Art the Hypnotist has been a fixture at Connecticon for twelve years, giving shows featuring group hypnosis. The shows, as well as some of the reactions of his stage subjects, are unpredictable and no show is the same. I personally have been to six of his shows over the last three years. I just happened to run into Art in the elevator and he agreed to do a brief interview with me, answer some questions I had, and give some insight into the more serious aspects of the art and science of hypnotism.
John: Hi Art, thank you for giving me some of your time. You’re a professional hypnotist?
Art: I’m called a “lay” hypnotist. I can still help people stop smoking and stuff like that. But technically, for the books, I am not a hypnotherapist. It’s a Connecticut thing. It’s only been ten years since you’ve needed the Department of Consumer Protection certification because they had problems with hypnotists.
It was ten or fifteen years ago when, supposedly, [a hypnotist] hypnotized a girl and encouraged her to sleep with him. And so [Connecticut] wanted to have some control over hypnotists. I’m fine with that. They should be registered if they’re going to be doing this type of thing.
John: Is that a danger of hypnotism?
Art: Not really. You can’t really force someone to do something they really don’t want to do. [That case] was really more of a patient/practitioner violation, because he was in that type of position. He did cross a line. He shouldn’t be fooling around with his clients like that.
John: I came up with this next question while watching your show yesterday. I saw another demonstration back in a college psychology class. The professor did a group hypnosis demonstration similar to your show and he got his “subjects” to forget the number nine. You do the same thing in your show. Is there something about the number nine?
Art: I actually got that routine from my studies. Way back when I was in the Navy—I was in a submarine. I had always been interested in hypnosis. Around 1989 or 1990, there was a hypnotist in New London doing shows on a regular basis. So I started going to his shows and I finally asked him what it would take for me to learn how to do this? It turned out he’s a certified instructor with the National Guild of Hypnotists. That’s NGH.net, if you want to check it out yourself. I did my basic certification courses through him. Now, I did it over the period of a year because I’d go see him for a day and then I’d be deployed for four or five months. While I was deployed I not only used the material he gave me, but I was buying books and just reading everything I could. And one of the things I was able to get a hold of was the collected works of Milton Erikson who was a master hypnotist way back. He wrote all these different techniques and case studies. One of those that he wrote about was induced amnesia and it just happened that he used the number nine in his cases, so I just stuck with it. It could be any number, but nine works out good because it’s at a point where they’re counting [one through ten] one their fingers and they get suddenly get confused. There’s nothing mystical about it; it just works out really good for my routine.
John: Are they actually forgetting that there’s a number there or are they just forgetting the word for it?
Art: They’re forgetting that it exists. It doesn’t register that it’s there. If they were forgetting the word, they’d say, “Seven, eight…I’m not sure what…ten. “ But they’re going, “Seven, eight, ten, eleven.” They actually forgetting the number nine itself.
John: That’s not what I expected. I thought it would be like remembering someone...like an actor...but not remembering his name. Like you know it exists but not what it's called.
Art: Sometimes it comes out a little bit different, because there’s always a little bit of leeway how the mind is going to interpret the suggestion. It may come out totally different from what you’d expect.
John: With the “ticklebugs,” do they actually feel themselves being tickled?
Art: Oh yeah.
Art: Oh yeah. I once had a person get so tickled so badly that they actually peed themselves.
Art: This is the best way to describe it: have you ever had a smell or a song or something that elicited a sense of déjà vu of a sensation? Maybe a smell of Mom’s apple pie or just something that felt really good and you remembered it for just a second? Actually made you feel it for just a second?
John: I have.
Art: In your mind is the whole sensation—it’s there. And in that case of the ticklebugs, I’m recalling and triggering the sensation of what it’s like to be tickled. Does that make sense?
John: Yes it does. I thought maybe it was that because they were told they were being tickled they thought, “This is how I should react,” even though they couldn’t actually feel it.
Art: No…that’s why when I do the ticklebug routine, as you saw yesterday, they react with sheer terror when I threaten to throw more ticklebugs at them. They’re feeling it…they’re not pretending.
John: After the show, do you (for lack of a better word) de-hynotise them?
Art: At the end of every show, I tell them that the suggestions they got are no longer there, etc. You’ll notice that, at the end of every show, I tell [the subjects] to make a wish. I do that for two reasons. A: I can’t do a show without my audience. Without my audience, I’m nothing. I need to thank them somehow. If they’re good enough to be hypnotized to do something silly in the show, they’re good enough to be hypnotized to make a personal change. So I give them a wish—some change they’d like to make. But that also lets me talk to them and check to make sure everything is okay and that they’re [no longer under hypnosis].
