illusion/mind tricks etc.

saying that though, i have no idea how he does some of the stuff he does. some of the things he did on his live show were amazing.

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It depends on the trick, Tiggs.

The stunts on youtube are different from the live content of the shows, according to the reports I received, although he uses some filmed segments within the live shows (also based on reports, see disclaimers).

Stage hypnotists have a low flop rate, too. Even audience participation shows that do not claim that "psychological" methods are at work have low flop rates, as did vaudeville shows in their time, and medieval street theater in its time. I conjecture that the presence of a sympathetic audience influences human behavior towards cooperation in some mysterious way. Go figure.

Disclaimers I do not watch UK television, and do not know his television work of my own knowledge. I have read excerpts of his books, and read some of his internet-hosted promtional material.

All of my comments in this thread have been responsive to the OP, which concerns the filmed material. That was also the context where the "rivulet of words" was used - in the example chosen in the OP. No claim is made that he relies on that technique in all of his exploits, but he does use in it in the blank paper money gag.

Also, I do not dispute that this is entertaining. I am not against the guy. But I do distinguish between science and show business. So shoot me.

Edited by eight bits

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Well around 10 years ago I used to work with telemarketing (glad I don't do that anymore btw) and we used a lot of similar techniques there, and it was actually around that time I got interested in the topic myself and yes I did have a use for it in my job and made a lot of money doing that and it made me a really great seller and I quickly got promoted to a higher position in the company I was working for.

Since then many things have changed in my life and career-wise, and I would not use the same methods today to make money as I did then (well not as much anyway! ;) ) - as I find it a bit immoral and unethical to do so. Now I'd rather use such methods of, well "communication" as Tiggs call it, to help people with various problems rather than only use it to gain money alone.

Of all these techniques/methods, whatever you want to call it, what I personally find most interesting is so called instant or rapid inductions which can put a person, even a stranger, into a deep hypnotic (somnambulistic) state in a couple of seconds. The reason I find this one so interesting is because I know HOW it works, but not WHY. The most famous variant of this is probably the handshake method by Milton Erickson. On the majority of people it works very well and is often used by many hypnotherapists (and stage hypnotists for that matter) as their favorite approach due to being so easy to perform and effective in use. I've read a lot on it, seen many explanations, heard many theories, talked with many hypnotherapists, but none have really explained why it works just how it works. Even my own hypnotherapist instructor, who is very well-known in this field of study and highly credited, simply says "It doesn't matter so much why it works, as long we know how it works so we can use it" =)

Maybe someone else here got some ideas or insights on this? I'm aware of the shock/confusion part being a main element of how it works, but not why that works.

-EA

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Well around 10 years ago I used to work with telemarketing (glad I don't do that anymore btw) and we used a lot of similar techniques there, and it was actually around that time I got interested in the topic myself and yes I did have a use for it in my job and made a lot of money doing that and it made me a really great seller and I quickly got promoted to a higher position in the company I was working for.

Since then many things have changed in my life and career-wise, and I would not use the same methods today to make money as I did then (well not as much anyway! ;) ) - as I find it a bit immoral and unethical to do so. Now I'd rather use such methods of, well "communication" as Tiggs call it, to help people with various problems rather than only use it to gain money alone.

Of all these techniques/methods, whatever you want to call it, what I personally find most interesting is so called instant or rapid inductions which can put a person, even a stranger, into a deep hypnotic (somnambulistic) state in a couple of seconds. The reason I find this one so interesting is because I know HOW it works, but not WHY. The most famous variant of this is probably the handshake method by Milton Erickson. On the majority of people it works very well and is often used by many hypnotherapists (and stage hypnotists for that matter) as their favorite approach due to being so easy to perform and effective in use. I've read a lot on it, seen many explanations, heard many theories, talked with many hypnotherapists, but none have really explained why it works just how it works. Even my own hypnotherapist instructor, who is very well-known in this field of study and highly credited, simply says "It doesn't matter so much why it works, as long we know how it works so we can use it" =)

Maybe someone else here got some ideas or insights on this? I'm aware of the shock/confusion part being a main element of how it works, but not why that works.

-EA

I too was intrigued by the handshake method. The interrupting of a handshake is extremely powerful because a handshake is a somewhat unconscious action - we don't think about doing it, we've all done it countless times - it's simply a reflex - and interrupting this pattern provides a gateway into the subconscious mind. Thus, when the handshake is interrupted, what the hypnotist says next will go straight through to the sub. I've seen how effective the method is and never tried it myself... I'd be too afraid of the look I'd get if I failed... or flopped. :D

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I've seen how effective the method is and never tried it myself... I'd be too afraid of the look I'd get if I failed... or flopped.

Ah, but Ziggy, that's the beauty part - you can't fail. Much of the point of the framing "handshake" is to provide social cover.

The main effective part, as you say, is to interrupt the spontaneous flow of the mind-stuff, if only mometarily (in a non-threatening way, if your goal is to continue the "communication" from there). But yes, we are mammals, so touch contributes to interaction.

If you find grossly interrupting the handshake too risky socially, then do the opposite: prolong it by a beat or two "too long " I know one person who exploits the social convention that the handshake can politely continue so long as phatic conversation continues, too.

So just ask a slightly unusual, but undemanding, question. "Have you ever been to a Yankees game?" will do nicely in the United States.

The best "story value" version I encountered was discovered by a guy by accident - literally by accident, he injured his right wrist. He had to wear a sling, so, he had "social cover" to offer his left hand. Just that much, and the magic was afoot. (So, invest a few bucks in a sling, and rule the world.)

Don't expect too much from a momentary interruption. Truly relaxed states take several minutes to kick in. You are up against physiology here, circulating regulatory chemicals and such. There is no shortcut, no "instant trances," sorry.

But it is fairly straightforward to convey the impression that you are the cause of the person's momentary confusion, and, crucially, the impression that you do not share in their confusion. This furnishes a reason for them to pay attention to you... and you're in.

Breaking through the "social armor" and routine "automaticity" is a genuine achievement. It is not, however, in any sense a substitution of your will for theirs. I am unsure, then, why Edward Alexander expresses remorse for doing that much, but I do think better of him for being concerned about such things.

And you do realize that there are schoolchildren who can do all of this, right? And that it was old news in the Third Millennium BCE?

What takes stones, imo, is not to do it, but to package it up in cutesy pseudo-scientific language that hints at more being there than really is. Neuro-linguistic programming? Puh-leeze.

Then again, the people who do that are richer than I am, so maybe I shouldn't kvetch.

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