Jake Shannon is a hypnotherapist, stage hypnotist, radio host, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Utah and an author. He also teaches mental self-defense and has a long background in wrestling—his most recent book, Say Uncle, has been one of Amazon.com’s best-selling mixed-martial-arts books.
Do you need a spinny disk to hypnotize someone?
It is just having people focus on the operator, the hypnotist’s voice. Every single person that talks is essentially a hypnotist—they just differ in their ability to get compliance. It’s important to see how powerful language is in changing our perceptions. Language is incredibly powerful. It’s just like the gun—it has to do with the intent of the awareness. A gun is just a hunk of metal. As a hypnotist, all I have is language. I don’t have pills or potions. There are lots of ways we can be nudged to do things simply by words alone. It’s pretty powerful. Hypnotism is studied a lot in psychology departments. But I think it would be better served as an interdisciplinary study between psychology and graduate-level rhetoric—the study of persuasive speech.
How do you change someone from a smoker to a nonsmoker?
Part of that is getting to that identity, and then shifting that identity. Smokers are having this conversation—“I’m stressed out, I deserve one; I’ll just have one.” Coming to me, I change it; I have them disassociate from that and have them associate with the parts of their lives that are really into health and really want them to quit. Self-conversation is largely the way that we think, and as such, you need to take charge of your self-conversation. A lot of the time we go on cruise control. The questions that we ask ourselves are crucial because we answer them—and those answers will lead us in different directions.
is largely a bunch of different self-conversations going on in our head.
What most people don’t realize is that we have the ability to pay
attention to which conversations we’re going to have. That’s why you
have people who neurosises or are particularly over-worried about
things. They’re listening to the nebbish voice taking them down that
path. That’s why you find people who have dissaccociative identity
disorder, or schizophrenia, or depression. They’re not aware of the
power they have to take charge of that voice, or they’re not disciplined
enough to keep fighting until the other voices shut the heck up.
Can you unlock repressed memories?
Memory is a massive problem because it’s completely unreliable. There’s a huge field of forensic hypnosis, using it for purposes of law enforcement. Forensic hypnosis largely has been focused on helping people remember—you know, witness testimony and whatnot. Back in the early ’90s, there was this big rash of people remembering that their parents were abusing them; they were having these repressed memories. What they came to find out was that those memories weren’t real. Later, most of these people were cleared through DNA. What they came to find out was that these people were hypnotized, and the intent of the hypnotist was to find these memories, and so they found them—they actually created them. It destroyed lives. One of the new branches that’s being pursued in Europe in forensic hypnosis is trying to verify how suggestible people are and how bad their memories are. Witness testimony does enter in as evidence, but people are wrong all the time.
Can hypnotherapy be used for evil?
Anti-social hypnotherapy is using hypnotherapy not to help somebody, and also while they’re unaware of it. You have entire fields—NLP, neuro-linguistic programming—I take it to the woodshed in my book. This stuff is huge in sales. One of the other big applications is in the pick-up-artist community. Men and women are using it to get laid. [With mental self defense], you’re aware and you can make a better decision. If you’re in the car lot and this guy is using certain ideas and language to nudge you to make a decision, you can say, “He’s doing that right now,” and that frees you. It is important for people to know, just as it is important for men and women to know basic self-defense. The real challenge is, in the moment, are you going to remember it?