Can A Person Be Hypnotised Against Their Will?

Good question! And one that has been debated for a long long time!

Watch the video for my take on it… and I hope it’s not a disappointment for the ‘Svengali fans’!


So what do you think? Do you believe otherwise? I would love to get your perspective, so please do leave a comment.

All the very best


About The Author

James Tripp

Hypnotist and Transformative Facilitator. Creator of Hypnosis Without Trance.


  • Peter Wright

    November 11, 2010

    Hi James,

    My perspective, especially following your recent workshop, is that when realities are changed – when states are altering and opportunities are taken by the hypnotist (the persuader), then influences come about that bypass conscious acceptance and rejection.
    So within my layers of verbiage am I agreeing with the ‘against their will’ argument or not? The qualifier here for me, is about where ‘the Will’ resides? Is it in the conscious or unconscious – or both?
    The crux, as I see it, hinges on the range and intensity of conscious-unconscious dialogue between hypnotist and subject, hypnotist and their self, subject and their self. If the subject, both consciously and unconsciously, rejects the persuasions then they will not do anything against their ‘will’. If they reject consciously but acquiesce unconsciously then (to my mind anyway) still nothing has been done against their ‘will’. So by my argument, the ‘will’ lies within their entire neurology.

    Curious things do happen as I experienced, during our workshop, with name amnesia. My mapping of my name was to the same location as my mapping of my address – so when my name was sent out into the “ether”, my address went too! There was no persuasion to render my address amnesic – it was just a by-product of the process!
    And – no it wasn’t by the machinations of Mr Sven Gali either!

  • Tim Box

    November 11, 2010

    Anther great video, James.
    I was kind of hoping this would cover the subject of hypnotising someone against their will as opposed to making someone do something against their will in hypnosis. I see these things as different. Am I wrong?
    Also, have you seen Anthony Gailie’s routine where he offers the subject $2,000 dollars if he can get out of his chair. My own thoughts were that the subject’s acceptance (belief) that the hypnotic process over-rides any conscious efforts are the key to this effect, as opposed to any subconscious investment in the hypnosis working. What the subconscious mind believes creates our reality and thus our behaviour. I’m not sure your explanation gives me an adequate explanation of what is going on in this case. However I’m also aware that Gailie’s stuff is in a stage hypnosis environment where the ‘buy in’ from the volunteers is huge.
    I’ve done your hand stick routine on a number of different occasions now, for fun and in a therapy environment. It’s a great effect and always gets a good reaction from the subject. Havn’t quite plucked up the courage to offer money to move the hand though. Way too poor for that 🙂

    • James Tripp

      November 16, 2010

      Thanks Tim

      I guess their is a subtle difference! I think with the 2000 routine, you are right… there is massive buy in. And possibly also a disbelief that they will actually be able to have the money!

      It’s a great routine though!


  • Dale

    November 11, 2010

    if I understand you definition correctly, then I agree with you.
    My personal thoughts are you can not make someone do something against their will, but what you can do is create an unconscious agreement, and manipulation of reality, which then results in the desired outcome being something someone is willing to do, so no longer against there will.
    Ask them what would it take to make it happen. So would it be against your will to give me your password? Would you be willing to give your password to a person in law enforcement? Then create the reality, where perception is you are a person in law enforcement, this results in the willingness.

    Its my opinion / perspective anyway.

  • Englishsisters

    November 11, 2010

    Hi James,
    We agree with you, you need some kind of compliance when one sees hypnosis going on without one’s consence there are other factors involved such as compliance and confusion techniques being used.
    Great video,
    Bye, ciao,
    The English Sisters

  • wayne fearn

    November 11, 2010

    Hi James,

    I guess your referring to the Lucy video – Jon Chase and Paul.

    The vested interest you refer to is hypnosis, is it not? Having the subject not consciously, but on a deeper level, act out the hypnotist’s suggestion!

    It is what we are all ‘purposely’ creating in our subjects (through the process – induction, deepener, blah-blah) to have the subject follow our suggestion. When you give an amnesia for a number i.e. 4 does the subject not try and find the number (and look uncomfortable doing so) because they know it should be there and whether you have bypassed the c-factor or whether they are buying into the amnesia on a deeper level, to them they are hypnotised.

    If that is not correct then you’re video and contents has confused me!


    • James Tripp

      November 16, 2010

      Pretty mich on the Money Wayne!

