2 MIN READ | Positive Psychology

What’s the Difference Between Self-Hypnosis and Stage Hypnotism?

Wendy Whitehead

Reading Time: 2 minutes

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There is a distinct difference between stage hypnotism and self-hypnosis, although most people don’t think there is a variance.

First, self-hypnosis can be done anywhere, at any time and with or without hypnosis downloads purchased on the internet. Self-hypnosis has been always helpful to the individual performing it. Stage hypnotism is done by a performer on a stage for entertainment purposes and is typically fun or silly.

Self-hypnosis

This is also known as hypnotherapy or clinical hypnosis when done by a professional in an office setting. There is a therapeutic value to hypnosis done to oneself or by a professional.

Self-hypnosis is done for emotional, spiritual, physical and psychological problems. This type of hypnosis is often combined with cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT).  This is a type of ‘talk therapy’ that allows an individual to examine their core beliefs and many other important factors about and from their past.

Stage hypnotism

This is a form of the theatre used to amuse an audience of several people, although it could be done for one individual. It may seem like it is a one-on-one up on a stage, but there are many individuals watching and thus participating.

Most stage hypnotism relies on individuals who have been drinking alcohol, or using drugs, and therefore don’t have many inhibitions. They are eager to make a fool of themselves for others.

When someone has altered their state with alcohol or drugs, they can’t enter an altered state that is required when being hypnotised. There is a difference in these two altered states, one is chemical and the other is a healthy way to address issues.

This is another issue with stage hypnotism. Simply put, it is not a real therapy.

Why the difference matters

Inappropriately, stage hypnotism has given self-hypnosis a bad name. People hear the word ‘hypnosis’ and think of the person on stage clucking like a chicken.

Many times the stage version is set up in advance so that the person on stage is aware of what is going on and will play along. This is far from what hypnosis and self-hypnosis do for individuals with real issues.  

What self-hypnosis can do

There are several ways self-hypnosis can help an individual. Here are just a few:

  • Pain management
  • Stress relief
  • Anxiety control
  • Overcoming fear
  • Motivation
  • Success
  • Ending addictions
  • Improving emotional health
  • Termination of phobias

There are many different self-hypnosis websites that have downloadable guided hypnosis sessions. It is important to find a reputable, qualified and helpful hypnosis guide.

Self-hypnosis is carried out for emotional, spiritual, physical and psychological problems.

Many choices

The choices in guided self-hypnosis are the difference between a man’s voice and a woman’s. Sometimes it isn’t as important as what they say, although this is extremely important, but how they say it.

An individual’s subconscious will respond better to a man’s voice, or a woman’s voice, mainly depending on their past and which parent was more important to them. This is something to keep in mind when searching for a guided self-hypnosis download.


Wendy Whitehead worked as a teaching assistant at two special needs schools in London before embarking on a different career as a marketing consultant. 


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