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Psychology and hypnosis

Psychology and Hypnosis

Psychology and Hypnosis

Psychology and Hypnosis sit together very uneasily. Everything that hypnotists do is based on a theory of how the mind works. Some of this theory is very old and based on therapy room experience. Some of it can barely be counted as theory since it is based on notions of cosmic influence which cannot be tested. And some of it is based on laboratory-based psychology studies.

The theory which is based on public psychology is thought to be more reliable than the other parts. There is a great deal of criticism of hypnosis and hypnotherapy simply because there is no concrete explanation of how and why it works. So wherever possible hypnotherapists build on findings from University psychology studies in order to validate what they are doing.

Psychology and Hypnosis bias

All academic studies and social science are subject to bias and error and psychology has come in for increasing criticism in the last few years. Most published psychology studies only feature positive results. Psychology studies which failed I just ignored, and do not get published.

This is known as publication bias. Another common bias is to do the studies on your own students. Something like 80% of public psychology articles are actually based on surveying first and second year students. These are definitely not representative of the whole population.

However, recently a much more worrying criticism has emerged. Two of the most famous psychology experiments have been found to be deeply flawed and possibly fraudulent. One is the famous Stanford prison experiment. In this experiment students were randomly allocated to act as warders or prisoners. As the experiment progressed warders got more and more cruel, and prisoners got more and more desperate to get out.

The lesson from the experiment was that giving people a role influences how they behave. It now turns out, 40 years later, that some of the prisoners and guards are admitting that they were acting. They were pretending to the emotions that they displayed. In fact, the students have admitted to doing what they thought the researchers wanted them to do.

A new psychology paradigm?

As a student study this really doesn't seem too surprising or too important. However, this experiment has influenced two generations of psychologists and has generated much follow-up research. The other famous research, Milgram's electrocution experiment has come in for similar criticism. Later researchers have claimed that the students delivering the electric shocks were encouraged to go on beyond the point that they wanted to.

The point is not that these experiments were deliberately fraudulent. They were not. The point is that for almost 50 years there have been accepted as examples of good practice. The reality is that these and many other psychological experiments have later been found to be defective. They just do not stand up to scrutiny and practice.

Maybe there is something to be said for basing your therapy room practice on your own practical experience, rather than try to incorporate something that may or may not be valid?

Should hypnosis be theory based? Leave a comment below.

 

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Stage hypnotist Rapid Induction

Stage Hypnosis Inductions

Stage Hypnosis Inductions

I got an email today:

I recently purchased the "Best Hypnosis Induction Scripts" package instant download version and I really love it. I've bought a lot of hypnosis scripts from your site. I am a young hypnotist (19 years-old) and this has provided the best of assistance to me so I want to say thank you as I am seriously considering becoming a stage hypnotist and I might just book my first gig at a corporate event party at my company soon despite me being so young.

Getting to the point now... although every single induction is very useful within the hypnosis scripts' package, the Instant and Rapid Inductions are personally the best of service to me because I am going to do hypnosis for stage performing/entertainment and demonstration purposes. Instant Inductions are short, quick, and instant and will work well for me in my field of work.

That leads me to my question: is there, by any chance, a way for you to personally provide me some more instant and rapid induction scripts via email? The ones you provided are great! It's just that I would love to have more in my arsenal as a hypnotist. It would mean the world to me if you could personally develop some for me in the same organized step-by-step format you used in the hypnosis scripts package. You know, with the organized tables that explained what to do when?

I know it sounds like a lot to ask but I am a loyal customer after all and I need help more than ever. My boss could set me up with my first stage hypnosis gig at the company party. It'd really be cool if you could hook me up with some more instant and rapid inductions via email since that seems to be the simple route. Anyway, let me know. Thanks!

Stage Hypnosis Inductions

My reply was:
Good to hear from you. And thank you for those kind words about my scripts.

I am not a stage hypnotist myself, but I have been to many, many stage hypnosis shows.

I can understand why you think you need more inductions, but I think you are looking at the wrong part of a stage show. The key skill in a smooth stage show lies in selecting the right participants. Everyone can be hypnotised. Hypnotic induction is actually fairly simple. So it's not the induction that is critical. What is absolutely, totally crucial is including the top 5% of hypnotisable people in your audience.

Suppose you have a group of 50 people. You would not want more than five people upon stage. Therefore all you have to do is to find the top 10% of the audience and that will give you your five people. Stage shows on Youtube always miss out this part of the show. But it is the most important part.

