Last month I said that these days we no longer rely on gimmicks or paraphernalia in order to induce trances in people. Many experiments have shown that imaginary aids are much more effective. In one experiment one group of subjects where taught to induce a trance by staring at a crystal ball six inches away and slightly above their range of vision. When the same group where induced without a crystal ball they had problems and found it difficult. However when they where told to imagine looking at a crystal ball they went into a trance more quickly and the depth of the trance was more profound.
Your imagination is a very powerful tool when used in hypnosis. The problem with external props is that they can actually distract you as you move into a trance. The regular pulse of a physical metronome can disturb you where as an imaginary one will speed up or slow down, get louder or quieter, depending on your needs. While you concentrate on the imaginary prop your conscious mind is busy.
The skill of the professional hypnotist depends on his ability to interpret a subjects reactions and body movements while they go into trance. In this way he can ensure that his suggestions have the greatest effect. A bad hypnotist will concentrate to much on what he is saying to a subject and not pay enough attention to what the subject is actually feeling and experiencing. For example expressions like sleep, sleepy, and sleeping should be timed to coincide with the movement of a subject's eyelid movements and breathing.
Erikson was acutely aware of this and he would go to great lengths to co-operate with a subjects own desires. On one occasion a subject who seemed unable to go into deep trance after several hours of effort asked if she could advise on the techniques being used. She was a graduate in psychology but had no experience of hypnosis. Erickson readily agreed and she would say things like:-
"You're talking too fast on that point; you should say that very slowly and emphatically and keep repeating it. Say that very rapidly and wait a while and then repeat it slowly; and please, pause now and then to let me rest, and please don't split your infinitives]'
With her help she obtained a profound almost stuporous trance, which was achieved in only thirty minutes.
As with most hypnotic induction techniques what you are trying to do is suspend the critical factor. When using the confusion technique you present a whole series of individually differing, contradictory suggestions, which are at variance with one another. The aim is to cause the subject to make a constant shifts of orientation in order to try and make sense of it all. While the conscious mind is grappling with all this a simple emphatic suggestion to sleep is welcomed by the conscious mind.
If we take hand levitation as an example. I might give someone strong suggestions to raise their right hand while also giving suggestions of immobility of the left hand. Then you give suggestions to levitate the left hand and immobility of the right hand. This is obviously contradictory. As the subject gets used to his confusion, and in so doing starts to co-operate with the suggestions, more suggestions are then given of immobility of both hands at the same time as suggestions of one levitating and the other remaining still, then a return to the original suggestion.
It is important to give your suggestions quickly, insistent, and confident in this way it is hard for the subject to make any sense of it all. What you want is for him to get used to his situation and co-operate as best he can. In this way he learns to yield to the situation you are creating. Eventually he will welcome any positive clear suggestion you make.
This was often used by Erickson with people who he thought were good potential subjects but who had initially made little response to hypnosis. There are different ways it can be used. Here is one example:- There was once a medical student who said he didn't think he could develop amnesia in trance. He wanted to go into trance but at the same time didn't want to co-operate with Erickson by developing amnesia. The student decided to take part in a demonstration but selected his own proof of amnesia namely the removal of his right shoe.
He achieved a good trance and was given a large number of instructions such as borrowing a student's cigarettes, another's glasses, etc. While he was doing this Erickson repeatedly told him to forget the simple tasks he was carrying out. At some point Erickson slipped in the suggestion that upon awakening, while talking to the class about whether or not he had developed amnesia, he would cross the room , write a sentence on the blackboard, sign his name, while still talking to the class.
When he awoke, he stated that he remembered everything that was said to him and what tasks he had performed. This remark was challenged in the class whereupon he then gave a heated account about what had taken place. While he was still talking to the class he strolled up to the blackboard, wrote the sentence signing his name and returned to his seat.
When the writing on the board was brought to his attention he denied he had written it and triumphantly showed the class his right foot with the shoe still on it and declared that this proved his earlier statement that he had no amnesia. Continuing his remarks he absentmindedly removed his shoe from his right foot! He was unaware he had done this until after Erickson had dismissed the class. He finally agreed that he had indeed developed amnesia without conscious knowledge of the fact. The class returned and he was asked to write out the sentence once more. While he did this Erickson made a few suggestions and the student went back into a deeper trance.
So what happened here was that the student was given a large number of simple tasks to perform seemingly to produce amnesia but in reality to allow him to succeed again and again which was what he really wanted. What he thought of as failures, i.e. that fact that he could remember these acts, where successful rehearsals leading up to the main theme the development of amnesia. The careful way in which the main suggestion, the writing on the board, made it different from the more emphatic instructions used for the other acts. The little successes of not developing amnesia fuelled his desire for more success which was to actually develop amnesia. The process of writing out the sentence again placed him once more in same situation by that fact that he had already rehearsed this event before, and so a deep trance was made possible.
Multiple Dissociation Technique:-
Another technique Erickson often used to induce a deep trance and maintaining it is called the "Multiple Dissociation Technique". What happens is the subject is invited to induce multiple hallucinations where different, but connected, objects are visualised. What he sometimes did was ask a subject to create in their mind a crystal ball while in a light trance. In one case he was dealing with a woman in a very depressed state and what he did was ask her to imagine a happy image or incident from her past.
Soon she had several crystal balls in existence at the same time each representing a different part of her earlier life. Once she was co-operating in this way he found it easier to help her develop a deep and consistent trance necessary to help her therapeutically. The same technique was used with a musician where he was asked to think of a past experiences while at the same time putting a haunting sound track with it in his mind. The repetitive nature of this technique is very helpful to those people who are normally unresponsive to hypnotic suggestion.
Post - Hypnotic -Techniques:-
This is a technique where a hypnotist introduces a subtle or unobtrusive suggestion which will allow the subject to develop a spontaneous trance at a later stage. We have already seen an example of how a post hypnotic suggestion worked when the medical student repeated an act he had done previously while in trance, i.e. writing on the black board, which made him much more amenable to going into a second trance. Sometimes a subject finds it difficult to go into a deeper trance and so a post hypnotic suggestion can be a very useful ploy in these cases. If the subject can develop a spontaneous trance by executing a simple post-hypnotic act they can often be taught to deepen it. This method can be repeated at each stage making it easier and easier each time.
Was this article helpful?
Hypnosis is a capital instrument for relaxation and alleviating stress. It helps calm down both the brain and body, giving a useful rest. All the same it can be rather costly to hire a clinical hypnotherapist, and we might not always want one around when we would like to destress.