Memory, Diaspora, Hysteria: Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace

by Marlene Goldman

In her introduction to this collection, Julia Creet asserts that “migration is a condition of memory,” and cites Pierre Nora’s lament that

“we create sites of memory because we not longer have ‘real environments of memory’: stable geographic, generation environments in which memory resides .  . .”

Alias graceMargaret Atwood’s historical novel Alias Grace is  based on the life of a notorious Canadian woman who immigrated from Ireland and who was convicted of murder at the age of sixteen.

Fiction has played a profound role in shaping our understanding of both normal and pathological memory. In her study of conceptual art and memory, Luiza Nader observes that the work of the artist under consideration

“raised the problem of the relation between memory (with its vicissitudes like transference, repressions, and displacements) and history” (*).

I would suggest that Atwood’s novel adds a significant dimension to this collection’s engagement with the issues of migration, memory, trauma, testimony, and fiction because of its reflexive engagement with fiction making and, more precisely, owing to the novel’s insistence that even in the case of traumatic testimony, the vicissitudes of memory and artistic fabrication play a profound role.


A battle for your mind

Here’s a good article by Dick Sutphen explaining how easy it would be for someone to hi-jack our minds and make us unconsciously obey their commands.

I think, I am not a lamb
I think, I am not a lamb

Persuasion & Brainwashing Techniques Being Used on the Public Today


I’m Dick Sutphen andthis tape is a studio-recorded, expanded version of a talk I delivered at the World Congress of Professional Hypnotists Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Although the tapecarries a copyright to protect it from unlawful duplication for sale by other companies,in this case, I invite individuals to make copies and give them to friends oranyone in a position to communicate this information.

Although I’ve beeninterviewed about the subject on many local and regional radio and TV talkshows, large-scale mass communication appears to be blocked, since it couldresult in suspicion or investigation of the very media presenting it or thesponsors that support the media. Some government agencies do not want thisinformation generally known. Nor dothe Born-Again Christian movement, cults, and many human-potential trainings.

Everything I willrelate only exposes the surface of the problem. I don’t know how the misuse ofthese techniques can be stopped. I don’t think it is possible to legislateagainst that which often cannot be detected; and if those who legislate areusing these techniques, there is little hope of affecting laws to govern usage.I do know that the first step to initiate change is to generate interest. Inthis case, that will probably only result from an underground effort.

In talking about thissubject, I am talking about my own business. I know it, and I know how effectiveit can be. I produce hypnosis and subliminal tapes and, in some of my seminars,I use conversion tactics to assist participants to become independent andself-sufficient. But, anytime I use these techniques, I point out that I amusing them, and those attending have a choice to participate or not. They alsoknow what the desired result of participation will be.

So, to begin, I want to state the most basic of all facts aboutbrainwashing: IN THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF MAN, NO ONE HAS EVER BEEN BRAINWASHEDAND REALIZED, OR BELIEVED, THAT HE HAD BEEN BRAINWASHED. Those who have beenbrainwashed will usually passionately defend their manipulators, claiming theyhave simply been “shown the light” . . . or have been transformed inmiraculous ways.

The Birth of Conversion

CONVERSION is a “nice” word for BRAINWASHING . . .and any study of brainwashing has to begin with a study of Christian revivalismin eighteenth century America. Apparently, Jonathan Edwards accidentally discovered the techniques during a religiouscrusade in 1735 in Northampton, Massachusetts. By inducing guilt and acuteapprehension and by increasing the tension, the “sinners” attending his revival meetings would break down and completely submit. Technically, what Edwards was doing was creating conditions that wipe the brain slate clean so that the mind accepts new programming. The problem was that the new input was negative. He would tell them,

“You’re a sinner!You’re destined for hell!”

As a result, one person committed suicide and another attempted suicide. And the neighbours of the suicidal converts related that they, too,were affected so deeply that, although they had found “eternal salvation,” they were obsessed with a diabolical temptation to end their own lives.

Once a preacher, cult leader, manipulator or authority figure creates the brain phase to wipe the brain-slate clean, his subjects are wide open. New input, in the form of suggestion, can be substituted for theirprevious ideas.

Because Edwards didn’t turn his message positive until the end of the revival, many accepted the negative suggestions and acted, or desired to act, upon them.

Charles J. Finney was another Christian revivalist who usedthe same techniques four years later in mass religious conversions in New York.The techniques are still being used today by Christian revivalists, cults,human-potential trainings, some business rallies, and the United States Armed Services. . . to name just a few.

Let me point out here that I don’t think most revivalist preachersrealize or know they are using brainwashing techniques. Edwards simply stumbled upon a technique that really worked, and others copied it and have continued to copy it for over two hundred years. And the more sophisticated our knowledge and technology become, the more effective the conversion. I feel strongly that this is one of the major reasons for the increasing rise in Christian fundamentalism, especially the televised variety, while most of the orthodox religions are declining.

The Three Brain Phases

The Christians may have been the first to successfully formulate brainwashing, but we have to look to Pavlov, the Russian scientist, for a technical explanation. In the early 1900s, his work with animals opened thedoor to further investigations with humans. After the revolution in Russia, Lenin was quick to see the potential of applying Pavlov’s research to his own ends.

Three distinct and progressive states of transmarginal inhibition were identified by Pavlov. The first is the EQUIVALENT phase, in which thebrain gives the same response to both strong and weak stimuli. The second is the PARADOXICAL phase, in which the brain responds more actively to weak stimuli than to strong. And the third is the ULTRAPARADOXICAL phase, in which conditioned responses and behaviour patterns turn from positive to negative or from negative to positive.

With the progression through each phase, the degree of conversionbecomes more effective and complete. The way to achieve conversion are many andvaried, but the usual first step in religious or political brainwashing is towork on the emotions of an individual or group until they reach an abnormallevel of anger, fear, excitement, or nervous tension.

The progressive result of this mental condition is to impair judgement and increase suggestibility. The more this condition can be maintained or intensified, the more it compounds. Once catharsis, or the first brain phase, is reached, the complete mental takeover becomes easier. Existingmental programming can be replaced with new patterns of thinking and behaviour.

Other often-used physiological weapons to modify normal brain functions are fasting, radical or high sugar diets, physical discomforts,regulation of breathing, mantra chanting in meditation, the disclosure of awesome mysteries, special lighting and sound effects, programmed response to incense, or intoxicating drugs.

The same results can be obtained in contemporary psychiatric treatment by electric shock treatments and even by purposely lowering a person’s blood sugar level with insulin injections.

Before I talk about exactly how some of the techniques are applied,I want to point out that hypnosis and conversion tactics are two distinctly different things–and that conversion techniques are far more powerful.However, the two are often mixed . . . with powerful results.

How Revivalist Preachers Work

Pastor_Apollo_Quiboloy_PreachingIf you’d like to see a revivalist preacher at work, there are probably several in your city. Go to the church or tent early and sit in therear, about three-quarters of the way back. Most likely repetitive music willbe played while the people come in for the service. A repetitive beat, ideallyranging from 45 to 72 beats per minute (a rhythm close to the beat of the humanheart), is very hypnotic and can generate an eyes-open altered state ofconsciousness in a very high percentage of people. And, once you are in analpha state, you are at least 25 times as suggestible as you would be in full betaconsciousness. The music is probably the same for every service, orincorporates the same beat, and many of the people will go into an alteredstate almost immediately upon entering the sanctuary. Subconsciously, they recall their state of mind from previous services and respond according to thepost-hypnotic programming.

Watch the people waiting for the service to begin. Many willexhibit external signs of trance–body relaxation and slightly dilated eyes.Often, they begin swaying back and forth with their hands in the air while sittingin their chairs. Next, the assistant pastor will probably come out. He usuallyspeaks with a pretty good “voice roll.”


Voice Roll Technique

A “voice roll” is a patterned, paced style used byhypnotists when inducing a trance. It is also used by many lawyers, several ofwhom are highly trained hypnotists, when they desire to entrench a point firmlyin the minds of the jurors. A voice roll can sound as if the speaker weretalking to the beat of a metronome or it may sound as though he were emphasizingevery word in a monotonous, patterned style. The words will usually bedelivered at the rate of 45 to 60 beats per minute, maximizing the hypnoticeffect.

Now the assistant pastor begins the “build-up”process. He induces an altered state of consciousness and/or begins to generatethe excitement and the expectations of the audience.

Next, a group of young women in “sweet and pure”chiffon dresses might come out to sing a song. Gospel songs are great forbuilding excitement and INVOLVEMENT. In the middle of the song, one of thegirls might be “smitten by the spirit” and fall down or react as ifpossessed by the Holy Spirit. This very effectively increases the intensity inthe room. At this point, hypnosis and conversion tactics are being mixed. And theresult is the audience’s attention span is now totally focused upon thecommunication while the environment becomes more exciting or tense.

Right about this time, when an eyes-open mass-induced alphamental state has been achieved, they will usually pass the collection plate orbasket. In the background, a 45-beat-per-minute voice roll from the assistantpreacher might exhort, “Give to God. . . Give to God . . . Give to God . . .” And the audience does give.God may not get the money, but his already wealthy representative will.

Next, the fire-and-brimstone preacher will come out. He inducesfear and increases the tension by talking about “the devil,””going to hell,” or the forthcoming Armageddon.

In the last such rally I attended, the preacher talked aboutthe blood that would soon be running out of every faucet in the land. He wasalso obsessed with a “bloody axe of God,” which everyone had seenhanging above the pulpit the previous week. I have no doubt that everyone sawit–the power of suggestion given to hundreds of people in hypnosis assures thatat least 10 to 25 percent would see whatever he suggested they see.

