Hypnotism is a psychological process with a documented history dating back before the 18th century.
There is a long-standing myth that the hypnotist uses his craft to put the subject into a magical trance, commanding them to the hypnotist’s will.
In all actuality, a person under hypnosis is not at all without his free will, and instead of being in a trance-like state, the subject is, surprisingly, hyper-attentive.
Reading through the book, RebelMentalism will show you the full techniques of how to induce hypnosis, but let’s go over some of the basics and use cases below.
The history of Hypnotism
Do you believe hypnosis can work?
Researchers say that believing is half of the process.
Have you ever heard someone say something was mesmerizing?
This phrase is actually regarding Frank Mesmer who, all the way back in the 18th century, was the first to propose a rational basis for the effects of hypnosis.
Mesmer was the first to describe a ritualistic method for hypnotism, which he passed down to his followers who continued to develop the method. Unfortunately, Frank Mesmer is also the reason why we have such a mystical view of hypnotism, as he had some rather strange and elusive practices to his methods, such as wearing a cloak and playing strange music during the ritual.
Other doctors believed that hypnosis wasn’t a magical power, but a very useful trance that opens the mind.
The development of hypnosis carried on without Mesmer’s strange ways, however, and throughout history, many have believed hypnosis to be an effective psychological solution to many ailments of the mind and body. Seeing the potential of hypnosis in the medical field, a few notable doctors risked their medical licenses to pioneer the use in their practices.
Taking over a century to do so, doctors and researchers finally were able to remove the stain Mesmer left on the practice of hypnosis, revealing it as a valid clinical technique.
By the end of the 19th century, hospitals and medical universities were exploring and applying hypnosis with studies and patients for a host of medical anomalies.
After centuries of development and documentation, modern technology helped uncover the truth – with the use of brain imaging, doctors and researchers were able to actually see that hypnosis is its very own state – not a trance, and not vacant, but a realistic state of mind when the subject is very open to change and accepting new ideas that our very conscious state has been trained to block out.
The state of hypnosis today
These days you can attend seminars for everything from smoking cessation to overeating.
But do they really work?
If the clinical research and documented progress of hypnosis have anything to say about the subject, then yes, a person can be placed in a hypnotic state in effort to change their mind about a habit.
This is the part where experts say you have to believe in the ability to be hypnotized in the first place, otherwise your conscious state will thwart any effort to move your mind into a hypnotic state.
A hypnotic state helps you enter a level of awareness that your conscious state cannot achieve, thereby revealing your mental roadblocks and allowing you to be more open to the ways around them.
So how does one hypnotize a person?
Let’s start with an idea you can relate to, like meditation.
This is the practice of eliminating all competing noises and energies around you and relaxing every part of your body and mind to gain a clear perspective.
Some people say they physically feel lighter during meditation, that it is like emptying the junk drawer in your kitchen, and that they feel less stressed after a session. They are able to process deep thoughts after meditation more easily, however, during the process of meditation, there are virtually no thoughts at all. Meditation clears the mind of thoughts and the body of the stress of carrying them.
Meditation can be a relaxing tool or a preparatory action.
Once in a state of meditation, a person may go on into prayer (spiritual journey), self-help, or psychoanalysis. Meditation is helpful in removing fear before a situation and relieving stress after a situation.
That seems easy enough to understand, right? Some breathing exercises and mindfulness is all it takes.
The process of hypnosis begins with meditation.
Clearing your mind of stressful thoughts and harmful ideas is imperative for reaching a hypnotic state.
One must understand that a hypnotic state is not a cure in itself; it is the door you open and walk through to accept suggestions and images that help reach a cure or relief.
During the state of hypnosis, your fast-wave brain activity, used for thinking and processing, decreases, and slow-wave brain activity, used for relaxation and focus, increases greatly.
You are opening your mind to a new idea.
Since all pain, stress, and fear is managed by the brain, a patient can actually be trained to accept pain as a different sensation through hypnosis.
Similar to the way meditation works in childbirth, once you have reached a state of awareness, you can retrain your brain to believe than when you feel a certain pain, it is actually just the processing of something necessary in your body.
A mother in labor might use hypnosis before childbirth to retrain her brain to believe that the excruciating pain of contractions is really pressure of the opening of the pelvis.
Once the fear of the pain is removed and exchanged with the reasonable belief that the sensation is actually progress and pressure, the level of pain perceived by the brain during labor actually decreases.
Doctors and researchers have documented this phenomenon by monitoring brain activity during hypnosis and during the live situation following hypnosis.
You can read these resources for more information:
How it works
In general, the technique of hypnosis is rather easy with a willing participant – that is, someone who knows what is going to happen, who is open to the process, and who is ready to accept changing their mind.
First, the subject needs a place to be completely relaxed and free of distractions and noises.
Some subjects appreciate white noise, like that of a fan or radio static, to achieve the ability to drown out the environment around them.
This is possibly the most important part, because the journey to the hypnotic state must be distraction-free. Being disrupted while achieving the state can be very stressful and upsetting, making it harder and longer to get back there again.
