Channel 4 is currently showing a series of four shows by Derren Brown called "The Experiments". The first 'experiment' asked whether an ordinary person could be programmed to kill using hypnotic suggestion. Dr Stuart Derbyshire was asked to take part, along with Professor Zoltan Dienes from Sussex University, to discuss the nature of hypnosis and to facilitate a hypnotic task that could not be easily faked or simulated.
Stuart said: “I decided on a task involving a bath of iced water that the selected volunteer would sit in following hypnotic suggestion that the water was entirely comfortable. Iced water causes a severe aching pain that most people cannot tolerate for more than a few seconds so it seemed like an excellent test of the power of hypnosis. In the show, Chris, the selected volunteer, is seen to get into the bath and sits in it for about two minutes. Chris then goes on to 'assassinate' Stephen Fry. Although dramatic, it remains debateable whether Chris was really following a hypnotic suggestion or merely simulating and conforming to expectation.”
The show will be available for the next few days online: