Learn about waking suggestion

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If your training did not include adequate coverage of the power of waking suggestion, it is time that you seek out that training. Waking suggestion is going on all the time and a professional hypnotherapist can use it widely for the benefit of the client. Earlier in this book I discussed suggesting time distortion before the hypnosis session as an example of waking suggestion.

Let me briefly explain the principle of waking suggestion. First I'd like you to think about the purpose or function of hypnosis as being the bypass of the critical factor of the conscious mind. The critical factor is a comparing function of the mind. It is always comparing new information that is coming in with all of your past experiences, knowledge and beliefs. If the new information easily agrees with what is believed to be true and with what is already stored in the subconscious mind, the new information is accepted as true and filed away.

If the information is significantly different from what is already held to be true, based upon what is already stored within the subconscious mind, it is considered to be false information. Some therapists would say that it is rejected by the client. But it is not totally rejected, as in forgotten. It has its own special place in the subconscious mind in a kind of anomaly file, or not-true file. The anomaly file is filled with little pieces of "misinformation" that you know about, but don't accept as true.

How well you are able to reject misinformation depends on a couple of factors. First of all is how much you know about a subject. If you believe that you know a great deal about a subject, you have a lot of power to reject information that is inconsistent with what you "know." If, however, you don't know much about something, you have little ability to reject new, but perhaps erroneous, information on that topic. For example, if you are at your doctor's office and she mistakenly gives you information about your illness or condition, you may automatically accept whatever opinion given as true. If you don't have much medical background or information regarding your condition, then whatever she suggests is rather difficult to reject. It just goes right into the subconscious mind and is accepted as true, and your system can respond to the misinformation in a way that is to your detriment. (Of course, the opposite can also be true, where misleading information can cause a condition to improve.)

Most of us have heard about placebos.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 3rd Edition defines "placebo" and "placebo effect" as follows


1. A substance containing no medication and prescribed or given to reinforce a patient's expectation to get well.

2. An inactive substance or preparation used as a control in an experiment or test to determine the effectiveness of a medicinal drug.

3. Something of no remedial value that is used to appease or reassure another.

Placebo effect

1. A beneficial effect in a patient following a particular treatment that arises from the patient's expectations concerning the treatment rather than from the treatment itself.

A typical example of the placebo effect at work can occur in the course of medical research. When the effectiveness of a new drug is being evaluated, it is necessary to know whether the drug actually causes the desired effect, or whether the mere suggestion that it might work causes the effect. Patients participating in the research are not allowed to know if they are receiving the real drugs or placebos, and the drug is evaluated by the researchers, based in part, on how the two groups of patients respond. In the drug trials, the particular medication that is being tested must show more than mere effectiveness—it must be shown statistically that it can out perform the placebo! That is how strong the power of suggestion is! (Don't worry, doctors are not allowed to do this unless you volunteer to be part of a study.)

You must also understand that many people (including doctors, parents, teachers, and experts in general) are constantly making suggestions that can rapidly bypass the critical factor and have the similar effect upon your client. This has occurred to your client, both in her past and as an adult. Waking suggestion has a constant effect upon us, this is in part why experts, authority figures and role models are used in advertising.

Realize that other professionals, especially physicians, can have

a powerful effect on your hypnosis sessions with your clients, their patients. If a doctor tells her patient that hypnosis will take care of the problem and that you are the best hypnotherapist she has ever known, then your ability to help her patient has been greatly increased. However, if after you have had a successful hypnosis session, your client's physician tells her that hypnosis is a hoax, the misinformed physician can completely undo all of your work!

Any authority figure can undo what you have done in a good hypnosis session, especially if the authority figure is your client's physician, clergy, minister or priest. Literally anyone who "outranks" the hypnotherapist in the mind of the client.

Waking suggestion, which results in mental expectation, is a powerful and interesting phenomenon that deserves more research.

Furthermore, it seems that people are able to borrow another individual's critical factor. When a person who you accept as an authority rejects something, your critical factor will behave in accordance with the accepted authority's beliefs. This is continuously going on with children. Since they have considerably less information about how the world works than their parents, they constantly accept and reject information dependent upon whether it appears to the child that the parents seem to accept a particular thing as being true or not true.

An unfortunate example of waking suggestion working upon the subconscious mind of the child occurs when adults in a family behave in racially or religiously prejudicial ways. As parents make biased or hateful statements about other people, the subconscious mind of the child (having little reality-based information regarding these people) simply accepts what is said as being absolutely true. It will then take a substantial amount of evidence sometime down the road to overcome such suggestions.

Once you have established yourself as an authority at what you do, you are in a position to make use of this phenomena of waking suggestion. This is one reason that projecting

professionalism and doing a well thought out pre-talk can be vitally important to your client's success.

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