[At this point we briefly discussed one of Art’s on-stage subjects for that show. Art asked the subjects if they enjoyed horror movies. When this particular subject agreed that he did, Art put his hand over his face, screaming that it was an Alien face hugger. The gag was hugely effective and equally hilarious.]
Art: I’m Art the Hypnotist, and I’m a bad person.
John: That’s only your stage persona.
Art: That’s my stage persona. I never want harm to come to my subjects. I want to have fun with them. They’re going to experience silly things, but I am nothing without them. I want the people that get hypnotized to have as great a time, if not better, than the people watching. That’s why, at the end, I make sure they’re all good and they get a wish.
John: I imagine in one-on-one counseling sessions, that you’re completely different.
Art: I don’t use ticklebugs in counseling. No no no. There are some hypnotists—very new hypnotists—they use scripts. And a lot of hypnotitsts rely on them [scripts] when they start with hypnosis. The script is basically a proven set of words, such as a script to [help a client] stop smoking, that they use with the client. It’s a very generic set of words. It may help somebody and it may not. But it’s not very targeted. I’ve looked that scripts and they good for getting ideas, but I don’t use a script when I’m in a session.
I’ll give you a case study; I just won’t identify the person. A gentleman approached me because he had problems with sugar. He was drinking seven or eight Sprites a day, and he needed to cut down on them. I asked him why he thought he needed to drink so many Sprites. He said, “I’ve done so good in life and I think I’m rewarding myself. I think it’s something I should be able to do but it’s affecting my health. I’m conflicted.”
In the pre-interview—I met him at his house--he said the same thing and I spent a half-hour to forty five minutes getting background information on him. Then, under hypnosis, I used a technique called Parts Therapy. This is a technique I learned from a gentleman named Roy Hunter. Roy Hunter and Charles Tebbetts are the people who developed the Parts Therapy technique. In Parts Therapy, you’re not talking to multiple personalities, but to a personality aspect. Like, “I want to talk to the part of you that likes something.”
Or, “I want to talk to a part of you about your work.”
Or, “I want to talk about your spiritual aspect.”
I’m talking to aspects of [the client’s] personality, not a different part and not a separate personality. So, with him I said, “I want to talk to the part…” Let’s call him ‘Bob.” “…I want to talk to the part of you that makes ‘Bob’ drink so many soda.”
That part says, “Well, that’s me.”
So I say, “Why are you making ‘Bob’ drink all that soda?”
And this part goes, “Because I want to teach ‘Bob’ a lesson. I want to teach ‘Bob’ that he can’t be perfect.”
“Why don’t you explain this to me?”
This part goes, “All his life, ‘Bob’ has strived to be perfect. Now he is wealthy, he has a beautiful wife and kid, but he’s never happy because he’s never perfect in his eyes. Now, I’m sabotaging his chance to be perfect because he needs to learn that he can’t be perfect.”
I go, “Why does he think he needs to be perfect?”
And he goes, “Because his father wouldn’t love him unless he was perfect.”
Ah…So I go, “Let me get back to you…I want to talk to the part of Bob that wants Bob to be perfect.”
That part goes, “That would be me. I want to be perfect because my dad wanted me to be perfect. He demanded it of me. If I wasn’t perfect then he wouldn’t love me.” If [Bob] got an A, he would get a beating for not getting an A+. Nothing was good enough for his father. His father since passed away, but this was imprinted in [Bob].
A part has two functions: its intention and its action. Its intention might be noble, but its action might be totally screwed up. A part is usually the age—the emotional age—at which it was created. So, these parts are probably about twelve or thirteen years old.
Now, you don’t get rid of parts. You don’t take things out that you don’t like. Instead, you negotiate with them. I go to the part that wanted him perfect and I go, “Has anyone ever reached perfection? Is anybody, but God, perfect?”
“No…but his dad wanted him to be perfect.”
I go, “Was his dad perfect?”
“Then, what right did his dad have to demand perfection?”
“No...I guess not.”
I go, “I’ll tell you what…Is Bob happy trying to be perfect, and not being able to reach it?”
I go, “Why don’t have goal for Bob being really good and doing the best he can? Because nobody can be perfect, but you can always do your best. Can you be happy with that?”
“Yeah…I guess that makes more sense.”
So, basically, I promoted this part and we changed its function. Instead of striving for perfection it strives to be really good—as good as it can be. That’s better than perfection because that’s a realistic goal.
So now we go back to the other part and I go, “Okay…we took care of that. Are you happy with that.”
And he goes, “Yes! That’s all I wanted! Bob has never been happy because he’s never been perfect. I’m happy with him being good. I was sabotaging his trying to be perfect and make him to give it up.”
