Hypnotic state elicitation and control is one of the more important skills for any hypnotist to master. A hypnotic state is a specific state of mind characterized by mono-focus. Useful hypnotic states are typically comprised of a clean emotion, associated contexts and frames, and a physiological configuration.
What Is A Hypnotic State?
A hypnotic state is any mind-body state that people go into when they are hypnotized.
States are composed of our current thoughts and emotions combined with our physiology.
From the perspective of a hypnotist, physiology includes our pose and posture, things like our heart rate, how quickly and smoothly we move, and any other sensations we can notice within our bodies.
Emotional And Physiological States
Emotional states are something that everyone is familiar with. They include all the regular ones like happiness, sadness, anger, and so on.
They also include combination states.
A clean state is one that is mostly comprised of one emotion.
Most states that people find themselves in are not clean. For example, as I am writing this right now I am in a combination of tired and fairly flat, but also generally happy.
Every emotional state has a corresponding physiological response. It is very difficult to maintain an emotional state that is inconsistent with our current physiology.
This has the extremely useful consequence that we can change our mental state by doing nothing more than changing the way we hold ourselves.
A trance state is a form of hypnotic state in which the subject is zoned out to the extent that their perceptions of reality begin to change.
Or to put it another way, a trance state is what non-hypnotists commonly imagine hypnosis to be like. It’s the part of hypnosis for which the subject can have a conscious experience.
People go in and out of trance states all the time throughout their day to day lives. It happens when driving, watching TV, reading a book, during conversations with other people, and as a part of a whole host of other events.
Most hypnosis carried out by modern hypnotists does not require trance states.
Trance states can be extremely useful for various purposes, including audience demonstrations and as a demarcation point to convince the subject that something has happened.
They are also helpful for the elicitation of spontaneous hypnotic phenomena.
The truth is that while trance states are not required for hypnosis to be effective, leaving them out can result in the subject attributing the changes to something other than hypnosis.
Needless to say, it is much better for business when your customers know you helped them with hypnosis. Even when the part that helped them wasn’t what they thought was the hypnosis.
Trance states tend to be used a lot in recreational hypnosis.
How To Elicit Hypnotic States
To elicit hypnotic states, ask the hypnosis subject to remember a time when they experienced the state in question. Intensify the state by asking them details about when, where, and what they were doing, who was there, and anything else related to it. Have them pay particular attention to what it felt like to be in that moment.
How Matters More Than What
According to researcher Albert Mehrabian, only 7% of meaning is conveyed in the words that we use. This means that up to 93% of the meaning in communication may be non-verbal.
Now these figures are definitely not right in every circumstance. When you’re reading an article on a website, you’ve really only got the words and the overall tone to go on.
Regardless, how we say something is vastly more important than what we say. Just voice tone alone can make the difference between a joke and a threat.
When eliciting states, use a tone which is aligned with the feeling you want to induce.
Getting the tone right is of critical importance even when inducing a state in yourself using your internal dialog.
Negate Any Unhelpful States First
Intense negative states can make it difficult to elicit other states. Break any intense states before starting to elicit another state.
People go into some fairly extreme emotional states.
Regardless of whether these are positive or negative, they can interfere with the state we’d like to create.
Usually I will anchor whatever state it is before I neutralize it. For negative states, this saves me having to recreate the state just so I can anchor it later. And for positive states, it makes a handy resource state.
To anchor a state, get the subject’s attention and make some simple gesture. This can be anything they can perceive. This links the gesture to the state, and makes it easier for us to help the subject access that state in future.
Once the state is anchored, return the subject to a neutral state. When they are in a positive state, it’s usually enough to tell them to think of a time when they were peaceful, or something similar.
For intense negative states, use any abreaction drill with which you’re familiar.
Once your subject has returned to a calm and peaceful state, ask them to remember a time when they felt whatever state you would like to elicit.
Talk them through the process. Ask them where they were, who else was there, when it was, and so on.
Have them take on the posture they had in that situation.
Walk them through noticing every detail.
As you’re doing this, keep your voice tone and physiology congruent with the state you are creating.
You can use clean language to mine them for details.
When they do things that lead towards the state, smile, nod, and give other agreement signs.
And when they do something counter to the state, ignore it and gently bring them back.
How To Anchor Hypnotic States And Make Them Happen On Demand
Hypnotic states may be anchored by having the subject experience the anchor just as the state reaches peak intensity. Human brains may have a perceptual delay of up to half a second, so in practical terms it is best to fire the anchor immediately before peak intensity.
Have you ever heard a few beats of a song and had the song start playing in your head?
That was an anchor in action.
Our brains constantly associate everything we experience with everything else.
When things are near one another in space or time, this association can be so strong that we perceive them as being the same.
For example, the words you’re reading right now are made up of letters. And each letter is made up of a sequence of brush strokes. And each brush stroke is made up of…
I’m sure you get the idea.
An anchor is anything someone can perceive that reminds them of something else.
Setting Hypnotic Anchors
Hypnotic anchors tend to be things such as gestures, specific voice tones, one or more words, looks, touches, specific places, events, and so on.
A hypnotic anchor is set by causing our subject to experience it at the same time as the thing we’d like to anchor.
To anchor a hypnotic state, wait until it is nearing peak intensity, then perform the anchor.
And then clear the state, rebuild, and repeat.
Each time the process is repeated with a clean state, the anchor grows stronger and more persistent.
Access A Hypnotic State Using An Anchor
To access a hypnotic state that you’ve previously anchored, cause the subject to experience the anchor again. Causing the subject to experience an anchor is known as firing the anchor.
Once an anchor is set, each time our subject encounters it they will be reminded of whatever it is anchoring.
For hypnotic states, this means that firing the anchor will cause the state to begin to be recreated.
If the anchor is unique and well-crafted, firing it just once can be enough to take the subject all the way back into the associated state.
And other times, it’s necessary to fire the anchor multiple times to recreate the state.
Using Hypnotic States To Resolve Problems
To resolve problems with hypnotic states, anchor both the problem and a positive state. Intensify the positive state. Fire both anchors at the same time. Rebuild the positive state, and repeat until the problem is neutralized.
Virtually all problems that humans can have are either problems that exist out in the world, or problems that exist only inside our minds.
Most people out in the world try to resolve problems inside the mind by applying logic.
This rarely works.
Generally speaking, we have good emotions, bad emotions, and neutral emotions.
The state that we find ourselves in is a result of our physiology and current thoughts.
And because of how association works in our brains, when we think negative thoughts, other negative thoughts are much closer.
This leads us into a loop of bad emotions.
Often all that is required to resolve the issue is changing our state directly.
The easiest way to directly access a state is by assuming the posture we associate with that state. When we also have an anchor, getting to that state can become effortless.
Each time we fire a positive anchor, our current state becomes more positive.
Sometimes the act of firing a powerful positive anchor can be enough to completely overcome a negative state.
Usually more than one application is required.
When conflicting states co-exist at the same time, both will be depleted. This means it’s important to rebuild the positive state and re-anchor it on each cycle.
How To Work With Your Own Hypnotic States
To work with your own hypnotic states, use self-hypnosis to magnify the effects.
As a hypnotist, one of the most useful things we can do when we want to guide other people into specific hypnotic states is anchor that state in ourselves first.
This enables us to call up the state on demand.
When we’re already in the state into which we’re leading our subject, their unconscious mind doesn’t really have to do anything beyond copying us.
Not only that, but when we fire our own internal anchor to call up the state, our subject observes the transition as our posture, expression, mannerisms, voice tone, and even the words we say all change.
If we’ve taken the time to build rapport, usually they just follow right along.
I find that it usually works best if I have a symbol that reminds me of each specific hypnotic state. Then all I do is call up the symbol in my mind, and my entire system takes on the associated state.
By far the easiest way I know to do this is by using self-hypnosis.
You can use this for any state you’d like to be able to call up on demand. I have anchors set for various emotional states that I can call on when needed. And of course, there are also anchors that I use to induce hypnosis in myself instantly that I use whenever I hypnotize others.