In most revivalist gatherings, “testifying” or “witnessing”usually follows the fear-based sermon. People from the audience come up onstage and relate their stories.

“I was crippledand now I can walk!” “I had arthritis and now it’s gone!” Itis a psychological manipulation that works.

After listening to numerous case histories of miraculous healings,the average guy in the audience with a minor problem is sure he can be healed.The room is charged with fear, guilt, intense excitement, and expectations.

Now those who want to be healed are frequently lined up aroundthe edge of the room, or they are told to come down to the front. The preachermight touch them on the head firmly and scream, “Be healed!” Thisreleases the psychic energy and, for many, catharsis results. Catharsis is apurging of repressed emotions. Individuals might cry, fall down or even go intospasms. And if catharsis is effected, they stand a chance of being healed. Incatharsis (one of the three brain phases mentioned earlier), the brain-slate istemporarily wiped clean and the new suggestion is accepted.

For some, the healing may be permanent. For many, it will lastfour days to a week, which is, incidentally, how long a hypnotic suggestiongiven to a somnambulistic subject will usually last. Even if the healingdoesn’t last, if they come back every week, the power of suggestion maycontinually override the problem . . . or sometimes, sadly, it can mask a physicalproblem which could prove to be very detrimental to the individual in the longrun.

I’m not saying thatlegitimate healings do not take place.

They do. Maybe the individual was ready to let go of the negativitythat caused the problem in the first place; maybe it was the work of God. Yet Icontend that it can be explained with existing knowledge of brain/mindfunction.

The techniques and staging will vary from church to church.Many use “speaking in tongues” to generate catharsis in some whilethe spectacle creates intense excitement in the observers.

The use of hypnotic techniques by religions is sophisticated,and professionals are assuring that they become even more effective. A man inLos Angeles is designing, building, and reworking a lot of churches around thecountry.

He tells ministers what they need and how to use it. This man’strack record indicates that the congregation and the monetary income willdouble if the minister follows his instructions. He admits that about 80percent of his efforts are in the sound system and lighting.

Powerful sound and the proper use of lighting are of primaryimportance in inducing an altered state of consciousness–I’ve been using themfor years in my own seminars. However, my participants are fully aware of the processand what they can expect as a result of their participation.

Six Conversion Techniques

Cults and human-potential organizations are always looking fornew converts. To attain them, they must also create a brain-phase. And theyoften need to do it within a short space of time–a weekend, or maybe even aday. The following are the six primary techniques used to generate theconversion.

The meeting or training takes place in an area where participantsare cut off from the outside world. This may be any place: a private home, aremote or rural setting, or even a hotel ballroom where the participants areallowed only limited bathroom usage. In human-potential trainings, the controllerswill give a lengthy talk about the importance of “keeping agreements”in life. The participants are told that if they don’t keep agreements, theirlife will never work.

It’s a good idea to keep agreements, but the controllers are subverting a positive human value for selfish purposes. The participants vow tothemselves and their trainer that they will keep their agreements. Anyone who does not will be intimidated into agreement or forced to leave. The next step isto agree to complete training, thus assuring a high percentage of conversions for the organizations. They will USUALLY have to agree not to take drugs,smoke, and sometimes not to eat . . . or they are given such short meal breaks that it creates tension. The real reason for the agreements is to alter internal chemistry, which generates anxiety and hopefully causes at least a slight malfunction of the nervous system, which in turn increases theconversion potential.

Before the gathering is complete, the agreements will be usedto ensure that the new converts go out and find new participants. They areintimidated into agreeing to do so before they leave. Since the importance ofkeeping agreements is so high on their priority list, the converts will twistthe arms of everyone they know, attempting to talk them into attending a freeintroductory session offered at a future date by the organization. The newconverts are zealots. In fact, the inside term for merchandising the largestand most successful human- potential training is, “sell it byzealot!”

At least a million people are graduates and a good percentage have been left with a mental activation button that assures their future loyalty and assistance if the guru figure or organization calls. Think aboutthe potential political implications of hundreds of thousands of zealotsprogramed to campaign for their guru.

Be wary of anorganization of this type that offers follow-up sessions after the seminar.Follow-up sessions might be weekly meetings or inexpensive seminars given on aregular basis which the organization will attempt to talk you into taking–orany regularly scheduled event used to maintain control. As the early Christian revivalists found, long-term control is dependent upon a good follow-up system.

Alright. Now, let’s look at the second tip-off that indicates conversion tactics are being used. A schedule is maintained that causes physical and mental fatigue. This is primarily accomplished by long hours in which the participants are given no opportunity for relaxation or reflection.

The third tip-off: techniques used to increase the tension in the room or environment.

Number four: Uncertainty. I could spend hours relating various techniques to increase tension and generate uncertainty. Basically, the participants are concerned about being “put on the spot” or encountered by the trainers, guilt feelings are played upon, participants are tempted to verbally relate their innermost secrets to the other participants or forced to take part in activities that emphasize removing their masks. 192_4-steps-give-an-impromptu-speech_flash2One of the most successful human-potential seminars forces the participants to stand on a stage in front of the entire audience while being verbally attacked by the trainers. A public opinion poll, conducted a few years ago, showed that the number one most-fearful situation an individual could encounter is to speak to an audience. It ranked above window washing outside the 85th floor of an office building. So you can imagine the fear and tension this situation generates within the participants. Many faint, but most cope with the stress by mentally going away. They literally go into an alpha state, which automatically makes them many times as suggestible as they normally are. And another loop of the downward spiral into conversion is successfully effected.

The fifth clue that conversion tactics are being used is the introduction of jargon–new terms that have meaning only to the”insiders” who participate. Vicious language is also frequently used,purposely, to make participants uncomfortable.

The final tip-off is that there is no humour in the communications. . . at least until the participants are converted. Then, merry-making and humourare highly desirable as symbols of the new joy the participants have supposedly”found.”

I’m not saying that good does not result from participationin such gatherings. It can and does. But I contend it is important for peopleto know what has happened and to be aware that continual involvement may not bein their best interest.

Over the years, I’ve conducted professional seminars to teachpeople to be hypnotists, trainers, and counsellors. I’ve had many of those whoconduct trainings and rallies come to me and say, “I’m here because I know that what I’m doing works, but I don’t know why.”After showing them how and why, many have gotten out of the business or have decided to approach it differently or in a much more loving and supportive manner.

Many of these trainers have become personal friends, and it scares us all to have experienced the power of one person with a microphone and a room full of people. Add a little charisma and you can count on a high percentage of conversions. The sad truth is that a high percentage of people want to give away their power–they are true “believers”!

Cult gatherings or human-potential trainings are an ideal environment to observe first-hand what is technically called the “Stockholm Syndrome.” This is a situation in which those who are intimidated, controlled, or made to suffer, begin to love, admire, and evensometimes sexually desire their controllers or captors.

But let me inject a word of warning here: If you think you canattend such gatherings and not be affected, you are probably wrong. A perfectexample is the case of a woman who went to Haiti on a Guggenheim Fellowship tostudy Haitian Voodoo. In her report,she related how the music eventually induced uncontrollable bodily movement and an altered state of consciousness. Although she understood the process and thought herself above it, when she began to feel herself become vulnerable to the music, she attempted to fight it and turned away. Anger or resistance almost always assures conversion. A few moments later she was possessed by the music and began dancing in a trance around the Voodoo meeting house. A brain phase had been induced by the music and excitement, and she awoke feeling reborn. The only hope of attending such gatherings without being affected is to be a Buddha and allow no positive or negative emotions to surface. Few people are capable of such detachment.

Before I go on, let’s go back to the six tip-offs to conversion.I want to mention the United States Government and military boot camp. The Marine Corps talks about breaking men down before “rebuilding” them as new men–as marines! Well, that is exactly what they do, the same way a cult breaks its people down and rebuilds them as happy flower sellers on your local street corner. Every one of the six conversion techniques are used in boot camp. Considering the needs of the military, I’m not making a judgement as to whether that is good or bad. IT IS A FACT that the men are effectively brainwashed.Those who won’t submit must be discharged or spend much of their time in the brig.

Decognition Process

Once the initial conversion is effected, cults, armed services,and similar groups cannot have cynicism among their members. Members mustrespond to commands and do as they are told, otherwise they are dangerous tothe organizational control. This is normally accomplished in a three step Decognition Process.

Step One isALERTNESS REDUCTION: The controllers cause the nervous system to malfunction,making it difficult to distinguish between fantasy and reality. This can be accomplishedin several ways. POOR DIET is one; watch out for Brownies and Koolaid. Thesugar throws the nervous system off.

More subtle is the “SPIRITUAL DIET” used by manycults. They eat only vegetables and fruits; without the grounding of grains,nuts, seeds, dairy products, fish or meat, an individual becomes mentally”spacey.” INADEQUATE SLEEP is another primary way to reducealertness, especially when combined with long hours of work or intense physicalactivity.

Also, being bombarded with intense and unique experiences achievesthe same result.

Step Two isPROGRAMED CONFUSION: You are mentally assaulted while your alertness is beingreduced as in Step One. This is accomplished with a deluge of new information,lectures, discussion groups, encounters or one-to-one processing, which usuallyamounts to the controller bombarding the individual with questions. During thisphase of decognition, reality and illusion often merge and perverted logic islikely to be accepted.

Step Three isTHOUGHT STOPPING: Techniques are used to cause the mind to go “flat.”These are altered-state-of-consciousness techniques that initially inducecalmness by giving the mind something simple to deal with and focusingawareness. The continued use brings on a feeling of elation and eventuallyhallucination. The result is the reduction of thought and eventually, if usedlong enough, the cessation of all thought and withdrawal from everyone and everythingexcept that which the controllers direct. The takeover is then complete. It isimportant to be aware that when members or participants are instructed to use “thought-stopping”techniques, they are told that they will benefit by so doing: they will become”better soldiers” or “find enlightenment.”

