Why you’ll never see hypnosis on TV, hopefully

A TV watchdog has ticked off Australian company Channel Nine for breaching the broadcasters code of conduct and showing a hypnosis session.

You may not be aware, but in many countries any broadcast of a hypnosis session is banned. Here is the relevant rule from the regulations [pdf] from the British TV watchdog Ofcom:

Rule 2.9 Hypnosis

Elements of the hypnotist’s routine may be broadcast to set the scene. However, it is important not to broadcast the routine in its entirety, nor to broadcast elements that may cause a member of the audience to believe they are being influenced in some way.

This is because it is perfectly possible to be hypnotised through the TV, or indeed through the radio.

There is no ‘magic’ to hypnosis, it just requires that someone relax, focus, listen to suggestions and engage with the process, and some research suggests that even the relaxing and focusing is optional.

The most important thing to know about hypnosis is that people vary in their hypnotisability and this is the single most important thing that determines whether suggestions will have an effect.

As long as they are spoken clearly, it doesn’t seem to matter how they’re presented.

In fact, one of the most widely used measures of hypnotisability in the scientific literature takes participants through a number of hypnotic suggestions to see which they can experience and is usually just run from a pre-recorded tape.

Link to ABC news ‘Nine attempted to ‘hypnotise viewers’ (thanks David!).


  1. Posted September 4, 2009 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    I seem to recall there is an archaic British law that states a hypnotist cannot hypnotise a group of people (presumably more than one?) in public at the same time. But hypnosis being a natural human state means it doesn’t just happen intentionally.
    Hoards of people can be “hypnotised” by any great speaker and TV is “hypnotic” almost by design (it collects, narrows and determines our focus of attention) and if it’s not then advertisers are wasting their money.

  2. Posted September 4, 2009 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Interesting, apparently the same law doesn’t apply in the US because I recall a Mythbusters episode (that I watched in Europe) where they explored several claims around hypnosis and actually hypnotised several people on scene.

  3. DavidP
    Posted September 7, 2009 at 3:28 am | Permalink

    No prob, Vaughaun, glad to help!

  4. Posted November 21, 2010 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    If hypnosis was banned on television it would put an awful lot of TV and radio evangelists out of work.

  5. Dave Stephens
    Posted July 14, 2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Never mind, at least the depiction of hynotism is permitted in Australian TV adverts due to the insertion of a loophole into Clause 1.9.4 of Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice 2010.

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