I say, “If you’re good with that, will you let him cut down on the sodas? I’ll work with you…will you work with the other part, work on letting him enjoy moderation? That part was good with that and there were a couple of other parts that came into play.
Then we had Bob—his father had passed away about ten years before this—I had Bob take a pillow. I go, “Bob…I want you to talk to your father. Imaging your father in the pillow. If there’s anything you think you should say…I’m going to leave you alone. I gave him ten minutes to cuss out his father and just let him have some healing. Then I had Bob do some regression. I go, “Bob, I want you to go back to the younger you. I want you to talk to the younger you. Tell the younger you that it’s okay not to be perfect.”
So we approached this from a couple different angles. And basically we did inner child healing. We went back, mentally, and fixed what was broken—what had been broken for a long time. You fix something upriver and it fixes whatever is downriver.
Bob comes back to me two weeks later and he goes, “Guess what? I have two Sprites a week, now. My Diabetes is under control…” That was one of the reasons he came to me. “…And I’m so happy now! I realize I don’t have to be perfect. I have it damn good.”
The guy had a two million dollar house. He had formed a company and, after twenty years, he retired. They had bought him out and so he had a chunk of money in the bank and he was getting stock benefits. So the guy had a good life and now, because he wasn’t worried about being perfect, he could enjoy it with his family. So that’s the way I approached that. There’s no script that would’ve worked there since each person is an individual. A session with me takes about two or three hours but my techniques are very effective. And there’s a lot more to it than technique. You have to really know what’s going on with your client.
John: Do you consider hypnosis a subset of psychology, or is it a completely separate discipline?
Art: I consider it relevant. They’re related to each other.
John: At this point, could you briefly go over your professional credentials?
Art: I am a certified hypnotist I’m professionally certified through the NGH—National Guild of Hypnotists. I’m CF certified—Certified Hypnotist. In addition, I’ve taken classes over the years. About ten years ago I went to Dubai for certification in neuralistic programming. Also around that time, at one of the conventions, I got my certification in Parts Therapy—that’s the technique I shared with you. I have certifications in stress management, certifications in pain control, a certification in a technique called Quantum Focusing (which is another way of directing the hypnosis).
The NGH—National Guild of Hypnotists—they have conventions and all it is is a weekend of classes. Some are one-, two-, three-hour classes. Some are three-day classes, depending on what you’re focusing on.
John: We talked about this earlier—is there a certain “type” of person that can be hypnotized or can’t be hypnotized?
Art: Almost everybody can be hypnotized to some extent. Have you ever been driving your car and, all of the sudden, you pull into your driveway and you’ve been thinking about everything else, and you can’t remember your trip?
Art: That’s a kind of self-hypnosis. Some people believe a stereotype of what they believe hypnosis is. They’ve made a determination that they can’t be hypnotised. And if they DO try to be hypnotized they think, “Well…he’s not going to hypnotise me.” Or they’re trying so hard that they’re overthinking it. They’re looking around, thinking, “Is anyone else being hypnotized?” Or, “Why is he saying that?” They’re overthinking it so much that they’re not letting it happen. When you just relax and let it happen, that’s when it will happen.
John: I think we covered everything I wanted to cover. A lot more than I wanted to cover.
Art: Is that good or bad?
John: It’s excellent! Is there anything you wanted to add?
Art: I have a CD I wanted to talk about. Because of the Connecticut convention, I’m selling it for ten dollars on line, if you go to my facebook fan page. It’s called the “Hypnotic Power Nap.” It’s a thirty-minute nap that brings you down to delta-theta sleep, maintains you there, then brings you back up.
Have you ever felt grogged out after waking up?
Art: It’s because the potassium/sodium levels in your brain are imbalanced. Really, really deep sleep can fix that in fifteen or twenty minutes. But it’s hard for someone to just lay down, take a nap, then get back up because they go into an irregular sleep cycle. Then they wake up but haven’t gone back up into a beta-state of wakefulness.
It’s beta-alpha-delta-theta. There’s also gamma, for when you’re hyper-excited. Beta is what you’re in right now. Alpha is just a light trance, just like you’re rel.
John: I know you have to prepare for your next show, so I think that’s all we have time for. I’d like to thank you again for your time.
Arthur Lee Daniel, aka Art the Hypnotist offers group and individual counseling sessions and is available for conventions. He can be reached during office hours at (860) 892-8768. His website is www.ArtTheHypnotist.com. Additional information can be requested by email at INFO@ArtThe Hypnotist.com
Copies of Art's CD, "The Hypnotic Power Nap" can be purchased HERE