Hypnosis - Chapter 6
- 1 Mediums for hypnosis
- 1.1 Models
- 1.2 Entrainment
- 1.2.1 Brainwave entrainment
- 1.2.2 Vision
- 1.2.3 Sound
- 1.2.4 Vocals
- 1.3 The voice
Mediums for hypnosis
There are several methods to induce a hypnotic trance. It may include the hypnosis spiral, sound, vocal suggestions, light strobes or the use of an object that glitters such as commonly seen in movies as a piece of jewelry or a gold watch all inducing progressive relaxation. But there are methods that can rely only in quick focus distractions even including body touch. Most often there is a use of simultaneous types of inductions. The methodology has remained mostly constant along the ages, and new methods are often rediscoveries not innovations. What has changed are the theories and models that ultimately have directed the focus of the practitioners and helped to streamline how to proceed after trance is established and what can be achieved with the use of hypnosis.
We have seen the theories behind hypnotic phenomena have continuously evolved from the concept of animal magnetism, we can take the understanding that theatrics, the environment and the predisposition created by the experience, the operator's charisma and confidence and attention that the subject places in him are crucial.
Mesmerism simply took those concepts a little further, removing some of the superfluous, and building up on these facts to define the theory, "the hypnotizer exercises a force, independently of suggestion, over the subject. They believe one part of the body to be charged separately, or that the whole body may be filled with magnetism. They recognize the power, of suggestion, but they do not believe it to be the principal factor in the production of the hypnotic state."
New mesmerism again removed the emphasis of the concept of personal magnetism, placing more consideration in importance of the subject, that allied with the Abbot Faria oriental concepts evolved into divergent trends, but ultimately brought relevance to the importance of concentration and refined the practice and power of suggestion.
Braid cleared the definitions and in his attempt to demystify the practice, into a quasi-scientific process.
Braid did not dismiss or merge the Neurosis Theory, it continued to be accepted long after, but he moved it from its simple physical and nervous understanding to the field of the mind.
The Milton Model is a model for indirect interpersonal communications inspired by psychiatrist and pioneer of medical hypnosis, Milton H. Erickson. The model was later refined by linguist John Grinder and Richard Bandler, as the neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). It is described by the authors as the reverse set of the meta model. Whereas the meta model sought to specify distortion, deletions and generalization in a speaker's language, the Milton model intentionally utilizes those patterns. It is general, ambiguous and metaphoric. The Milton model and meta model of NLP are regarded as the first two models of NLP.
There is a lot of confusion on defining and limiting what Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is but in general it refers to system of pattern, mostly similar to the pattern system in programming, even if some NLP concepts predate the labeling of the techniques as NLP or are just common sense. Hypnosis is known to be problematic in regards to general definitions so it seems right not to augment the confusion, especially in face with the marketing being done around the NLP, there is no problem in being able to encapsulate and streamline these pattern under the label of NLP.
Autosuggestion, basically self suggestion done in a trance state, could also be defined as self-hypnosis but since all hypnosis is self-hypnosis the distinction becomes helpful.
In this context it can be said that meditation is autosuggestion with the intention of reaching deeper mental and physical relaxation.
As proposed by Émile Coué, already covered on the history section, suggestions to ourselves is something that we do daily and have done since childhood (stated in his book, PDF). It also common to engage in negative autosuggestion or negative reinforcements, learning to understand the autosuggestion and using self-hypnosis can help avoid unwanted behaviors. In fact, everyone should be more aware of the inner-workings of their own mind as it is the most powerful, free and ever present tool available to man.
Keeping in mind the concept that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis, the only difference is the origin of the suggestions, the power to accept them is always ones own. There is no specific "right" way to perform autosuggestion, it of course helps if one understands and recognizes a state of trance and is able to perform self-relaxation. People that know how to meditate already have a leg up in reaching deeper levels.
One way to jump-start the process of learning how to do autosuggestion is to ask someone else to "put you under", most people after being aware of how an hypnotic state feels will find it easier to replicate by themselves.