There are three primary techniques used for thought stopping.The first is MARCHING: the thump, thump, thump beat literally generatesself-hypnosis and thus great susceptibility to suggestion.

The second thought stopping technique is MEDITATION. If you spendan hour to an hour and a half a day in meditation, after a few weeks, there isa great probability that you will not return to full beta consciousness. Youwill remain in a fixed state of alpha for as long as you continue to meditate.

I’m not saying this is bad–if you do it yourself. It may bevery beneficial. But it is a fact that you are causing your mind to go flat.I’ve worked with meditators on an EEG machine and the results are conclusive:the more you meditate, the flatter your mind becomes until, eventually and especially if used to excess or in combination with decognition, all thought ceases.Some spiritual groups see this as nirvana–which is bullshit. It is simply a predictable physiological result. And if heaven on earth is non- thinking and non-involvement, I really question why we are here.

The third thought-stopping technique is CHANTING, and often chanting in meditation. “Speaking in tongues” could also be included in this category.

All three-stopping techniques produce an altered state of consciousness.This may be very good if YOU are controlling the process, for you also control the input. I personally use at least one self-hypnosis programming session every day and I know how beneficial it is for me. But you need to know if you usethese techniques to the degree of remaining continually in alpha that, althoughyou’ll be very mellow, you’ll also be more suggestible.

True Believers & Mass Movements

Before ending this section on conversion, I want to talk aboutthe people who are most susceptible to it and about Mass Movements. I amconvinced that at least a third of the population is what Eric Hoffer calls”true believers.” They are joiners and followers . . . people whowant to give away their power. They look for answers, meaning, and enlightenmentoutside themselves.

Hoffer, who wrote THETRUE BELIEVER, a classic on mass movements, says, “true believers are not intent on bolsteringand advancing a cherished self, but are those craving to be rid of unwantedself. They are followers, not because of a desire for self-advancement, butbecause it can satisfy their passion for self-renunciation!” Hofferalso says that true believers “areeternally incomplete and eternally insecure“!

I know this from my own experience. In my years of communicatingconcepts and conducting trainings, I have run into them again and again. All Ican do is attempt to show them that the only thing to seek is the True Selfwithin.

Their personal answers are to be found there and therealone.

I communicate that the basics of spirituality are self-responsibilityand self-actualization. But most of the true believers just tell me that I’mnot spiritual and go looking for someone who will give them the dogma andstructure they desire. Never underestimate the potential danger of thesepeople. They can easily be moulded into fanatics who will gladly work and diefor their holy cause. It is a substitute for their lost faith in themselves andoffers them as a substitute for individual hope. The Moral Majority is made upof true believers. All cults are composed of true believers.

You’ll find them in politics, churches, businesses, andsocial cause groups. They are the fanatics in these organizations.

Mass Movements will usually have a charismatic leader. The followerswant to convert others to their way of living or impose a new way of life–ifnecessary, by legislating laws forcing others to their view, as evidenced bythe activities of the Moral Majority. This means enforcement by guns or punishment,for that is the bottom line in law enforcement.

A common hatred, enemy, or devil is essential to the successof a mass movement. The Born-Again Christians have Satan himself, but that isn’tenough–they’ve added the occult, the New Age thinkers and, lately, all thosewho oppose their integration of church and politics, as evidenced in theirpolitical re-election campaigns against those who oppose their views. Inrevolutions, the devil is usually the ruling power or aristocracy. Somehuman-potential movements are far too clever to ask their graduates to joinanything, thus labelling themselves as a cult–but, if you look closely, you’llfind that their devil is anyone and everyone who hasn’t taken their training.There are mass movements without devils but they seldom attain major status.The True Believers are mentally unbalanced or insecure people, or those withouthope or friends. People don’t look for allies when they love, but they do when theyhate or become obsessed with a cause. And those who desire a new life and a neworder feel the old ways must be eliminated before the new order can be built.

Persuasion Techniques

Persuasion isn’t technically brainwashing but it is the manipulationof the human mind by another individual, without the manipulated party beingaware what caused his opinion shift. I only have time to very basicallyintroduce you to a few of the thousands of techniques in use today, but thebasis of persuasion is always to access your RIGHT BRAIN. The left half of yourbrain is analytical and rational. The right side is creative and imaginative.That is overly simplified but it makes my point. So, the idea is to distractthe left brain and keep it busy. Ideally, the persuader generates an eyes-openaltered state of consciousness, causing you to shift from beta awareness intoalpha; this can be measured on an EEG machine.

First, let me give you an example of distracting the left brain.Politicians use these powerful techniques all the time; lawyers use manyvariations which, I’ve been told, they call “tightening the noose.”

Assume for a moment that you are watching a politician givea speech. First, he might generate what is called a “YES SET.” These are statements that will cause listeners toagree; they might even unknowingly nod their heads in agreement. Next come theTRUISMS. These are usually facts that could be debated but, once the politicianhas his audience agreeing, the odds are in the politician’s favour that theaudience won’t stop to think for themselves, thus continuing to agree. Last comesthe SUGGESTION. This is what the politician wants you to do and, since you havebeen agreeing all along, you could be persuaded to accept the suggestion. Now,if you’ll listen closely to my political speech, you’ll find that the first threeare the “yes set,” the next three are truisms and the last is thesuggestion.

Ladies andgentlemen: are you angry about high food prices? Are you tired of astronomicalgas prices? Are you sick of out-of-control inflation? Well, you know the OtherParty allowed 18 percent inflation last year; you know crime has increased 50percent nationwide in the last 12 months, and you know your pay check hardlycovers your expenses any more. Well, the answer to resolving these problems isto elect me, John Jones, to the U.S. Senate.”

And I think you’ve heard all that before. But you might alsowatch for what are called Imbedded Commands. As an example: On key words, thespeaker would make a gesture with his left hand, which research has shown ismore apt to access your right brain. Today’s media-oriented politicians and spellbindersare often carefully trained by a whole new breed of specialist who are usingevery trick in the book–both old and new–to manipulate you into acceptingtheir candidate.

The concepts and techniques of Neuro-Linguistics are so heavily protected that I found out the hard way that to even talk about them publicly or in print results in threatened legal action. Yet Neuro- Linguistic training is readily available to anyone willing to devote the time and pay the price. It is some of the most subtle and powerful manipulation

I have yet been exposed to. A good friend who recently attended a two-week seminar on Neuro-Linguistics found that many of those she talked to during the breaks were government people.

Another technique that I’m just learning about is unbelievably slippery; it is called an INTERSPERSAL TECHNIQUE and the idea is to say one thing with words but plant a subconscious impression of something else in the minds of the listeners and/or watchers.

Let me give you an example: Assume you are watching a television commentator make the following statement: SENATOR JOHNSON is assisting local authorities to clear up the stupid mistakes of companies contributing to the nuclear waste problems.” It sounds like a statement of fact, but, if the speaker emphasizes the right word, and especially if he makes the proper hand gestures on the key words, you could be left with the subconscious impression that Senator Johnson is stupid. That was the subliminal goal of the statement and the speaker cannot be called to account for anything.

Persuasion techniques are also frequently used on a much smaller scale with just as much effectiveness. The insurance salesman knows his pitch is likely to be much more effective if he can get you to visualize something in your mind. This is right-brain communication. For instance, he might pause in his conversation, look slowly around your living room and say,

Can you just imagine this beautiful home burning to the ground?” Of course you can!It is one of your unconscious fears and, when he forces you to visualize it,you are more likely to be manipulated into signing his insurance policy.

The Hare Krishnas, operating in every airport, use what I callSHOCK AND CONFUSION techniques to distract the left brain and communicatedirectly with the right brain. While waiting for a plane, I once watched oneoperate for over an hour. He had a technique of almost jumping in front ofsomeone.

Initially, his voice was loud then dropped as he made his pitchto take a book and contribute money to the cause.

Usually, when people are shocked, they immediately withdraw.

In this case they were shocked by the strange appearance, suddenmaterialization and loud voice of the Hare Krishna devotee. In other words, thepeople went into an alpha state for security because they didn’t want toconfront the reality before them. In alpha, they were highly suggestible sothey responded to the suggestion of taking the book; the moment they took thebook, they felt guilty and responded to the second suggestion: give money. We areall conditioned that if someone gives us something, we have to give themsomething in return– in that case, it was money. While watching this hustler,I was close enough to notice that many of the people he stopped exhibited anoutward sign of alpha–their eyes were actually dilated.

Subliminal Programming

Subliminals arehidden suggestions that only your subconscious perceives. They can be audio,hidden behind music, or visual, airbrushed into a picture, flashed on a screenso fast that you don’t consciously see them, or cleverly incorporated into apicture or design.

Most audio subliminal reprograming tapes offer verbal suggestionsrecorded at a low volume. I question the efficacy of this technique–ifsubliminals are not perceptible, they cannot be effective, and subliminalsrecorded below the audible threshold are therefore useless. The oldest audio subliminaltechnique uses a voice that follows the volume of the music so subliminals areimpossible to detect without a parametric equalizer. But this technique ispatented and, when

I wanted to develop my own line of subliminalaudiocassettes, negotiations with the patent holder proved to be unsatisfactory.My attorney obtained copies of the patents which I gave to some talentedHollywood sound engineers, asking them to create a new technique. They found away to psycho-acoustically modify and synthesize the suggestions so that theyare projected in the same chord and frequency as the music, thus giving themthe effect of being part of the music.

