This guide is copyright (C) 2018 by firstname.lastname@example.org and is distributed under the Creative Commons license "Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International" https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/
The canonical URL for this guide is https://binauralhistolog.keybase.pub/newbie and this is a non-commercial sharealike license, so you can repost it with attribution, but cannot sell it, sell a modified version of it, or claim it as yours. If you have noticed mistakes or would like to provide improvements, please see the feedback section at the end of this guide.
Hi! I'm binaural-histolog. I talk about hypnosis, and I keep a blog collecting useful recreational hypnosis things.
You're interested in hypnosis, and you want to hypnotize your partner, for many possible reasons. There's lots of tips and blog posts, but nothing makes any sense and it's all overwhelming and you're terrified that you'll try and fail.
It's okay. You're not alone. Everyone was where you are now. There is a plan.
Don't worry if you don't know anything about hypnosis to begin with. After you go through this plan, you'll be in a good place to do more, but this is all about getting familiar, getting comfortable, and having fun.
This guide is also intended to be read with you following the links, and reading through the more in-depth associated material. You don't have to read everything, but you should at least read through the inductions and pretalk links.
This is a guide to recreational hypnosis. I'm not going to talk about hypnotherapy here, except to say that you shouldn't do it. Also, while this guide does not contain erotic suggestions in itself, it does have links to material that may assume erotic hypnosis and/or kink. You are safer not clicking anything if you're at work. The further reading bits at the end of this guide get progressively more NSFW.
The plan is to follow each of the following steps in order, going over some overall negotiation and risks, explaining the structure of a hypnosis session, and then going through each stage. You may do several sessions within each stage, but you should not progress to the next stage until you are familiar and comfortable with the previous stages.
The stages are named after D&D levels, so don't go around calling yourself an expert hypnotist because you've gone through the guide. This is enough to get you off the ground and exploring in new directions.
Before you start hypnotizing, sit down with your partner and talk things out. This is about your overall feelings about hypnosis, rather than what you're going to do in an individual session. You should have an idea of when and where you're doing this, how often, and what your parameters are.
Your partner may also not know what to expect from hypnosis, or what they should do. Here are some tips. Hypnosis feels different to different people. For some, it may feel just like being awake and relaxed. For others, it may feel profoundly different from normal mental processing. People may have the experience of wanting to please the hypnotist, or find that everything the hypnotist suggests sounds like a great idea, or feel like they are daydreaming.
Before you hypnotize or are hypnotized, you need to trust your partner to know what you want, and what they want, and have worked out your expectations.
In a nutshell, you need to negotiate consent. Negotiating consent is a framework for establishing agreed on behavior in a hypnosis session. Here are some consent phrases you can practice.
At the same time, beginners can't ask the right consent questions and may not know what to expect. You don't know what is okay for you and what isn't if you've never experienced it. This is another reason to go slow, get lots of feedback, and be clear that it's okay to stop or pause if you're uncomfortable. Here's a sample list showing things you can talk about. Here's a NSFW list.
There may be specific issues that could come up that have unexpected connotations. Your partner could have a phobia of spiders, or may react badly to sudden noises. Go over things that you should avoid in sessions.
Aftercare is very individual. Some people want to be held, other people need time to themselves to collect their thoughts, and some people want positive statements and reassurances. You should negotiate what kind of aftercare your partner will want.
Know your partner's limits. Respecting limits builds trust. Pushing limits destroys trust. Trust is the foundation of hypnosis.
There are physical and mental risks to hypnosis. They are unlikely, but they do exist.
By far the most common risk in hypnosis is purely physical. Subjects in a hypnotic trance will lean their heads forward, or come to rest in awkward positions as their muscles are relaxed. Over time, this can cause physical discomfort, and subjects may be too relaxed to move or even be unaware of any discomfort until they wake up.
This is easy to handle with a direct suggestion. Once the subject is in trance, give them the suggestion to move their limbs to where ever is most comfortable for them, and they'll find that keeping the head balanced lets them sink into trance even deeper.
Unintentional compliance is when an inexperienced hypnotist will add a trigger or post hypnotic suggestion, and then be astonished at how well the subject actually follows the suggestion. The most common risk is that the hypnotist will yell "sleep" at a standing subject, and the subject will instantly collapse onto the floor, aka "flopping." Subjects have been known to do complete somersaults from a sitting position as they go from sitting up in their chair to leaning forward, to overbalancing and landing on the floor, and still not wake up. Example video.
A subject told to be frightened of spiders may run out of the room, and the house. A subject told that they are walking in the woods and smelling flowers may have an allergy attack. It's easy to underestimate hypnosis, but we are all easily manipulable meat bags.
Negotiation and always staying close to your partner are the best way to gain experience without causing problems.
One possible experience of hypnosis is hypnotic disassociation. It's a feeling that the body seems to follow suggestions without the mind being involved, so the mind is a "passenger" or "along for the ride." This can be disconcerting or upsetting for new subjects. Hypnotists can also provide a sub-par experience, either with suggestions such as the Kilgrave Smile or by using porn or romance novels as inspiration for scripts.
The most important counter to this risk is to pay attention. If your partner looks upset or unhappy, stop immediately and check in. Negotiation, pretalk, check in and safeties are all ways to ensure that your partner is enjoying the experience.
Abreactions are usually caused by a suggestion that brings up feelings or memories from the past, sort of like a post-traumatic triggering. These can range from cringing, to shaking, to crying and potentially panic attacks. Subjects may also "shut down" and become unresponsive to checkins and suggestions. These are rare when proper negotiation takes place, but they do happen, and they are far more likely when an untrained hypnotist starts trying to be a hypnotherapist and starts working with childhood trauma.
Abreactions can be handled by remaining calm and giving disassociation suggestions, i.e. "The scene is fading, you focus on your breath. Feel your weight on the chair, know you're safe." Repeat this phrase until they're completely calm and there's no trace of discomfort. Then wake them up, provide them all the aftercare they need, and discuss it with your partner. That way you can know a bit more about what happened and also provide them reassurance that they didn't do anything wrong by abreacting.
