"You are getting sleepy. Verrry sleepy..." A waistcoated man swings his pocket watch back and forth before the face of a young woman seated in a Victorian-era parlor. She fixes her gaze on the watch, tracking its pendular motion with her eyes. Moments later she is slumped in her chair, eyes closed, answering the hypnotist's questions in a zombie-like mono-tone.
Everyone has seen a depiction of hypnosis similar to this one in movies and on television. Indeed, say the word "hypnosis," and many people immediately think of pocket watches. But it is now much more common for hypnotists simply to ask a subject to stare at a small, stationary object--such as a colored thumb-tack on a blank wall--during the "induction patter," which usually consists of soothing words about relaxation and suggestions to concentrate.
This article was originally published with the title The Truth and the Hype of Hypnosis.