But we found that in using this technique, there is no wayto reduce various frequencies to detect the subliminals. In other words,although the suggestions are being heard by the subconscious mind, they cannotbe monitored with even the most sophisticated equipment.

If we were able to come up with this technique as easily aswe did, I can only imagine how sophisticated the technology has become, withunlimited government or advertising funding.

And I shudder to think about the propaganda and commercial manipulationthat we are exposed to on a daily basis. There is simply no way to know what isbehind the music you hear. It may even be possible to hide a second voicebehind the voice to which you are listening. The series by Wilson Bryan Key,

Ph.D., on subliminals in advertising and political campaignswell documents the misuse in many areas, especially printed advertising innewspapers, magazines, and posters.

The big question about subliminals is: do they work? And I guaranteeyou they do. Not only from the response of those who have used my tapes, butfrom the results of such programs as the subliminals behind the music indepartment stores.

Supposedly, the only message is instructions to not steal:one East Coast department store chain reported a 37 percent reduction in theftsin the first nine months of testing.

A 1984 article in the technical newsletter, “Brain-MindBulletin,” states that as much as 99 percent of our cognitive activity maybe “non-conscious,” according to the director of the Laboratory for CognitivePsychophysiology at the University of Illinois. The lengthy report ends withthe statement, “these findings support the use of subliminal approachessuch as taped suggestions for weight loss and the therapeutic use of hypnosisand Neuro-Linguistic Programming.”

Mass Misuse

I could relate many stories that support subliminal programming,but I’d rather use my time to make you aware of even more subtle uses of suchprogramming.

I have personally experienced sitting in a Los Angeles auditoriumwith over ten thousand people who were gathered to listen to a currentcharismatic figure. Twenty minutes after entering the auditorium, I becameaware that I was going in and out of an altered state. Those accompanying meexperienced the same thing. Since it is our business, we were aware of what washappening, but those around us were not. By careful observation, what appearedto be spontaneous demonstrations were, in fact, artful manipulations? The onlyway I could figure that the eyes-open trance had been induced was that a 6- to7-cycle-per- second vibration was being piped into the room behind the airconditioner sound. That particular vibration generates alpha, which would render the audience highly susceptible. Ten to 25 percent of the population is capable of a somnambulistic level of altered states of consciousness; for thesepeople, the suggestions of the speaker, if non-threatening, could potentiallybe accepted as “commands.”


This leads to the mention of VIBRATO. Vibrato is the tremulous effect imparted in some vocal or instrumental music, and the cyle-per- secondrange causes people to go into an altered state of consciousness. At one period of English history, singers whose voices contained pronounced vibrato were notallowed to perform publicly because listeners would go into an altered stateand have fantasies, often sexual in nature.

People who attend opera or enjoy listening to singers like MarioLanza are familiar with this altered state induced by the performers.


Now, let’s carry this awareness a little farther. There are also inaudible ELFs (extra-low frequencywaves). These are electromagnetic in nature. One of the primary uses ofELFs is to communicate with our submarines. Dr. Andrija Puharich, a highly respected researcher, in an attempt to warn U.S. officials about Russian use ofELFs, set up an experiment.

Volunteers were wired so their brain waves could be measured on an EEG. They were sealed in a metal room that could not be penetrated by anormal signal.

Puharich then beamed ELF waves at the volunteers. ELFs go rightthrough the earth and, of course, right through metal walls. Those inside couldn’t know if the signal was or was not being sent.

And Puharich watched the reactions on the technicalequipment: 30 percent of those inside the room were taken over by the ELFsignal in six to ten seconds.

When I say “taken over,” I mean that theirbehavior followed the changes anticipated at very precise frequencies.

Waves below 6 cycles per second caused the subjects to become very emotionally upset, and even disrupted bodily functions.

 At 8.2 cycles, they felt very high… an elevated feeling, as though they had been in masterful meditation, learned over a period of years. Eleven to 11.3 cycles induced waves of depressed agitation leading to riotous behavior.

The Neurophone

Dr. Patrick Flanagan is a personal friend of mine. In the early 1960s, as a teenager, Pat was listed as one of the top scientists in the world by “Life” magazine. Among his many inventions was a device he called the Neurophonean electronic instrument that can successfully program suggestions directly through contact with the skin. When he attempted to patent the device, the government demanded that he prove it worked. When he did, the National Security Agency confiscated the neurophone. It took Pat two years of legal battle to get his invention back.

In using the device, you don’t hear or see a thing; it is applied to the skin, which Pat claims is the source of special senses. The skin contains more sensors for heat, touch, pain, vibration, and electrical fields than any other part of the human anatomy.

In one of his recent tests, Pat conducted two identical seminars for a military audienceone seminar one night and one the next night, because the size of the room was not large enough to accommodate all of them at one time. When the first group proved to be very cool and unwilling to respond, Patrick spent the next day making a special tape to play at the second seminar. The tape instructed the audience to be extremely warm and responsive and for their hands to become “tingly.” The tape was played through the neurophone, which was connected to a wire he placed along the ceiling of the room. There were no speakers, so no sound could be heard, yet the message was successfully transmitted from that wire directly into the brains of the audience. They were warm and receptive, their hands tingled and they responded, according to programming, in other ways that I cannot mention here.

The more we find out about how human beings work through today’s highly advanced technological research, the more we learn to control human beings. And what probably scares me the most is that the medium for takeover is already in place! The television set in your living room and bedroom is doing a lot more than just entertaining you.

Before I continue, let me point out something else about an altered state of consciousness. When you go into an altered state, you transfer into right brain, which results in the internal release of the body’s own opiates: enkephalins and Beta-endorphins, chemically almost identical to opium. In other words, it feels good . . . and you want to come back for more.

Recent tests by researcher Herbert Krugman showed that, while viewers were watching TV, right-brain activity outnumbered left-brain activity by a ratio of two to one. Put more simply, the viewers were in an altered state . . . in trance more often than not. They were getting their Beta-endorphin “fix.”

To measure attention spans, psychophysiologist Thomas Mulholland of the Veterans Hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts, attached young viewers to an EEG machine that was wired to shut the TV set off whenever the children’s brains produced a majority of alpha waves. Although the children were told to concentrate, only a few could keep the set on for more than 30 seconds!

Most viewers are already hypnotized. To deepen the trance is easy. One simple way is to place a blank, black frame every 32 frames in the film that is being projected. This creates a 45-beat-per-minute pulsation perceived only by the subconscious mindthe ideal pace to generate deep hypnosis.

The commercials or suggestions presented following this alpha- inducing broadcast are much more likely to be accepted by the viewer. The high percentage of the viewing audience that has somnambulistic- depth ability could very well accept the suggestions as commandsas long as those commands did not ask the viewer to do something contrary to his morals, religion, or self-preservation.

The medium for takeover is here. By the age of 16, children have spent 10,000 to 15,000 hours watching televisionthat is more time than they spend in school! In the average home, the TV set is on for six hours and 44 minutes per dayan increase of nine minutes from last year and three times the average rate of increase during the 1970s.

It obviously isn’t getting better . . . we are rapidly moving into an alpha-level worldvery possibly the Orwellian world of “1984”placid, glassy-eyed, and responding obediently to instructions.

A research project by Jacob Jacoby, a Purdue University psychologist, found that of 2,700 people tested, 90 percent misunderstood even such simple viewing fare as commercials and “Barnaby Jones.” Only minutes after watching, the typical viewer missed 23 to 36 percent of the questions about what he or she had seen. Of course they didthey were going in and out of trance! If you go into a deep trance, you must be instructed to rememberotherwise you automatically forget.

I have just touched the tip of the iceberg. When you start to combine subliminal messages behind the music, subliminal visuals projected on the screen, hypnotically produced visual effects, sustained musical beats at a trance-inducing pace . . . you have extremely effective brainwashing. Every hour that you spend watching the TV set you become more conditioned. And, in case you thought there was a law against any of these things, guess again. There isn’t! There are a lot of powerful people who obviously prefer things exactly the way they are. Maybe they have plans for us?

This article was reproduced in Fact, Fiction and Fraud in Modern Medicine in February 1999


Hypnosis for Beginners – Day 2 – Switching off the muscular system

In this article we explore various ways in which muscular relaxation can be induced. The main systems used to do this include the verbal, visual, emotional, musical and humorous.
We end with a sample compound induction script.
In the previous article we looked at ways in which activity in various parts of the brain could be switched on which were sometimes obvious and at other times rather unfamiliar.
In this chapter we will be exploring this area of how to switch off a system. In particular we will look at reducing the activity of the muscular system and its related nervous system.

There is one very important fact about muscle tissue that is worth bearing in mind in this context. It has no direct Off switch! ANY electrical message, whether delivered via the nerves or via wires switches a muscle On: it makes it contract. There is no electrical signal that can direct a muscle to expand. That is the reason why throughout the body muscles occur in pairs. You have one muscle to curl a finger and another to straighten it. You have one muscle to bend the knee and another to straighten it. When you are walking your body runs through a sequence of first tensing one muscle of a pair and then the other. The one that is NOT being tensed gets stretched by the action of the other. Then the action is reversed.
Incidentally much chronic or long lasting muscular pain is a result of a pair of muscles being SIMULTANEOUSLY active or tense. They are each pulling against the other, but nothing is moving. This can often be seen in “stressed” people, in which there are two mental systems also fighting against each other.
If you have clearly in mind this basic physiological fact that ALL electrical activity reaching the muscles cause them to contract then it will make clearer the basic notion that you cannot ORDER a system to switch off, but that if you stop it being activated then it will slowly subside into a resting or nearly inactive condition.

How to relax properly. You might need to go to the SPA.
How to relax properly. You might need to go to the SPA.

