8 May 2009


A couple of weeks ago I posted an article by Mick Goss, Blue is the Colour - The Hypno Show Controversy which looked at sensationalist reports of stage hypnotism shows, and calls for such shows to be banned. It quoted a report from the Sunday Mirror about a stage hypnotist called Alex Tsandar: "... we are told of women instructed to think they were having sex on a train, copulating with a pink toy elephant (not that the colour makes much difference), having the biggest orgasm of their lives and licking the hypnotist’s boots every time he cued them with the word Grovel"
Well things are not always as they are reported, especially in the Sunday Mirror, so after posting Mick's article, Alex Tsander himself sent a reply. He makes a lot of interesting points which I think are worth repeating here, as replies to individual articles do tend to get a bit hidden away on the archive website:

Interesting to discover this article, fourteen years after it was published. As the victim of the Sunday Mirror “expose” referred to in the text, I ought I suppose point out, rather belatedly, that the article was a complete travesty, littered with - to put it bluntly (and accurately ) - lies.

Yes I did suggest the “sex on a train ” routine, and some other “adult” scenarios. But I certainly did not offer to “make it as blue as you like”. In fact, it was totally the other way around. I couldnt fathom why the man (who I didnt know to be a reporter) kept asking “is that the worst thing you have done? Haven’t you done worse than that? Can you go further than that”. I am not often at a loss for words but that was memorably the case in this instance.

Indeed, the reporter who had contacted me by phone under the guise of a potential client in order to obtain an invitation to the Bath Rugby Club that night had asked me if I could “target” a “victim”. It so happens that I still possess a recording of this exchange, in which I asserted that such a thing was NOT possible but that I might set a volunteer upon a targeted audience member in some comical fashion. Needless to say, the article “quoted” me as saying the exact opposite: that I could target anyone in the room with hypnotic influence! For me this was a sickening traduction. I have written half a million words on the illusory nature of “hypnosis” and as a very rigorous sceptic to find myself having such an utterly ridiculous statement attribiuted to me was deeply offensive.

Nor did I (as claimed) allow a volunteer to leave via the kitchen. Whilst the fact that he might simply walk off stage when he had had enough in itself might be thought rather telling (as to the reality of the hypnotic “power” involved) I nonetheless sent a club official to bring him back under supervision.

The key to understanding the entire enterprise is to understand that there really is no such thing as “hypnosis”. A stage hypnotist creates the ILLUSION of “hypnosis” in an exact analogy to the way a stage magician creates the ILLUSION of magic. Now, I know some readers may like to believe that magic really exists. But to believe that the “power” of “hypnosis” exists is equally as absurd.

I havent read the rest of this article, I confess, for it covers a lot of familiar ground. But a couple of factual points do crop up. Sharron Tabarn was found by the coronor not to have died as you say from a seizure, but from asphyxiating on her own vomit as a result of having several times the drink-drive level of alcohol in her blood. The man who dissected the case in fine detail was Michael Heap, forensic psychologist for the Home Office and lecturer at Sheffield University. Upon declaring that there wasnt the remotest connection with hypnotism in the girls misadventure he started to receive death threats from, among others, various campaigners against stage hypnotism.

Finally, the Home Office review of the regulation of stage hypnotism in the UK, just started at the time the above article appeared, which I was invited to contribute to (and which quoted me correctly I might add) eventually declared there to be no , zero, nada hazards associated with the practice of the traditional music-hall and now pub entertainment called “hypnotism”. In fact, the regulations were eventually somewhat EASED!#

Thanks for your time.

Alex Tsander (or as the Daily Mirror called me, to the delight of my friends, The Sleazy Trickster).
Alex has written an article on hypnotism for Magonia, which is now on the Magonia website HERE.

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