In this chapter for the first time we will meet some processes which have been passed down the years as being ways of producing some dramatic changes in the functioning of people. These are what have been called "hypnotic inductions". We start with a close look at an induction used by James Braid, the father of hypnotism. Then some other's, again from well-known names in the history of our subject, are given more briefly for you to try.
The question of whether as a result of such inductions a given person will respond more readily to suggestions is one that you can explore practically.
Some reasons are given why such inductions may have been more successful in the past, and need modifying for the present day.
So far some readers may be rather surprised that we have not yet done anything like an "induction", with the possible exception of the relaxation process of Chapter 2.
The reason for this is my declared aim to make hypnosis as understandable as possible, rather than as magical and mysterious as possible. The more you understand of the way in which the mind works under more or less normal conditions the better the foundation you will have for understanding how it will work under more extreme conditions.
But in this chapter I would like to introduce you to some "classical" approaches. The earlier practice that you have done on exploring various simple phenomena will help you to do these with rather more confidence and to understand better what the inductions are doing. In particular you will have seen in previous chapters how quite simple suggestions can lead to appropriate changes.
There are a few themes running through these approaches, some of which have evolved from certain mesmeric practices, which seem to have been copied and adapted slightly from person to person after James Braid first differentiated hypnotism from mesmerism in the middle of the nineteenth century.
These themes are:
1. Eye fixation
2. Eye closure
4. Arm catalepsy
As a starting point I would like you to try Braid's method out on some friends. This is what he did, with his own words in italics. I have appended comments and explanations in between the parts of this approach, to relate it to what has gone before.
TAKE ANY bright object(Igenerally use my lancet case) between the thumb and fore and middle finger of the left hand; hold it from about eight to fifteen inches from the eyes, at such a position above the forehead as may be necessary to produce the greatest possible strain upon the eyes and eyelids, and enable the patient to maintain a steady fixed stare at the object.
Feel free to use any object. You will see here a foreshadowing of the bright shiny swinging watch that people often associate with hypnosis. Some hypnotists just use their fingers. Others have specially made objects; bright torches, "hypnodiscs" - with swirling patterns on them, and so on. I have used a bright metal marble, an old bright cuff-link and a metal pendulum at times. Since it is a simple fact that the unusual holds the attention that bit better than the familiar you might like to exercise your imagination to finding something different.
The patient must be made to understand that he is to keep the eyes steadily fixed on the object, and the mind riveted on the idea of the object.
That is to say that the hypnotist will normally say clearly and definitely something like, "Now keep your eyes fixed on this. Let your mind be blank except for this." The effect aimed at is to switch off every other activity in the brain except that part which is aware of the object. In other words Braid is doing what you will have found yourself doing in earlier sessions: keeping the patient's mind fixed on one thing or idea for some period of time.
It will be observed, that owing to the consensual adjustment of the eyes, the pupils will be at first contracted: they will shortly begin to dilate.
Look out for this and see if you notice it. I cannot say that I have seen it happen always. Most other hypnotists make no reference to this.
After they have done so to a considerable extent, and have assumed a wavy motion, if the fore and middle fingers of the right hand, extended a little separated, are carried from the object towards the eyes, most probably the eyes will close involuntarily, with a vibratory motion.
What is being activated here is an instinctive response designed to protect the invaluable eyes. It seems to me to be activated most powerfully by a rapid movement towards the eyes. Normally you would have no need to override it consciously, but if you experiment on yourself a bit you should find that with a little effort of will you can indeed prevent it happening. Braid sadly gives no indication of the speed with which he advances his right fingers. You might like to try out various speeds for yourself.
Notice that there will be something of a conflict between the one system of the mind which is the instinctive closure response and another which is the part attempting to obey the previous direction to keep the object in view. I suggest that it is the struggle between these two that leads to the vibration that Braid observed.
You might compare the vibration that arises if you lock your hands firmly together and then pull your arms apart: the two arms are two systems fighting against each other. After a little while a vibration typically sets in.
If this is not the case, or the patient allows the eyeballs to move, desire him to begin anew, giving him to understand that he is to allow the eyelids to close when the fingers are again carried towards the eyes, but that the eyeballs must be kept fixed in the same position, and the mind riveted to the one idea ofthe object held above the eyes. It will generally be found, that the eyelids close with a vibratory motion, or become spasmodically closed.
Braid also experienced an aspect of our Standard Finding: that people vary, and some take longer to respond than others. In that case he simply makes sure that the subject has a clearer idea of what he expects to happen and repeats the exercise. In effect he is using a verbal directive to achieve a certain response of the eye muscles; a phenomenon we have seen in action for other muscles in Chapter 1.
After ten or fifteen seconds have elapsed, by gently elevating the arms and legs, it will be found that the patient has a disposition to retain them in the situation in which they have been placed, if
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Hypnosis has been defined as a state of heightened suggestibility in which the subject is able to uncritically accept ideas for self-improvement and act on them appropriately. When a hypnotist hypnotizes his subject, it is known as hetero-hypnosis. When an individual puts himself into a state of hypnosis, it is known as self-hypnosis.