I was always pretty much indifferent when it came to hypnosis, until a friend started training to become a clinical hypnotherapist. When he told me about the training he was undergoing I enjoyed using words like ‘piffle’ and ‘mumbo jumbo’ as he recounted the details. He took it with good grace, and we agreed to disagree.
Then recently, I read Derren Brown’s Tricks of the Mind in which, in his signature style, he discusses the subject very frankly and gives an insight into the techniques involved. I tried a couple of the rudimentary examples he gives and found that, on a basic level, they work. As he recommended, I continued – purely out of curiosity – to read up on the subject, trying at all costs to avoid the more commercial end of the market. There are, after all, clearly hypnotists out there who are as interested in lining their pockets as they are concerned for helping people out.
Then I decided to give up smoking and got my hands on an eight minute mp3 of Paul McKenna which guaranteed it could help to cancel cravings. Essentially, in this little transmission, it simply forced you to create an association between the craving and something you personally find horrendous. I chose turds with all hairs sticking out. Seriously.
It worked, for a week. I’d never given up for more than 24 hours before this little revelation – and the only reason I got back on the smokes again was because a life-changing event happened the following week, making me lose focus. Impressed, I got hold of more of McKenna’s stuff (hiding it from everyone, as it’s all got a self-help stigma following it about like a nasty smell), but with all of his other programmes, possibly because I don’t need them, I found them overlong and cheese-ridden.
McKenna’s main problem is that his techniques are all grounded in proven clinical methodology, but these alone aren’t commercially viable. To get around that, he dresses one or two simple directives in so much marketing blabber (an easy bedfellow of the suggestive language of hypnosis), that it begins to feel like he’s not only trying to change a habit – he’s also trying to make you sign up to McKenna LTD.
I was surprised that Living TV wasn’t showing his ‘I Can Make You Thin’ on a subscription basis. Again, tuning in out of curiosity, you find more of the same. If you want to lose weight (I don’t, particularly), this programme will probably help and save you the expense and hassle of Atkins style crash diets.
That said, it’ll cost you in other departments. In the one episode I’ve seen, one technique – the negative association craving-buster I mentioned before – was demonstrated over the course of an hour. This took around 10 minutes. The rest of the hour was concerned with testimonials, case studies and non-stop, advertising blather.
McKenna sells techniques that work very well, but his real strength is in selling himself. The show is like some weird, apolitical rally. It’s like you’ve walked into a bizarre, born again Christian sermon, in which only 5% of the content is actually discernible – the rest being a confusing spectrum of superficially pleasing waffle-bollocks.
I preferred it when he was making people cluck like chickens on ITV.