- Mode 1 - Similar to meditation
Sit or lay down in a comfortable way in silence, or a relaxing environment (music or natural sound can help set the mood), relax your body and mind, close your eyes. The objective is to induce eye catalepsy (the inability to open your eye without specifically making a conscientious effort) at the same time repeating to yourself words to increase relaxation and calm.
- Self improvement
Self-Hypnosis, tapes and videos
With the advent of personal recordable media the autosuggestion (the dialog with self) could evolve into deeper trance states. Permitting anyone to go beyond autosuggestion and create their own sessions for self improvement and reprogramming. The distinction is that it will permit to achieve deeper levels of trance due to the absence of a conscious effort to direct and proceed with the suggestions. On the downside is that a static recording removes the benefits of interaction and taking advantage of indicators, this of course can be somewhat substituted by an interactive program, especially if using sensors in more complex setups.
- You can create your own recordings as a way to automate the process
- A microphone, an audio recorder (Mp3 or other), a digital support will ease editing.
- Some basic audio editing software (Audacity is a popular open source audio editor).
- Relaxing background music or sound that can be incorporated into the recording.
- A brain wave generator can be optional (they may increase the effectiveness of the sessions).
Some hypnotists, especially the ones doing hypnotherapy, see this as dangerous endeavor to oneself and even as a challenge to their practice. In fact if one lacks the proper understanding about hypnosis it can be abused, it is even arguable that one can do severe harm to their psyche as any "negative" suggestions (or with negative consequences) had to already be present in ones mind. For example, using hypnosis to hide symptoms of a disease would require the implication that there was already a conscious awareness of the symptoms as well as a conscious disregard to their implications. In fact it is probably safer than relying on a third-party and will probably be more powerful if one knows how to go about it and all the implications, the suggestion of changes is more significative and when they come from yourself than to have some one else suggesting changes to you. It is not by chance that all programs that treat unwanted behaviors begin from the need of the self realization that there is a problem.
The first step is to ensure that there will be no distractions, find a place that is quiet, relaxing and you can begin. Self hypnosis starts when the subject gets into a relaxed focused state, a trance. Then affirmations, self suggestions, are used to bypass the conscious mind and help change the subconscious beliefs.
Directed-Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy
Conversational hypnosis can also be described as covert hypnosis, depending on the awareness of the subject targeted for the suggestion. Recently conversational hypnosis has also been refereed as awake hypnosis, the problem with this last nomenclature is that it implies that trance hypnosis equals sleep state, this is not true, and so the distinction should not be used, since even if the person does not show the normal muscular relaxation, hypnosis will only exist in a state of trance.
Some of the the already mentioned techniques can be performed without the subject being aware. One should always request authorization from the subject to proceed with the hypnosis, before inducing a trance failing to do so is performing covert hypnosis.
Conversational hypnosis is the use of techniques of hypnosis, voice tonality, touch and word patterns to create the trance and reinforce suggestions or anchor beliefs or emotions on a person without his knowledge, and permission, and without reaching deep trance states (depending on the subject, time and situation). In this form it is commonly used by politicians, organized religion, sect and in marketing this is one more tool available for controversial mind persuasion.
Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP)
A controversial approach to psychotherapy and organizational change based on "a model of interpersonal communication chiefly concerned with the relationship between successful patterns of behavior and the subjective experiences (esp. patterns of thought) underlying them" and "a system of alternative therapy based on this which seeks to educate people in self-awareness and effective communication, and to change their patterns of mental and emotional behavior".
The term "Neuro-Linguistic Programming" refers to a stated connection between the neurological processes ("neuro"), language ("linguistic") and behavioral patterns that have been learned through experience ("programming") and can be organized to achieve specific goals in life. (See Introducing Neuro-Linguistic Programming by Tosey, P. & Mathison, J., 2006).
NLP has been adopted by private therapists, including hypnotherapists who undertake training in NLP and apply it to their practice. It has also been promoted as a "science of excellence", and applied within management training, life coaching, alternative medicine, large group awareness training, and the self-help industry.