      It was Jon’s video, but I strived to keep it anonymous – Jon is an excellent hypnotist and I would’t want people thinkink that I thought otherwise!

      All the very best


  • Korey Samuelson

    November 11, 2010

    Hello James.

    Who is in control of the subject’s/hypnotee’s behavior? This seems to be the crux of the entire field of hypnosis. Some hypnotists don’t feel the need to wrestle with this question. They just learn the craft and proceed to apply it.

    Others, like yourself, want to know. I count myself in your camp. I have struggled massively with this question. I’m a philosopher at heart, so I enjoy the struggle. 🙂

    Here’s my take on it: There is no authority higher than your own choice. You are in control of your own experience of reality. This is a control that only you can relinquish. If you hold someone in a position of authority it is because you have chosen to defer to their authority, whether you acknowledge that choice or not.

    If I’ve understood your perspective I agree with what you’ve said in the video. The subject has a vested interest in “having” to say his name is Sally. He wants the hypnosis to be real and the hypnotist to succeed (in this specific example).

    Perhaps the phenomenon of sombambulism is just the personal choice to appear to have no choice. To be able to point to having no choice in the matter allows for a freedom of behavior not otherwise available. “Hey, it’s not my fault. The devil (or hypnotist, or sale price, or extenuating circumstances, or whatever) made me do it. I had no choice. I had to do it.”

    Is all hypnosis self hypnosis, then? No. But if the hypnotist is giving me directions to arrive at the place at which I want to arrive, and I couldn’t figure out how to get there on my own, why would I not follow the directions?

    Always a pleasure.

  • Ben

    December 29, 2010

    Hello James.

    I like the video, since it eloquently describes some of my own thoughts
    on the topic.

    For me the most convincing argument against the possibility of making people do things against their will (compare to ‘against their best interest’) is an empirical one. If it would be possible – we would by now have heard of a lot of hypnocrimes being conducted by hypnotists with less than good intentions in their mind.

    Two questions:

    1.) Isn’t subconscious pantomime synonymous to social compliance
    opposed to play acting (which would describe a more conscious process)?

    2.) Why isn’t all hypnosis based upon mere subconscious pantomiming then?

    Hope you’re recovering well and have a good start into 2011!


    • James Tripp

      December 30, 2010

      Hi Ben

      Good questions!

      1. Social compliance is more where people feel pressured to comply, but know that they are doing so. With Unconscious pantomime, the subject consciously believes that what is happening is happening.

      2. There is a good chance that unconscious pantomime is a mechanism that is at work in all hypnosis. I cannot say that for sure, but if you work from that foundation, it can give you a lot of interesting choices. We will be going into this more deeply on the Hypnosis Wizardry Live workshop!

  • Joe K Fobes

    January 7, 2011


    All nice theory.

    Let me tell you about an experience that I had early in my hypnotic career.

    I hypnotized Jim. Told him Sam was invisible. He took the suggestion. The spectators thought Jim was faking it, that he really did see Sam but was making as if he didn’t. And so I asked Sam to stand in the doorway. I then asked Jim if he could please step into the other room.

    Jim started walking towards Sam… and kept right on going… into Sam… and feel down from the impact.

    Luckily he was dazed but not hurt. I asked him, “what was that?” And Jim said, “I walked right into the doorpost, how weird”.

    Now I’m older and wiser and don’t do such experiments… but let me ask you… was it Jim’s will to go crashing to the floor? I think not. I think he just didn’t see Sam and therefore he kept on going.

    Now before you cry foul and say trickery! You tricked him into doing it! Think about this.

    If you can indeed trick someone so easily when they in hypnosis by creating an alternate reality that is real to them (hallucination and so on), then what indeed can’t you do using one or two very simple suggestions to set it up?!

    “That black metal object (the knife) is a feather… Pick it up and tickle your friend on the neck with it, he will enjoy that… don’t let him stop you when he tries to!”

    And we have murder 🙂


    • James Tripp

      January 7, 2011

      Hey Joe

      I take full responsibility, but I think you are missing some distinctions here (I should have perhaps been clearer).

      In your example, I wouldn’t say that it was Jim’s will to go crashing to the floor, but I am sure that it was his will to enter into a reality (or it certainly wasn’t against his will) that had the consequence of him crashing to the floor.

