In order to understand how hypnosis works, it is important to
understand how the conscious mind and the subconscious mind work.
The conscious mind is where we spend most of our time. It has
several parts. One part is our analytical, logical mind. That
is the part of us that looks at problems, analyzes them, and figures
a way to solve those particular problems. It is also the part
of us that makes the hundreds of decisions we have to make, just
to get through an average day, that we think are automatic but
in fact are not. Things like: Should I open the door? Should I
turn the water on? Should I tie my shoes? We think those are automatic
functions, but we must make a decision as to whether or not we
want to do these things. The conscious mind acts and makes decisions.
part of the conscious mind is called the rational part of the conscious
mind. This part of us must give us a reason why we behave in a particular
fashion. Sometimes, if we don't have a reason why we do the things
that we do, we become anxious, nervous, and frustrated. The only
problem with the reason the rational mind gives us as to why we
behave in any particular fashion is that it's often wrong. For example,
we often reach for something to eat when we're bored, anxious, depressed,
or for a myriad number of other reasons, when we're actually not
hungry. Yet we tell ourselves that we're eating out of hunger.
part of the conscious mind is what we call willpower. You're familiar
with willpower. We've all heard someone say, "I'm going to
put down this pack of cigarettes and nothing on God's earth will
make me start smoking again." Well, we all know how long that
lasts! Just until willpower weakens, and then the old habit pattern
comes back again.
conscious mind also contains what we call working memory. That's
the memory we need every day. How do I find my way to work? What
is my phone number? Where did I leave my car keys? It is the memory
that we need just to get through an average day. The content of
the conscious is within the realm of awareness at all times.
level below the conscious is called the subconscious, or inner,
mind. The subconscious mind is extremely powerful. It can make you
into anything you'd like to be: rich, famous, thin, fat, happy,
sad - it's the real us. The greater part of our mental life is below
the conscious level, below our awareness, and it has a great impact
on our conscious acts, thoughts, and feelings.
the conscious mind, the subconscious mind has several functions.
One of the duties of the subconscious is control of the body mechanisms.
One part of the brain regulates the autonomic nervous system, controlling
every organ and gland. The subconscious is probably able to control
chemical and electrical reactions as well. Hypnotic experiments
have been made that show the control by the subconscious of many
subconscious is the storehouse of memory and learning. It seems
that we can record every perception when received, much as if a
motion picture is being made, with sound effects and even with all
the other senses registering, not only sight and hearing, but touch,
smell, and taste as well.
a very small part of all the things that happen to us is subject
to conscious recall. Most people have very few conscious memories
of things occurring to them before the age of five years. Perhaps
a few exciting or very interesting events may be remembered. Now
and then, there may be a very early memory, but often it is something
we were told about long afterwards. We only think it is the real
memory. Nevertheless, everything that happens to us is in our subconscious
memory in the greatest detail. We can consciously forget, but the
subconscious never forgets. Much that we consciously forget continues
to affect us in many ways. Even if we can't recall everything at
the conscious level, we never really forget anything.
behavior is a function of the subconscious mind. You know you have
some good habits, and you know you have some bad habits, but really
most of our habits aren't good or bad. Most of our habits really
are utilitarian habits. We automatically respond in a certain fashion
when something else happens. For example, when the telephone rings,
we don't look at it and wonder what it is; we automatically pick
it up and answer it.
part of our subconscious mind controls our emotions. We wouldn't
want to be without our emotions, but sometimes our emotions get
us into trouble. When we feel intense emotion, we tend to deal with
the particular situation from our irrational but highly intelligent
subconscious mind. Sometimes it gets us into trouble! I know that
many times in the past you've dealt with a situation emotionally,
and then after the situation was over, when the analytical conscious
mind took over, you heart yourself thinking or saying something
like this, "Now why did I say that? Why did I do that?"
important part of the subconscious mind is the protective mind.
It must protect us against danger, real or imagined. You see, something
imagined by the subconscious mind is just as real as if it were
actually happening. It can't tell the difference, and it must protect
us against danger. This part of the mind is always aware and functioning,
whether you are awake or asleep. It is even aware when the conscious
mind is out, as from a blow, or when under an anaesthetic drug.
The mother of a baby may be sleeping soundly, but at the first whimper
or cry from her child, she will instantly awaken. Her subconscious
has said, "Come on, wake up! Something may be wrong with the
baby." If you inadvertently touch something hot, your inner
mind sends messages instantly to the muscles of your arm, and you
snatch your hand away before you can think and analyze the situation.