Endorphin Drop is when bad feelings come rushing in after the high of a good session. Guilt, shame, feeling like a "bad person" are all symptoms of drop, and they can happen to either the hypnotist or the subject.
Good aftercare can take care of this. Here's a fictional example of drop.
Unresponsiveness is when a subject will ignore suggestions, but is clearly in hypnosis and not asleep.
Unresponsiveness may be caused by abreaction, but also the perverse opposite: hypnosis can feel so good that subjects may not want to wake up even after the session is over and you've done the wakeup count.
There are two ways to handle this. The nice way is to ground them to the environment and suggest that as you count up from one to ten, you'll tap their knee, and as you tap they'll start to say the numbers with you, and when you reach ten they'll be all the way awake. The not so nice way is to use a hypnotic threat. This can range from "you'll never be hypnotized again" to rickrolling them.
The final risk is manipulation and abuse: deliberately doing something that wasn't negotiated or pushing past negotiated limits.
It's often said that hypnosis can't make you do anything you don't want to do. This is true, but people can make you do things you don't want to do. If you're in a room with someone who is insistent, persuasive and who is larger than you, then even if you're fully conscious you may feel pressured, trapped, and unable to refuse. There is also a psychological tendency to freeze and disassociate under threat, which can be exacerbated by hypnosis.
There are stories of hypnotists "joking" with tropey "you have no will, you must obey" language or role playing a scenario. They may say that they didn't realize how real and terrifying it is to the subject, but this isn't an excuse. They ignored consent because they thought it was funny.
Insist on safeties and be clear that you're getting up and leaving if it doesn't work for you. You are totally within your rights to ensure the session is recorded or have a friend sit with you during the session, especially if you don't know your partner all that well. Trust has to be earned.
There's also a big difference between hypnosis between strangers and hypnosis with someone who you trust, or who has authority over you in some way. There are risks to letting someone into your head. If you are in a relationship with an emotional abuser, all the tools of influence can be used in hypnosis to confuse, reframe, or gaslight you. With enough rapport and trust and repeated sessions, they can change what you want to do.
There's unfortunately only so much this guide can do to describe predatory behavior, as a skilled manipulator will build up trust by being completely trustworthy until you let your guard down. There is an excellent book, Why Does He Do That, that discusses manipulative behavior and "tells" that abusers have.
The basic unit of hypnosis is the session, also known as a "scene." A hypnosis session always has a beginning, a middle and an end, with a number of well known steps in between, called the session structure or session model. The canonical hypnosis session structure is as follows:
This structure is a useful guide to let you know what you need to do and when. The plan starts off with a fairly strict structure, and starts loosening it in the later stages. Each stage shows the additions and modifications to the structure and calls out changes. The plan is also set up with shorter inductions and faster drops in each stage. The PMR induction takes roughly ten minutes. The Elman induction may take between two and five minutes. A single fractionation takes seconds but is repeated many times. Instant induction is instant.
This is not because it takes a set number of sessions to go into trance. There is opportunity to build up the skill of going into trance, but the plan is set up to build up the comfort level with hypnosis for both subject and hypnotist, and introduce different inductions and styles at a steady pace. Eventually, you’ll be able to freestyle all of this, and with an experienced partner you can skip much of the formalities.
Go slow. Take small steps. Listen. Learn. Be kind.
The first stage is slow and simple. It is focused on establishing the steps in a session, doing a fairly lengthy induction, and then spending some quiet time for both you and your partner to experience what it's like to hypnotize someone and be hypnotized.
You should note the following stages:
There's no suggestions, and the induction is something you can print out and read through. Using a script is perfectly fine to start with, but as you get more experience you'll start to internalize the mechanisms behind hypnosis, and you won't need them eventually.
The important bit here is not the induction, but the process. This is a warmup session that focuses on getting familiar with session structure and provides a "toe in the water" experience.
This is because hypnotizing someone for the first time is like the first time you get behind the wheel of a car. It's perfectly normal to feel nervous or awkward the first time you do anything, and you should know that this is something that absolutely everyone goes through. As Jake the Dog says, "sucking at something is the first step to being sorta good at something."
If you want to dive in, you can do the beginner stage once or even skip it completely and move ahead to Journeyman stage.
There are some things that you pick up as you get into a routine that you may not know to do immediately. Here's a checklist.
Pick a place you feel comfortable staying for a good hour or so without being interrupted. The bedroom or couch is fine, but the subject should be propped up with pillows. Avoid lying fully prone unless you're doing a massage.
For the subject, there are couple of extra things.
Do a pretalk, and establish what you're going to do in this session. Make it clear you've heard and understood everything you discussed during negotiation. You should negotiate and get informed consent for everything you intend to do in this session before you start the induction. This is especially important when using suggestions or triggers, as we'll discuss in the Journeyman stage.
Pretalk is important. Pretalk can be hot. Pretalk builds trust. Trust is the foundation of hypnosis.
So an example for the first session would be as follows.
"So here's what I think we've agreed on. We're going to do a progressive muscle relaxation. I'll check in with you and ask you how you feel after the induction, and then I'll wake you up and the session will be over. We'll have some quiet time until you're ready to talk, and then we'll discuss how it felt for you and how you liked it. If you're uncomfortable at any point, please let me know and we can pause or end the session as is comfortable for you. Is there anything you want to change or talk about more?"
The process of producing a hypnotic trance is called an induction.
Begin with a progressive muscle relaxation. This is the most familiar experience of trance for most people. If you've ever gone to a spa treatment or had a bubble bath, then it's the same overall idea.
Print out the induction, and read through it a couple of times. Keep the printout with you, and read through it. Don't worry about reading through it word for word, it's all about the intent. You can fill in with hypnotic patter.
Some phrases that should be part of your patter are suggestions that normalizes sounds in the room and ties them into trance. "Every sound in the room, every shift, every space between my words can just help you fall more deeply and more completely into this wonderful experience."
