Hypnosis

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Hypnosis is a psychological state with physiological attributes superficially resembling sleep and marked by an individual's level of awareness other than the ordinary conscious state. Another description of the phenomenon is that of an altered mental state, while another links it to imaginative role-enactment.

A person under hypnosis is said to have heightened focus and concentration with the ability to concentrate intensely on a specific thought or memory, while blocking out sources of distraction. Hypnosis is usually induced by a procedure known as a hypnotic induction involving a series of preliminary instructions and suggestions. The use of hypnotism for therapeutic or Training purposes is referred to as "hypnotherapy", while its use as a form of entertainment for an audience is known as "stage hypnosis".

There is a belief that hypnosis is a form of unconsciousness resembling sleep, but contemporary research suggests that hypnotic subjects are fully awake and are focusing attention, with a corresponding decrease in their peripheral awareness.

One of the best-known theories is Hilgard’s neodissociation theory of hypnosis. According to Hilgard, people in a hypnotic state experience a split consciousness in which there are two different streams of mental activity. While one stream of consciousness responds to the hypnotist’s suggestions, another dissociated stream processes information outside of the hypnotized individuals conscious awareness

Characteristics

A person under hypnosis experiences heightened suggestibility and focus accompanied by a sense of tranquility. It could be said that hypnotic suggestion is explicitly intended to make use of the placebo effect. For example, in 1994, Irving Kirsch distinguished hypnosis as a "nondeceptive placebo," i.e., a method that openly makes use of suggestion and employs methods to amplify its effects.

The hypnotized individual appears to heed only the communications of the hypnotist. He seems to respond in an uncritical, automatic fashion, ignoring all aspects of the environment other than those pointed out to him by the hypnotist. He sees, feels, smells, and otherwise perceives in accordance with the hypnotist's suggestions, even though these suggestions may be in apparent contradiction to the stimuli that impinge upon him. Even the subject's memory and awareness of self may be altered by suggestion, and the effects of the suggestions may be extended (posthypnotically) into the subject's subsequent waking activity.

RACK

Hypnosis carries with it a lot of various background knowledge for safety and has the potential to do harm if done impropertly. The most important thing as a top is to be ethical when performing hypnosis, followed by a close second having a lot of study, information and technique.

As a bottom be sure to vet your top thoroughly as poor technique and unethical practices can lead to severe psychological problems and damage that can take years to overcome with lots of therapy and support.

Myths

When you wake up from hypnosis, you won’t remember anything that happened when you were hypnotized.

  • While amnesia may occur in very rare cases, people generally remember everything that occurred while they were hypnotized. However, hypnosis can have a significant effect on memory. Posthypnotic amnesia can lead an individual to forget certain things that occurred before or during hypnosis. However, this effect is generally limited and temporary.

Hypnosis can help people remember the exact details of a crime they witnessed.

  • While hypnosis can be used to enhance memory, the effects have been dramatically exaggerated in popular media. Research has found that hypnosis does not lead to significant memory enhancement or accuracy, and hypnosis can actually lead to false or distorted memories.

You can be hypnotized against your will.

  • Despite stories about people being hypnotized without their consent, clinical studies show hypnosis requires some voluntary participation on the part of the patient.

The hypnotist has complete control of your actions while you’re under hypnosis.

While people often feel that their actions under hypnosis seem to occur without the influence of their will, a hypnotist cannot make you perform actions that are against your values or morals.

Hypnosis can make you super-strong, fast or athletically talented.

  • While hypnosis can be used to enhance performance, it cannot make people stronger or more athletic than their existing physical capabilities, though it may give you a placebo confidence boost to make the most of your current physical capabilities.

Hypnosis FAQ

Prepare by familiarizing yourself with questions which are frequently asked by people who are about to experience hypnosis for the first time and the answers to them. It's good to have a general idea about how to answer questions like these ahead of time, because confidence and trust are so important in determining how a person is going to respond to your induction.