      There is a clear distinction between a hypnotic reality and the consequences of that reality, and I would suggest that you cannot lead someone into a hypnotic reality against their will. You can recruit their will if you are a slick operator (i.e. get them to buy in) or you can sidestep the will by working covertly (which reduces the range of phenomena you can get, but that’s another story).

      In your second example, if you could hypnotise someone against their will, you wouldn’t need to set up the elaborate reality of the knife being a feather etc. Theoretically you could just hypnotise them and direct them to kill. But because they would have a clear will to not partake in that murder, they would not comply. It is because you cannot hypnotise a person against their will that you would need to use the kind of trickery you describe.

      So really, there is nothing in your counter that isn’t 100% in accordance with the position that I was originally proffering!

      All the very best


    • Hey Joe.

      From your description I highly doubt that this guy was hypnotized.
      Here is why: people capable of deep hypnotic phenomena such as negative hallucinations on cue have a strong capacity for trance logic…. therefore ,when given experiments such as the ones you just mentioned they will walk around the person they were told to negatively hallucinate WHILE CLAIMING HE WASNT THERE … they can have such contradictions and not be disturved by them or even really find them contradictory …. compare this to people who fake or role play being hypnotized , they will walk straight into the guy they were told to negatively hallucinate because they operate out of a more EITHER / OR stance …. ie , if the guy is invisible then I will of course just walk straight into thim

      Experiments such as these are useful to seperate out who are role playing and who are genuinely hypnotized.


      • Joergen,

        How do you know that the subject walks around the person? Have you tried it?

        And who’s to say which person is faking. Perhaps the one who walks around the person (if that actually happens) is the faker.

        As for this subject role playing, well then he’s quite the brilliant actor. Especially when I numbed his arm and tested the anesthesia. As well as when the invisible guy suddenly shouted in his ear from behind to try to shock him and got zero response.

        I think that if indeed the effect isn’t ‘complete’ then instead of it completely collapsing the subject will use trance logic and keep the hypnotic reality alive. But that doesn’t mean that an effect can never be ‘complete’. You can even beat the Stroop Effect using hypnotically induced color blindness.


        • Hi Joe,

          Yes I have done it a number of times .

          And quite a few people doing hypnosis research have experimented with ( Marting Orne who coined the term trance logic comes to mind ) that particualr hypnotic phenomena ( negative hallucinations ) .

          The experiment has been to have one group of highly hypnotizable s who are in hypnosis negatively hallucinate some obstacle or person .AND have a group who pretends to / role plays being hypnotized.

          Those in deep hypnosis will walk around and simultaneously claim they couldnt see the person … again trance logic.

          The ones who role play will of course just walk into the person or obstacle.

          The fact that a person is able to do one hypnotic phenomena like numbing their hand doesnt necessarily mean they really do the negative hallucination.

          Since I mentioned Martin Orne and trance logic you might be interested in reading the book Hidden depths ( if you havent ).

          Kenneth Bianci ( the hillside strangler ) claimed that he would go into theses trances and be a so called multiple personality .

          Orne tested him and exposed him as a faker ; Orne would give him suggestions that one of the interrogators were sitting next to Bianci… and then point out that the interrogator was standing behind him ( which he axctually was ) . Bianci then pretended to be shocked and surprised ….. those who have enough hypnotic capacity to produce a visual hallucination on cue just dont respond that way …. their tendency is to be able to hold both those realities simultaneously and neither be bothered by the contradiction nor feel any need to resolve it.

          Now, I realise that there might be a very slim chance that someone could respond the way you described and not just role play …. thats way I wrote that I found it highly unlikely.


          • Joe K Fobes

            April 6, 2011


            I don’t quite know how you and Orne knew that your subjects weren’t role playing.

            In addition, you can beat the Stroop Effect. That tells me that it’s not simply a belief that they can’t see something, they truly can’t ‘see’ it.

            How do you know if someone is or isn’t manifesting genuine phenomena without testing using hypnotic phenomena and believing the subject? Maybe they are role playing and believe they aren’t…

            How about my subject not startling when surprised? You can’t act that without advance preparation…

            According to you, how is it possible to get primary data? How do we know who’s genuine and who’s not? Who thinks they are genuine and don’t realize they aren’t?


          • Joe K Fobes

            April 6, 2011

            A decent summary of the Stroop Effect study. Raz later found that suggestion alone in high hypnotizables was also able to reduce the effect. To me, hypnosis is suggestion, and so that doesn’t change anything.