Likewise, your partner may be concerned that they still feel conscious and have thoughts even while they are being hypnotized. This is completely normal, and they'll find that "any thought that drifts into your mind can drift out again, and as they drift out you go deeper and they lead you back to exactly what is happening right now."
There are a number of characteristics of the PMR that make it a good starter induction for new hypnotists. The PMR is long, because it relies on repetition and monotony. It is homogenous; the last five minutes of a PMR are the same as the first five minutes. It tracks the physical body exactly; you can look at the feet, go onto the legs, go through the chest... you will never get lost and you'll be saying the same things throughout. The PMR is very script friendly, since you can afford to look down over the course of the induction and don't have to concentrate as much on your partner. And finally, the PMR simply "feels good" for subjects, as it's a very friendly and undemanding mental exercise.
Put it all together, and reading a PMR from a script is the least amount of mental work necessary for an induction. Even after you learn other inductions, the PMR is worthwhile, as the PMR is so comfortable and low stress that your partner may specifically request it if coming home after a stressful day, or unable to fall asleep.
Tip: PMR also works very well with a full body massage, for obvious reasons.
There are people for whom the PMR is not a good fit. There are people for whom PMR is a great fit. You can swap out the PMR here for the Elman or the fractionation induction as discussed in later stages and still do a beginner induction. There are also confusion inductions such as the 7 plus or minus 2 induction that focus on tiring out the conscious mind.
Once you have done the induction, have your partner check in with you. Literally, ask "How do you feel?" Hypnotized people are perfectly capable of speech. They just have no interest in talking. There is a caveat, which is that some people are too quiet to be heard, but most people can nod or lift a finger even if they're too relaxed to speak clearly.
"Whenever you're in this state and you have something to say to check in, or I ask you to check in by saying 'it's time to check in,' you may find it easy to speak, and easy to articulate what you would like to say. It will seem perfectly automatic and easy to respond to the questions that I ask that you want to answer. This will be true whenever you are in trance, and, in fact, it seems so natural that it may seem like this has always been the case." -- 10 Safety Suggestions Every Hypnotist Should Use
You are not limited to only checking in after the induction, but it's a good place to pause. If your partner seems in distress or you've been going on for a while, it's a good idea to check in to see if there's something you should be aware of.
Also ensure that they are comfortable. If their head is lolling, that is uncomfortable after a period of time. Wiseguy adds suggestions to keep the head stable on the neck while the neck still remains relaxed.
As part of the check in, you can ask them if they feel hypnotized or not. If they don't feel like they're hypnotized and want a demonstration, you can use a hypnotic convincer. If you're using the Elman or Fractionation, use Magnetic Hands. The PMR encourages stasis and can lead very lethargic subjects who are not going to want to hold their hands in the air. The natural convincer for PMR is a feeling of hypnotic paralysis, where they're just too relaxed to move.
After you've checked in, the most important thing you can do is nothing. Literally, say nothing and do nothing. Your partner will be experiencing trance for the first time, so give them the time to do that and see how it feels for them. Give them at least five minutes of silence, and pay attention.
Now your partner is hypnotized, take a good look. Even in trance, your partner is constantly communicating with you non-verbally. You should be looking at your partner all the way through a session.
Pay attention to your partner’s face, the way they are breathing:
Pay attention to the angle they are sitting and how their hands and feet are arranged:
Pay attention to their eyes.
This is perhaps the best argument against scripts. While you’re reading, you’re not looking at your partner, and you lose rapport. Even if their eyes are closed, they can tell from the sound of your voice that your head is down and you’re reading out loud.
After five minutes, you should check in again, and ask them if they would like to wake up now.
When you're ready, do a wakeup. Wake up is fairly straightforward.
If you have any suggestions you want cancelled, you do it here. This is commonly called a "wiper" or a "reset". "When you wake up, all the suggestions I've given you will be cancelled and the session will be over."
If you have any triggers or post hypnotic suggestions that you placed earlier in the session, you reinforce them here. "There is one exception, the suggestion I've given you to feel happy and calm will still affect you and you can just enjoy feeling wonderful for the rest of the evening. Nod your head when you understand."
Thank your partner when concluding a session and point out what they did well.
The session is over. Stretch out and get a glass of water.
After a session, your partner may still be fairly suggestible, very relaxed, and will need time to collect their thoughts. Spending some quiet time focusing on your partner after a session is commonly referred to as aftercare.
You can ask them questions, but that can be a jarring transition from trance to alertness for some people. Just sitting there and being with them while they blink and check the time is fine.
Talk about it how it felt for you both, and the sensations experienced. What language worked? What didn't work? Faster or slower? It's normal and encouraging if something didn't work because it's an opportunity to learn and do things better.
Make a note of the language that your partner uses here. The language you use in inductions and the phrases should match what your partner is saying and thinking. The more that your language matches your partner's thoughts, the more effective your suggestions will be.
Recognize any complaints in the spirit of constructive criticism and leave any hurt feelings you may have until later. Make it clear you can take it impersonally. A good debriefing is a way for you to get better at being a hypnotist.
The journeyman stage has the same structure as the beginner stage. The bits not mentioned (checklist, wakeup, aftercare, debrief) are the same. However, for the journeyman stage, the induction is different and a deepener and suggestions are added. There's also no "pay attention" step, although you can add it yourself if you feel like it.
In this stage, you'll be giving suggestions for the first time. Go over the suggestions. Ideally, have them written down on 3x5 cards and show them (this is a useful reminder if you lose track). Yes, even for an arm raise.
Why? Because someone who is hypnotized is suggestible by definition. Once you hypnotize someone, they cannot meaningfully consent. Never renegotiate with someone mid-session or give unnegotiated suggestions. Yes, you see stage or street hypnotists drop suggestions in all over the place. You aren't seeing what happens after the show. There can be potentially severe after effects, and it is never worth it. Say what you're going to do, establish they understand what they're agreeing to, and then do that and only that.
