In Tricks of the Mind I read some interesting stuff about how hypnosis is done. Here is a quote: "Hypnosis is based primarily on the understanding of pacing or feeding back the subject's experience to him and then leading him to the new desired behavior." The following example is given: "As you sit there, and as you, despite your environment, really focus on these words, and as you carry on reading this page, and the more you try to think about it, the more you'll notice the increasing feeling of wanting to scratch." So first there is the feeding back (pacing) of aspects of the current situation, and then, gradually, there is a shift towards the lead, which is a description of a new behavior or feeling.
Milton Erickson is known for his use of these kinds of hypnotic techniques in therapy. In fact, he is often seen as the father of hypnotherapy. And some solution-focused practitioners might use elements of pacing and leading too, in particular in such techniques as the miracle question. But the pacing and leading technique is probably more common than you think. When writing an article, for instance, authors often do the same. They start off by mentioning things which the reader will recognize as his current situations. The reader will be able to relate to the topic that way and will become interested to learn more. And in presentations it is also common to use pacing and leading.
I am interested in the ethics of using pacing and leading and other hypnotic techniques. When is it morally okay to use them and when isn't it? People used to say that Adolf Hitler were said to use mass hypnosis too. If that is true that seems a clear example of how pacing and leading may be used in an unethical way. Now there is someone claiming that Obama used hypnotic techniques too and therefore does not deserve the presidency. That seems rubbish to me. But it raises an interesting question.
If pacing and leading works and if the goal of a sales presentation or a political campaign is to convince people, how far can you go? If it works, can you expect someone who knows about these techniques to keep from using them? In other words, can you expect them to choose for a less convincing approach? On what grounds could you? I feel it has to with the question to what ends the person uses these techniques. The justification of being convincing lies in the content of the direction you try to lead. This is why Obama would be off the hook and Hitler wouldn't be. This also raises the question, however, what you could do to protect yourself and others from people who are using hypnotic techniques in an unethical way.
Here is an example of how Derren Brown uses hypnotic techniques to help a young man to speed date with confidence (fast forward to 6:17 for this).
By the way, do you feel like scratching yet?