BASIC HYPNOTIC TECHNIQUE
The first step on your path to mastering hypnotism is learning how to induce hypnosis in individual subjects. This is one of the most important skills you will acquire and its mastery is fundamental to your further development as a hypnotist.
The successful induction of hypnosis always begins with consent. The subject may make this acceptance consciously or unconsciously. In either case, the net result is the same, the subject "expects" to be hypnotized.
It must be understood that there are countless hypnotic techniques in existence. There is no one right or wrong technique. All are equally good, so long as they give confidence to the operator and faith to the subject, as discussed in Chapter One. The only purpose of any method of hypnotizing is to concentrate the subject's attention and thus to eliminate most of the disturbing influences while leaving but a single channel of suggestion, which is usually the voice of the hypnotist and the ear of the subject.
So-called passes-the use of the hands and arms to direct energy toward the subject during the induction-are completely unnecessary. These are actually a holdover from the nineteenth century. Even so, many modern day stage hypnotists still employ such dramatic gestures as a form of showmanship. This is fine, so long as it is understood there is no scientific basis for their use. Nor, is there any need to touch a subject's forehead, hand, knee, etc.-in general, no bodily contact is required. One's voice is a sufficient channel of communication for suggestion.
Practice the following hypnotic induction technique, one-on-one, with a wide range of subjects until you are able to successfully influence the majority of them. All external distractions should be eliminated or minimized as much as possible.
In the beginning, be prepared to wait up to ten minutes or longer for a subject to reach a state of hypnosis. Don't worry, speed will come with time. The most important consideration when starting out is learning the proper technique.
The following pre-hypnosis discussion with your subject is designed to take away any fears he or she might have about being hypnotized and losing control. It also puts the experience in the familiar context of ordinary sleep.
Begin the session by informally explaining to your subject that there is no need to fear hypnosis. Explain it's a completely harmless and enjoyable experience that will leave your subject feeling relaxed and at ease. Say being hypnotized feels no different than dozing off on the couch.
Ask your subject, "Are you willing to be hypnotized? This establishes consent.
Some subjects believe they will be difficult to hypnotize because they have strong will power. Tell them this is a complete misconception. Explain that people who are more intelligent, more creative or stronger-willed, actually make the best hypnotic subjects- since their powers of concentration are better than those of the average person. It's people who lack self control or are unable to focus on an idea who are the most difficult to hypnotize.
One of the key aspects of most hypnotic induction techniques, is the focusing of the subject's attention on an "object of fixation." This object is held or suspended in position about one foot in front of the subject. It should also be just high enough (over the subject's head), so it causes the person to raise his or her eyes slightly upward to concentrate attention. Such placement is conducive to fatiguing the eyes which, incidentally, occupy approximately the same position as normal sleep.
Straining the eyes to concentrate on the object, cramps the subject's attention. At first, the pupils contract slightly in an attempt to focus. Continued concentration leads to a relaxation of the optic muscles and dilation of the pupils-this indicates dimness of vision. The greater the effort to concentrate on the object, the quicker the subject will succumb to the above effects. Watch for signs of eye fatigue and take them as a visual cue to begin suggesting the subject close his eyes. This process is covered in Phase II of The Induction Script.
You can use almost any point or object to focus the subject's attention on, so long as it is positioned in such a way that the subject is forced to strain the eyes upward to focus on it. This can be a coin, crystal, medallion, ball, or a pocket watch dangling from a chain-as often associated with hypnotic induction in the popular media. Objects that reflect light back toward the subject are best suited to this task.
Memorize the three-phase script on pages 21 and 22. It provides you with a general framework for the hypnotic induction of an individual subject. Keep in mind, hypnotism is an interactive process. You must watch for visual cues and be prepared to adjust your presentation accordingly. For example, if the subject's eyes close early, you would not keep suggesting, "Look steadily at the watch." Rather, you would advance to, "Your eyes are closed now. Keep them closed and shut out the light." Similarly, if the subject is not fully relaxing or concentrating at the beginning of the induction, feel free to repeat the appropriate portions of Phase I until your suggestions begin generating the desired responses.
For the sake of simplicity, we will assume you are using a pocket watch as the subject's object of fixation in the following script. If you are using some other object, just make the appropriate substitutions wherever the word "watch" appears.
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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.