Last week I wrote a blog post about the latest Derren Brown show "Apocalypse" on Channel Four. Its almost like a Wizard of Oz tale for our times. Many people are asking "Is Derren Brown a fake?" Beware this contains Spoilers so I should say spoiler alert.
Since then there has been a great deal of speculation about the programme. As ever many people have come up with conspiracy theories about how he has convinced a man called Steve to think he is in a world gone crazy after metorite strikes. This week Derren even took to youtube to post a clip of himself with a man who appeared in a pot noodle advert who looked like his guinea pig and who many people had said was an actor.
It is interesting that Derren has taken such trouble to prove that the man is not an actor and that he is a just an ordinary punter. Normally he is happy to let the speculation abound and people can get on with it. I wonder if this is because he is using a little more hypnosis than he may be letting on? This has helped throw people off the scent.
Last week the question that I was being asked was "how did he put the man to sleep so quickly on the bus?" Derren appeared from the back of the bus and telling the man to just sleep he did go off into a lovely trance which meant that Derren was able to get him off the bus and into the fake hospital.
There are a couple of ways that he could have done this. It is possible to do very quick hypnotic inductions. Derren has used these before with people and it is quite possible that with all of the shocking things going on the man could quite easily have slipped off into a trance when instructed to do so. There is also a possibility that on seeing Derren Brown he may well have twigged that he was being set up.
So, I wonder if perhaps we are not seeing everything here? It does occur to me that he perhaps had already been hypnotised by Mr. Brown and given a post hypnotic suggestion that he could easily go back into trance when he next saw him. Of course maybe another hypnotist had done this and given the suggestion that if he ever met Derren he could easily slip into trance again.
Many people commented on the fact that if they thought they had come round after a meteor storm to find they were being chased by zombies then they would possibly react in a stronger way that the man they are watching.
Of course none of us can know for sure how we would react, and Derren would not have known this either. Bearing this in mind and the enormous cost of producing the show it would have been a shame if the man had just curled up in a ball crying and done nothing. That would have been a possibility and if you are making a show of this cost and with all the effort you need to try and make sure that you cover that sort of scenario.
We are also seeing that the experience takes place over more than one day. But, we don't see Steve in bed or what happens at bedtime, so maybe what we don't see is that Derren gives him some more hypnosis calms him down and works with him. I think it highly likely that we are missing a lot of coaching behind the scenes. I still think that the experience is real. I just think there is some more care being taken with Steve than perhaps we are being told !
This is why I think we are being given a little information but not as much as would give away even more secrets.
I think that at some point previously Steve has had a hypnotic experience related to the show. We saw clips of the auditions when people were clearly tested for hypnotic sensitivity. By testing this Derren was able to pick a highly susceptible hypnotic subject.
I think that what we saw when Derren took him off the bus and into the hosptial was just a part of what he did. I am quite sure that during this trance he used the time to help prepare Steve. We always make sure that we give a client a safe place when they are in hypnosis, somewhere they can imagine they are, to relax and be calm, and free from worry in the event of something bad happening. I think that after this Steve was given some post hypnotic suggestions about things that may happen and these could include him being told that however bizarre events may appear he would always be safe. This would also account for his stilted delivery. People think that he speaks like he is a bad actor. Perhaps it's because he feels he is in a film and that what happens is not real. He may have been told that he is an actor and to act brave. He may even have been told that something will happen to him that he may find scary but that it is just a dream and he will be in no danger.
Of course these are just ideas and only Derren and his team know exactly how they did it.
One thing I know for sure is that it was great entertainment and I am very pleased that Steve was able to get so much out of the experience.