Stage Hypnosis is entertainment, not science

You need to spend five or 10 minutes warming up your audience before anyone gets to the stage. Then you get the whole audience involved by inviting everyone to close their eyes and imagine a weight on one hand and a balloon on the other hand. Take note of the people whose hands rise and fall. The ones whose hands rise and fall a bit are hypnotised. The ones whose hands are way up and down are faking it. But that's okay. You're not there to demonstrate hypnosis.

Your job is to entertain people. The people who are faking it are all exhibitionists who want people to look at them. They will go along with whatever you suggest as long as they can show off. They want to get up on stage and act silly and do everything else you want. You want to get a mixture of the easily hypnotised and the exhibitionists.

If you end up with too many potential participants, then you need to refine the group. Do another test for hypnotisability. The easiest tests are Magnetic Hands and Hands Stuck To Your Thighs. This is a much stronger test of hypnotisability, especially the Hands Stuck to Your Thighs test. The people who naturally can do this are your ideal participants.

While you are doing the testing you're actually entertaining the audience. They are trying it themselves, and they are also seeing the people around them who are responding. You are setting up the expectation for both the participants and the audience for the rest of the show. Make the selection process one of the funniest parts of your show.

Stage Hypnosis Induction safety on stage

Invite the fakers and the highly susceptible up on stage. Then you do a group induction. Do not do an instant or rapid induction. Your chances of getting an abreaction with an instant induction are very high. No one wants to see someone lying unconscious on the stage thrashing around  as if they are in an epileptic fit. That is definitely not good for business. You can expect to get one person in 200 to go into an abreaction. You need to avoid that until you have a lot more experience, and know how to deal with it.

Abreactions is the main reason why there are so few stage hypnotists. Hypnotising people in public is easy. Getting people to do stupid things on stage is easy. Dealing with someone in the grip of a full-on psychological terror is not.

Stage Hypnosis Induction safety for you

After you have done the group induction you will find that some people are actually not in trance and not amongst the exhibitionist group either. Get them off the stage immediately. Also, get rid of the drunks.

Then, turn to the audience at that point, and say something to make sure that anyone in the audience who was also induced snaps out of it. Use a bit of audience participation and get them to poke each other or something like that. Get every to say aloud that they are not in trance.  You do not want anyone coincidentally crashing their car on the way home and saying it's your fault.

Keep your Stage Hypnosis inductions simple

My advice is for you to leave out the Standing Inductions and the Handshake Inductions until you have perfected your basic show. All those polished performers that you see in Las Vegas or on that television show have had 15 or 20 years experience before getting to that point.

Good luck with your next show. You can be a star.

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freud and hypnosis

Freud and Hypnosis

I keep meeting people who are in awe of Sigmund Freud. I am not one of them. At university, I studied Freud and the more I learn of his ideas, the more I dislike them and everything about them. Many people now regard him as little more than a self publicist.

Most people know nothing of the connection between Freud and hypnosis. It comes as a surprise that Freud was originally a hypnotist. He learned the medical use of hypnosis from Charcot, the founder of modern clinical hypnotism.

Charcot was famous for running what was practically a circus of hysteria, using hypnosis to showcase the symptoms. Charcot was internationally famous while he was head of his clinic. But after his death most of his work was debunked and hypnosis was avoided by mainstream medical professionals for decades.

Freud and Hypnosis

Freud used hypnosis until it fell out of favor and then gradually developed his theory of psychology. The theory of primitive sexual drives made Freud one of the leading figures in the 20th Century. He was hugely influential for a whole generation of psychologists and educators.

However, nowadays researchers tend to question his methods and cases. Freud actually worked with very few clients. Most of his fame rests on a handful of cases. It is not that these few cases were the peak of his output, the fact is that these were practically the only cases he had.

He died in 1939 and started analytical therapy just before 1900, so he had about forty years of practice. He typically saw each client every day for an hour. That means that he could not have had more than eight clients a week. But each client was treated for about five years. So he could only have had about eight clients every five years.

Over forty years he would have treated at most sixty four individuals. Many of those were in fact students who had to undergo years of analysis before they could practice as psychoanalysts themselves. Plus he spent much of his life writing, travelling and lecturing. His whole theory is actually based on a very small sample.

A modern hypnotherapist will see more clients in a month than Freud did in his entire lifetime.

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smoking procrastination

Smoking Procrastination Fear of doing it wrong

You never stop learning in this business. My smoking client today said she loved smoking but had to give up because it was affecting her health. I asked what she loved about it and she told me that it calmed her down. It turned out that she had anxiety all the time. Smoking was how she self medicated. She actually had smoking procrastination.