This goes for your partner as well. Your partner may have lowered inhibitions in hypnosis, but this does not mean consent. Defer any invitation you may receive. Ask them about it in debrief, get their consent and you can do it next time around.
Your partner may ask what it's like to follow suggestions and how and why they work. The experience of following a suggestion is always personal, and all experiences are valid. People may have the experience of wanting to please the hypnotist, or find that everything the hypnotist suggests sounds like a great idea, or feel like they are daydreaming. Some may feel like they are following suggestions without any conscious decision at all. It really depends on your partner.
The Journeyman stage uses an Elman induction. The nice thing about the Elman is that it has activities built into it, so you are continually working with your subject. You can see Mike Mandel do a good rendition on Youtube.
The Elman is a reliable workhorse induction. The advantage of the Elman is that it's short, has feedback built into it, and combines many different forms of relaxation. It produces results with a broader spectrum of subjects than some other inductions. Once you're an experienced hypnotist, you'll typically start with an Elman when working with a new subject for the first time.
With the PMR, you printed out and read through the script. The Elman is more interactive, both physically as it involves hand passes, arm drops and so on, and mentally, as you are asking questions and watching your subject throughout the process. As such, you should rehearse the Elman before the session and get all the movements down. Don't read from the script. Print out 3x5 cards and use them as flash card to remind you of the next step, and keep rehearsing until you don't need the flash cards anymore.
Be prepared to cover what to do if the numbers don't fade away. Counting by threes or using a backwards alphabet may be more appropriate.
If you run into difficulties, you can see a troubleshooting video.
If you want to know the details, Marnathas gives a good analysis of the guts of the induction.
If you want to know more, Graham Old has an excellent book all about the Elman Induction.
Follow up with a deepener. A deepener is a visualization or an experience that "deepens" the sensation of being hypnotized, and provides a framework for stabilizing the trance. Deepeners usually involve repetition and cycles, and lead the subject's thoughts to the idea of following suggestions, feeling good, and quieting conscious thoughts. Deepening can be a nice experience, but excessive deepening can result in an unresponsive subject, otherwise known as "too deep" or Esdaile state.
Example video of the abbreviated elman and deepeners.
The standard deepener is to go down stairs, but there are many to choose from.
Check in after the deepener. You can ask them how deep they are on a scale.
If your partner doesn't respond, it's possible that they may be too deep. You can "undeepen" them by counting back up. They will naturally come out of trance after a while no matter what, so it's no worse than taking a nap.
Suggestions are the delicious filling in the pastry of hypnosis. They work by themselves, but become much more effective when you add the right ingredients.
There are a wide range of abilities when it comes to suggestions, and they don't always correlate with each other. Avoid saying any suggestion is "easy" or "hard" because you won't know until you try it. Some hypnotic suggestion scales put some suggestions as harder than others, but some people may find negative hallucinations easy, and positive hallucinations hard, or vice versa.
Statistically speaking, there are suggestions that are more likely to work in the general populace. Magnetic hands is a suggestion to which about 80% of people will respond, for example, and that's in a lab environment with college students.
The four hypnotic suggestions used in the present study are as follows: one easy motor suggestion (magnetic hands: hands pulled together by a magnetic force, to which about 80% of people show some response, e.g., Carvalho et al., 2008); one difficult motor suggestion (arm levitation, arm so light that it raises in the air, to which about 35% of people respond, Fellows, 1979); a challenge suggestion (arm so rigid it cannot bend, to which about 70% of people respond, Carvalho et al., 2008); and a perceptual-cognitive suggestion (one of the easiest ones: sour taste hallucination, to which about 50% of people respond, Carvalho et al., 2008). Each suggestion was scripted so as to take 2 min to administer. The easy suggestion was for warm-up; the others, together with magnetic hands, to cover as briefly as possible the suggestion types of direct (magnetic hands, arm levitation, taste) and challenge (rigid arm); motor (magnetic hands, arm levitation, rigid arm) and perceptual-cognitive (taste): see Woody and Barnier (2008) for these distinctions. -- Dienes, Z., & Hutton, S. (2013). Understanding hypnosis metacognitively: rTMS applied to left DLPFC increases hypnotic suggestibility. Cortex, 49(2), 386–392. doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2012.07.009
There are also suggestions that can bring up bad memories for people, i.e. saying "You feel happy, smile" can be an uncomfortable and condescending suggestion for some women. Find what works for your partner.
Before you get into giving suggestions themselves, set up safeguards and establish that they can ignore any suggestion that makes them feel uncomfortable, and will only feel the effects of the suggestion when it is safe and acceptable for them. You may have already covered this in the pretalk, but it's good to reinforce it. Setting up a safeguard builds trust that your subject is safe even when they are not behind the wheel. You can suggest that because their mind will reject suggestions that make them uncomfortable, that makes any suggestions they do accept all the more powerful.
Give your partner a framework for following suggestions. Tell them they'll find they become very engaged in the suggestions and have fun participating in them, noticing that they can find this easier and easier to do as they go along. If they really like acting improv classes, you can suggest it's like improv. If they have played Simon Says as a child (and enjoyed it), they can use that as a framework.
Similar to giving your partner a framework, give your partner a motivation and reward them for following a suggestion. This may be as simple as saying "it will feel good when you raise your hand" but you should understand what your partner likes. You may notice this guide suggests in multiple places that you should tell your partner when they are doing a good job and thank them. Expressing praise and gratitude may seem like a small detail, but it's an important sign you are acknowledging and appreciating your partner. Praise and appreciation can be a significant reward in itself.
Now it's time to go through some simple suggestions. Reality is Plastic has excellent chapters on giving suggestions, although it tends more to the street hypnotist style.
Start with Magnetic Hands.
Then go to an arm-raise. Suggest that their arm is feeling lighter and lighter, and is rising up from their lap, and the lighter their arm gets the better they feel, and the better they feel the lighter their arm gets. Example Video.
