Hypnosis Against Someones Will

Perhaps one of the most asked questions that I get as a hypnotist is “can you hypnotize someone to so something against their own will?”

It’s a good question, an important question, but a very poorly worded question.

Here’s why. Hypnotists are very good with words, frames, and manipulating your perception of reality. And so once you ask a question that leaves certain abstract concepts like ‘hypnosis’ ‘will’ ‘against’ and ‘do’ open, that leaves space for the hypnotist to manipulate the answer to imply what he wants you to believe and still say ‘the truth’.

And so here is the question reworded. Without any wiggle room. If you want to know the answer to that big question, here is how you ask it…

-Say it’s 1980 and the USA and the USSR and at war. You live in Moscow. You are Russian, but you love the good ‘ol USA. You have just secretly found out that Colonel Alex (a committed Russian patriot who believe the USA is the root of all evil and must be destroyed) has punched in the launch codes to nuke the USA. The nukes will launch tomorrow at 12PM unless you get the redirect codes out of him. If you do punch in the redirect codes, the nukes will be rerouted to Colonel Alex’s home town and will kill his family. It’s your only option.

Here are 3 scenarios.

1. Colonel Alex has come to you the hypnotist for nail biting. You have just tested for name amnesia and it has worked as far as you can tell.

2. Colonel Alex has come to you the hypnotist for nail biting. It’s the beginning of the session, and you have no idea as to his level of commitment, his capability as a subject, or his ability to follow instructions.

3. You meet Colonel Alex in a bar. You can’t mention hypnosis, mentalism, or magic, as Alex has been warned to never speak to a hypnotist, mentalist, or magician.

In each scenario, out of 10 random times, in how many would you be able to get the launch codes out of Alex? You have no knives or guns with which to threaten him. You also are a lot weaker then him physically. He also knows that you aren’t authorized to get the codes no matter what you tell him.

Here are my answers.

Scenario 1 9/10
Scenario 2 6/10
Scenario 3 2/10

What are yours?

Comment and share.

10 Replies to “Hypnosis Against Someones Will”

  1. Joe, depends on our definition of Hypnosis, I would say, because if our definition is to get someone to follow suggestion, then there are additional scenarios that gives close to 100% reliability.

    Send me a mail, and I will run at least one by you that I think you’ll agree with.


    1. In this case the definition is to get the redirect codes. However that may be within the parameters of the scenario. The word ‘hypnosis’ is completely irrelevant.

  2. May be because I have high functioning autism but I find the ambiguity in the article painful. That was neither a question nor an answer. God knows what my subconscious makes of this but on a conscious level I have no idea what to make of your scenario. This is something I always have trouble with. When someone intentionally makes what they say vague and obscure and assumes that the other person will sooner or later arrive at what they had in mind when they wrote it. A hypnotist of all people should be well aware of the fact that different people with different mindsets may arrive at an interpretation of the words that is completely different to what the author had in mind.

  3. I’ll rephrase the question. Can someone be hypnotised to do something against their will, yes or no? No wiggle room there, the answer is either yes or no. If I point a gun to your head and tell you to hand over your money did I make you do it against your will? No. You had a choice. You could have refused and faced the consequences. If I pick pocket you did you give me your money against your will? Yes. You had no choice in the matter. If an intracranial microchip stimulates your neurons in such a way that you lose all control of your muscles and despite your best effort to resist, forces you to walk off a cliff, did you walk off the cliff against your will? Yes. If a con artist deceives you into handing over the deed to your house, did you hand over the deed against your will? No. You willingly handed it over. I have no experience with hypnosis so I can’t answer the question but I speculate the answer is no. You won’t do anything against your will whilst under hypnosis. Does that mean a hypnotist cannot harm you? I’ll answer that one with a question. Because you willingly let a serial killer into your house, does that mean they can’t harm you?

  4. ^^ Serial killer was a bad example because it would be very hard to get someone to willingly agree to being murdered. A better example is a con artist. They don’t make you do anything against your will but the consequences are just as bad as what a burglar will leave you with and in many cases far worse. I heard about a man in Colombia who woke up one morning to find his appartment had been burglarized. He went down to the front desk and asked them if they saw anyone moving stuff out of the building and they told him “yeah your 2 friends helped you move your stuff out and load it into the van yesterday”. The thieves had slipped him scopolamine and whilst under the influence of the compound the man agreed to help the thieves burglarize his own appartment.

  5. Joe, would you be able to leave Colonel Alex with permanent amnesia for the whole hypnotic process, so he has no conscious recollection of what actually happened and why the nukes were redirected? (Maybe you will require this to continue operating undiscovered at your position in the army, so you could watch out for other Russian patriots with evil plans like Colonel Alex. Otherwise the word will spread and no one of those will ever accept to be hypnotised by you anymore.)

    1. ‘Permanent’ is a very strong word. After all, who’s to say that the good Colonel won’t run into another hypnotist who’s clever enough to hypnotize him and undo my amnesia suggestion…

      If the response to that is ‘seal him off from being ever rehypnotized’, well I don’t think that’s possible. While you can make it very very difficult for him to be hypnotized by anyone else, In my opinion, you can’t seal someone off in a way that makes it impossible.

      Now we can give him very strong amnesia so that there is a very very high probability that he will never learn what happened and therefore keep him as our undercover person as per your clever plan. It’s just the word ‘permanent’ that I don’t think is possible.


  6. Joe, as you know from reading my theory of hypnosis, I would say that yes you can get someone to do something against their will if the person has been effectively hypnotized. As you know, I point out that hypnosis is a common every day occurence as it is occurring when skillful salesmen, lawyers, doctors, and politicians are at work. And we know that many a person at one time or another has been persuaded into doing something they later regretted. One of the biggest examples of this were the atrocities brought about by master hypnotist Adolph Hitler in his skillful mesmerizing of his audiences. Speaking of my theory I was meaning to ask you your comments on it and more importantly your comments on my Commentary on my theory article also on my website.

    1. Thanks for joining the discussion.

      What would you answer to the specific scenarios from the article? How often would you get Alex in each of the cases?

      I will reread your stuff in depth and be in touch with specific comments.


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