Hypnosis Countdown

How a Countdown Induction works

Why use a countdown induction?

Countdown theory

Most hypnotic induction scripts use a countdown procedure such as "I am now going to count  from ten down to one, and with each number you will become more and more relaxed, more at ease. And when I reach the number one, you will find yourself in a deep trance". Countdown theory explains why this form is so common, and how it works.

The reason count down inductions work is because your mind works primarily by metaphor. A metaphor is where one thing is represented by another thing. For example, you can think about life as a path. That is a metaphor. "Life is like a violin" is a metaphor.

Metaphors are not just about words, we all have body metaphors, for example  "She is a pain in the neck". These are feelings and responses embedded in our body. "I hope you are following what I am thinking" - another metaphor.

When we are babies we have to learn some basic things about our world.

One of the very fundamental things all babies learn is the concept of 'up' and 'down'.

As infants we get lifted up and down.
Getting lifted up equals fun, attention, food and other active things.
Getting laid down equals quiet, being sung to, sleep.

Then we learn that the sun goes up and down.
When the sun goes down we go to sleep.
We all make unconscious associations between 'quiet, dark, down' and 'sleep'.

At school we learn that numbers go up and down.
We make unconscious associations with numbers and link the progression of numbers to the up/down basic concept.

Countdown theory of up/down is embedded in your brain

We talk about getting up, feeling up, (or feeling down) etc.

All of 'down' has to do with sleep, dark, quiet, sad, etc.

All of 'up' has to do with bright, alert, active, happy, etc.

So if I tell you that I am going to count down, this  causes you to expect things to go quiet and relaxed, as when preparing for sleep. I add to that by lowering my voice in ever deeper, 'darker' tones and getting more quiet as I reach the lower numbers. This triggers the entire metaphoric equivalence of 'down = sleep' and your body responds to that.

Then I add an visualization of going down stairs, or floors in a building, or down an escalator etc., and this adds another matching metaphoric element.
I then add to that suggestions that you relax your muscles. The physical metaphor of 'relaxation = prepare for sleep' takes effect  even more powerfully. This triggers more automatic responses. Then I suggest that you focus on your breathing, or the position of your hands, or some other physical aspect and your mind begins to get dissociated.

Put all of that together and most people slip into trance.

Whether you count 1 - 10 or 10 - 1 is irrelevant. Both can be considered going up or down, depending on how you choose to look at them. We are all comfortable with either direction. What is important is that you tell the client that the progression equals 'down'. That then triggers the metaphor equivalence.

A countdown induction doesn't need to be numbers

You can actually use other lists to induce trance. Why stick to numbers? Why not list all the railway stations from north to south? Well, if you recite the names of the stations in an ever deepening voice and modulate the volume, that list would work just as well.

It would also work if it was a long enough list of anything because the client's mind gets bored with a repetition of meaningless sounds and goes directly to dissociation. This is the basis of chants, mantras, religious rituals etc.

So, you do not need to use numbers. But numbers have the advantage of tapping into existing fundamental metaphors, and these are already linked to sleep and relaxation. So half the job is done.



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