Smoking Procrastination

I discovered that she came from an alcoholic family. This led me to suspect that she would have some form of depression and I started probing gently about that. When we got to the questions about Black and White thinking she said that she was a procrastinator. She would stay in bed in the morning and her husband would bring her cups of tea. And with every cup she would have a cigarette. She said that sometimes she would stand in front of her clothes closet and not know what to put on, so she would have a cigarette and think about it.

I traced this to the perfectionism associated with B & W thinking. She agreed that rather than take a decision that might be wrong she would put it off: smoking gave her an excuse to drag it out by another ten minutes. I think that she was fearing the wrath of her parent and wanted not to commit to anything in case it was the wrong action. In childhood when she got things wrong  she would get shouted at, and an argument would ensue.

It seemed that she was mainly smoking to avoid taking action. If she didn't do anything then there was no danger of anything that would trigger those old feelings of fear. This fear of doing things wrong was also the source of her ongoing lifelong anxiety.

Have you dealt with procrastination? How can it be overcome? Share your ideas below.

 

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attract luck

Can you learn to attract luck?

Can you learn to attract luck? Or is luck actually the outcome of hard work and natural talent? Suppose you are one of the 'unlucky' ones. Does that mean that you don't work hard, and have no talent? Clearly not.

And yet, some people just seem to be in the right place at the right time. Lucky people just seem to have some sort of magic attraction. What is it that lucky people have that others don't?

Can you learn to attract luck?

This question has actually been researched. It turns out that lucky people actually have a set of specific skills that make 'luck' happen to them. They have learned to maximize life's opportunities.

Obviously, there is more to success than luck. People living in extremely poor countries are not simply unlucky. But even within poor communities there are people who somehow get ahead.

Are you lucky?

Psychologists have run simple experiments to see if they can tell "lucky people" from "unlucky people". In one experiment, the researchers left a $20 note in the street. They discovered that those people who define themselves as lucky noticed it. People who said they were unlucky didn't notice it.

Similar results were found in other experiments. Another study asked volunteers to count the number of photographs in a newspaper. On the second page there was a large plain advertisement saying "stop counting now – there are 58 photographs". The advertisement did not have a photograph in it. Just the words. The "lucky" people noticed it and stop counting. The "unlucky" people scanned right past it, and kept counting.

The differences seems to be that lucky people are always open to opportunities. Unlucky people worried about the task and didn't even notice.

Principles of attracting luck

From these and other experiments four basic principles of "luck" are:

  1. Maximize your chance of opportunities
  2. Listen to your intuition
  3. Expect good things to happen
  4. Find ways to turn your bad luck into good luck

The strategies for learning how to attract luck will be familiar to every hypnotherapist. They include: meditation and self-hypnosis to increase intuition. Relaxation to reduce anxiety. Visualization of success and luck. And Socialisation, making a point of making one new friend or acquaintance every week.

It seems that being lucky is closely associated with good social skills. Other researchers have taught people how to be open to new experiences, relaxation techniques, conversational skills, and interpersonal skills. The key seems to be making yourself open to what is going on around you, and how you feel about yourself.

Bad luck linked to anxiety

What these skills are really doing is reducing anxiety. If you are totally wound up inside, if you're afraid of meeting new people then you are less likely to notice opportunities around you. It is not that lucky people attract more opportunities. Lucky people are just open to seeing opportunities when they arise. Anxious, introverted people are not.

If you are searching for a new job, and you are so anxious that there won't be one there, then you actually will not see what is right in front of you. When you're anxious you lose your peripheral vision. Your body goes into fight or flight mode and creates tunnel vision. You literally do not see the opportunity.

People who are anxious are caught in a circular trap. Because you're anxious, your unconscious mind focuses on threats, and excludes everything else. Anxious people are less likely to talk to strangers, and less likely to develop new friendships. The more people you know, the more supported you feel, and the more likely it is that you will hear about opportunities.

Teaching clients to attract luck

Being lucky is something that can be learned. Once you realize that there opportunities everywhere, you begin to see them.

This means that hypnotherapists really can help their clients achieve and become "lucky". A lot of what we do is called reframing. Reframing is simply seeing the good in bad situations. Once you enable your client to reinterpret their circumstances you are opening the door to them becoming "lucky".

Do you personally attract luck? Leave your comment below.

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smoking again

Why do people start smoking again?