  • JC

    February 22, 2011

    I haven’t read the whole discussion, but the premise of the video is based on a previous video where a guy was told he would say Sally, and showed signs of not wanting to say it. How about all the times where the people seems to genuinely believe they are called Jenny Camelhumper the 3rd? And introduce themselves to others like that? Jacquin does show situations where he steals stuff from people, get people to give them their watch, Derren Brown even shows a clever routines in the street where people give them their phone, keys and watches after a few confusion methods… Or accepting blank paper for money… Truly it cannot be the pantomime thing if it is not in their best interest…

    And the thing is that even let’s say that on an unconscious level, the guy does want to please the hypnotist and is not aware of it, well, who put him in that unconscious state? The hypnotist, no? So who is making someone do something unconsciously? The hypnotist..

    I also remember Mark Cunningham talking about the fact that in hypnosis, we control the context. So even if someone would not comply to the suggestion to shoot someone, they may comply is they are being told that on the other side of that door is a man who wants to kill them, a man who’s been tracking them down for a long time, and that if they don’t shoot him, they’ll be shot…

    I don’t know if you guys discussed this, I didn’t read the whole discussion yet… Just sharing the thoughts that popped in my mind when I watched the video..

  • Marty Drury

    April 3, 2011

    Jon Chase Said:

    “And the thing is that even let’s say that on an unconscious level, the guy does want to please the hypnotist and is not aware of it, well, who put him in that unconscious state? The hypnotist, no? So who is making someone do something unconsciously? The hypnotist..”

    Sorry, that’s a logic leap. Because the hypnotist “puts someone in an unconscious state” means that the hypnotist is making someone do something unconsciously? That’s like someone using the daft defense in court of: “I should be let off. He made me angry and I killed him. He made me angry and I suddenly lost all control of who I am and what I do because he put me in an angry state”. Pure rubbish.

    Hypnosis attracts some people with “misplaced power desires and behaviours”. You only have to spend five minutes on Youtube to see people grabbing hold of people’s arms and doing funny things with them under the guise of doing what they call “the Milton Erickson handshake induction”. Never mind that Milton could barely move his hands and the fact that Bandler openly admits he made up that induction and not Milton. You see a lot of people who don’t have a strong understanding of hypnosis and who also want to exert some kind of power over other people that they assume they don’t already exert by being who they are. And in some dark cases, a deep rot in the personality trying to exert a will over another person.

    No wonder you get misrepresentations of the hypnosis in the media, in people’s heads and disagreements between the therapy side of hypnosis and the hypnosis for entertainment people.

    Logically, the idea that you can make people do stuff against their will with hypnosis does not make any sense.

    Why do people use guns and violence to control people if they could just learn some hypnosis stuff?

    Why do adverts spend forever utilising persuasion techniques if they could just flash some light and whisper: “you will buy the car….”

    I mean, for goodness sake, value conflicts are often enough to stop that kind of thing in its tracks.

    There is this thing in hypnosis where some hypnotists rant and rant about how the media portrays them along the whole: “look into my eyes, not around the eyes, you’re under” type thing.

    But it’s often (but not always) those same hypnotists who spend their time doing the whole “look at me with my stage hypnosis where it looks like I’m in control of this person and what they do”. It does the profession no favours.

    Never mind whether you can or not (you can’t), the very fact that anyone would try to make someone do something against their will in hypnosis or in any other state/situation speaks volumes about the character of the hypnotist.

    I’ve been studying hypnosis for 10 years now. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert. But you can’t walk around my house without tripping over hypnosis stuff like CDs and DVDs. There’s about 200 hypnosis cds about improving my confidence. You’d think one of those CDS would have been enough if hypnosis could make me confident all the time against my will.

    Then there’s the “become a player, date famous actresses” hypnosis download I bought in a moment where I suspended all critical thinking. Well, as much as it pains me to say this, Carey Mulligan isn’t popping by later with a bottle of chilled wine. Yeah, I make Hollywood stars bring their own bottle to the date. It’s my super duper hypnotic powers….

    You find reams and reams of websites with stuff like “covert hypnosis secret societies” and “I learned this from the grand master of hypnosis for control…” and all other crap. Amazing how these people learned to control people’s minds and yet I’ve never bought one of their products.