Founders Richard Bandler and John Grinder say that NLP is capable of addressing problems such as phobias, depression, habit disorder, psychosomatic illnesses, and learning disorders, and helps people attain fuller and richer lives. It was even alleged that a single session of NLP combined with hypnosis can eliminate certain eyesight problems such as myopia, and can even cure a common cold.
Bandler and Grinder make the claim that by combining NLP methods with hypnotic regression, a person can be not only effectively cured of a problem, but also rendered amnesic for the fact that they had the problem in the first place. Thus, after a session of therapy, smokers may deny that they smoked before, even when their family and friends insisted otherwise, and they are unable to account for such evidence as nicotine stains.
Bandler has also claimed that people are literally programmable. This concept created some resistance. The idea is that even if we are not robots, humans can program themselves. Braden classified this a being meta-programmable, the idea that we create and rely on automated programs that deal with mundane tasks.
NLP also presents itself, in concepts and terminology as an exact science, since substantial claims require substantial evidence it is not strange to note that it has gained the label of pseudoscience. Reviews of empirical research on NLP showed that NLP contains numerous factual errors, and failed to produce reliable results for the claims for effectiveness made by NLP’s originators and proponents. One could expect that as a subsection of hypnosis, NLP would also be illusive to consistent study, this problem of course could be aggravated by the practitioner not being able to use the full "tool-set" or have the increased level of expertise required to do so.
Entrainment (to pull or draw along after itself) can be defined as core of hypnosis. The creation and maintenance of control over focus and perception of the subject, guiding it into a very narrow band as to first induce trance and then manage the hypnotic state.
As we already covered when looking at the origins of hypnosis, most of this methods have been long noted and or used in one form or another for centuries. From shamanistic societies' use of drum beats to Ptolemy noting in 200 AD the effects of flickering sunlight generated by a spinning wheel.
We will now cover how the different senses can be leveraged to induce, maintain and deepen a trance state. Some concepts are well understood and other are less so, for instance some alternative medicine can be said to share, leverage and complement some of this same concepts, like chromotherapy or even aromatherapy.
Of course that we all have experienced changes in perception and mood in relation to environmental changes. For instance color can trigger instinctual effects and is even prone to trigger learned behavior pasterns, most of us have been culturally indoctrinated to regard red as indicating danger (or a indication to stop), this and other effects can be found in most aspects on how we perceive reality and how we are influenced by that perception.
Brainwave entrainment or "brainwave synchronization", is any practice that aims to cause brainwave frequencies to fall into step with a periodic stimulus having a frequency corresponding to the intended brain-state (for example, to induce sleep), usually attempted with the use of specialized software. It purportedly depends upon a "frequency following" response on the assumption that the human brain has a tendency to change its dominant EEG frequency towards the frequency of a dominant external stimulus. Such a stimulus is often aural (hearing), as in the case of binaural or monaural beats and isochronic tones, or else visual, as with a dreamachine, a combination of the two with a mind machine, or even electromagnetic radiation.
In the 1930s and '40s, with then-new EEG equipment and strobe lights, William Grey Walter performed some of the first scientific research on the subject. Later, in the 1960s and '70s, interest in altered states led some artists to become interested in the subject, most notably Brion Gysin who, along with a Cambridge math student, invented the Dreammachine.
From the 1970s to date there have been numerous studies and various machines built that combine light and sound. These efforts were aided by continued development of micro circuitry and other electronic breakthroughs which allowed for ever more sophisticated equipment. One of the more frequently noted scientific results claimed for brainwave entrainment was the discovery of binaural beats, published in Scientific American in 1973 by Gerald Oster. However, Oster's research actually makes no mention of brainwaves. With the development of isochronic tones by Arturo Manns, combined with more sophisticated equipment, these discoveries led to many attempts to use claimed brainwave entrainment techniques in the treatment of numerous psychological and physiological conditions.
A study by the Department of Psychology, Northern Arizona University (Am J Clin Hypn. 2003 Apr;45(4):295-309.) that attempted the replication of an earlier study which demonstrated significant increases in theta EEG activity following theta binaural beat (BB) entrainment training and significant increases in hypnotic susceptibility, failed to reach the same conclusions.
