Hypnosis in film and television

Am J Clin Hypn. 2006 Jul;49(1):13-30. doi: 10.1080/00029157.2006.10401549.


When a hypnotist appears on screen, expect evil. If his induction features 'magnetic' hand passes, he's probably about to compel someone to commit a crime. Ifhe hypnotizes with an intense stare, his intent is likelier seduction-in fact many screen inductions are identical to the eye contact ethologists have labeled "the copulatory gaze." This paper explores to role of hypnosis in more than 230 films in which it has been depicted and categorizes the--mostly negative--stereotypes about it. A handful of exceptions in which hypnosis is positive and/or realistic are examined. The discussion compares this to the role of psychotherapy and dreams in cinema. It discusses why hypnosis is so maligned and whether there is anything practitioners can do to alter the stereotype.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Hypnosis*
  • Motion Pictures*
  • Television*