Monday, January 1, 2018

Suggestibility and that Jerry Lewis Interview

(This blog was originally posted on December 20, 2016)

Photo by Rick Hustead

On December 19, 2016, actor Jerry Lewis sat down to do an interview with journalist Andy Lewis from The Hollywood Reporter. One of the goals was to discuss, among other things, the contributions that Lewis and his nonagenarian colleagues continue to make to entertainment. Since the seven-minute clip aired, it has been dubbed “a train-wreck” and “the most painfully awkward interview of 2016.” Throughout those seven minutes, Lewis provided primarily monosyllabic (yes/no/why?) responses to questions or a “Why should I?” and so on. During the course of the interview, the journalist’s and the performer’s voices start to betray more than a hint of frustration. People watching Jerry Lewis’s THR interview on-line or listening to excerpts during various radio or television programs might have laughed or squirmed in sympathy for the interviewer.
I was immediately fascinated.
The first time I watched and listened to the interview I wondered and suspected that Mr. Lewis is a physical suggestible because he answered each direct question with a yes or no answer. As I have explained in previous blogs about emotional and physical suggestibility, this person receives information differently. For a Physical, message units are taken in literally and directly: an object is this or it is that; a direct question is answered directly and literally. Conversely, someone with emotional suggestibility automatically infers meaning or significance to a question or comment, and is likely to provide more details than necessary when answering it. Andy Lewis might have been able to elicit additional information or conversation from his subject with more or differently phrased open-ended questions. However, even when he tried this tactic, his subject stayed true to this one-line-answer patter.
Hmm. Someone with physical suggestibility and/or a physical sexual personality also like to talk, to provide explanations and make sure he is understood. That is why, for example, a physical suggestible typically provide a lot of details or back-story when working up to his main point in a conversation. A physical sexual individual tends to be comfortable and relaxed and even enjoy being at the center of attention, which Mr. Lewis does not seem to like at all (on this occasion, anyway). An emotional sexual personality is more likely to provide more direct or even terse responses (written or verbal), as Jerry Lewis does during this interview. An emotional sexual also prefers to avoid being center of attention or even noticed much in the first place, which seemed to be what was going on in this case.
Based on what I saw in this interview, I believe that Mr. Lewis is an emotional sexual personality with emotional suggestibility because he does elaborate on some of the yes/no information he provided. When he answered the interviewer’s questions with another question (“Why?”), these responses suggest that he was evaluating/analyzing every word he was asked and making a case-by-case decision how much information to provide.
As a final note, one of the rules of handwriting analysis is that the way a person writes is a reflection of his behavior and personality traits. It is a snapshot of your mood at the time the sample is produced. It would be interesting to compare how much of Mr. Lewis’s behavior during those seven-plus minutes would show up in his handwriting.

Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit
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