Audio-visual entrainment (AVE), a subset of brainwave entrainment, uses flashes of lights and pulses of tones to guide the brain into various states of brainwave activity. AVE devices are often termed light and sound machines or mind machines. Altering brainwave activity may aid in the treatment of psychological and physiological disorders.
Vision is the sense that more taxes the brain, all we see is dependent on a great number of mental processes, if the objective is to distract or occupy the conscious mind then vision is the best avenue. But vision is not restricted to distraction it can serve to easily focus attention or induce relaxation, for instance looking into the flame of a candle as it slowly moves in accordance to small air disturbances is extremely mesmerizing and relaxing, a good example of how mental fascination occurs and how easy it is to by very slight alterations maintain a increased level of focus.
The eyes are said also the mirror of the soul, the eyes are one of the most significant points of focus in our face, the other being the lips. If you have you ever looked someone directly and with intention in the eyes, you should understand the power that it has, it can be unsettling, threatening or a strong display of emotional closeness, empathy, this is something that at least most high order mammals share, most can perceive or tune in emotional states by simply looking into eyes. By simply looking into someone's eyes one can quickly understand what they are observing. The more complex is a animal society the more important it becomes to be aware and be capable of mirroring each others feelings, emotions and thought processes.
The Hypnosis spiral has a direct relation to optic illusions and the strain it creates on the visual center of the brain and the eyes, a fascination. All hypnosis spiral are moving spiral pattern that vary significantly.
The Hypnotic trance is induced by having the subject keep looking on to it for several minutes. While the subject is doing this, you can deepen the trance by playing relaxing music or offering suggestions that the subject is becoming tired and sleepy (see Vocal suggestions).
The Hypnosis spiral can be and was very commonly used in the past as a way to test subject ability to be hypnotized. The common method it to have the subject watch the spiral for at least thirty seconds and then requesting your subject to look at his or her hand palm.
The subject who sees a the Hypnosis Spiral change colors or other pastern alterations even in in his or her hand palm will probably be quite suggestible and easy to hypnotize.
Fascination is also a factor, the objective is to distract, confuse and divert the cognitive function of the subject, without resulting in frustration. The Hypnotist will tell the subject to keep his or her eyes on it. This has a direct relation to the Hypnosis Spiral and as we will see later fascination is also a factor in the vocalization of the inductions.
Any bright object will serve, jewelry, crystals or clocks able to be put in a repetitive motion in ways that relaxes and creates an expected fatigue to the eyes, enforcing the suggestions that will be used, for the Hypnotist to step in with suggestions of sleepiness, to close the eyes and relax. This is further accomplished by holding the object of fascination just above the subject's eye level.
Any captivating rhythmic moving object will work, a small hand lantern.
The perception of sound in any organism is limited to a certain range of frequencies. Humans hearing is normally limited to frequencies between about 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz (20 kHz), although these limits are not definite. For instance the upper limit generally decreases with age.
Sound is a signal that perceived by one of the major senses. It is used especially for detecting danger, navigation (including location), and communication. The scientific study of human sound perception is known as psychoacoustics.
We primarily sense sound with our ears, the principal part of the auditory system (sound waves vibrations can also be detected by the tact and small shifts in balance). The ear not only acts as a receiver for sound, but also plays a major role in the sense of balance and body position.
Sound is especially interesting in relation to other senses since its processing is done in incremental, sequential steps, in very distinct and specialized locations. It also has the capability of inducing and guiding moods, alter the sense of time and, even more than vision, guide focus and attention even in a diffuse way.
Sound after tact is immediately perceptible for babies, it is how we first see the world, this has a huge impact on our subconscious development even in uterus.
To fully understand, design and benefit from any effect aural brainwave entrainment can bring to hypnosis it is necessary not only to know how the auditory system works but especially how the brain processes sound signals, this is the field of psychoacoustics.
Ambiance audio is just that sound that sets the mood and timing, the audio level, the pitch and the rhythm can contribute to the overall experience, even actively if merged and coordinated with the other stimulus.