The first exercise in this article is something that might be familiar to you. It is a relaxation technique that is sometimes called “progressive relaxation”. Something similar can be met in ante-natal clinics; stress-relief courses and so on. But it is also a common starting point for many hypnotists. The simple idea is that you pay attention to a particular muscle or muscle group and think “relax”, NOT in a spirit of “For heaven sake, RELAX! I tell you. RELAX!!” but rather of, “I am asking nothing of you now and so you can stop doing anything, you can go to sleep.” Alternatively you can use the word “sleep” rather than “relax”. It is not that YOU are going to sleep but that a group of muscles are going to sleep.
(A very common misconception about hypnosis is that it feels like going totally asleep. Some people are disappointed if they do not feel that they have lost consciousness.)
You can proceed like this. Sit or lie comfortably. Let your mind rest on your right hand. Think “sleep” or “rest” or “relax” or some other word that you find particularly appropriate. Then repeat it with pauses, just as we have done for other things in Chapter 1. If you are working on yourself you will of course be continuously aware of progress. If you are working on another it is helpful to ask every so often, “How is it going?” so that you know what progress is being made.
Continue for a few minutes. At the end of that time you should find that your hand does indeed feel very relaxed, and far more relaxed than when you started. Again it is essential for students and useful for others to try the same thing with friends, both with them saying their chosen word and with you doing it for them.
And you should find the pattern of responses that should have arisen so often that I will call it the Standard Finding: there IS a response; it takes time and it varies from person to person. There is no magic in this. It is simple and natural.
Note that although we have focused attention on the hand, what has primarily stopped happening is the activity in the nerves leading towards the muscles of the hand. And this has resulted in a drop in the activity of the muscles themselves because they have stopped receiving “contract” messages.
Once you have demonstrated for yourself the ability to switch off all right-hand related activity you can proceed to some other group of muscles such as the left hand and repeat the process, with yourself and with others. And you will not be surprised by the Standard Finding: that these muscles too will slowly get less and less tense, less and less active. You may also notice the now familiar variations between people. In some, for example, the process is accompanied by a series of small twitches. In others there may be feelings of heaviness or lightness or warmth or cold or tingling and so on which accompany the process.
Beyond that you can continue to pay attention successively to all other major muscle groups, relaxing each in turn in the same way. As far as I know there is no magic about what order you do this in. Some people like to start with the feet, then calves, then thighs, then lower body, then back, then chest, then shoulders, then upper arms, then lower arms, then hands, then neck, then face and then scalp. Others will reverse it. But I have often jumped about with just the same effect.
When working with others I will ask how things are progressing and if any particular group of muscles feels tense. That group will then get more attention, coming back to it repeatedly in between relaxing other, easier groups.
Neither does there seem to be some magical pattern of words which are automatically better than any other for a given person. But if you have experienced hypnotherapy or progressive relaxation you will generally have found that far more complex patterns of words are used than I have presented above.
RelaxationWe might find something like, “And as you relax, every nerve, every muscle, every organ is entering a state of bliss, of total peace.” Or they might be like: “You are sinking deeper and deeper, deeper and deeper into a state of total relaxation, total peace. And as you relax you will feel SO secure, SO safe, SO contented, that you will feel able to relax deeper and deeper.” What is the function of such sentences?
I would like you to observe that what is really happening here is that words are being used to arouse certain feelings: feelings of peace, safely, contentment and so on. This is a perfectly good procedure. We have seen in Chapter 1 that words can activate feelings. IF the feelings activated have the effect of reducing activity in the nerves leading to the muscles then this will naturally speed the relaxation up.
But for students particularly it is very useful to be aware of what you are trying to do with a particular person. By all means use emotional, poetic language, but do so knowing that you are using it for a specific purpose.
Another kind of approach that you will find mixed in with some relaxation procedures is something like this. “Picture yourself lying on golden sands.” Pause. “The sun is shining warmly and you feel totally relaxed.” Pause. “You are on holiday and all tension is going from your body.” and so on.
It should be fairly clear that what is happening here is an attempt to activate certain pictures in the mind: pictures of being on holiday, in this case. IF it is the case that those pictures are associated with being relaxed then this can be worth doing. We are then using pictures to inactivate the muscles, in a way similar (but opposite) to what has been done in the previous article.
However students, in particular, should note exactly what they are trying to do. In particular you should be asking yourself, “Do I KNOW that these pictures lead to relaxation?” This can actually be very important!
There are some people who HATE lying on the beach in the sun. All the suggested picture will then do is to activate a great desire to move away and muscular tension will result because one part of the mind will be saying in effect “get up and out of here” and starts to contract the muscles that will get you up, while another is saying, “no, you are supposed to stay here” and will be starting to tense
opposing muscles to keep you in place. Such opposing muscular tensions is a classic symptom of stress.
Explore these three avenues for yourself.
I will suppose that you have first tried the direct path from words to muscular system as described above.
Do you feel relaxed in the bath?
Do you feel relaxed in the bath?

Ideally you should try the two other approaches on other days. If you run them one after another then you will start the second on a person who is already uncommonly relaxed from the first, and so you will not be comparing like with like.
You can then try to use words purely to arouse certain pictures which are associated with relaxation. The broad pattern is the same whether you are trying things on yourself or on others. First of all we need to know a situation that you or they find relaxing. This might be anything. Common scenes include the beach, a cozy fireside, a woodland dell, a garden, a childhood bedroom, sitting with a pet, lolling in a bath and lying in bed, but it could be anything.
Then you arouse these pictures in your mind or the other’s mind, perhaps by gently repeating certain key words. But since we are interested in how much effect the pictures alone are having on the relaxation try to avoid words such as “relaxed”, “calm”, “sleep” and so on that might have a direct effect. Continue for about the same length of time that you used for the direct relaxation by means of simple words and directed attention. And again feel free if you are working with another to ask for progress reports so that you know what is going on. Finally at the end ask for some measure of how relaxed the person feels.
Then see if any clear pattern emerges FOR A GIVEN INDIVIDUAL. You may discover that one of the two approaches tends to give the better result for one person and the other for another. For, as always, people vary, and we have no way of knowing without trying.
Here is an example or two of such an approach.
fireplace-relaxing“You have told me that you find the idea of a fireside relaxing. So just close your eyes and start to picture it. See the flames. Is the fire wood or coal?”
“Wood” (This is only one possible answer, of course. If another is given then the details of what follows will also change.)
“See the wood crackling. See the glowing of the wood. And perhaps you can now also see the fireplace.” (Pause.) “And any ornaments on it.” (Pause.) “Tell me about what you see.” “It is an old-fashioned fireplace. There is a clock. And candlesticks. And some brass things. The mantle is wood.”
“That sounds very nice. I wonder if there are candles in the candlesticks, and what is the lighting like in the room? Look around and see.”
“There are some candles above the fire. Nothing else.”
“And how are you sitting?”
“I am curled up in a chair in front of the fire.”
“Look at the chair. Is it old or new?”
“It is old and very soft. There is a cat on it with me.”
“That is fine. so just go on for as long as you like, just sitting curled up with the cat. Watching the the flames.” (Pause.) “The fire.” (Pause) “The clock” (Pause.) “The candles’ flames.” (Pause) “For as long as you like.”
The client may continue to enjoy the scene for a long time – I have known one to remain for up to an hour!
The purpose of the above is very clear. It is designed to arouse in the mind a very clear picture of being in a certain place. In the context of this chapter the place is chosen because it is supposed to be associated with relaxation for the given person. But in this case we have avoided any words which directly suggest emotions, or sensations, or muscular tone in an attempt to explore the effect of images alone, as far as that is possible. Only at the end you can ask, “And how relaxed are your muscles now?” to see the extent to which the images reduced muscular activity.
In the context of hypnosis the word SCRIPT  is used for something like the above. However it is worth emphasising that in what I have presented the scene is PRECISELY TAILORED to the tastes of the client by means of the question and answer format. This tends to make it far more effective than if the client is merely placed in a setting that the hypnotist finds relaxing, for obvious reasons. As a simple example the hypnotist might like cats and introduce one into the script but the subject have a phobia about them. One might like small cosy rooms and another find them claustrophobic and so on. On another day you might try an approach in which you attempt purely to activate appropriate emotions and see how effective they are in altering muscle tone.
The approach, at it simplest, is to sit or lie with eyes closed, and with an intention NOT to dwell on any pictures that come to mind.
Instead you will be repeating to yourself “I feel wonderful.” Pause. “I feel calm.” Pause. “I feel happy.” and repeat ad lib. The idea being to see if you can work solely on arousing the feelings and then see how effective they are for you in switching off muscle tone. And of course students should attempt the same on a number of other people. As a model to start with you might try something on these lines.
Relaxed and happy
Relaxed and happy