Once their arm is up, you can suggest stiff arm catalepsy. Example Video.
I am going to count from one to three. On the count of one I want you to make a tight fist with your right hand. On two, I want you to raise that arm up toward the ceiling and on three to really make that fist as tight as you can. One, make that fist, two, raise it up toward the ceiling now three make that fist, tight and feel that stiffness, feel the skin on the back of the hand tightening, the wrist locking out.
Even tighter in your forearm, your triceps, right into your shoulder.
Imagine you have a steel bar running through your fist, through your elbow to the shoulder, your arm is like a steel bar.
Now you arm is getting stiff... make it stiff, stiff... stiffer and stiffer, tighter and tighter...you cannot bend it try as hard as you will. Try hard and find you cannot bend it, the harder you try the stiffer it gets. You cannot bend your arm. Jacquin, Anthony. Reality is Plastic
With any suggestion, find a way to integrate it into their experience and focus on inducing the belief. For example, your partner may not believe a positive hallucination of a dragon in the living room, but they will completely believe that they are watching a video of a dragon on their phone.
Finally, finish up with a suggestion to set them up for the next session. Suggest to your partner that they since they've relaxed and gone deep into trance for this session, for the next session, they’ll drop down at least as deep, and it will feel so good and so relaxing. Ask them to nod once they’ve accepted this suggestion.
This stage will use fractionation with a specific meditation based deepener and a suggestion of a reinduction trigger that works off waking trance. At the end of the session, the reinduction trigger is turned into a post-hypnotic trigger that can be used for other sessions.
A trigger is an action that the hypnotist makes that results in the subject following a suggestion. A trigger should be short, clear, and memorable. If it’s common, such as a word like “sleep”, then you may want to disambiguate it by pairing it with a particular gesture or action. A trigger can be tied to any action, and are frequently used to reinduce hypnosis, also known as a reinduction trigger. Reinduction triggers are the greatest: they're straightforward, look visually dramatic, and are endlessly versatile.
This is a training stage for both you and your partner. Your partner is learning how to go into trance faster and deeper, and you're learning how to work without a script and interact more with your partner.
This stage also focuses more on a profoundly altered mental state. Many subjects describe this induction as a "sledgehammer." Unresponsiveness and post-hypnotic amnesia are more common here, as is a period of post hypnotic "wobbliness."
If you feel you have more to learn from the journeyman stage, you can keep doing that until you're comfortable with it. Go at your own pace.
For this stage, you're establishing a post hypnotic trigger. This is a level of control that requires trust and commitment from your partner and so any concerns should be addressed before you do this. If your partner does not want a post-hypnotic trigger, that is completely valid. They are not a requirement for recreational hypnosis, and you can do instant inductions perfectly fine without them. You can also make the trigger conditional. For example, you can say that the trigger has an effect when your partner has previously agreed to be hypnotized, and has no effect otherwise.
Also discuss safety concerns of the re-induction trigger with your partner, and make it clear that the trigger is locked. Locking your trigger is a good safety feature. Say that it will only work when it is safe and appropriate to do so, and they will not "flop" anywhere it is unsafe to do so. Go through some examples with them. They will not flop to the ground unsafely if they are standing up. if they are carrying anything or are in an unsafe position, the trigger will not take effect. If they are driving, the trigger will not take effect.
Write everything down, so you can go back through everything when you are giving the suggestion. This is useful in general as you can use your notes for reinforcement and signoff. Getting a logbook is a great way to track progress as well.
Ensure that your partner does not need to go anywhere in a hurry after the session, and understands that they will need some time to come back to themselves after the session is over.
In this stage, we'll do a fractionation induction as described by Mark Wiseman. This is also known as a Vogt deepener. If you're looking for something a little slower, you can also do Graham Old's PHRIT, which uses a very gentle reinduction technique.
Fractionation is a well known but often assumed technique when it comes to hypnosis, and is a great technique to know, because it opens the door to waking trace, and it trains your partner to go into trance more and more quickly. Marnathas has an excellent overview that I'll quote from.
So to put it simply, the idea of fractionation, is that if someone goes in and out of a hypnotic trance repeatedly within a decently short time (or consistently over a longer period of time), the effects of the trance change, and tend to get stronger. In short, putting someone into trance repeatedly will result in a deeper trance. Pretty simple.
Now let’s explain the gory detail of it! So what’s the mechanism going on here that produces that kind of effect I mentioned last paragraph? Well basically, the idea is if you bring someone in and out of trance repeatedly, they start coming out of trance a bit less, and deeper back into trance each time. At a basic level, it means if you spend a few minutes taking someone in and out of trance a few times in a row, you end up with a pretty deep trance, which makes it a great tool just for getting someone to nice deep state. It’s broadly similar to how going into trance is a learned skill, that you get better with by practice, just condensed.
The fun part is where I said they start coming out of trance a bit less each time. If you keep it up, the subject can get to a stage where even when you tell them to wake up, they don’t really wake up, and are still basically in trance and suggestible. That starts opening up more ways to play around, because all of a sudden you can start giving them suggestions without explicitly putting them in trance much more effectively. And along with that, they obviously start feeling all the signs of trance even when they’re awake, so they might have a much harder time putting thoughts together, or feel much more relaxed, or so on. I’ve yet to even hear of a subject who doesn’t like fractionation, simply because it takes all the nice parts of trance, and starts making them feel it even when they’re out of trance. -- Hypnosis play lingo: Fractionation
You should rehearse the fractionation induction and not rely on a script or written notes. The fractionation is self explanatory, so it doesn't matter exactly what words you use. The important bit is the opening and closing of eyes, and confirming their experience. You should be looking at their eyes and face the entire time. You'll notice your partner showing signs of trance fairly quickly, and this induction generally produces deep trance.
Once your partner is well and truly fractionated, check in with them. If they answer but seem to be doing it after a time lag or sound very dreamy, you've got it right. If not, add more fractionation.
