How Does the Hypnotic Induction Work? Will It Work on Me?

hypnotic induction

Scientific research shows that hypnosis can be effective in a therapeutic context. A randomized trial demonstrated that hypnosis was more effective than behavioral counseling for smoking cessation. The trial found that 20% of smokers stopped smoking after hypnosis compared to only 14% who had counseling.

Hypnosis has incredible benefits for everyone. So how do you know hypnotic induction will work on you? Keep reading to learn more.

What Is Hypnosis?

You may be entering hypnotic states several times a day without being aware that this is happening. Hypnosis is a natural and common experience. It’s not confined to the comedy hypnotist’s stage or the therapeutic hypnotist’s clinic.

The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis is a membership organization for professional hypnotists using hypnosis in a healthcare setting. They define hypnosis as a state of consciousness whereby the subject has an increased “capacity for response to suggestion”.  This state involves a reduction in “peripheral awareness” and “focused attention”.

So, hypnosis is not about a loss of control or consciousness. It is a state in which people can make changes to their psychological and physiological conditions.

This means that hypnosis can help people with psychological, emotional and behavioral problems. It can also be used to help with physiological conditions too.

The Science Bit

Recent developments in neuroscience have been able to identify what is happening in the brain when someone is in a hypnotic state. There are specific parts of the brain that show electrical activity when a person is in a trance. How the mechanism works is disputed but work, it most certainly does.

What Does a Hypnotist Do?

Hypnotists use a range of techniques but there are some common approaches. Typically, a hypnotist will start with some form of screening. This is followed by hypnotic induction.

This altered state of consciousness is then deepened. This deepening process helps with increasing the subject’s suggestibility.

Suggestions are then put to the subject. These suggestions may be about things that will happen after they are no longer in a trance state.

The hypnotist will then guide the subject back to being fully conscious. This ending of the session can be described as waking up. Suggestions are made about this awakening including, for example, that they will feel refreshed.

The suggestions about things that will happen after the hypnosis session are called post-hypnotic suggestions. They could include changes to appetite, urges to smoke or indeed reaction to trigger words during a stage hypnotist’s performance.

Stage Hypnosis

Your experience of hypnosis may be limited. Unless you have sought help from a clinical hypnotherapist it’s likely that the only hypnosis you have witnessed is that of a stage hypnotist. This can lead to many misconceptions about hypnosis.

What you have witnessed when you have seen a stage hypnotist work is a small part of the whole process. It’s likely that you have not seen the screening or induction stages. The volunteers will have been carefully selected and prepared for the show.

This does not mean that they are not truly hypnotized but the stage hypnotist has selected only those subjects who are cooperative. They will have completed the hypnotic induction and have been given post-hypnotic suggestions that make them easy to return to a trance state on stage.

What Is Hypnotic Induction?

After the initial screening of subjects to identify any previous experience of hypnosis or any indication of resistance comes the induction stage. A light trance is induced by some simple guided relaxation. Slowing the breathing or becoming conscious of breathing can help distract the subject’s mind.

The subject is then invited to relax progressively until they are in a deep trance. Some hypnotists accelerate this process by using a technique that puts them into a temporary state of confusion. They then suggest an action such as sleeping which helps resolve the confusion about what to do.

The induction may be followed by more deepening techniques until the subject is ready for some suggestions.

Will Hypnosis Work on Me?

Some people are susceptible to hypnotic induction. Others are less susceptible. A few, perhaps 25% are not susceptible at all.

Of those that are susceptible to hypnotic induction only up to 10% are highly susceptible. That leaves a huge majority of people, up to almost 80% who are moderately susceptible. That means nine out of every ten people are either highly or moderately capable of being hypnotized.

Given the odds, it’s very likely that you will be susceptible to hypnotic induction. Hypnosis is a cooperative activity. If for some reason you are resistant to the hypnotist’s suggestions you are unlikely to cooperate and so will not enter a hypnotic state or trance.

It is a fallacy that people can be hypnotized against their will. Resistance to being hypnotized is likely to inhibit the process of induction.

Other Indications of Susceptibility

There are other indications that hypnosis might work on you. If you have been hypnotized before it’s likely that you will be able to be hypnotized again.

If you engage in mindfulness practices such as meditation or yoga it’s likely that you are used to entering different states of consciousness. This experience may mean you have an openness to entering a hypnotic state. This could help the hypnotic induction work more effectively with you.

Younger people tend to be receptive to alternative experiences and less resistant. This can make young adults and children good subjects for hypnosis.

Most people enter some level of trance-like state at some point without the help of a hypnotist. Daydreaming is a familiar experience for most people. It is very like the trance state achieved by people after hypnotic induction.

If you are aware that you daydream from time to time you are likely to be susceptible to hypnotic induction.

You may be aware that you can do some activities without being conscious of them. For example, if you have experienced driving a car and not being aware of the passing of signposts and turn-offs, you may have been in a hypnotic state. You are able to drive and react to danger.

If some or many of these things are true for you, hypnotic induction is likely to work for you too.

Next Steps

Interest in hypnosis can lead to one of two things. You can learn about hypnotic induction by being hypnotized. Alternatively, you can learn how to hypnotize.

Contact us for more information about hypnosis or with any questions you might have.

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