“Now just close your eyes and tell me how you feel – and by this I mean things like stressed or contented, anxious or calm and so on. This time we will not be bothering about physical sensations. Just focus on any feeling that would stop you from being relaxed. So how would you describe your present feelings in that light?”
“Nervous. Worried.”
“OK. Now we are just going to emphasise the opposites to those. What would you say the opposite to ‘nervous’ is? Calm? Contented? Anything else?”
“Calm would be fine.”
“Right. We will just keep your mind on the simple idea of being calm then.” (Pause.) “Calmer and calmer.” (Pause.) “Calmer and calmer” (Pause.) “Don’t hurry or worry. Just keep the idea of calmness pure and simple grow.” (Pause.) “Calmer and calmer.” (And continue on these lines for a few minutes or more.) “Now how do you feel?”
“But you could be calmer still?”
“Yes, a bit, I think.”
“We can come back to that then. But first are there any other feelings?”
“I am still worried.”
“What would be the opposite to that?”
(Pause) “Confident?”
“Right. Then we will emphasise a feeling of confidence for a while. There is no need to force it, or even to believe it. As you will have seen with some of the earlier exercises, there need be no effort involved.
Just focus on the thought of confidence.” (Pause.) “Just feeling more and more confident.” (Pause.) “A pure feeling of confidence just washing away the feeling of worry.” (Pause.) “Confidence.” (And again this can be continued for a few minutes, slowly, with no hurry.)
This type of process, which will be different for each person, can obviously be continued until we find that in response to questions about feelings the answer is in all ways conducive to relaxation.
Again you will then be able to form an idea of the extent, with a give person, this simple procedure leads first of all to feelings which could go with relaxation and secondly how well they act to trigger off relaxation.
As a result of the three different approaches you will then have an idea of the relative value and consequences of the three basic approaches: direct on the muscular system, via the imaginative system or via the emotional system.
If you are doing this work on yourself then you will thereby have developed some potentially very useful self-knowledge.
If you are a student of hypnotherapy you will have already have learned something of great importance: some of the reasons WHY certain things appear in inductions, and therefore a far greater ability to create inductions for yourself which will be far more tailor-made to a given client.
The other valuable habit that should arise out of this groundwork is that of ASKING THE CLIENT WHAT THEY ARE THINKING/ FEELING. This is something that we will return to many times. For reasons which probably stem from the old authoritarian – “you will do what I say” – ideas of hypnosis, older books tend to assume that the hypnotist is doing all the talking and the client should NOT be encouraged to say anything. There are times when, for particular reasons, this might be true, but for a far greater part of the time the value of knowing what is happening is enormously more important. In the above exercises, in which we are making no pretence that anyone is “hypnotised” and so can comment freely on what is happening, the habit of listening should be encouraged.
Once your mind starts to move in the Morganic way, of looking at the systems that you are deliberately activating to get the required response, you should feel motivated to explore other avenues. Here are some suggestions.
We have used the verbal system, but what about the musical subsystem of the auditory system of the brain? For many people the activation of this system by a particular kind of music leads to a relaxing effect. Note that the music might well not be a gentle flute. There are people who find a heavy drum-beat relaxing.
And what about the olfactory system – smell? For some people the activation of this system by certain smells can lead to relaxation: a fact used in aromatherapy.
And what about the sensory system? The touch of a human hand can in some people lead to relaxation.
Aromatherapy again seems to make use of this connection, as do some other physical therapies. But why not generalise this? Just holding a hand might produce this effect. Are there some particular alternative touches – such as pet fur, or the touch of a furry toy – which would, in a particular person, lead to a relaxation of the muscular system?
And what about that somewhat higher system of mirth? I have sometimes had the most wonderful relaxing effect on people by activating a very strong sense of amusement leading to laughter.
And what about the sensation of rocking? Or of being in water? And … see if anything else comes to mind.
“BUT” you might be saying, “I cannot provide all those things!” Do you expect me to provide a hundred kinds of music; to train in aromatherapy and fill my room with its scents, to have a rocking chair, furry toys and so on all to hand?”
And the answer is, “You can always conjure them up! IF they are significant triggers of relaxation in a person then there is a very good chance indeed that you can activate the appropriate system by the techniques we learned in Chapter 1. If someone responds to the touch of a pet, for example, then there is every chance that you can evoke the response via words or pictures, and you should have seen that rocking can be evoked with no expense other than a few minutes of time.”
That is the wonderful economy of hypnotic techniques. Students of healing in cash-poor economies note especially can note that they need no High Tech and expensive technology, and yet are wonderfully precise: we can pinpoint very particular parts of a person’s mind and body and affect them in a way that NO surgeon, NO drugs can begin to match. The techniques of hypnotherapy are powerful, precise, and capable of being developed far further than they have to date once their true nature is understood.
Here are some more sample scripts which focus on activating one particular subsystem of the brain with a view to using it as a means of relaxing everything else.
“I would like you to think about a piece of music that you have have found very peaceful and relaxing.”
“Perhaps The Magic Flute?” (If the answer is anything like “I can’t” or “I don’t have much time for music” then it is probably not worth bothering with this exercise. As I keep on emphasising, people’s minds are very different. Some are well-stocked with music and some are nearly empty. You work with what is there, and do NOT suppose that everyone is identical.)
“Fine. Now just spend a few minutes starting to call that music to mind. I do not want my voice to interfere with it, and so perhaps you could very gently move a finger in time with the music when you can hear it. Just tell me when you are starting to hear it.”
“It is starting now.”
“Fine. Just listen.” Pause. “Just listen.” Pause …. and repeat this phrase softly every ten seconds or so, but always keeping time with the music so as not to jar – you can tell the time from the finger movement, of course. After a few minutes you can interrupt and say,
“Very good. How clear was the music? And how do you feel? Has the music helped you to relax?”
“It was a bit faint to start with but got clearer. Yes, I DO feel more relaxed.”
On the other hand you might find in a particular person that one or other or both of the music and relaxation was weak.
Here is another script, working on the sense of humour.
“I would like you, with closed eyes, to start to remember amusing things. For example, do you have a favourite comedian? ”
“Yes. Charlie Chaplin.”
“You must have seen one of his old silent movies. I wonder if you can remember one or two scenes from his best films?”
In cases where this works you then simply wait until one or two scenes are recalled, usually with smiles or laughter. You need only give a little verbal encouragement. Then after a few minutes you can ask about relaxation.
“There is nothing like laughter to relieve tensions, is there? How relaxed do you feel now?”
You might try the two approaches above on a few people to gain some experience of how they work, and should find the usual Standard Finding. If you have the time and inclination you might then work out for yourself how you might try out other approaches outlined above: scents, sensations of rocking in a swing? or boat?, touch – of fur? water? hand? and so on.
At this stage you may be thinking that this is all far too complicated. Why is there not some one simple way of doing hypnosis? There are two ways of answering this. The first is to say that you CAN use one simple approach on everyone to relax them. Some hypnotists and hypnotherapists do just that. They have their fixed scripts and they fit people to their scripts. At times this works beautifully. But at other times it fails totally.
The second way of replying is that when you are faced with a particular person, you will not be using everything that you have learned, only a part, which simplifies things. Some quite simple questions will serve to give you a very good idea what approaches are likely to be most effective and you can then improvise a script based on what you have heard.
For example suppose someone loves boats and music, hates animals and has no sense of smell or humor then you can at once eliminate any references to scents or smells from your relaxation script but might go a long way with activating a sense of the rocking of a boat and some favourite music. Likewise if someone is mad about cats, but has no visual imagination or interest in much else then you would naturally start a script on the lines of thinking simply of sitting with a cat or two on the lap and feeling them purring and going to sleep. This will tend to produce the desired response in the subject.
So in short the approach that you are learning here gives you FLEXIBILITY, it enables you to PERSONALISE your approach and it helps you to UNDERSTAND what you are doing when you use a given script.
The scripts that we have used above can be called simple scripts because they focus tightly on using one specific system to produce a required change. By contrast most scripts that you will find in other books are compound or complex scripts, which is to say that they aim to produce a specific change by using a variety of different systems.
As a final exercise I would like you to read the following compound script which is designed to relax. Each paragraph is based primarily on one particular system, though to make it more like those you will find elsewhere I will in each case introduce three words or phrases that could activate other systems. You should not find it too hard to identify, for each paragraph, the dominant system being worked on, and also the three exceptions.
Lake Sabrina, Inyo National Forest, Sierra Nevad

  1.  (Primary mode: simple verbal suggestion of relaxation.) Now you are going to discover that you can relax. (Pause.) All you need to do is to listen to me and you will relax. (Pause.) Listen to my voice, it is relaxing. (Pause.) My voice will gradually make you more and more relaxed and peaceful. (Pause.) Your muscles will respond without you having to do anything. (Pause.) Just listen to my relaxing voice. (Pause.) You will feel quite happy. (Pause.) More and more relaxed and calm. (Pause.) It will be better than being on holiday in the most luxurious resort. (Pause.) Because you will be totally relaxed and at peace. (Pause.) All tension will go. (Pause.) Your muscles will relax and be at rest. (Pause.) And your skin will relax until it is as smooth as silk. (Pause.) Relaxed, restful and at peace.
  2. (Primary mode: activation of visual system with imagery of relaxing scene.) Next I would like you to imagine yourself lying in a boat which is drifting peacefully on a river. (Pause.) You are lying on soft cushions. (Pause.) The sky is blue with perhaps a few small white clouds. (Pause.) Someone else is taking care of the steering. (Pause.) On either side you can see green fields with a few bushes (Pause.) And perhaps a few cows or sheep. (Pause.) You are able to relax completely as you drift along. (Pause.)  There are some rushes waving gently beside the water’s edge. (Pause.) And you will feel the boat is rocking gently with them. (Pause.) A little ahead there are a few ducks drifting along as well. (Pause.) And you might just see a few lazy trout deep in the river.
  3. (Primary mode; sensory systems.)You can trail your hand in the cool water. (Pause.) The water caresses your skin. (Pause.) It slides like silk giving a wonderful cool, clean feeling. (Pause.) You can see the little ripples your hand makes as it trails alongside. (Pause.) And the touch of the water is matched by a gentle caress of a breeze on your brow. (Pause.) The whole day is so relaxing. (Pause.). The very sunshine warms you deeply. (Pause.) You can feel the warmth sinking into your whole body. (Pause.) And the rocking of the boat lulls you into a deeper and deeper peace. (Pause.) You can hear the gentle lapping of the waves on the side of the boat. (Pause.) And feel their gentle touch on your hand (Pause.
  4. (Primary mode: activate emotions of peace and relaxation.) The boat ride is now drifting under the branches of overhanging trees. (Pause.) And they are giving you a deep sense of inner peace. (Pause.) The trees and river together make you feel safe and cared for. (Pause.) Feelings of love of nature are growing deep within you. (Pause.) There is a growing peace. A growing happiness. (Pause.) The trees are murmuring of peace. (Pause.) You can feel the water washing away all stains, all pains. (Pause.) You can feel an inner peace, and inner joy. (Pause.) With every minute feelings of greater and greater inner goodness, peace, love and joy are filling you. (Pause.) You are reaching the Deep Centre of All good feelings.