For the deepener, we'll be using a closing the mind's eye deepener that is found in Yapko's Trancework. This is a natural follow-on from fractionation, only instead of closing the physical eyes, you'll be leading your partner into a different mental state.
The deepener in the link as described goes for a count of ten, and this may be a bit much for your partner after fractionation. Describe the concept, start with three, and then leave the mind's eye closed and suggest that any thoughts are the mind's eye opening very slowly, becoming heavy, and then closing again, and to nod when the mind's eye is so relaxed it will not open, calling back to the eyestick in the Elman induction. Your partner will get the idea and self-fractionate until the mind's eye is closed.
Once you've finished the deepener, if your partner has not nodded after a while, then check in again. A fractionation plus a mind's eye deepener produces a very deep trance, and your partner may become unresponsive. If this happens, use a modified version of the grounding exercise described in the risks section. Tell your partner you're going to tap their leg and count upwards from 1 to 10, and that they will count out loud with you every time you tap. With every tap, they will speak the number out with you more firmly and clearly, more and more focused on listening to your words and following your suggestions.
For the suggestion, we're going to establish waking trance and use a reinduction trigger repeatedly. Doing the same thing over and over again and establishing a connection between a trigger and a response is called conditioning. Conditioning feels natural because it's essentially the same thing as everyday training and learning, and you depend on conditioned responses every day. However, hypnosis makes conditioning far more effective.
We'll use "sleep" with a finger snap to establish a reinduction trigger.
Start simple and establish a direct path between signal, response, and reward.
Tell your partner that in a moment, you'll tell them to open their eyes, feeling wide awake, and then, when you say "Sleep" and click your fingers, their eyes will close, their body will relax and their mind drop back into trance. You'll do this several times, and every time they hear you say sleep and click your fingers, they'll drop instantly and automatically. Every time, they go deeper, it feels better, and the more natural, easy and automatic it becomes, sinking in until it is something they don't even think about, a reassuring and relaxing habit they can enjoy on a level below consciousness. Have them nod their head when they understand and accept the suggestion.
You give them a short command to open their eyes.
"Eyes open, wide awake!"
Then you drop them as soon as their eyes are open.
When they drop, reward them with praise and suggest falling back into trance feels good, reinforcing the suggestions above.
Repeat this three times, then start drawing it out. Every time you tell them to open their eyes, you make it a bit longer, and you make them wait for the drop. Extending the period confuses them as to whether they are in trance or not and brings them into a state called waking trace. You can either count out loud or count silently, and you can also click randomly if you want to play with their expectations.
Eyes open, 1..Sleep
Eyes open, 1..2..Sleep
Eyes open, 1..2..3..Sleep
Eyes open, 1..2..3..4..Sleep
Eyes open, 1..2..3..4..5..Sleep
After the first few times, you can ask them how they're doing and even hold a conversation with them, although you should not ask them to do anything that would engage their critical faculties.
After you're done, bring them into sleeping trance, and discuss the trigger with them. Explain that they since they've been conditioned to associate this trigger with going into trance, you can establish that the trigger will work exactly the same way even after the session is over, and will not be affected by a "wiper", but will only take effect when it is safe and appropriate to do so, according to the terms and conditions that you discussed in the pretalk. This is one place where you want to be fairly explicit, so it's okay to refer to your notes and go through everything point by point.
Ask if this is acceptable, and get feedback, such as a nod or a smile. Once they indicate yes, then ask them to nod their head to indicate that they'll do this in the future. After that, you can do the wake up.
At this point, your partner may be extremely mushy and will need some time to put themselves back together again. Make sure they're awake and alert before they try doing anything complicated.
Do not let your partner perform any dangerous tasks, especially driving, until you are sure they are fully recovered.
Checking in with your partner after a deep trance can be an interesting experience. Your partner may not remember very much, or may confuse events. That's fine. The point of this stage is to get familiar with deep trance phenomena and conditioning, and see how that feels. If your partner goes too deep, you can take out the deepener and reduce the number of fractionations until you're both comfortable.
At this point, with your partner's consent, you can use the trigger again. This is after the wake up, so it is now technically a post-hypnotic trigger. Validate that they are correctly following the bounds of the trigger.
In this stage, you'll be using an instant induction with the reinduction trigger, followed by deepening using hypnotic patter. Then, you have a cycle that is a combination of suggestions, waking trance, and drops. This is closer to the stage or street hypnotist version of hypnosis you may have seen. This stage also adds more complex suggestions with pyramiding.
Youtube is very good at showing stage hypnotist and street hypnotist demonstrations. Here's Rory Z doing a session with his fiancee that can serve as a good model.
By the time you get to this stage, you should also be familiar with hypnosis to the point that you don't need written materials or cards, and feel comfortable ad-libbing. Likewise, your partner should feel comfortable with fractionation and following suggestions.
If you are looking at performing your own stage hypnosis act, check out Deeper and Deeper. For street hypnosis, see Reality is Plastic. For instant inductions, see The Instant Hypnosis and Rapid Inductions Guidebook.
In the pretalk, you may want to use suggestions which are not on this list, or may want to experiment with different suggestions that you may have seen in a stage hypnosis show. Discuss limits and get informed consent with your partner, even if it's a general sense. Your partner may trust you to give harmless suggestions involving visualization, but may not enjoy "puppet" or amnesia suggestions, for instance.
This stage uses the Butterfly Induction. The butterfly induction is an instant induction that uses confusion and overload to give a suggestion using transderivational search. I like this induction because it can be very gentle. Example Video.
Hold the subject's arm out straight by the wrist/forearm, and shake the arm around in some weird pattern. Up and down, left and right. Whilst doing this, then have them focus on your other hand, which you will move around in their field of vision in various directions, whilst wiggling your fingers. Whilst still shaking their hand, bring your “butterfly-hand” above their head then down in front of their face. As you do this (and they look down) give their arm a gentle tug and command “sleep.” Fulcher, Rory Z. The Instant Hypnosis and Rapid Inductions Guidebook (Kindle Locations 1207-1209). Unknown. Kindle Edition.
