A hypnotist and self-proclaimed “Irish Derren Brown” who was once a journalist making £1,000 a week now earns £1,000 an hour helping his clients lose weight, give up smoking and overcome their fears.
Jason O’Callaghan can even make people believe they have lost the ability to talk and read, which he says is “purely jaw-dropping”.
The 50-year-old, who lives in Dublin, with his wife, Carina, 44, and their three children: Camille, 11; Ethan, nine; and Stephanie, six; was a gossip columnist until 2006, often rubbing shoulders with stars such as Boyzone and Pierce Brosnan.
After having to work long hours seven days a week, Jason decided to quit and do an undergraduate degree and master’s degree in psychology, becoming fascinated with hypnotherapy and how it can help people with issues such as mental health and obesity.
He then set up his own clinic, now the biggest hypnotherapy clinic in Ireland, and helps people all over Ireland and the UK – his most memorable session was with a groom who had a fear of flying, but after a round of hypnotherapy in the airport, he was able to go on his honeymoon.
Jason also does stage events for weddings and makes the wedding party “howl like wolves” after drinking, convinces the bride there is a celebrity in the room, and makes people feel like they have lost the ability to talk.
Jason shares these comedic routines with his 17,000
Jason told PA Real Life: “I hypnotise people by repeating certain words or phrases and they get in a relaxed state – I’m like an Irish Derren Brown.
“People in their day-to-day lives don’t realise that they’re hypnotised, like when you drive a long distance and zone out – that’s a state of hypnosis.”
Up until 2006, Jason was a gossip columnist for the Sunday Independent newspaper in Ireland and decided to make a career change in order to have a better work-life balance.
He said: “I was going to parties almost every night to meet celebrities, and it was a very litigious job – it was highly pressurised and with working seven days a week for 10 years, I was exhausted so I quit.”
Jason decided to enter the music and events industry as he had built up many celebrity contacts, including Pierce Brosnan, B*Witched and Boyzone.
In 2008, he did an undergraduate degree in Psychology at Dublin Business School, and three years later, he did a master’s degree in Applied Psychology at Trinity College Dublin, alongside hosting events at night.
He said: “I had always wanted to study psychology, and it felt like the perfect time.
“In my master’s, I was training in counselling, mindfulness, cognitive behavioural therapy and clinical hypnotherapy.
“They were my stepping stones to become a clinical psychologist, that was my plan, but I found hypnotherapy fascinating and got really heavily involved in that so I abandoned my plans to do hypnosis instead.”
Since graduating in 2012, Jason set up the D4 Clinic, the biggest hypnotherapy clinic in Ireland, and has had his research published in the Mayo Clinic.
He has also been featured on This Morning and has helped a lot of people throughout the UK with weight loss and quitting smoking through hypnotherapy.
Jason explained: “I’ve had a number of people come in not being able to eat anything other than chicken nuggets and yellow food for 20, 30 or 40 years.
“After 20 minutes of hypnosis, they’re eating fresh fruits, strawberries, and pasta.
“Things that are not biological, purely psychological, people can overcome once they have been given the confidence, which hypnosis does.
“For weight loss, we often teach people to eat off a blue dinner plate – historically, there is no blue food in nature.
“You will actually eat less food because the brain associates the colour blue with the colour of food when it goes off.”
To date, Jason thinks his most memorable client was when he helped a groom, who feared flying, get on an aeroplane to go on his honeymoon.
He said: “He had a breakdown at the airport, and I hypnotised him, and he was able to enjoy his honeymoon.
“He was going on a three-week trip to America, and it felt really, really rewarding to help someone like that.”
As well as doing “very serious” hypnotherapy, Jason also does “fun stuff” such as performing at about 150 high-profile weddings a year all over the world.
He said: “Some of the most common things I do is take away people’s ability to read, take away their ability to speak, so we give them the tongue of a cow or a camel, and we get them to ride invisible horses.
“I also get people to believe there are celebrities in the audience or that someone in the wedding party is a celebrity, like Harry Styles, and we get brides thinking their Uncle Joe is Madonna – it’s purely jaw-dropping to watch.
“At the end, when the show appears like it’s over, I get the whole room to do something like howl like wolves after taking a drink.”
Jason explained how he hypnotises such a huge amount of people at the same time, saying: “It works on the principle of what we would call a bell-shaped curve – so imagine a wedding with 100 people, 10% won’t want to be hypnotised, 80% will want to be hypnotised, and 10 to 15% of any population are highly suggestible.
“They will pay attention to something so much so that when we put them in a hypnotic trance, they actually believe it’s real – a bit like somebody who’s drunk thinking they’re a great dancer.”
In 2022, Jason began posting videos of hypnotising people at events and has now built up more than 17,000 followers, with some videos getting more than a million views.
He said: “Since then, I’ve been getting inquiries from all over the world – it’s amazing.”
On whether he is glad that he made the switch from journalism to hypnotherapy, he said: “I found that journalism with celebrities got harder as social media came in – they can report on their lives themselves.
“I find hypnotherapy a lot more enjoyable and rewarding, and don’t regret my decision.”