This can be any non-natural musical patterns that serve to improve focus or relaxation, like bells, chimes, etc...
Natural sounds, like for instance the waves at the beach can be important as the basis towards setting a positive and relaxed mental state.
Binaural beats or binaural tones are auditory processing artifacts, or apparent sounds, the perception of which arises in the brain for specific physical stimuli. This effect was discovered in 1839 by Heinrich Wilhelm Dove, a German experimenter, and earned greater public awareness in the late 20th century based on claims that binaural beats could help induce relaxation, creativity and other desirable mental states.
Binaural beats are of interest to neurophysiologists investigating the sense of hearing. Binaural beats reportedly influence the brain in more subtle ways through the entrainment of brainwaves and provide other health benefits such as control over pain. Experiences do indeed demonstrate that binaural beats can produce a "resonance" in the central nervous system, that depending on the frequency used, produces different sensations, this of course can, and have been, leveraged for the practice of hypnosis.
This is why binaural beats deserve special mention. Brainwave entrainment may be achieved when audio signals are introduced to the brain causing a response directly related to the frequency of the signal introduced, called binaural beats. Two tones close in frequency generate a beat frequency at the difference of the frequencies, which is generally subsonic (not normally herd by humans). For example, a 495 Hz tone and 505 Hz tone will produce a subsonic 10 Hz tone, roughly in the middle of the alpha range. The resulting subsonic tone may affect the state of mind of the subject. The effect is not only dependent on the frequencies used and generated but on the subject's susceptibility to sound.
The "carrier frequency" (e.g., the 500 Hz in the example above), is also said by some to affect the quality of the trans-formative experience. Note that this effect is achieved without either ear hearing the pulse when headphones are used. Instead, the brain auditory system produces the pulse by combining the two tones. Each ear hears only a steady tone. Although some have claimed that these frequencies do provide help in treating certain medical conditions, there is not a wide acceptance by the medical community to adopt the practice of brainwave entrainment for emotional/mental disorders. A fixed, constant frequency of synchronization is less helpful than techniques such as classical neurofeedback or learning meditation, which seem to naturally generate brain wave frequencies that differ from person to person and may vary from minute to minute.
Binaural beats were first considered to be a special case of monaural beats, but are not the same as monaural beats. Binaural beats are perceived by presenting two different tones at slightly different pitches (or frequencies) separately into each ear. This effect is produced in the brain, not in the ears as with monaural beats. It is produced by the neural output from the ears and created within the olivary body within the brain, in its attempt to "locate" the direction of the sound based on phase.
Only monaural beats are the result of the arithmetic (vector) sum of the waveforms of the two tones as they add or subtract from one another, becoming louder and quieter and louder again.
Monaural and binaural beats are rarely encountered in nature, but in man-made objects, monaural beats occur frequently. For example, two large engines running at slightly different speeds will send "surges" of vibrations through the deck of a ship or jet plane. The lower pitched tone, is called the carrier and the upper tone is called the offset.
Monaural beats occur in the open air and external to the ears. For example, when two guitar strings of slightly different frequencies are plucked simultaneously. Monaural beats strike the ear as beats and therefore excite the thalamus, an action crucial for entrainment. Binaural beats played through loudspeakers become monaural beats.
To hear monaural beats, both tones must be of the same amplitude. However binaural beats can be heard when the tones have different amplitudes. They can even be heard if one of the tones is below the hearing threshold. Noise reduces the perceived volume of monaural beats whereas noise actually increases the loudness of binaural beats.
"Isochronic tones are evenly spaced tones which turn on and off quickly."
|voice quality||breathy and blearing||resonant||breathy with chest tone||irregular and blearing||grumbled with chest tone||breathy and blearing|
|articulation||normal||slurring||tense||precise||normal||tense and precise|
|speech rate||faster or slower||slightly slower||slightly faster||much faster||very much slower||much faster|
|pitch range||much wider||slightly narrower||much wider||much wider||slightly wider||much wider|
|pitch average||much higher||slightly lower||very much higher||very much higher||very much lower||much higher|
|pitch changes||smooth with upwards inflections||downward inflections||abrupt on stressed syllable||normal||wide downward on terminal inflections||rising contour|
The power of words
The only way to assuredly communicate ideas is by the use of a language, be it written or spoken, gestures and non-verbal indicators are important in hypnosis but to fully transmit suggestions and create mental landscapes one needs to transmit them by using a common shared language.