Instant inductions are good for experienced subjects and will work on their own, but in this case we'll stack the deck by using the reinduction trigger with the instant induction. This means that when you pull down with one arm, you also say "sleep" and snap your fingers with the butterfly hand.
You should start deepening immediately after you give the instant induction. This means you start saying "deeper and deeper, letting everything relax, feeling warm and good" as soon as they close their eyes, without giving them a chance to recover.
This is an opportunity to become more familiar with hypnotic patter. Reality is Plastic has the best good breakdown of hypnotic patter, breaking it down into links, loops and chains.
A link connects one thing to another. You provide an activity for them, and tie that to some behavior you want. Fractionation is itself a link, as it connects going back into hypnosis with going deeper. You can associate going down a staircase with going deeper. The point is that it's something the subject does.
These statements create a feedback loop that will intensify hypnosis. They create associations that feed off of each other. Some are short-lived loops and some are continuous.
Go deeper as you notice your eyes flickering, as you drift deeper and deeper they will flicker even more. The deeper you go the better you feel and the better you feel the deeper you go. Even as you wonder how deeply you have drifted, you can continue to drift down deeper relaxed.
Chains are like links, but associate something in ongoing experience that is not going to stop.
Every breath you take will send you deeper and deeper. Every word I say will send you deeper and deeper. Every beat of your heart will take you deeper and deeper to sleep. Every number I go past, every breath you take and every beat of your heart is doubling the relaxation.
Drops are mentioned by Jonathan Chase in Don't Look in His Eyes. They are an explicit "pulling the rug out" command that focuses attention and breaks up the experience.
Deeper and deeper, more and more relaxed. And... drop! [finger snap] Drifting, dreaming, melting.
For the first cycle after you just deepened them, you should also tell them how awesome they are and what a great job they did going into trance.
You should reinforce the reinduction trigger, and establish that they can go into deep trance now without any preamble. Again, get confirmation and agreement in the form of a nod or smile. This will get easier and more natural the more you do it.
Tell them in a moment, you'll count up to three and say "wide awake!" When you say "wide awake", their eyes will open and they'll feel completely awake, but will still follow all your suggestions and will drop back into trance when you use the trigger. Ask them to nod their head if they understand and accept this suggestion.
Bring your partner into waking trance. Waking trace is interesting, because on one hand, your partner may appear completely awake. They are still extremely suggestible though, and will follow suggestions you give even fully conscious. You can chat and check in with them, do some tricks, and then drop them again.
You don't need to bring them up and then immediately use the trigger, as you did in the Adept stage. As long as you don't do anything that might indicate the session is over (like go out for coffee) then the trigger will work fine even with a few minutes of them being awake.
When you're done, you can drop your subject with the reinduction trigger without using the instant induction or using a deepener afterwards, since they're already in trance. There is a natural fractionation process that comes from having them go from waking trance to deep trance, and so the more often you do this, the more fractionated your partner will become. This is how stage hypnotists structure their act, because by the end of the stage show, the subjects are well and truly fractionated from coming in and out of trance but it doesn't look like the hypnotist was walking them through anything.
You can use pyramiding to help with responsiveness. Subjects may balk at following complex suggestions cold, and need to be "warmed up" by starting with smaller suggestions, following those, and working up to larger ones. The suggestions don't have to be related for pyramiding to work. You can start off with an arm raise, and then work up to positive hallucinations for example.
Pyramiding works especially well when taking basic suggestions and combining them into more complex ones. You can start off with a "blank" suggestion, then go to a "freeze" suggestion, and then have a "pause" (blank+freeze) suggestion. Marnathas has some good tips.
You can also take concepts from one suggestion and link them to another. For example, you can take the eye closure from the Elman induction, bring out the idea of "trying and failing", and tie that to a larger suggestion to play with the idea of resistance (assuming that you've had the pretalk above).
"We're going to do something new. You know what it's like to try and open your eyes and find them so relaxed that you just can't open them. I'd like you to imagine wanting to do something, feeling an urge so strong that you just couldn't stop yourself. Do you remember that feeling? And do you remember how good it felt, that release, when you finally followed that urge? Okay, good. In a moment, I'm going to count up from three to one, and say wide awake. When I do, you'll feel wide awake and alert, but when I snap my fingers, you'll feel that feeling, a strong urge to touch your nose with your finger, knowing it will feel so good when you finally touch it. You'll fight the suggestion, but every time I snap my fingers, the urge to touch your nose will grow stronger and stronger, and the more you try not to touch your nose the stronger the urge gets, until it's so close, your finger's just RIGHT THERE, you can't resist it any longer, and when your finger finally touches your nose it will feel so good and you'll just want to keep touching it. Nod your head if you understand."
Snap your fingers, and watch hilarity ensue.
Building up suggestions is an art in itself. Steal mercilessly and modify to your tastes. Experiment with post-hypnotic suggestions, which occurs after the session itself is over.
Before you do the wake up, thank your partner and tell your partner what a great job they did. Then wipe all suggestions, and reinforce the reinduction trigger before counting them back up.
That's it! Now that you have a reinduction trigger, waking trance, and can go through simple suggestions, you're well on your way to doing many more fun things. Here are some good next steps.
You can technically do the entire guide in one session. Start with the Elman Induction, deepen, suggest a reinduction trigger and then fractionate to condition your partner and get them used to waking trance. Then lock in the reinduction trigger, and wake them up.
Practice the Elman until you have it down cold. Elman's view was that three minutes was too long, and ideally the Elman should be performed in no more than 60 seconds.
It is my firm conviction that if hypnosis is to have a respectable place in medicine and dentistry, it must be available to the doctor almost instantly. If he can't use hypnosis on a more or less instantaneous basis, it has no practical value in the average doctor's office. It is a rare doctor who can afford to spend from three minutes to two hours on the doubtful assumption that he might be able to succeed in obtaining hypnosis if he keeps trying long enough. So, at the beginning, use one minute for each patient and one minute only. Don't take any more time than that--and you shouldn't even need the full minute to gain the state. Elman, Dave, Hypnotherapy
Suggestions are traditionally given during "sleeping" trance, and then followed during "waking" trance, but you can also give suggestions in waking trance, and have suggestions followed in "sleeping" trance. You can use post-hypnotic suggestions, which are done after the session proper is over. You can have your partner give auto-suggestions that they have to follow.
