Hypnotists can use several different approaches to induce a state of hypnosis in his or her subjects. Some of these methods are, of course, more effective than others, and some are complete hogwash. Let’s investigate the different methods of hypnosis induction, their formats, and their viability in hypnosis…
When people think about hypnosis, they often visualize the master hypnotist waving a pocket watch in front of the subject while telling him that he is getting very sleepy. This is called fixed-gaze induction. The idea is that the subject focuses so intently on the object in front of him or her that all other external stimuli disappear. Once the subject has completely lost himself in the object at hand, the hypnotist lulls him or her into a deep state of relaxation where they can work together to access the unconscious mind. This form of induction was popular in decades past but, because it rarely works, most hypnotists no longer use it.
Some stage hypnotists use an approach that is called “flooding” or rapid induction. The hypnotist essentially overloads the mind of the subjects with sudden and forceful commands that result in the subject surrendering control of their conscious mind to the hypnotist. This is another method that rarely works.
A process known as “loss of balance” has been used with some success. The idea is that the body is lulled into relaxation by rocking in much the same way that parents have been rocking their infants to sleep for thousands of years. Rocking creates a loss of equilibrium that, in turn, forces the individual to relinquish control.
By far the most popular and successful induction method is progressive relaxation or guided imagery. During this method, the hypnotist guides the subject though a process of relaxation. The subject is made aware of every part of his or her body and is told to relax each part one at a time. Sometimes the hypnotist asks the subject to create tension in the body part so that he or she can feel the difference between tension and relaxation. When the subject is completely relaxed, the hypnotist guides the subject on a journey into his or her unconscious mind via a process of imagination. The subject is asked to imagine a relaxing scene. This can be a very personal vision. The subject is asked to imagine all of the sights, sounds, and sensations of the scene he or she has created. It is this process of guided relaxation and guided imagery that has made self, or at home hypnosis possible. Once an individual has learned how to guide himself or herself to this completely relaxed state, they can access their own thoughts and effect any number of desired changes.
Subjects do not have to believe that they can be hypnotized for hypnosis to be successful. The subject must have a desire to be hypnotized and an ability to relax in order for hypnosis to work. Often it is the individual who believes that hypnosis could not possibly work that finds the greatest success with the process. Sometimes it may take several tries before a true state of hypnosis has been reached, but once the individual is successful in reaching a deep state of relaxation, work on the unconscious mind can be begun.