Hypnosis or Self-Hypnosis: Which is Best?

Which is better, hypnosis or self-hypnosis? Some people will insist on sharing their share their strong preferences with you, as with the eternal “Kirk vs. Picard” debate. Not me!

I’m going to consider hypnosis only in the context of beneficial change, whether it’s to resolve a problem or to make yourself even better at something you’re already very good at. There are other forms of hypnosis, such as stage hypnosis, but I’ll talk about that some other time.

First I’ll tell you why hypnosis (with a hypnotist) is the best. Then I’ll tell you why self-hypnosis is the best. Finally, I’ll tell you why a mix of both is the best.

Why Hypnosis (With a Hypnotist) Is Best

You’d seek out a hypnotist for the same reasons you’d seek out a teacher or coach for any new skill. Some people are confident book-learners, and successfully teach themselves all sorts of complex things through self-study: mathematics, skiing, you name it. This takes a lot more time and willingness to make false starts than you’d need if you learned from an instructor. Continue Reading...

Mindful Self-Hypnosis: Faster, Deeper, Better

Mindfulness meditation is all the rage, and rightly so! It’s an effective method with a long pedigree. But it can be elusive and confusing to the newcomer, tied as it is to Buddhist spirituality, which most of us aren’t familiar with.

As Albert Einstein said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” I’ll show you something simpler than mindfulness meditation that works as well or better, at least for beginners. Easier to learn, with fully actionable step-by-step instructions. I call it mindful self-hypnosis.

And if you’re in the Corvallis area, you can sign up for my free class in mindful self-hypnosis. More about that in a bit.

Mindfulness from a Hypnotist’s Perspective

A lot of definitions of mindfulness boil down to “minimizing self-talk.” What is self-talk? Most of us endure a lot of distracting, unhelpful chatter (and imagery) inside our own heads, as we scold ourselves, second-guess ourselves, and generally freak ourselves out. Mindfulness promises to dial this down … and it does. Continue Reading...

Ego-Strengthening: The Forgotten Swiss Army Knife of Hypnosis [Video]

Like everything else, hypnosis goes through fads and phases. New and exciting techniques replace old, familiar ones, even when the old ones were better.

So the simple, old-fashioned hypnosis of yesteryear yields to fancier methods: guided imagery, indirect suggestion, age regression, and so on. Don’t get me wrong! I use all of these with excellent results, and I use guided imagery in every session. But there’s something primal about the simplicity of old-time direct suggestion: “You are a nonsmoker. You’ve already smoked your last cigarette. Tobacco no longer holds any attraction for you. You are a nonsmoker.” Simple, yet powerful.

Because some consider it old-fashioned, direct suggestion’s more interesting wrinkles are positively forgotten. Decades ago, a British doctor, John Hartland, developed a method he called “ego-strengthening.” This was described in his book, Hartland’s Medical and Dental Hypnosis.In this, he doesn’t mention the client’s specific problems at all during hypnosis, but instead gives general suggestion for physical and emotional well-being. Since hypnosis works on broad issues as well as on narrow ones, ego strengthening tends to lift clients’ spirits, energy, and outlook. This makes everything easier. Continue Reading...

Let’s Stop Pretending We Understand the Human Mind

Brain from Pinky and the BrainHere are the rules of the therapy drinking game:

  1. Every time a therapist who isn’t a neurologist talks with confidence about the human brain, take a drink.
  2. Five minutes later, call 911, because you’ve had waaaaaay too much to drink.

Why all this brain talk? As far as I can make out, it’s because this was the kind of pseudo-scientific gibberish that was in fashion during their trainings. The brain is all medical-ish and scientific-y, and opposed, to say, the mind.

And when people run out of brain structures to blame, they might skip to something they have even less experience with: say, molecular biology. Neurotransmitters, anyone?

All of which adrenalizes my limbic system! Why? Because it violates an important rule of thumb: “The therapist is supposed to be at least as coherent as the client.”

Metaphor and Reality

Most human communication is metaphorical, and we’re all fine with that. When someone says, “I laughed my head off,” we understand. Communication is about picking the right metaphors. That goes double for therapy.

In hypnosis, in particular, metaphors add power through seeming simplicity. For example, of the interesting things about hypnosis is that everyone already knows what “going deeper” means, though hypnotists rarely explain it. All of us already know so much, and we can pick up so much just from context, that explanations are more a burden than a help. A word to the wise is sufficient. Continue Reading...

Fractionation: Try This Sure-Fire Hypnotic Deepener [Video]

wile-e-coyote-hypnotistHere’s a quick demonstration of the most reliable hypnosis deepener: fractionation. Fractionation relies on a basic hypnotic phenomenon, so with a willing subject, it always works.

What is fractionation? It’s the process of repeatedly taking someone into hypnosis, leaving them there very briefly, and taking them back out again.

The whole process only takes a minute or two, and always gets them into a deep, somnambulistic trance. Watch the video now, and I’ll say a few more things about it below.

It Can Even Be Used for Self-Hypnosis

While it’s normally used to help other people go deeper, you can see in the video that simply by demonstrating fractionation, I fall into a moderate trance myself!

Built-In Testing

One thing I like about fractionation is that it builds in a lot of testing. For example:

  • On the first few rounds, when clients open their eyes, they refocus on you. But as they go deeper, they usually stop doing this and look straight ahead, leaving you in their peripheral vision.
  • As they go deeper, their eyelids become perfectly still while closed. In the video, mine never get to this point, so you know I’m not super deep (one of these days I’ll do a video while in a somnambulistic trance…). Eyelid flutter in light hypnosis is a good sign, but it almost always vanishes as yo go deeper.
  • Then there’s the explicit test. Once they enter somnambulism, the subject stops anticipating your next action, and simply waits for it. So when I break the rhythm of “three, two, … one,” they not only don’t open their eyes early, their eyelids don’t even twitch. So you know you’re there.
  • On that last round, I like to wait at least ten seconds before saying “one,” because it seems to send them even deeper that way.
  • It’s no big deal if you do the test too early and they open their eyes before you say “one.” If you’ve seen any of the other signs, they’re in at least a moderate level of hypnosis, and you can just say, “Sleep! … You’re doing very well,” and smoothly move on to your second-favorite deepener.

Where Did Fractionation Come From?

Fractionation is attributed to German physician Oskar Vogt, who realized around 1903 that subjects tend to go into hypnosis faster and deeper in each successive session, and so he tried bringing them into and out of hypnosis many times, very quickly, to give them a zillion sessions’ worth of practice in just a couple of minutes. It worked! Continue Reading...