Because we have touched most of the bases – we have used four of the most likely systems to encourage the switching off of the muscular system – we are almost certain to have achieved our end. But as you become more experienced and professional you should acquire more flexibility and the ability to tune your approach more precisely to each client. (There could be the occasional person who has a fear of water, suffers from hay-fever in the country, has a strong dislike of the word “peace” or just feels very uncomfortable with closed eyes in public!)
A simple way to speed up relaxation.
In the above we have seen various direct ways of producing a relaxed, switched off state. If you are dealing with a very anxious person there is a good chance that they will not work, and even for an average person they can take some time.
It is therefore often an excellent idea, if you are doing hypnosis proper, to prepare the ground by means of a simple and obvious step first.
To see why it works you need only recall that the times when it is most easy to let your muscles relax is when they are demanding it: after exhausting exercise. So you can try out the following on yourself or a friend.
Start by sitting comfortably then raise your legs and arms to a horizontal position and hold them there for as long as you can.
After a while you should notice that the breathing will increase to cope with the demands the muscles are making, and the heart rate will also. The muscles start to feel tired, then more tired, and then perhaps to shake, and finally they are let go and the legs or arms are let fall. The exercise can be continued until both sets of limbs fall.
Then, with no further effort or suggestion or action they limbs will automatically become very relaxed simply from fatigue.
If you then use any of the above schemes to enhance relaxation you should find that they will work much more quickly and effectively.
FOR A FINAL EXERCISE it is worth sitting down and taking a theme of your own and writing down a compound script that you feel comfortable with. Then try it out on a few other people and ask for their comments and responses.
In this section we have laid a foundation for one of the most useful starting points in hypnosis: how to induce complete muscular relaxation. You will have explored the process of inactivating the muscular system via the verbal, visual, emotional, musical, humorous systems, and perhaps some others. Consequently you should be aware of the fact that using the systems approach you will be able to tailor your approach to each particular person.
In addition you have seen how a compound script can be put together, and have perhaps written one of your own.
Analysis of the compound script.

  1. Primarily this paragraph is verbal. We are using just simple words such as “relaxed”, “peace”, and “rest”. The departures from this are a) the use of the word “happy” which is more clearly designed to activate an emotion b) “holiday in the most luxurious resort” which is likely to conjure up an image or memory and c) “smooth as silk” which could arouse the tactile system.
  2. Primarily this paragraph aims at activating strong visual images of the boat journey. The main exceptions are the words a) “lying on soft cushions” which are more likely to arouse a sensation than a picture b) “relax completely” is a verbal rather than visual cue, c) “feel the boat rocking” evokes a sensory rather than a visual response.
  3. This primarily aims at activating the sense of touch, loosely including sensations of heat and motion. If you decided (correctly) that sensations of touch, temperature and orientation (rocking) are really different systems, then award yourself extra points! The main exceptional phrases are a) “See the ripples” which is likely to arouse the visual system, b) “day is so relaxing” is purely verbal c) “hear the gentle lapping” should arouse the auditory system.
  4. This paragraph is aimed at evoking a certain class of feelings. The sentences that stand out are a) the scene of the boat drifting under branches, which is visual, b) the word “murmuring” suggests an auditory stimulus and c) “feel the water washing…” may arouse the sensory system rather than the emotional one directly.

Hypnosis for Beginners – Day 1 – Words and Images

In which we explore some basic facts about the way in which the brain and body work. Specifically we see how words and images can activate other systems in the brain which relate to feelings, muscles, senses, sense of balance etc. These are compared with “tests of hypnotisability” and “hypnotic inductions”

ENTERTAINMENT hypnotists love to make hypnosis look dark and mysterious and complicated. They love to pretend that they have special powers that no-one else possesses.
I love to make things bright and clear and open, and I do not claim any special powers.
In this first chapter I am going to ask you to try out various things and to think about them. These things are simple and everyday, and will turn out to be not at all mysterious, and yet they are a foundation on which much of hypnosis is built.
Words can trigger pictures in your mind.
This must seem a pretty obvious fact. You need only think of reading a novel and remember the pictures that come to mind as you do so to realise the obvious truth of this. But it is still worth doing a little exercise on it, as follows.
First just think to yourself, “I am on holiday.” STOP NOW; did you see a picture of it in your mind? People vary, but it is unlikely, in the very short time I allowed you, that you saw anything very clearly. Now allow yourself more TIME.
vacationThink, “I am on holiday.” Pause. “It is my favourite kind of place.”
Pause. “The weather is just how I like it.” Pause. “I am wearing my favourite clothes.” Pause. “I am doing my very favourite thing.” Pause. “I am on holiday!”
In all probability that extra time was repaid by a very much more vivid picture or pictures in the mind. But it is best, especially if you are a student of hypnosis, to get someone else to do the same thing, perhaps with you saying the words: “Picture yourself on holiday.” Pause. “It is your favourite kind of weather.” etc.
In this way you will discover for yourself the fact that people can have quite different degrees of clarity of picture, and the pictures themselves can be quite different. I, for example, usually manage only rather washed out images.
The conclusions I would expect you to be able to agree with, after some experience, are the following simple ones.

  1. Words can lead to pictures in the mind.
  2. It takes a little time for them to arise.
  3. The time taken and their nature varies from person to person.

As a next little exercise explore the extent to which words can directly affect muscles without going via the usual volitional process of willing an action.
two-hands-facing-left-handHold your arms straight ahead of you with the palms facing each other and a couple of centimeters apart.
Look at the gap and say “Close… Close… Close…” repeatedly at a comfortable speed.
A typical result is that over a period of a minute or so the hands do move together until they touch. To check this try it on other people (for students it is essential that you do). In that case you can speak the words as you both watch the hands.
In this way you will discover that there is again a range of responses. An average closure time is a couple of minutes. In some people it will happen in seconds. In others nothing seems to happen before you run out of patience. Occasionally someone will resist and there will develop a trembling in the arms as one set of muscles acts to pull the hands together and another acts to separate them. Another rarer response is for the hands to fly apart. But in each case you or your friends should find a strange feeling of things happening which are not willed.
The conclusions I would expect you to be able to agree with are the following simple ones.

  1. Words can lead directly to muscular action.
  2. It takes a little time for this to happen.
  3. The time taken and the nature varies from person to person.
  4. It makes little difference who is saying the words.

Itchy Nose Hypnosis Experiment
Itchy Nose Hypnosis Experiment

As a third example you might see how words can lead to activity in the sense of touch. In particular they can make an itch arise.
All you do is to repeat to yourself. “There is something itchy on my nose.” Pause. “There is something itchy on my nose.” Pause, and repeat for up to a couple of minutes. Then repeat the same thing with others, with either the person or you saying the words. The most likely result is for an itch to be reported and perhaps scratched within that time, but again you should find considerable variation. The time taken will vary from seconds to longer than the time allowed. Some people will find an irresistible urge to scratch because the feeling is so intense. For others it will be quite mild. Oddly enough in some people the itch may arise somewhere other than the nose. But as a result of these experiences I expect that you will be able to agree with the simple observations:

  1. Words can lead directly to sensory impressions.
  2. It takes a little time for this to happen.
  3. The time taken and their nature varies from person to person.
  4. It makes little difference who is saying the words.

In the above three examples we have started with words. Now move on to see the effect of mental pictures. Here is a way of seeing if a picture can lead directly to a muscular action. Let your hand rest freely on a surface such as table, chair-arm or your leg. Picture a thread tied to the end of your index finger. Picture the other end of the thread being held by someone you like, whose hand is about a metre above yours. They are trying to lift your finger without you feeling the thread at all. Keep the picture in your mind for a few minutes, closing your eyes if it helps you to picture things.
A typical response is for nothing to happen for a while, and then the finger starts to twitch slightly and then slowly to lift up into the air. (This type of response is sometimes called “finger levitation” in books on hypnosis.)
Again students especially should try this out on others in various ways. You can ask them to repeat it as you have done it. Or you can be the “friend” lifting the finger by means of an imaginary thread which you are holding. You can expect to find that the time taken varies, and the nature of the movement can also vary from very jerky to very smooth. In some cases there may be a sideways movement rather than a vertical one. At the end of a series of such trials you can decide if you agree that:

  1. Mental pictures can lead directly to muscular activity.
  2. It takes a little time for this to happen.
  3. The time taken and the nature varies from person to person.

Now how about seeing if pictures can give rise to feelings. When you consider the billions of dollars made by a film industry whose main purpose is to create images that will arouse emotions of a variety of kinds, it should not be very surprising that this can happen. But it is as well to try something on the following lines to explore the ways in which internally generated mental images can do the same thing.
kg-faves-sexy-girls-romantic-woman-more-Apr-4-Hold-arena-sexy-hot-romantic-sex-nude-Couple-erotic-ass-naked-sensual-embrace-sexual-MORENNA-NicePics-For-Arena_largeThe simple approach is to picture a person or situation that normally arouse strong feelings in you. The person could perhaps be someone that you hate or love or fear. The situation could perhaps be one that you find erotic or embarrassing or exciting or frightening. In any case after you have decided on ONE (do not jump about) keep the picture or pictures of your chosen topic in front of your mind for a minute or two. As usual students should also get a number of other people to do the same exercise.
The normal reaction is for a quickening of the breath and an increase in heart rate and adrenaline production together with the particular sensations associated with the particular emotion that you have chosen. You are likely to find that different people respond in a range of ways. In some there is only a very slight effect. In others it can be quite dramatic and rapid. The scenes chosen will of course also be very different.
At the end of this you should have been able to confirm for yourself that:

  1. Mental pictures can lead directly to emotional activity.
  2. It takes a little time for this to happen.
  3. The time taken and their nature varies from person to person.

