A question I'm often asked is how do you hypnotise someone? There are several steps in the hypnosis process which are particularly useful if you're looking to carry out hypnosis either for street or stage performances. In this week's blog I'll be looking at the steps that I take when going through the process of hypnotising someone.
The first thing is to set out your stall and perform your pre-talk with your prospective volunteers. A pre-talk establishes who you are, what you do and briefly describes what hypnosis is. Your pre-talk will vary in length depending on whether you're doing a stage performance or a street performance. For example my street pre-talk goes something like:
Hi, I haven't met you yet, have I? My name's Jason and I'm a hypnotist, what do you think hypnosis is?
By asking the question, it gives them time to answer what they believe hypnosis is and then I can tailor my response to align with their expectations. This also gives me the opportunity to quell anymisconceptions or concerns that they may have.
Street and impromptu performances often have small windows of opportunity and people usually want to see something quick.
For a stage performance your pre-talk would generally be longer and may include examples of people that you don't want volunteering from a safety perspective as well as a more thorough description of what hypnosis is.
The next step for street and stage is to carry out suggestibility tests. The purpose of a suggestibility test is to find out who is going to respond best to the suggestions later down the line. I should note here that it isn't always necessary to carry out and more often than not if I'm working with a few people I'll go straight for hypnosis without a suggestibility test however, it's useful to follow this process if you're starting out.
There are many suggestibility tests that you can carry out with your volunteers including, a hand lock, magnetic fingers or magnetic hands to name but a few.
At this point you're observing who is following your suggestions best and then you're selecting them to continue with the process.
Next comes the induction, this is the process that you use to get someone into a 'state' of hypnosis (please note, hypnosis being state based is often argued against). This maybe a PMR conducted by the hypnotist (progressive muscle relaxation) or it may be one of the many rapid inductions that are widely used.
Personally, if I'm performing a stage show, I'll often carry out a progressive muscle relaxation and mix in a couple of rapid inductions because I feel that this goes along with the expectation of the audience and fits in with the 'theatre' of the show however, I almost always use a rapid induction when performing on the street.
When I started out my favourite induction was one I'd found in Anthony Jacquin's: Reality is Plastic which is called the rehearsal. I liked the fact that you demonstrate the technique on yourself before performing it on the client/ subject which really helped to relax me into the induction. I'd highly recommend looking up this induction if you're starting out.
Now I tend to use an eye fixation induction, or a magnetic hands induction although I still use the rehearsal in therapeutic settings.
After you're induction you want to perform a series of 'deepeners' to deepen the state. I don't tend to perform these often although for the purpose of this post I will run through the process.
You can deepen someones state in a variety of ways. This can be done by suggesting that they go deeper e.g. every breath you take will allow you to go even deeper. You could perform physical deepeners e.g. I'm going to lift (or tug) this arm and as it drops into your lap you can go even deeper.
You can also perform fractionalisation for example: From this point forward anytime I say the word sleep, you'll instantly return to this state going even deeper.
You're almost at the fun bit, first get some admin out of the way. It's important to make sure you're volunteers are kept safe at all times and it's also important to make sure that they understand what is expected of them. Let's look at the safety suggestion first.
From this point forward, if for any reason you need to leave the room, any suggestion you have been given that is of no use to you will be gone from your mind and you'll return to a normal waking state.
Then the super suggestion:
From this point forward anything I say will become your reality. You'll know what I say you'll know, you'll think, hear, say, do what I ask you to do. Nod your head if you understand.
Once you've completed the suggestions above you can start throwing suggestions out to people and testing whether they work. It's advisable to start with something physical like a hand/ chair stick and then to progress on from there leading up to hallucinations (the holy grail). This is usually because most people can respond to something physical however, less can visualise something.
Note: It's advisable to look into dealing with ab-reactions prior to working with someone because forewarned is forearmed. You can check out my blog on this as well as other hypnosis related subjects such as setting up a stage show and tips for successful street hypnosis.
You've performed some amazing hypnotic feats, people are cheering and at times laughing along and you now need to bring the party to a close safely and efficiently.
It's important to remove any suggestions and to 'wake them up' properly at the end of your stint. You can if you wish give them a gift, for example I ask them to think of something they'd like to change and that when I reach the number 5 their eyes will open only as quickly as their mind and body can allow that change. It's a small token of thanks for being such a good sport.
To wake them up I ask the subject to close their eyes and say something to the effect of:
In a moment I'm, going to count up from one to five and when I reach five any suggestion that is of no use to you will be completely gone from your mind and you'll feel fantastic from your head all the way down to the tips of your toes.
1 becoming aware of your feet on the floor
2 becoming aware of the muscles in your back
3 Taking a nice deep breath in
4 Feeling as if your eyes have been bathed in fresh spring water
5 Eyes open feeling good.
Always check in on your subject and make sure they're happy, if they report they still feel heavy, sleepy etc. Ask them to close their eyes and do the wake up again.
After a performance I always hang around for a while and I ask the volunteers to come and see me if they have any questions. It's important to appear professional and because we're in the business of working with people we have to have their safety and well being whilst in our care at the forefront of our minds.
Happy hypnotising, feel free to ask any questions you may have.
All the best,
Jason Simmons is a hypnotist and mind coach and is the author of the forthcoming book: The Hypnosis Hand Book: A Spell bindingly good read.
Jason has recently featured in an article for www.fixmeinfortyfive.com and the popular blog www.isabellaandus.com
Jason hosts monthly street hypnosis meet ups in London, if you're interested in attending feel free to drop him an email: firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up to the mailing list.