    If you seek to use hypnosis to try to get people to do things against their will, you’re not proving a point or asserting your power or strength in an industry. All anyone does if they do that is disappear up their own arse.

    • “Logically, the idea that you can make people do stuff against their will with hypnosis does not make any sense.

      Why do people use guns and violence to control people if they could just learn some hypnosis stuff?”

      Guns are easy. They work every time. It demands very little from the user.

      Hypnosis isn’t and doesn’t. It needs skill and practice.


      • Hi Joe,

        I am aware of the research on beating the stroop effect and have reaup up quite a bit of the literature on neuroscience / hypnosis.

        And Yes …. they simultaneously negatively hallucinate AND walk around it while claiming they couldnt see….. .

        Why dont you set up an experiment. Get a group of people and tell them to pretend to be hypnotized and they all will just bump into the client.

        Then get some highly hypnotizables and do the same and notice how this group reacts differently.

        So , how do I differentiate between someone who is role playing and someone who is indeed hypnotized ?

        There is no way of absolutely knowing , but there are signs to look out for that makes me confident to make a claim thats very plausible with a high likelyhood of being accurate.

        Lets use the guy from the video clip “stealing hypnosis “… I am very certain that this guy was not role playing.

        When he saw the hallucinated dog his pupild dilated …. and when I suggested the dog get twice as big has pupils widened even more ( thats why I made the comment about the audience watching his eyes ) …. its hard to produce pupil dilation by role playing….. also notice his narrowed attention and focus.

        When he closed his eye lids his eyes rolled up into his head ( the high eye roll is correlated with high hypnotic capacity ) and his eye roll matched his hypnotic performance.

        Notice when I do the negative hallucination with him and he opens his eyes … notice that when I move his eyes dont move at all ( the role players will have a tendency to react with they eyes a little when I move ).

        Notice when James did the card stick and how after James had ended the suggestions how the guy needed some time to reorient back to the room and how his arm was stuck out there for a little ( that reorientation is common for the highly hypnotizable as well ).

        This guy would be an ideal candidate , as far as I can calibrate, for a candidate in the highly hypnotizable s group.

        If you do this experiment and find something contrary then I will be very interested in knowing about it.


  • bob burns

    August 8, 2011

    Interesting stuff. Which I’m happy to roll with… most of the time.
    I do hope Joe would KNOW if he had a hypnotised person there and then at that time.
    My question to the ‘walk arounders’ is this: Are you emphatically saying that you have NEVER had a hypnotised person walk INTO? That YOUR subjects have ALWAYS walked round?
    Because ‘I’m’ saying that I have had HYPNOTISED subjects walk around for sure. But ALSO walk INTO.
    And it’s difficult to believe someone is NOT hypnotised if you’ve just stuck a needle through their hand.


  • Dmitry Ezhkov

    March 18, 2016

    Hello James,

    I personally think that it is possible to do so. This would be with layered suggestions that are carefully stacked. Hallucinations can create a reality loop that can be suggested as simply dreams with correct suggestions. I am saying this because I, unfortunately have done some things while experimenting. I am not proud of this. What I can say, however, is that there is such thing as the hypnotic observer. This is Erickson, and he believed that the observer was watching always. I realized this when sometime later a few people stopped talking to me because of it. So, you CAN do things at the moment, but why would you ruin the trust, and give a bad name to hypnosis? Hidden observer is there, always.

    Also, I must say, James, I have been following your work for a while. What you teach is amazing, and outside of the box. I love it, and utilize it as much as possible.


    P.S. Do you know that Dave Elman labels it the Critical Factor, not Critical “Faculty”?

    • James Tripp

      March 26, 2016

      Hi Dmitry

      To address the second point first (believe me, I’ve had this conversation plenty due to certain ‘big names’ consistently malaproping on this one), I’ll quote directly from Elman’s magnificent book Hypnotherapy:

      “Hypnosis is a state of mind in which the critical faculty of the human is bypassed, and selective thinking established.” – Dave Elman, Hypnotherapy, 1964 p26 (obviously, bold added by me).

      I could choose many other quotes, as he is consistent in his terms.

      Regarding the second point, I’ll take your word on this. I believe you could trick someone into doing something they would not otherwise do, but with directly set up phenomena, as per the discussion in the video, I have seen no evidence to support this that cannot be explained by simpler alternative means that, to me, make a lot more sense from a psychological perspective.

      Thank you for contributing! 🙂



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