Sitting-Chair-Hammock-Big-Sur-e1336321916166Now we might try the effect of a picture on a sense: perhaps asking if a mental image can affect the sense of balance. The following is one possible way. Think of a situation in which you are rocking or swinging, such as in a small boat, a hammock, a swing, a rocking chair, a rocking horse and so on. Sit comfortably upright and picture the chosen situation for a few minutes (closed eyes should make this easier). Notice any sensations of movement. You can try a similar thing on others. You should not be surprised by now to find people responding differently. Some will not only feel themselves moving but you will also see their bodies move. At the other extreme some will report nothing. Again check to see if your experiences confirm the ideas that:

  1. Mental pictures can stimulate activity in the sense of balance.
  2. It takes a little time for this to happen.
  3. The time taken and their nature varies from person to person.

At this stage the pattern should be quite clear. It amounts simply to this. Activity in one part of the brain (verbal, visual in the examples we have done) can lead to activity in other parts (in the above examples: visual, emotional, nerves leading to muscles, from the senses). The speed and nature of the connection varies from person to person.
As a final explicit example here I would like you to explore the following connection. It leads from the kinaesthetic sense (a sense of position and movement – of arm in this case) to the involuntary activation of some arm muscles.
Simply get your friend to close his or her eyes. (So that they cannot see what is happening, and so vision should not be involved.) Then without saying anything (so that words are not involved), simply lift up one arm slowly and lightly by the wrist until it is being held in space. You then gently move it up and down very slightly and lightly, so that the arm is given quite strong sense that it somehow “should” be in that position.
You should find that over a minute or so the arm starts to feel lighter and lighter as its own muscles take over the job of keeping it floating in the air. Eventually you should be able to leave it there and it should remain there with no effort or complaint from your friend for some considerable time.
Expect, as always, the usual finding that the effect happens, takes time and varies from person to person.
If you would like to experiment with other connections then note that for some people the following are easy connections, and we can expect that they are possible in most of us, though with more or less ease. A musical sound can activate a picture. A taste can activate a picture or a word. A number can link to a colour. A colour can link to a feeling. A feeling (e.g. of fear) can activate the digestive system and lead to nausea. A touch (as of an animals fur) can arouse a feeling of pleasure or of fear (in different people).
The total list is very long, depending on how finely we discriminate the different mental systems. For example vision can be subdivided broadly into perception of shape, of colour, of movement, and some people (painters?) will find it easier to trigger off a perception of colour than of speed while for others (racing drivers?) it will be the reverse.
But each of these divisions can be subdivided. For example the part of the visual system that deals with shapes can distinguish the shape of a dog from that of a cat.
There are people for whom one of these shapes links to the emotion of fear while the other links to the emotion of love.


What is the use of considering the simple examples above?
red-kneed-spider_mainIt is twofold. The first is that it gets us into a way of thinking that is very valuable when it comes to analysing and solving a person’s problems. A phobia, for example, can be understood as the existence in a particular person of a connection between the picture or idea of something and the emotional system of fear. If the idea becomes active in the mind then it activates the fear. Notice that as in the above examples we would not expect the link to be the same for everyone: people vary tremendously. In order to do anything about this it is best to start with a clear idea of what exactly the nature of the connection is.
As another example of a similar thing, think of the way in which in some people it is possible using hypnotic techniques to help them to overcome an unwanted habit of smoking by connecting the thought or smell or taste of tobacco smoke with the activation of the nausea response. “The very sight or smell of a cigarette will make you sick.” This can be made so clear and strong in some people that it is more than enough to ensure that they stop smoking. It should be clear that the creation of such a connection is very similar to the sort of thing that you have already explored in this section.
You might perhaps say to a friend who smokes. “Experience as clearly as possible the most significant aspect of smoking to you.” (For some it would be a picture, for others a taste or a smell, or the sense of holding one in fingers or mouth, or of the feeling in throat, or lungs or body.) “Then just notice if this leads to a sensation of nausea.” You then need only say enough to keep their minds on the possible association for a minute or two. Then, as in the other little things we have done, you will find some smokers experiencing a strong feeling of nausea, others a mild one and others none at all in the time.
With the first class of people the experience can be strong enough to significantly reduce their desire to smoke even if they do not stop. Although we will later find ways of intensifying this sort of thing, you should by now see something of the value of starting with the simple approach of this article.
I said that there are two reasons for looking at these simple phenomena. The second is that they, or things like them, appear in older books on hypnosis in one of a number of guises. The two chief ones are as parts of an “Induction Procedure” or as “Tests of Hypnotisability”.
I will discuss these different ways of looking at them so that you may compare those views with what I am terming the Morganic approach.
It can be helpful to know that in the past there were two schools of thought about hypnotic phenomena which were labeled “State” and “Trait”. Those who belonged to the State school maintained that hypnosis was a “state” that people could be “put into”. I suppose that they thought of it as being like a “state of sleep” or a “state of fear”. This approach naturally encouraged you to think of what the hypnotist had to do in order to put someone into that state. And each hypnotist or hypnotherapist had his (or, very rarely, her) own procedure, which consisted of stringing together a number of steps each of which was an item of the kind mentioned above, or of a slightly different class that we will meet in the next article.
A hypnotist might start by using words to act directly on the muscles of clasped hands to make them lock together. He might follow this up by getting someone to stand vertically and then acting on the sense of balance to make them feel that they were falling, while simultaneously using words to activate all the muscles of the body to make it rigid. He would then catch them and lower them, rigid, to the floor.
Further steps were taken of a similar kind. The cumulative effect would be to create and enhance the idea in the mind of the “subject” that they would do whatever he said. This then made it possible for the hypnotist to suggest increasingly amusing responses. (It is perhaps worth noticing that he would never, however, have the power that the army sergeant achieves over months of training: HE can use one word to get a man to walk forward into a hail of death-dealing bullets.)
Opposed to the State theorists were the Trait theorists who said that far from it being the case that power lay in the hypnotist, all that was happening was that a natural capacity or trait in the subject was involved. On this view hypnotisability is something like introversion, or IQ, or musical ability: it is something that pertains to an individual, and can be measured by various tests. And what are those tests?
Well, they turned out to be the same sort of thing that we have seen above. A typical Test would consist of a short sequence of items of this kind, and a scoring method: “Score 1 if the hand move significantly together within 2 minutes.” People who collected a high score on such a test were regarded as being very hypnotisable. Those with a low score were regarded as being poorly hypnotisable. If you are interested in more detail you can find an example of such a test given in Chapter 8 of The Principles.
Entertainment hypnotists, a band not renowned for their interest in theory, acted as if they came from both camps. In the earlier steps of their acts they would use one item – usually the one of forcing hands to stay clasped – to select from the audience those who they could expect to make the best subjects.
Implicitly this is saying, “I can’t do anything without a good subject.” But then they proceed as if, “This is all my doing. I am putting you into a state of hypnosis through my power.”
In recent decades the State vs. Trait argument has died down, with neither side having won a victory.
Most practicing hypnotherapists would accept that there is some truth on both sides and get on with their main job of helping people.
You can now compare the two ideas above with my pragmatic view that it is totally normal for the many subsystems of the brain and nervous system to be interconnected in different ways and at different times. If you want to say that that it is a trait of a given person that a particular pair of subsystems interact in a particular way, then I would largely agree. You will have observed some of this. I would, however, argue that since it is possible to learn to alter the nature of the connections, the trait cannot be regarded as fixed.
If on the other hand you want to call what happens when a particular collection of subsystems is active “an hypnotic state” then I would not mind, though I would simply note that it has proved impossible to find ONE such collection, so that you have simply found one of many possible “hypnotic states”. In practice I avoid the use of the word “state” myself because of this vagueness, preferring to be more precise and instead to describe what is happening in a particular person at a particular time by as detailed
a list as possible of what systems are active and inactive, and how they are interconnected.
There IS a family resemblance in what is going on in the minds of people who are regarded as being “hypnotised” and that is characterised by the fact that most of the systems that deal with the outside world are inactive and that there is a tight focus on those internal systems that remain active. However this is a broad generalisation not a precise definition. Within this broad generalisation you can have people who are in fact aware of intense internal pictures, perhaps of the past, or of a part of their body
(one client of mine saw himself walking through his soot-caked lungs), or of certain sensations, or of feelings, or of the absence of sensations, or of floating, or of nothing except my voice, or of scents, or of a dead relative and so on. The brain waves of such people will be quite different; their experiences will be quite different; their internal chemistry will be quite different. There is too little that they have in common to make is very useful to use just the one word to describe them.
Nevertheless the generalisation that they all tend to have a focused or limited awareness compared with normal, outward oriented functioning makes a useful step towards the matter of the next chapter. You have probably already noticed in the above experiences that they are most effective if the mind is focused. If there are no distracting thoughts. If there is nothing else distracting happening. In other words it is best if there is no other mental activity. If other mental and physical activity is switched down or off.
In the next article we will be exploring in the same practical way examples of this to complete our survey of the elementary building blocks of the practice of hypnosis: the fact that changes in the activity in one subsystem can lead not only to an increase in the activity of another, but also to a decrease.