I have had some interesting clients this week. One of them was a woman who came to see me to stop smoking six months ago. It was a success but then suddenly she just felt that she had to start smoking again.

She stopped smoking completely for about five months. She told me that she felt a wonderful sense of freedom. What worked for her was my hypnotic suggestions that she would feel as if she had never smoked. She had no cravings, no weight gain, no desire at all. The result was that she could mingle with smokers and be completely unaffected.

Start smoking again

But then someone close to her died. She went to the ceremony and felt totally devastated, understandably. On the way home she felt the emotional wrench so bad that she stopped and bought a packet of cigarettes, and smoked one, and then a second. She didn't think the cigarettes helped. But she just felt compelled to go on. It was the only thing she could do. So without wanting to, she had started smoking again.

I have never understood how this happens. How can a sensible person who hates smoking and has stopped for months allow themselves to start again?

Why do people start smoking again?

I have interviewed many people who have done this. Sometimes they have not smoked for years, in one case for seven years. Yet given a big enough emotional jolt, their instinct is to reach for a cigarette. I have never seen any explanation of this phenomenon that makes any sense to me.

I think the hypnotist who cracks that problem will become world famous. I'm still trying.

 

Why do you think people start again after a long time? Leave your comment below.

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money happy

How much money would make you happy?

How happy are you? Would having more money make you more happy? Does doubling someone's income double their happiness? There has been a great deal of research into the link between money and happiness. The results are not at all clear.

Money Happy 

In general, people with more money are happier than people with less money. However, it seems that there is a point after which having more money does not make you more happy. Research suggests that in any given society, people above this "satiation point", no matter how much they earn, do not get any happier.

The satiation point varies from country to country. Australia and New Zealand at the highest satiation points in the world. Latin America and the Caribbean have the lowest. The US and Europe are in the middle. The satiation point in general reflects the overall income in any given economy. The wealthier the economy, the higher the satiation point. It also varies by gender. Women report that they need more money to be happy than men do.

What is happiness?

The problem with this type of research is: how do you define happiness? In the hypnotherapy business our job is principally to make people feel happier with their life. And yet, we don't ever try to measure how happy people are. It is quite possible that people change their feelings about personal happiness over time. It is also possible that what makes you happy, or at least what your passion is, has nothing to do with income. 

Many people who live on  next to nothing appeared to be the happiest people around. Many wealthy people are definitely not happy. Is it possible that people with lower incomes are aware that they are unhappy, and seek out hypnotherapy more readily than wealthy people? Or do wealthy peopleseek out hypnotherapy for things that poorer people would just ignore, and put up with?

It is not a simple matter.

Does money determine happiness? Leave your comment below.

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trance happens

Weird ways that trance happens

A client phoned me yesterday. She told me she got alarmed while she was getting a head massage last week. She said that she had experienced exactly the same feelings and images during the head massage, as she had in her recent hypnosis session with me. She wanted know if this meant that the hypnosis effects were somehow spilling over into her daily life. I had to explain to her that sometimes trance happens when you don't expect it.

Trance happens all the time

Massage therapists report that up to a third of their clients actually go to sleep during the massage. The client usually thinks they have gone to sleep, but they are actually going into trance. What was happening in this case was that the massage was putting her into trance. The difference is that now she can recognize the effects for what they are.

Trance can be induced by anything that distracts your attention from the normal inputs to your mind. In the case of massage, the situation is perfect for trance induction: the room is warm, there is usually soft music playing, you are lying down, you are told to relax. Then your body is rhythmically rubbed in gentle strokes. This puts attention on something that does not normally get any notice: your skin. Focusing on the feelings from your skin means that you are not focusing on normal thoughts, and so your mind is free to drift off into trance.

Weird ways of going into trance

You don't have to have your eyes closed and be sitting down to go into trance. You can go into trance while doing any repetitive task. Soldiers report that when they are doing the route marches, the numbing repetitive activity causes their minds to go into trance. They can go on marching for hours without noticing it.

Many daily tasks induce trance. Watching an engrossing story on TV suspends your normal critical mind. You drift into your unconscious mind. That is why advertisers love it. You are in a uncritical receptive state when you see the ads. This makes the ads much more effective. 

For many people, playing computer games has exactly the same effect. They are so focused on the game that they lose all track of time.

Driving on a familiar commute becomes boring. Your actions become automatic, unthinking. It is very easy to allow your conscious mind to drift away somewhere and leave the driving to your unconscious reflexes. When that happens you go into "highway hypnosis". It is exactly the same as a hypnotic trance.