Next, it is necessary to take the subject through a sequence of breathing techniques and muscle relaxation.
Slowing the breathing calms the heart rate and the thought process, and relaxing muscle tension aids in physical awareness and mindfulness.
Once the breathing is controlled and the heart rate has slowed, the muscles easily follow into complete relaxation.
It is not unusual for your subject to look or act like they are asleep. The body will be as relaxed as a sleeping person, and the breathing will also mimic that of sleep.
Asking questions in a soothing tone of voice
A series of questions in a soft, encouraging voice (never harsh or commanding), will follow, to be sure you have consent from the subject in this state of mind.
If at any time you do not feel that you have consent, you must stop the process.
You should ask if the person knows where they are, if they feel relaxed, if they are okay, if it is okay to ask some questions.
Once you have consent from the subject, you would open up their mind to the topic.
The questions you ask now will steer your subject into guided imagery that follows.
Perhaps this is a friend who wants to stop smoking.
So you would ask, “Do you want to stop smoking?”
They will answer yes.
You will say something that identifies the topic of smoking and relates it back to the person, such as, “Do you use cigarettes as a way to release stress?”
And then ask a question that relates the topic back to your help, such as, “Do you want me to help you get past the addiction to cigarettes?”
Once you have determined the goal with your subject, you can go on to the guided imagery.
Never change your voice from the soft, lulling tone you have been using, or you may startle your subject out of the hypnotic state, which can cause fear and anxiety.
Guided imagery is going to open your subject’s mind to the topic they are trying to overcome and identify how it is having power over them.
Next you will paint a different picture of the topic, and ask your subject to refocus how they feel about it to meet the new image.
You might say, “I want you to picture yourself having a cigarette right now. Do you feel familiar with this?”
They will answer yes.
“I want you to picture that cigarette and how it looks coming out of the pack. Can you see it?”
They will answer yes again. Now you will steer their thoughts by painting a new picture that reaffirms the bad habit.
“Now I want you to picture a poison symbol on the pack of cigarettes, and notice that each cigarette has a poison symbol on it. Do you know the poison symbol? Do you know poison is bad for your body?”
Of course they will answer yes and yes. Continue with a directive. “Every time you want to have a cigarette, you will now remember that cigarettes have a poison symbol on them, okay?”
You will go further by giving them a new feeling. “Every time you have a craving for a cigarette, you will remember that they are poisonous and you will not want it. You will have a piece of fruit instead, okay?”
They will say yes.
Verify that the imagery is consistent with the goal you are trying to achieve.
Ask your subject, “What are you going to see when you take a cigarette out of the pack?”
Your subject should say, “A poison symbol,” or something similar.
At this point, if they do not know, then you should repeat the imagery. If they are conclusive with your imagery, ask what they are going to do now when they have a craving.
They should say, “Eat a piece of fruit” or something similar.
You should ask more questions that verify intent, without sounding critical or like you don’t believe them, such ask, “What are some fruits you will eat when you are craving a cigarette?”
They may say banana, apple, whatever. Always agree, even if they say something that is not a fruit. After all, you don’t really care of they eat fruit; your goal is to replace the cigarette craving.
Now role play a little bit, but keep the same, steady, tone.
“What are you going to do tomorrow when you want a cigarette?”
They may say eat a fruit, or they may say they will see the poison symbol.
Both answers are correct.
If they say I’m going to smoke that cigarette, then you need to go back through the imagery, always agreeing.
You might say, “Okay, let’s think about what that cigarette looks like after it comes out of the pack.” And start from there again.
Once your subject is in full agreement to see poison and eat a piece of fruit, tell them how they should expect to feel.
Say, “I want you to imagine feeling satisfied after you eat fruit. The fruit will make you feel good. How will the fruit make you feel?”
They should say, “I will feel good” or something similar.
You can consider the session successful and end the hypnotic state.
If the subject is resistant…
If at any time the subject is resistant, or if you notice any sweating, stress or tensing of the body or face, you should stop the experiment and try again another time.
Whenever you stop the hypnosis, whether successful or not, you must carefully bring your subject back to a conscious state to avoid stressing the brain in this state of heightened awareness.
You begin to withdraw your subject from the hypnotic state by giving them an expectation, and let your voice gradually return from soft and lulling to a normal conversational tone.
You might say, “I know you are feeling very relaxed, like you are asleep, and your eyes may be very heavy. You are going to start feeling more awake as I talk to you now, and when we are finished, you are going to feel so good about not smoking anymore. Are you ready to move forward?”
Now you can simply allow them to fully awaken by asking them to take some deep breaths, squeeze and relax different muscle groups, smile, and open their eyes.
Hypnosis can be very beneficial, and it is relatively easy to learn with a willing participant!
Practice the breathing techniques on yourself and say the words you will use out loud to practice your soothing voice.
Make some notes of the phrases you will use, and keep to a very methodical routine. Fairly soon, you just might be the one your friends go to when they need help.
If you want to learn more about hypnosis techniques that work, I strongly recommend you read through RebelMentalism. It shows you the exact steps and techniques that professional hypnotists use on their patients.