Languages, understood as the particular set of speech norms of a particular community, are only part of culture of the community that speak it. Humans use language as a way of signaling identity with one cultural group and difference from others. Even among speakers of one language several different ways of using the language exist, and each is used to signal affiliation with particular subgroups within a larger culture.
It is undetermined if there is a benefit in hypnosis of using the native language of the subject if he is bilingual, but it seems reasonable to expect that the less demand is made of the subject in regards processing the suggestions (the cognitive load on multiple lexical access for instance in translating and comprehension) the better. The language used should be simple and consistent in its use, repetition, habituation and familiarity will also have a positive impact. Cultural references and colloquial mannerisms should be avoided unless specifically designed to appeal to, and be correctly understood by the subject, in these cases they become extremely useful, as the objective is to potentiate familiarity and heightened attention.
Understanding semantics is a very useful knowledge in day to day life, even more for the hypnotist. It deals with the meaning and relation between signifiers (signs and symbols, something that has more than object meaning by itself or in a structure), like words, phrases, its denotation.
- In Computer science, denotational semantics is contrasted with operational semantics.
- In media-studies terminology, denotation is an example of the first level of analysis: what the audience can visually see on a page.
Denotation often refers to something literal, and avoids being a metaphor. In semantics a metaphor is usually coupled with connotation which is the second level of analysis, being what the denotation represents.
The study of language has also been an hot topic, for instance in cognitive psychology, the study of speech planning, word ordering and the word superiority effect or phonological activation, to name a few interesting areas. In general it is the attempt to understand how linguistic knowledge is organized and processed in our minds.
Theory suggested that language knowledge is organized within semantic networks, a series of nodes interconnecting as to represent concepts. This of course also has huge interest for the field or artificial intelligence (connectionism) and even impacts, for instance, the evolution of WEB search engines. Many experiences suggest that this model is at least partially correct, for instance the effect of priming has been verified. Priming is when one word is used it activates that specific node and to some degree all other nodes that are closely linked, for instance if one ears the word "table" and later is asked to give a list of words beginning with "t" there is an increaser in the probability that they will answer "table" and closely connected words, like "top", than if not so primed.
Priming works best when the two stimuli are in the same modality. For example visual priming works best with visual cues and verbal priming works best with verbal cues. But priming also occurs between modalities, or between semantically related words such as "doctor" and "nurse". This of course can be easily leveraged for hypnosis.
In language, a word is the smallest free form that may be uttered in isolation. The most common words used in hypnosis are relax,sleep and deep. We will use these as examples of the difficulties and considerations one should give to the use of words. Words also have intrinsic power, they can impart emotions and even solicit responses.
Projection of presuppositions
Hypnosis today seems to be centered around native English speakers, there is a great number of material, from scripts to most contemporaneous literature, papers and learning materials. English language is for the moment, the leading language of international discourse, and has acquired use as lingua franca in many regions. Native speakers originate from the United States (~215 million), United Kingdom (~61 million), Canada (~18.2 million), Australia (~15.5 million), Nigeria (~4 million), Ireland (~3.8 million), South Africa (~3.7 million), and New Zealand (~3.6 million), even if not the majority of the world's population nor the originating source for practice and methodology hypnosis, it represents today without question the largest number of practitioners of hypnosis and the origin in the latest advances of the field.
This section will try to provide some help in regards to necessary alterations for use of hypnosis with other languages.
- In French
The word "sleep" does not translate very well, its meaning and interpretation is lessened in the context of hypnosis. Add more emphasis to relaxation and distention. There is also a better cultural understanding of the meaning of the word "trance".