In many other ways, the subconscious is always alert to guard you
from harm and danger. Yet, paradoxically, it can also cause illness
and even self-destructive behavior.
is one part of the conscious mind that I haven't told you about
yet, a part that quickly stops suggestion. This is called the critical
factor of the conscious mind. I want you to think of this part of
your conscious mind as an employee, if you will, of the subconscious.
Its job is to stop, to put on hold like a red traffic light, any
suggestion of change that we give ourselves or receive from an outside
source. It stops it. The critical factor is like the rudder of a
ship. It can keep you on course and is the pilot of all your inhibitions.
It sends such signals as: "I can't," "I won't,"
or ""I haven't been able to before, so I can't now."
Its influence is necessary when it reminds you, for example, of
the folly of feeding crocodiles by hand. But it needs to be overcome
when it paralyzes you into crystallized habit patterns, when healthy
caution becomes crippling fear. Ideally, your critical factor screens
impulses, filters out what is harmful, and helps you set realistic
goals. But because the critical factor responds to the subconscious,
and because the subconscious is protective, the critical factor
does not always work in an ideal fashion.
is a state of intense focused concentration, where peripheral distractions
are minimized or excluded. It is a natural way of having access
to the subconscious. It is a form of communication that harmonizes
your conscious and subconscious minds. If properly used, it is a
means of achieving more of the potential which we all possess. A
hypnotherapist/hypnotist is the individual who guides another into
a highly relaxed state by using a variety of techniques to help
the subject bypass the critical factor of his or her conscious,
analytical, outer mind in order to reach the subconscious, intuitive,
inner mind. Hypnosis occurs when your critical factor is persuaded
to take a break. With your mental watchdog napping, a choice suggestion
or two can easily be incorporated by your inner mind.
have all experienced brief periods of the hypnotic state but may
not have been aware of it. Natural trance occurs during moments
of intense concentration or creativity when, for example, a composer
may have not recollection of having written a phrase. The notes
seemed to have arranged themselves. Or an accountant may become
so involved in his weekly business report that he's unaware of the
movement and noise around him. Moviegoers can become so engrossed
in what is happening on the screen, their focus is so exclusively
there, that they respond to events as though they are part of them,
and not a member of the audience. Drivers have had the experience
of being so preoccupied with something that they lose all sense
of the road, of the flow of traffic, and of whether or not they
have passed other cars. Because you have already learned to drive,
your driving skill is stored in your subconscious. As you begin
your journey, you get into your car, maneuver out into the highway,
move into a continuous flow of traffic, and reach a constant speed.
Now your conscious mind is free. Because the knowledge required
for driving exists in your subconscious, your conscious mind drifts
off, allowing your subconscious to become more active. You may become
so engrossed in your thoughts that you drive in the direction of
your office, when your actual destination is the grocery store or
the movie theater. When your attention is needed to change lanes,
avoid something in the road, stop at a toll gate, or slow down for
an off ramp, your conscious mind comes into play again. You may
even arrive at your destination and wonder how you got there so
of these instances have features common with the hypnotic state.
The major difference is that they are isolated events and other
things soon impinge on your consciousness to terminate them. What
is important is that they do occur, you do experience them, and
they are not psychological abnormalities. With some learning, it
is possible to consciously create the conditions in which these
states may occur and be maintained. In other words, there is nothing
particularly magical or mystical about the hypnotic state. Because
it is such a familiar feeling, some people, after their first hypnotic
session, question whether they were truly hypnotized.
induced by a hypnotist/hypnotherapist is probably not what you expect
it to be. Our bodies are very relaxed, but the more we go into hypnosis,
the more alert our minds become. In hypnosis all of your five senses,
including sound, smell, taste, and vision, are many times better
than they are right now. You may be concerned about what hypnosis
can do to you. Hypnosis is not in any way harmful, but it is completely
understandable for a beginning hypnotic subject to have some reservations.
me tell you some facts. The first one is this-there is only one
form of hypnosis. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. You don't need
me to go into a beautiful, deep state of hypnosis all by yourself,
and you certainly don't need me to give you suggestions of positive
change in any area of your life. You can do that all by yourself.
