Oratory—or hypnotic induction?

[This article is one of several hundred in the AAPS “News of the Day” archive. It summarized and linked to an article we had received that we thought would stimulate an interesting discussion–as it did. An item taken from national or world news posted for information and discussion, as this one was, does not constitute an official position of AAPS. ]

Is Barack Obama a brilliant orator, captivating millions through his eloquence? Or is he deliberately using the techniques of neurolinguistic programming (NLP), a covert form of hypnosis developed by Milton Erickson, M.D.?

A fundamental tool of “conversational hypnosis” is pacing and leading—a way for the hypnotist to bypass the listener’s critical faculty by associating repeated statements that are unquestionably accurate with the message he wants to convey.

In his Denver acceptance speech, Obama used the phrases “that’s why I stand here tonight,” “now is the time,” and “this moment” 14 times. Paces are connected to the lead by words such as “and,” “as,” “because,” or “that is why.” For example, “we need change” (who could disagree?)…and…that is why I will be your next President.”

Techniques of trance induction include extra slow speech, rhythm, tonalities, vagueness, visual imagery, metaphor, and raising of emotion. Hypnotists often have patients count. In a speech after the primaries closed, Obama said: “Sixteen months have passed (paused)…Thousands (pause) of miles…(pause)…Millions of voices….”

Hypnotists call this a distraction technique: sending the dominant hemisphere on an assignment involving linguistic processes, thus opening the nondominant hemisphere to suggestion.

Hand gestures can be used as hypnotic anchors, or to aid in hypnotic command implantation. They can be difficult to distinguish from innocent gestures used for emphasis. Obama, however, uses some gestures extraordinarily often and for very specific words such as “believe” and “chose.” His characteristic thumb-and-forefinger gesture looks like a hand holding a pencil—as if you were in a voting booth. The gesture of pointing sends the subconscious message that a person in authority is giving a command.

Obama actually said at one time: “a light will shine down from somewhere, it will light upon you, you will experience an epiphany, and you will say to yourself, ‘I have to vote for Barack.’”

You will not choose to vote for Barack: you will “have to.” It is not a logical choice, but rather one directed by a mystical (subconscious) force. What purpose would a politician have for making such a statement? Obama used it only once. Perhaps he stopped either because he realized it was too obvious or because Hillary Clinton and John McCain ridiculed him for it.

Obama’s logo is noteworthy. It is always there, a small one in the middle of the podium, providing a point of visual fixation. Unlike other presidential logos, one looks through it, not at it. It might just be the letter “O,” but it also resembles a crystal ball, a favorite of hypnotists.

Obama is clearly having a powerful effect on people, especially young people and highly educated people—both considered to be especially susceptible to hypnosis. It is also interesting that many Jews are supporting a candidate who is endorsed by Hamas, Farakhan, Khalidi, and Iran.

While some believe that hypnosis is not real, others believe that it is very powerful, and very dangerous in the wrong hands. Dr. Erickson, father of modern hypnosis, was adamant that his techniques should only be used by physicians. In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Leyra v. Denno that a confession obtained using hypnosis could not be used against the suspect in court.

A 66-page, extensively footnoted but unsigned article “An Examination of Obama’s Use of Hidden Hypnosis Techniques in His Speeches” is available at: http://www.freedomsphoenix.com/Find-Freedom.htm?At=039963&From=News

The discussion should have broad applicability in analyzing political speech in general. Comments by those with knowledge of hypnotic techniques are especially welcome.