You may have noticed a theme in hypnosis. Think about compounding, pyramiding, fractionation, pacing and leading, yes sets, and conditioning. They all work by starting with something small, then pacing through multiple cycles to familiarize, intensify and ingrain a state or behavior.
Recursion and inception techniques are a variation on this theme. You can ask your subject to visualize themselves even more happier, or calmer, or more going into trance even more deeply, and then bring them inside that scene. This is useful because it allows your partner to give suggestions to themself effectively, and gives them something they can imagine on their own terms instead of you describing things to them. Here's another example.
Practice and a regular schedule is important. People ask about whether depth of trance is important in hypnosis, but depth of trance is generally a sideshow: it’s trust and conditioning that do the real work.
Humans can do incredible things by regularly doing small things and getting a little better each time. Bodybuilders lift weights three times a week. Zen Monks meditate daily. Marathon runners go for morning jogs. In just the same way, you become a better hypnotist and your partner becomes a better subject through practice. It doesn't matter how awkward you feel when you first start, you will get smoother and better.
This is especially useful if you have long term goals or suggestions that you want to add. There are many things you can do with hypnosis without getting into hypnotherapy, such as dealing with insomnia or stress, and you can use hypnosis to leverage new habits into your day, such as getting up before dawn or regular flossing.
There are exercises that subjects can do to build up "trance muscles" as well and describe the feeling of being hypnotized.
If you are a serious hypnosis nerd, you may be interested in An Alternative History of Hypnotism, a presentation that talks about the history of hypnotism in a (hopefully) not boring way.
One of the main points of the presentation is that there's a difference between hypnosis (the state) and hypnotism (the process).
Hypnotism is a ritual intended to produce hypnosis and do things with it. When there are two people involved, they play different roles in the ritual. Technically, the hypnotist gives suggestions and convinces the subject that they are being hypnotized. Meanwhile, the subject performs a focused attention meditation, concentrating on following the hypnotist's suggestions. The end result is hypnosis.
The reason hypnotism is called out specifically as a ritual is because rituals can vary wildly by culture. Imagine weddings, for example. They can be small and cozy, or large and flamboyant and still produce the same effect (married people). For people used to the culture, it can be impossible to imagine the ritual any other way, and be very attached to the forms of the ritual.
This is exactly the case for hypnotism. Stage hypnotism is very different from clinical hypnotherapy hypnotism. Stage hypnotism is focused on entertainment, while clinical hypnotherapy looks at avoiding harm and long term changes. Clinical hypnotherapy hypnotism is very different from recreational hypnotism and hypnokink. Hypnokink culture is very focused on consent, and that's reflected in the ritual that makes everything explicit and laid out. Meanwhile, recreational hypnotism could be about helping to study for exams and be as casual and as low profile as a cup of coffee. These are different rituals, coming from different cultures, and they typically don't mix or even know about one another.
And since we've mentioned hypnokink culture, and you've read almost to the end, we'll talk about sex.
There are many reasons why you may want to mix hypnosis and sex. Maybe you're disabled or trans or in a long distance relationship, and you want to expand on what you can do physically. Maybe you have a hypnosis fetish. Or maybe you just want great orgasms.
There are many other posts and guides that go over what it's like to have a hypnosis fetish, how to bring it up with your partner, and how to make it a fun experience. Here are some, in no particular order.
To get more skilled as an erotic hypnotist, start with the following.
Compound means “repeat”. The first suggestion is weak, the second suggestion is weak but builds on the first suggestion, by the time you’ve finished the chain, the first suggestion is assumed as fact. "You're feeling relaxed. That relaxation is washing over your entire body in a slow wave, and as you notice that wave of relaxation washing over you, you feel even more relaxed." Commonly tied to loops and chains.
Reinforce means “keep saying it every session.” If a trigger or a post hypnotic suggestion is working, tell them it works stronger. Keep reminding them of their triggers and post hypnotic suggestions.
Anchoring is binding one stimuli response to a desired stimuli. An example of this would be anchoring being calm and relaxed like in trance to clasping your hands together. It's a form of classical conditioning.
Conditioning means “have it become an unconscious response.” This means the response happens automatically when you give the stimulus, without passing through conscious thought. Think Pavlov (classical conditioning) and Skinner (operant conditioning). Conditioning is not hypnosis, but hypnosis does make conditioning easier. There's a grey area in terminology in that a subject can respond to a suggestion and it could be any or all of post hypnotic suggestion, a trigger, a trained behavior or a conditioned response/reflex.
Pyramiding means combine different suggestions with each other to build up an effect. "The deeper you go, the better you feel, the better you feel, the more relaxed you become, and the more relaxed you become, the deeper you go." Following one suggestion teaches the subject how to follow the next one, and lets the hypnotist build up to larger and larger suggestions.
Fractionate means move into a lighter state of trance and then back into a deeper state of trance.
Yes sets means to ask a number of questions that the subject says yes. After a while, the subject will find it very easy to agree automatically. Some examples of non-obvious yes sets.
Pacing and Leading Pacing describes something in the moment, and leading the mind to an outcome. "You're here now because you want to experience something amazing... so just follow my words, and we'll get you to where you want to be, and further... imagine opening your eyes in just a few moments, and...". Example video.
Priority of thought means to hold two thoughts in your head at the same time and have them conflict.
Responsiveness the ability of a subject to respond to a suggestion.
Special thanks to Ella Enchanting, Girl Furniture, Wild Wellington, Marnathas, and Enchanter for reviewing this guide and providing helpful suggestions.
Please send feedback and suggestions to email@example.com.