Hypnotism

I’ve been wanting to write this post for some years. Ever since I heard the song “When you were young” by The Killers. Whoever wrote that song is an absolute genius of hypnotic messaging.

Does Hypnotism work? Of course.

Does subliminal marketing work? Of course.

Years ago I pulled up two dozen research papers on suggestions and subliminal advertising. Back when I still had access to Elsevier and all the academic stuff. My quick summary: Amazed. Mostly amazed how this research isn’t more widely used.

The key element of marketing – of any kind – is understanding how ideas work in the brain. Creating an effective simplified model so you know what the heck you’re doing.

I’ll give you the two keys of my model:

1 – The core mind only works by increasing degrees of association. To make you like ice cream, I put an image/text/idea of something you ALREADY like next to it. Net result: You like ice cream a bit more and whatever I showed you a bit less. To make you hate ice cream, I put something you already hate next to it. Net result: You like ice cream less and the thing you hate you like a tiny bit more. Picking the concepts carefully you can manipulate the ideas in your audience – pick weakly anchored ideas or just plain wrong ones and it can backfire.

2 – The core mind does not understand negatives. This is ESSENTIAL. Saying “This doesn’t taste like ice cream” is the same as “This tastes like ice cream”. The mind will only really get “Taste Ice Cream”

Back to the motivation of this post… Every time I hear “When you were young” by The Killers I remember I want to write about its lyrics and how they are a PERFECT example of hypnosis. The song is like a full hypnosis session crammed into three and a half minutes. Really, brilliant. Here is a table with the original lyrics on the left side and what your mind interprets when listening to the song. Really amazing. The song basically tells you to remember when you were young, the place you used to live, and imagine a boy that looks like Jesus.

Original lyrics What your mind understands
You sit there in your heartache
Waiting on some beautiful boy to
To save you from your old ways
You play forgiveness

Watch him now, here he come
He doesn’t look a thing like Jesus
But he talks like a gentleman
Like you imagined when you were young

Can we climb this mountain? I don’t know
Higher now than ever before
I know we can make it if we take it slow
That’s takin’ easy, easy now, watch it go

We’re burning down the highway skyline
On the back of a hurricane that started turning
When you were young
When you were young

And sometimes you close your eyes
And see the place where you used to live
When you were young

They say the Devil’s water it ain’t so sweet
You don’t have to drink right now
But you can dip your feet
Every once in a little while

You sit there in your heartache
Waiting on some beautiful boy to
To save you from your old ways
You play forgiveness
Watch him now, here he come

He doesn’t look a thing like Jesus
But he talks like a gentleman
Like you imagined when you were young
(Talks like a gentleman)
(Like you imagined when)
When you were young

I said he doesn’t look a thing like Jesus
He doesn’t look a thing like Jesus
But more than you’ll ever know

Your heartache
Beautiful boy
Save you
Play forgiveness

Watch him now / Here comes
He looks like Jesus
He talks like a gentleman
Imagine when you were young

Climb mountain
Higher than ever
We can make it / Take it slow
Takin’ Easy Easy Now Watch it go

Burning highway skyline
Hurricane turning
When you were young
When you were young

Close your eyes
See the place where you used to live
When you were young

The Devil’s water so sweet
You drink right now
You dip your feet
a little while

Your heartache
Beautiful boy
Save you
play forgiveness
Watch him now / Here he come

Looks like Jesus
Talks like a gentleman
Imagine when you were young
Talks like a gentleman
Imagine
When you were young

Looks like Jesus
Looks like Jesus
Know (remember)