Why is hypnosis sexy?
To answer this I think we need to ask another more basic question first. Is hypnosis sexy?
To answer that, based on the name of this website, I’m sure we’d all agree that the answer is yes. Yes, hypnosis is sexy.
Well, what’s sexy about it?
First, let’s peel away all the tropes, all the delivery mechanisms, and all of the flash and sparkle of the act of hypnotizing someone, and let’s look at the phenomenon of trance.
What is trance?
Trance is/can be a form of tabula rasa (Latin for blank slate, thanks internet) where you are freed from the idea of self. The self is inhibition, it is reason, it is identity and control. Self is the manifest of everything we are, and to be freed from the privilege and burden of the self can be tremendously pleasurable. It can be so, not just from the physical experience of the trance state, but by the spiritual one of losing the self into the whole of the world, of entering a state of rapture.
The word rapture, to be swept up, originates is religious mysticism and is the basis for the more secular term, enraptured, which is to be consumed with pleasure. Both are forms of communion, and communion can only truly occur when the self is no longer the singular occupation of our awareness. When we enter trance, we are communing with the one who induces, we allow the inducer to sublimate our sense of self into a relationship with their words.
Even in a stage show, we are still communing. We are allowing our self to step backwards so we can pretend and play, so we can entertain, so we can lose concern with dignity and be a party to the moments of joy that the act of stage hypnosis is intended to evoke.
All of this of course, is a statement of fact because the phenomenon of trance is a real and factual state. That is to say simply that trance is real.
But is trance by itself sexy?
I think empirically speaking, there is nothing in its fundamental makeup that makes trance sexy. I would go so far as to say that the only unadorned thing in this world that is purely sexy is probably sex, and then sex unadorned is probably only sexy if you’re the one having it.
So, how then does the trance state become an erotic and desirable?
I think, and since no matter how much I accidentally slip into academic tones this is still just an opinion piece, it has to do with whose hypnotizing you and why. (Or in other words, the context of the state’s communion and its means of invocation create the erotic content of the trance.)
In this idea we come back around to our real question. But before we answer that, let’s explore the basic given that we need for anything to be erotic, or sexy, or arousing.
A basic attraction.
There would have to be some basic carnal desire for something to make it sexy. This could be the hypnotist themselves as a point of physical or emotional attraction, the sound of their voice, or even the implied power that they have.
While the state of trance (in a vacuum at least) may not be sexy, power is generally accepted to be sexy. Physical beauty is too, and so is talent.
All of these things are seemingly genetically hardwired into us as evolutionarily desirable traits, and as sex is about reproduction (scientifically speaking), we can accept that what inspires arousal in us must be linked to something we on a fundamentally deep level think is advantageous on a Darwinian level. That is of course, if what you desire is the hypnotist and not the hypnosis, like loving the singer more than the song.
But, we all know that at the end of the day most of us love the art more than the artist, so let’s get into the big question:
Why is hypnosis sexy?
There are a few answers, and they are not mutually exclusive. If anything, they’re more like puzzle pieces than separate pictures.
Answer 1: The Trance and Communion answer:
Keeping in mind everything from above, let me offer this argument:
When you are hypnotized you are communing with the hypnotist, and that means you are sublimating your self to them. You are giving yourself to them by dint of being hypnotized. You are becoming vulnerable, and vulnerability can be intimacy, and intimacy can be sensual. So, you can have your self sublimated in a fundamentally sensual manner.
Answer 2: The Seductive Hypnotist answer:
Hypnosis can be means of seduction (or vice versa), and when it is, it plays on what we recognize as the fundamentally sensual. The tropes of hypnosis are often similar to those of seduction or attraction. Everything from eye contact, softer voices, and deliberate touch, to intended fascination (like showing a little skin), and the promise of a pleasant reward for attention and cooperation are shared by both the act of seduction and the act of inducing trance.
I would hazard that this may be the most common attraction to hypnosis, as this is the most visible one. We see the power of sexual attraction countless times a day, and we have seen sexual attractive hypnotists in pop culture since the beginning of time.
In fact, we see sexual attraction as mind control innumerable times in history. The Sirens of ancient Greece are beautiful beguiling creatures that lure men to their doom and while they are also a metaphor for the call of the sea as it speaks directly to humanities desire to explore and the danger of the unknown, they are depicted as women because men will do anything for women they want to fuck. (Or maybe that’s just my read on it).
We see the Siren motif in the Rhine maiden, the dryad, denizens of the Fae, the brides of Dracula, and more that I simply cannot think of. We also see the Siren as the Femme Fatale, only minus the supernatural (unless you read Fatale by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips).
We also see this with men when it comes to Dracula, James Bond, and other men of tremendous sexual magnetism, but as these tropes branch from gender norms and men are often assumed to be more physical and overt in their sexuality than seductive and manipulative.
(Either that, or since I can’t think of any more mind controlling dudes I’m playing the gender card. Also, when it comes to male hypnotists they tend to be as Fry says on Futurama “losers with weird eyebrows”. And just think about that fir a second, when a man uses hypnosis, he is weird. When a women does it, she is sexy. Is it because hypnosis is seen as fundamentally feminine? Ok, I’m spinning out into a separate article altogether here…)
If your formative impressions of hypnosis are of sexy villains (of both genders) using hypnosis in a seductive manner, then that is the framework for how you see hypnosis as a whole. This is the same for seeing it as mind control, and why people are hesitant about being hypnotized, and all the urban legends about it.
Answer 3: The Power Exchange answer:
This is the straightforward BDSM answer.
Instead of being physically compromised, you want your mind to be so. Words become chains and paddles, whips and handcuffs, and the root causes of this desire are probably the same as the basic power exchange desires. In fact, if you take any bondage scenario, you can replace the physical components of the story with hypnosis it would play out essentially the same.
Now, you might guess that based on length, Answer 2 might be the one I think is the best, but the truth is, those answers are all fundamentally linked. It is perhaps better to think of those as a single answer in three parts. After all, in any scenario all three of those parts make the recipe for erotic hypnosis.
So knowing (or maybe just thinking) all of this, let’s see if we can get an even simpler answer.
Why is hypnosis sexy?
Because sex is the great motivator and someone that can play on that to bend you to their will so completely that you have sublimated yourself into them is fundamentally arousing in its intimacy.
Of course, you probably have your own answers, and I would love it if you shared them below.
Also, AND THIS IS IMPORTANT: if you have questions you’d like discussed here, then leave them in the comments section or email them to me HERE
I would like to make The Question a regular feature, and while I have a bunch of ideas, I’m betting the more involved this column is, the better it will be.