The reason you are here today is because you don't know how, but
I teach people how to do that all the time. It's the easiest thing
in the world. All I can ever be for you or anyone else is a guide.
If you allow me to be your guide, I'll show you how to place yourself
in a beautiful state of hypnosis, experiencing physical relaxation
and mental alertness. If you allow me to be your guide, I'll show
you how to stay there until we're finished. If you don't want to
be in this beautiful relaxed state, all you have to do is have the
slightest thought that you don't want to be in this relaxed state
anymore, and instantly it's over, and you are back to your normal
state of awareness. But if you follow my guidance, I'll show you
how to stay there.
is a one hundred percent consent state by you. You must allow things
to happen. You can stop them from happening with the slightest thought
that you don't want them to happen. Now I want you to understand
that anyone who has average or above average I.Q. and wants to be
hypnotized can go into a hypnotic trance state. The only thing that
keeps a person from going into that beautiful state of physical
relaxation and mental alertness is if they have a fear or a misconception
about what hypnosis really is.
would like to talk briefly about some of the more common fears and
misconceptions of hypnosis. Some people feel that when a person
is in hypnosis, that person is asleep. The word "hypnosis"
stems from hypnos, the Greek word for sleep. However, people who
experience hypnosis are not actually sleeping - far from it. They
may appear to others to be asleep, but they can think, talk, open
their eyes, respond to suggestion, and move in any way. Electroencephalograms,
or EEG readings, taken on people during hypnosis show a high incidence
of alpha wave activity that indicates a relaxed yet attentive brain.
people are afraid that they won't emerge from hypnosis. Anytime
you want to emerge from hypnosis, all you have to do is have the
slightest thought that you don't want to be in this relaxed state
anymore, and instantly it's over and you're back to your normal
awareness. Even if the hypnotherapist/hypnotist went away and left
a subject in hypnosis, the subject would either return to full consciousness
on his or her own or would enter a sleep and awaken after a pleasant
people have the misconception that they will tell me all their deep,
dark secrets when they are in hypnosis. However, while you are in
hypnosis, you are always in control of what you choose to do or
say. If you don't want to tell me something, you never will. If
I were to ask you for information that was none of my business,
you would simply tell me that it was none of my business. Nobody
can make you divulge information that is proprietary. Similarly,
hypnosis is not truth serum. If a person wishes to be untruthful
while hypnotized, he or she can easily lie.
then there is that powerful misconception that the hypnotherapist/hypnotist
can control the patient and make him or her do anything the hypnotherapist/hypnotist
wants the patient to do. In reality, the subject is always in control,
hyper-alert and concentrating at a high level. In this mental state,
he or she can have the experience structured by a hypnotherapist/hypnotist,
but the choice of whether to cooperate or not is his or hers alone.
Thus, you will not do anything you do not think is acceptable. You
cannot be made to violate your own values or accepted patterns of
behavior. Some people say, "Wait a minute! I hear what you
are saying, but I've seen stage hypnosis work, and I know those
people control those folks. I've seen them bark like a dog and do
other silly things." Through a series of questions, observations,
and audience participation exercises, the stage hypnotist picks
those volunteers who are somewhat exhibitionistic. Those people
want to have fun and they don't mind being made fun of. That is,
they will play the game and do silly things.
are the attitudes you should adopt for hypnosis? There are basically
You must be motivated. You must want to be hypnotized and you must
want to succeed at it. Beginning the endeavor halfheartedly is not
a ticket to success. You must want to succeed and believe that you
You must be involved in the process. Hypnosis is not, as many believe,
a passive act; it requires your full involvement and positive participation.
In other words, you must apply yourself, direct your attention,
and concentrate on the process.
You must direct your will to cooperate and not to go against the
process. This is not the same as wanting something to happen. You
may want something to happen but apply your will negatively, so
that it is difficult or impossible for it to happen.
You must approach hypnosis with an uncritical acceptance. Only by
doing this will you allow suggestions to pass from your conscious
into your subconscious.
one of these is absolutely necessary in the sense that if one is
absent, then hypnosis is impossible. Nor do you require all of them
to be present simultaneously. However, the more you can develop
these attributes, the more successful you will be. It is not a question
of either having these attributes or not, but rather to what degree
you have them.
know you are going to enjoy our session together. If you have any
questions, I'll be more than happy to discuss them with you. Remember,
hypnosis is a wonderful, wonderful way to change your life, and
it is available to you.