Hypnotic inductions don’t need to work to work

The social compliance theory of hypnosis says your expectations matter.

How you expect hypnosis to work influences it.

What’s strange is your conscious expectations don’t matter as much. You might think you’re too mentally strong to be hypnotised. If so, that thought won’t protect you.

Partly because you’ve seen hypnotists hypnotise people before – at least on TV.

Partly because the social compliance side isn’t the full picture.

But even if it was…

Well, some of you would see that as proof against hypnosis. “It only works because you believe it does!”

If you think like that, let me ask you this:

Do you believe in drunkenness?

Folk from different cultures get drunk in different ways. If your culture links alcohol to violence and sadness, that’s what it does to you. If it sees alcohol as a social tool for joy and expression, that’s what it does to you.

Alcohol changes your behaviour and mental state, whether you believe it will or not.

And it changes it in some consistent ways.

Yet the finer details depend entirely on your unconscious expectations.

Hypnosis is the same. You will go into a trance and I could describe, in broad terms, what that trance will be like.

But I have no idea just how relaxing and unusual you’ll find it. That’s up to your unconscious.

(At least, at first. Over time, your hypnotist can train you to enter more useful trance states more easily. That’s a case of your unconscious updating its expectations through the best learning method around: direct experience.)

These unconscious expectations don’t just control what the trance experience is like.

They control how you enter the trance.

I hypnotise most of my clients the same way: I tell them to close their eyes, relax, and focus on the sound of my voice. There’s a lot that happens before and after that which I tailor to them. But, at some stage, I usually go through that process.

I do it because folk expect it.

Even if you’re only vaguely familiar with hypnosis, that sounds right.

But you might have different expectations.

For someone with strong New Age beliefs, I might use a different induction. I might tell them to focus until they become aware of their spirit animal. Or I might use tarot cards.

For certain Christians, I might summon or commune with their guardian angel.

And I’m sure plenty of folk connect best with their inner mind when they push their bodies to the limits – like a runner’s high, only more intense. I wouldn’t get them to close their eyes and relax – I’d get them to jog and lift weights.

That last approach ‘doesn’t work!’ according to some people. They have their scripts and their theories, none of which allow a trance like that. I wish them well, but they’re wrong.

You can do an induction ‘wrong’ – backwards, upside down, the opposite of what the textbooks say – and still put someone in a trance.

It doesn’t have to ‘work’ to work. The mind doesn’t play by our simplistic rules.

My attitude is more flexible than some hypnotists.

And that’s how I get results they can’t.

If you have an unusual challenge or a different approach you want to try, why don’t you book yourself in for a consultation and we can talk it through:


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