Does Barack Obama Plan to Hypnotize His Television Audience?
As a hypnotherapist, I find the rumblings around the Internet about Obama trying to "hypnotize the masses" using NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) to be quite interesting. The idea that a political candidate might use hypnotic mind control techniques in a campaign is not really that bizarre. After all, advertising agencies use these techniques all the time, and self-help guru Tony Robbins uses this stuff shamelessly. (Did you ever see Shallow Hal? That movie was a bit over the top and not too realistic, but it did serve as a good fable about the power of the mind.) We are constantly under a barrage of hypnotic attacks by people who are trying to sell us something, whether it's hairspray or a political idea.
So it's actually not that far-fetched that Obama would use these techniques to his advantage. Worried Obama opponents are urging people to boycott Obama's televised infomercials as a way to protect against any possible brainwashing by Obama. Are these cries a bit paranoid or is there any reason to be concerned?
Yes and no.
First, let me state that I am not an expert in NLP. What I do know about hypnosis, however, is that it only works if you are really open to it and you want it to work. I could hypnotize you to stop smoking, but if you really don't want to quit, you won't. Sometimes, clients quit for a brief period of time but then pick up the habit again. Repetition is very important when trying to create a new habit or mindset. Based on my experience, one half-hour infomercial probably won't turn Americans into "Obamazombies" ready to vote for him despite their previous intentions, but it could have a reinforcing effect on those who have been exposed to Obama's NLP techniques over time. It could also sway some undecideds.
It is interesting to note that a friend of mine, who is a moderate planning to vote for McCain, watched the last presidential debate and found herself strangely confused. She suddenly felt herself sympathetic to Obama despite her strong stance against him. She was feeling quite uncomfortable about it.
I wasn't watching that debate for subliminal hypnotic messages, but there was something I saw in Obama that I shared with my friend. Obama reminded me of certain men I've dated, who are attractive and charming and tell you exactly what you want to hear, but when push comes to shove, they don't follow through (or worse). Obama lied outright in the debate when he claimed he did not launch his career in Bill Ayers's living room. But he was so smooth about it, many people will believe the lie...just like a woman wants to believe a man who says he wasn't cheating when he was.
I can certainly see Obama's appeal, and he's very seductive, but I have read his underlying energy and know that what's underneath does not match the external magnetism.
As I explained this, I told her that I heard Obama was using hypnotic techniques in his speech patterns.
With this to chew on, she seemed to come out from under a spell, as if she were waking up from a daze.
Thus, I do believe Obama has the capacity to "mesmerize" people. ("Mesmerism" was the beginning of modern-day hypnosis.) Whether it's through his powerful magnetic energy or NLP, Obama does have the ability to persuade. This does not mean he is sincere or a good man, so it is important to be doubly cautious and skeptical around an individual such as this. The ability to mesmerize people can be used for good or evil...as such, it is good to be alert and deconstruct the messages that are given to us by those trying to sell us on something.
So should you watch the Obama infomercial? What if he tries to program you? Well, here's my recommendation. If you do choose to watch the infomercial, be on the lookout for repetitive words and phrases, and what NLP calls "anchoring." To "anchor" means to associate a powerful feeling or emotion with a specific "anchor" such as a hand gesture, smell, or word.
Some have suggested that Obama is trying to "anchor" an association to vote for him with the action of putting the fingertip and thumb together (as if you were picking up a pen or something to mark a ballot with).
If you are concerned about getting programmed against your will, but still want to watch the infomercial, you can negate the effects of anchoring by consciously associating a different feeling and idea with the anchor. I.e., to anchor in your support for John McCain, you could put your finger and thumb together, generate feelings of excitement, and say to yourself over and over again: "I am voting for McCain! Hurrah!"
I'd actually recommend experimenting with anchoring more long-term, useful things with this gesture, such as "I am releasing any negative emotions I am now feeling" or "I am reminding myself to take a deep breath right now." Or, if you want to stop smoking, you could anchor in "I am a non-smoker."
For more information on anchoring and NLP, see this introductory blog post: