There are numerous observable signs that people tend to manifest when hypnotized, including changes in their breathing, eyes, heart rate, relaxation, responses, focus, timing, swallowing, movement speed, and more. Additionally, hypnotized people will often exhibit various hypnotic phenomena such as involuntary movements and the inability to consciously choose to move (known as catalepsy).
There are some catches though: While most subjects will manifest one or more of these signs of hypnosis, it’s possible for someone to be in hypnosis and not exhibit any of them.
The key is to be on the lookout for changes in your subjects.
The more signs of hypnosis your subject manifests, the more likely it is that they are in hypnosis.
Now you might worry that your subjects will try to fake these signs of hypnosis.
And it’s kinda hilarious when they do.
The thing is, all of us go into hypnosis multiple times every day, which means that our brains have already linked these signs to it. So if someone tries to fake hypnosis by intentionally manifesting these signs, they send themselves into hypnosis.
Or put another way: As the hypnotist, if your subject manifests the signs of hypnosis for long enough, you can’t lose.
As with other parts of hypnosis, you’ll get the best results when you take the time to learn to spot each of these signs one at a time. Once you can detect a sign, keep on noticing it until doing so becomes a habit, then move on to the next one.
Shifts in breathing patterns
One of the defining characteristics of hypnosis is that it is a different state to the one we were in right before we were hypnotized.
Each state we can go into has it’s own breathing pattern associated with it.
So one of the signs of hypnosis is that the subject’s breathing pattern changes.
Because hypnosis is often associated with states like relaxation and calm, this breathing pattern will often be slower, steadier and more relaxed. But not always.
As an example of a time when the breathing pattern might not be slower, consider what would happen if you were to hypnotize someone and give them an hallucination of riding on a roller coaster.
The key here is to be observant and look for changes.
So how exactly do you watch someone’s breathing pattern?
I find that the easiest way is to look into their eyes and notice the tiny changes on their face as they breathe. You can also use your peripheral vision to observe larger movements, like their shoulders moving up and down with every breath.
Regardless of the other changes to someone’s breathing patterns, it’s very common for a subject’s breathing to become slower and more calm when they’re in trance.
If you’re hypnotizing someone, and you see their breathing slow down, you can be quite sure that they are moving towards hypnosis.
In a rare case of pop culture meeting hypnosis reality, hypnotized subjects will often take on a glazed look in their eyes.
It’s usually very obvious when this particular transition happens.
The association with hypnosis is so strong that even if something else is the cause, they are almost always well on the way into trance.
Sometimes a subject’s eyes will start to water as they drop into hypnosis.
In some cases this will be nothing more than visible glistening around the eyes. Other times, they will full-on cry.
And sometimes they will start freaking out and descend all the way into an abreaction.
Before you hypnotize anyone, make sure you know a basic abreaction drill like the one in my article on How to Stop Someone Freaking Out so that you’re prepared.
Reddening of the eyes
As you might expect, along with watering eyes, reddening of the eyes is another sign of hypnosis.
Eyes rolling back in the head
Sometimes when I hypnotize people, their eyes roll all the way back in their head.
While it might look a bit freaky, it’s also a sure sign of hypnosis. Either it’s happening because they’re in hypnosis, or it’s happening because they’re doing it deliberately.
And guess what?
As I mentioned earlier, if they do it deliberately, the act of doing so makes it more likely that they’ll go into hypnosis.
Either way, they’re hypnotized!
Remove contact lenses before hypnosis
This one should be obvious: Since the eyes can roll back during hypnosis, it’s important to have your subject remove any contact lenses before you begin.
Changed blink rate
One of the more common signs of hypnosis is when someone’s rate of blinking changes.
This one can go either way.
Some subjects will blink a lot more, while others will blink a lot less. And of course, some will stay the same.
And here’s the thing: Most people almost never try to consciously do anything with their blink rate. So if they suddenly change how often they blink, it’s a sure sign that something unconscious is going on.
Longer and slower blinks
As people descend further into trance, their eyelids will usually become heavy at some point.
There are at least three reasons for this.
First, many inductions involve eye closure, so the eyelids becoming heavy is a precursor to that.
Second, hypnotists will frequently suggest that their subject’s eyes or eyelids are becoming heavy.
And third, the hypnotic state that they’re heading into is often one which involves closed eyes as a part of it. Sometimes the eyes are even locked shut. So along with the pressure from the eyelids becoming heavy as a precursor to them closing, there’s also pressure from the future state of hypnosis expecting them to be closed.
A side effect of the eyelids becoming heavy is that blinks can start to become longer and slower.
And it’s even better than that.
As a hypnotist, you can help guide your subjects into hypnosis by gradually making your own blinks longer and slower to suggest heaviness. Often they will follow along without you having to say a word about it.
As with the longer and slower blinks, it’s not uncommon for their eyes to flutter as they close while dropping into trance.
Eyes flicking back and forth
Once someone’s eyes are closed and they’re in hypnosis, sometimes their eyes will dart back and forth behind their eyelids.
When they do this, it looks much like when someone is experiencing REM sleep.
You can sometimes cause this to happen by guiding your subject into a hypnotic reality, or by taking them on a shamanic journey while in hypnosis.
And you’ve probably noticed something: Most people’s eyes don’t flick back and forth like that in their day-to-day lives.
If you see their eyes flicking back and forth behind their eyelids, it’s a sure sign that something is going on.
Changed heart rate
When someone is hypnotized, they are in an altered state.
Quite often this state is one of relaxation. Other times it’s one of excitement.
There’s a correlation between someone’s heart rate and how excited they are.
When they’re totally relaxed, the heart rate slows right down. And when they’re excited, it speeds up.
With a little practice, it’s quite easy to directly observe the heart rate in some people by observing pulses in the blood vessels in their neck.
So if you’re hypnotizing someone and notice that their heart rate changes in the direction you expect, that’s another sign that they’re heading into hypnosis.
Muscle relaxation (skin smooths out)
When the hypnosis involves your subject becoming relaxed, the skin will tend to smooth out.
The more relaxed they are, the smoother the skin.
This can be particularly pronounced with wrinkles around the eyes and stress lines on the forehead.
Most people don’t know how to consciously relax themselves. So when you see your subject’s skin starting to smooth out, it’s a sure sign of hypnosis.
Decreased response to stimuli
Sometimes when hypnosis subjects descend further into trance, they start to dissociate from the outside world.
A side-effect of this is that they will fail to react to things as they normally might.
For example, they might not react to sudden loud sounds or to being poked.
If you notice that your subject’s responses to external stimuli have decreased, that’s a sure sign that they’re in hypnosis.
As with the other signs of hypnosis, the key here is that their behavior changes.
Heightened focus and attention
Some people are constantly distracted by things around them.
And it’s usually very easy to spot when such people switch from being constantly distracted to being focused.
Hypnosis relies to a large degree on your subject being able to focus solely on the task at hand.
So if your subject is one of those people who is constantly distracted, and they become focused, you can take that as a sign that they’re well on the way into hypnosis.
Timing of responses
When someone is hypnotized, their responses tend to take on an automatic, almost robotic, quality.
This is very easy to spot.
What usually happens with me is that once they are hypnotized they will respond immediately when asked questions that have a simple yes or no response.
Not all the time though… a rare few become unresponsive instead.
In both cases, the timing of their responses has become a lot more consistent when they are hypnotized.
Appearing thoughtful, blank, or confused
Did you know that when you’re lost in thought, it’s a kind of hypnosis?
So when someone appears thoughtful, they are experiencing hypnosis.
The same is true when they have a blank look, or they’re looking confused. Only for slightly different reasons.
When someone’s mind has gone blank or they’re confused, it’s an ideal time to drop in some hypnotic suggestions.
Decreased frequency of swallowing
As people move deeper into hypnosis, a whole array of physical changes occur.
One of these is how often they swallow.
If you notice that they are swallowing less often than usual, you can take that as a sign that they’re on their way into hypnosis.
