Is there any evidence of a hypnotist making someone do something against their will while in a hypnotic state?

I know there are many sites by practicioners that state it is impossible, but they have a vested interest in making their potential patients feel safe.

  • $\begingroup$ I deleted the part about regret, because it is a banal truth that people regret what they do without being hypnotized. $\endgroup$
    – user3116
    Jan 3, 2015 at 3:16
  • $\begingroup$ Short answer: no. People under hypnoses are very aware of what's going on and are still in control of what they are doing, $\endgroup$
    – MmM
    Jan 3, 2015 at 20:05

2 Answers 2


This question cannot be answered empirically.

Thus, a refusal to carry out antisocial actions can be ascribed to insufficient depth of hypnosis (or inadequate hypnotic technique), while the behavior of S[ubject]s who comply can be explained by asserting that the action merely represents what they would have done anyway. (Orne, 1972)


  • Orne, M. T. (1972). Can a hypnotized subject be compelled to carry out otherwise unacceptable behavior? A discussion. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 20(2), 101-117.

Just to add to @what's great answer (that this is not a testable question), a while ago I watched a Derren Brown episode where he successfully hypnotizes someone to assassinate a co-conspirator.

This was supposedly to test the Manchurian Candidate hypothesis (and incorporating a polka-dot dress) - a conspiracy theory that the CIA used hypnosis to train unsuspecting victims to assassinate on command.


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