In traditional societies, drumming is a way of going into trance. The constant repetitive noise affects your brain. Your conscious mind gets "bored" with the unvarying stimulus. Your unconscious mind then takes over and you start experiencing the world through your unconscious mind. In that state, you have visions, hallucinations, messages from "beyond". This is basically what shamans do throughout the world.

The weirdest one that I have come across is in BDSM. A client told me that when she is getting spanked on the bottom it hurts. But after a while the pain becomes so great that her mind cannot take it any longer, and "escapes". This then leaves her in her unconscious mind where she can ignore the pain. When in her unconscious mind she has no problems, no worries, all the everyday things just disappear. And that's why she keeps going back to it.

What is the strangest way to go into trance? Leave your comment below.

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disphonia

Disphonia

My client today was well aware that she has depression. She is on prescription drugs for it. We had a long talk about how it is affecting her life and what she is able to do about it.

We talked about how she has All or Nothing thinking and how this affects her moods and her behaviours. She is aware that she sets unrealistic standards and get annoyed with herself when she does not reach them. She also told me that she also gets annoyed when other people at work do things that she doesn't like.

Disphonia

She described how it affects her when people do things that are not the way she thinks they should be done. So people eating in the workplace annoy her. People whistling or humming as they work annoy her. They annoy her intensely. She in fact has disphonia, an excessive almost rage-like reaction to ordinary harmless noises.

I had heard of this but never come across it before. I had thought about it, but could not imagine any mechanism that would explain it.

Disphonia is a symptom of depression

However this client may offer the key to the mystery. It seems in her case that it is an extreme case of Black and White thinking. People are doing things not the way they should be and that is what gets her annoyed. Eating, humming, whistling annoy her. It seems to me that disphonia is in fact a rather odd but understandable outcome of having internalized standards that you expect other people to live up to, and you get justifiably angry when they don't.

I imagine that at some point my client was told not to make a noise when she ate, and that became an internal rule for her. In her world, rules have to be obeyed. If they are not then anger arises. I can also see how she might have been told not to hum or whistle etc., and they too became must-obey rules.

Do you know someone with disphonia? Leave your comment below.

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impossible to hypnotize

Everyone can be hypnotized

Everyone can be hypnotized. But it might take a while. Last week I had one of those nightmare clients. No matter what you do, they will not go into trance. I had no reason to think that there would be any problem with this client. She seemed ready to go into trance and really wanted to give up smoking. I had treated her husband the day before and she wanted to help him give up as well as herself.

However, when I started with my usual induction it was clear that she was not responding they way I expected. She kept opening her eyes. When I asked her what she was experiencing she said "I can't visualize going down a corridor as you are asking me to". She also was not able to relax either.

So I used a different progressive muscle relaxation induction, and she seemed to be relaxing a bit. I then tried an Elman induction but she couldn't make the numbers disappear. I tried induction after induction and every time I tried for eye catalepsy her eyes opened.

She was not responding to the inductions at all. In fact she could not do anything that would lead to trance. I tested her for visualization ability. I found that she could not visualize at all. She did have a little kinesthetic orientation, but nothing else that I could find.

Stair Case induction

The Stairs induction is supposed to be ideal for kinesthetic people, but it didn't work either. In this case I had to admit defeat. But I was determined not to give up. So I asked her to let me think about it, and for her come back the following day. I spend the night thinking about what to do, and really worrying about "what if I just can't get her into trance?". I like to think that I know what I am doing, but this was a real challenge.

Feel the colors induction

The following day I had decided on a strategy. She came in I set up an instant induction and fired it. Nothing. She didn't even flinch. Then I did a color induction. You invited to think of feelings associated with a color. This is supposed to be a full proof induction for kinesthetics. By the third color she told me she didn't feel any associations with colors.

Cloud Induction

I tried her on an induction where the client imagines a cloud around them, and by increasing their depth of relaxation they can make the cloud dissipate. Several rounds of this did produce a noticeable level of relaxation.

Confusion Induction

I then threw in a long confusion induction, about the unconscious being conscious of the subconsciouis while the conscious was unconscious of the unconscious, and so on. She finally showed clear signs of trance. I then flowed straight into an elevator deeper where she pushed buttons to go down and down... and finally I got eye catalepsy.

So the lesson I take from this is that yes, everyone can be hypnotised, but sometimes it a real battle of wills. She went on to enjoy the feeling of being hypnotized and to give up smoking.

What do you do?

How do you deal with hard to hypnotize clients?

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