Slow and deliberate movements
When we’re hypnotized, our focus increases and moves towards a single stream of thought.
In turn, this can lead to any movements we make becoming slower and more deliberate.
As with the other signs of hypnosis, this is not always the case.
Consider this: If someone is experiencing significant time distortion, they may be able to move more quickly than usual.
The key is to look for a change in the way your subject moves. If the qualities of their movement change significantly, it’s a sign that they may be in hypnosis.
Hypnosis is often associated with states of relaxation, calmness, and generally being at peace.
In turn, these lead to hypnosis subjects moving less when they are hypnotized.
Random uncontrollable shaking
While hypnosis subjects will usually move less when they’re hypnotized, sometimes they will move more. This can manifest in any number of ways.
If your subject starts shaking uncontrollably, it can be a sign that they’re in hypnosis.
It can also be a sign of abreaction, so be sure to check in with them that everything’s okay and bring them out with the abreaction drill of your choice if it’s not.
Changed skin pigmentation
When we’re hypnotized, a whole host of physical things change, including our heart rate, our breathing, our muscle tension, and more.
A side-effect of this is that the blood flows throughout our body will change.
It’s not uncommon to observe changes in skin color in hypnotized subjects.
This can be anything from their face or hands becoming flushed or pale, through to their entire body.
As a rule, the changes seen here are those you might expect when more or less blood flows to different parts of the body.
While this is far from a sure sign of hypnosis, it can add compelling evidence when it’s supported by some of the others.
One of my favorite signs of hypnosis is that when a subject is in hypnosis, they will tend to agree a lot more. Sometimes they’ll agree with totally ludicrous things.
With this one, it’s important to notice the change in how much they’re agreeing.
When a subject seems like they’re agreeing more than they were, I’ll often make a statement they’d normally disagree with, and pop a tag question on the end. If they say yes, it’s a sure sign they are in hypnosis.
Manifestation of hypnotic phenomena (catalepsy, automatic movement)
Once someone is in hypnosis, one of the ways you can identify that is to help them to experience hypnotic phenomena.
Some subjects will experience these automatically.
For example, with the inductions that I tend to do, my subjects almost always end up unable to move their legs. This is a useful sign of hypnosis, and it also makes a great convincer for them.
Similarly, it’s possible to cause automatic movement by doing such things as suggesting that there’s a balloon attached to one of their arms, while a heavy weight is attached to the other. These suggestions tend to result in their arms behaving as if those objects were attached.
There are a few other hypnotic phenomena, and I’ll write about those later in their own article.
For now though, you can generally take it as read that your subject is in hypnosis if they start to manifest hypnotic phenomena, either automatically, or as the result of indirect or covert suggestions.
We’ve just covered a heap of signs that you can use to identify when someone’s in hypnosis.
Usually when someone’s in hypnosis, they will manifest several of these.
But not always.
Not only that, but there are other signs too.
There are two things it’s important to do to become exquisite at noticing these signs.
First, start paying attention to people everywhere. Notice the details of how they hold themselves, and the kinds of ways in which they change.
And second, hypnotize a lot of people.
When you hypnotize dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of individuals, your brain starts to pick up the patterns. Even the ones I didn’t mention here.
Once that happens, you’ll find that you just know when someone is in hypnosis.
Now you might be thinking that’s a lot of work, and you’d be right. But what if I told you there’s a way to speed it all up so that you can get there so much more quickly?
As it turns out, there is such a way!
You see, when we’re in hypnosis, it can become a lot easier to observe the kinds of changes we’ve talked about in this article. When you get good at it, it can even become automatic.
In short: You can supercharge your ability to spot these signs of hypnosis by hypnotizing yourself first.
So if you’d like to be able to quickly learn to spot when someone’s in hypnosis, you might like to read my article on How to Hypnotize Yourself Instantly next. In it, I give a simple process that anyone can follow to induce hypnosis in themselves, along with a way you can attach a trigger to your self-hypnosis so that you can return there any time you’d like. Instantly.
And when you need to hypnotize yourself hundreds or even thousands of times…
I’m sure you get the idea.