  • How Does Hypnosis Work? The hypnotist serves as a sort of coach or tutor whose job is to help the person become hypnotized" While hypnosis is often described as a sleep-like trance state, it is better expressed as a state characterized by focused attention, heightened suggestibility and vivid fantasies.
  • What Effects Does Hypnosis Have? The experience of hypnosis can vary dramatically from one person to another. Some hypnotized individuals report feeling a sense of detachment or extreme relaxation during the hypnotic state, while others even feel that their actions seem to occur outside of their conscious volition. Other individuals may remain fully aware and able to carry out conversations while under hypnosis. Experiments by researcher Ernest Hilgard demonstrated how hypnosis can be used to dramatically alter perceptions. After instructing a hypnotized individual to not feel pain in his or her arm, the participant's arm was then placed in ice water. While non-hypnotized individuals had to remove their arm from the water after a few seconds due to the pain, the hypnotized individuals were able to leave their arms in the ice water for several minutes without experiencing pain.
  • What Can Hypnosis Be Used For?The following are just a few of the applications for hypnosis that have been demonstrated with research:
    • The treatment of chronic pain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
    • The treatment and reduction of pain during childbirth.
    • The reduction of the symptoms of dementia.
    • Hypnotherapy may be helpful for certain symptoms of ADHD.
    • The reduction of nausea and vomiting in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
    • Control of pain during dental procedures.
    • Elimination or reduction of skin conditions including warts and psoriasis.
    • Alleviation of symptoms association with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
    • While not tested in a lab, hypnotherapy has proven to be a very effective tool in practice for slave training.
  • Can I Be Hypnotized? While many people think that they cannot be hypnotized, research has shown that a large number of people are more hypnotizable than they believe.
    • Fifteen percent of people are very responsive to hypnosis.
    • Children tend to be more susceptible to hypnosis.
    • Approximately ten percent of adults are considered difficult or impossible to hypnotize.
    • People who can become easily absorbed in fantasies are much more responsive to hypnosis.
    • If you are interested in being hypnotized, it is important to remember to approach the experience with an open mind. Research has suggested that individuals who view hypnosis in a positive light tend to respond better.
  • What are you going to do? I will ask you to visualize some pleasant scenes, while I talk about how to use your own mental abilities more effectively. You can always refuse to do anything that you don't want to do, and you can always come out of the experience yourself if an emergency should come up.
  • What does it feel like to be in hypnosis? Most of us experience changes in our conscious awareness several times a day without realizing it. Any time you let your imagination go and just flow along with a piece of music or a verse of poetry, or get so involved in watching a movie or a television drama that you feel like you're part of the action instead of a part of the audience, you are experiencing a form of trance. Hypnosis is just a way of helping you to focus and define these changes in consciousness, in order to use your mental abilities more effectively.
  • Is it safe? Hypnosis is not an altered state of consciousness (as sleep is, for example), but an altered experience of consciousness, which is brought about by using suggestion to re-configure the properties of the imagination. And anything that can be imagined can be un-imagined just as easily.
  • If it's all just your imagination, then, what good is it? Don’t be confused by the tendency in English and many other languages to use the word "imaginary" as opposite in meaning to the word "real" -- and neither should it be confused with the term "image." The imagination is a very real group of mental abilities, whose potential we are just now beginning to explore, and which extends far beyond our ability to form mental images!
  • Can you make me do anything I don't want to do? When you're using hypnosis, you still have your own personality, and you're still you -- so you won't say or do anything that you wouldn't do in the very same situation without hypnosis, and you can easily refuse any suggestion that you don't want to accept. (That's why we call them "suggestions.")
  • What can I do in order to respond better? Hypnosis is very similar to letting yourself become absorbed in watching a sunset or the embers of a campfire, letting yourself flow with a piece of music or poetry, or feeling like you are part of the action instead of part of the audience when you are watching a movie. People who do not feel that they have been able to respond very well, on the other hand, sometimes find it difficult to relax in new situations. It all depends on your ability and willingness to go along with the instructions and suggestions that are provided.
  • What if I enjoy it so much that I don't want to come back? Sometimes you might not want a movie to end, because the movie is so enjoyable -- but you still come back to the real world, because you know it’s only a motion picture. Hypnotic suggestions are basically an exercise for the mind and the imagination, just like a movie script is. But you still come back to everyday life when the session is over, just like you come back at the end of a movie. However the hypnotist might need to try a couple times to pull you out. It is enjoyable being completely relaxed but you can't do much when hypnotized.
  • What if it doesn't work? Did you ever become so absorbed in your play as a child that you didn’t hear your mother’s voice calling you in for dinner? Or are you one of the many people who are able to wake up at a certain time each morning, just by deciding the night before that you are going to do so? We all have the ability to use our minds in ways we are not usually aware of, and some of us have developed these abilities more than others. If you just allow your thoughts to respond freely and naturally to the words and images as your guide, you'll be able to go wherever your mind can take you.

Concerns

  • Though many people have tried, post-hypnotic amnesia is notoriously unreliable as a means of protecting hypnotists from the consequences of their own misconduct. If you try to use hypnosis to get people to do things they would not normally be willing to do, they will usually just come out of hypnosis. If you are going to venture down this road, get them to agree to what you are going to do before the induction. Otherwise, they may never trust you again, tell everyone what you did, take you to court, or worse.
  • Don't allow yourself to be fooled by the sensationalism of hypnosis in the mass media, which commonly leads people to believe that hypnotism allows anyone to make other people act like fools with a click of the fingers.
  • Don't try regressing people to when they were young. If you want, tell them to 'act as if they were ten.' Some people have repressed memories which you really do not want to bring up (abuse, bullying etc.). They shut out these memories as a natural defense and trying to bring them back to the surface can cause severe psychological damage. Oddly, these people are often good at being hypnotized.
  • Don't suggest anything that is against a person's morals or value systems, or that might be embarrassing to the partner, or anything that you wouldn't want someone to suggest to you.
  • Recognize that there are dangers associated with hypnotizing someone; a subject successfully hypnotized is literally a subject to any stray comments they hear while under. Practice caution, and use 'single~speaker' diligently.
  • While uncommon, when a person becomes hypnotized they may lose balance of fall if standing, if you attempt to hypnotize a standing person, do so only if prepared to catch them and prevent injury, otherwise lay them down to start.
  • Don't try to use hypnosis to treat any physical or mental condition (including pain) unless you are a licensed professional who is properly qualified to treat these problems. Hypnosis should never be used by itself as a substitute for counseling or psychotherapy, or to rescue a relationship which is in trouble.
  • Don't approach someone in public, or someone who is asleep, and try to hypnotize them without consent. Though not impossible, it is extremely difficult to hypnotize someone covertly. Although covert approaches can work occasionally with an unsuspecting person who is caught by surprise, much more often than not, people will catch on to what you are trying to do. They will either laugh at you, or become angry for insulting their intelligence, and/or suspect that you have an ulterior motive and report you as a suspicious person.
  • Don't get hung up on technique. When something works dramatically with some people, and not as well as you want it to with others, this creates a "partial reinforcement" effect which may cause people to go from one book to another, or one training program or conference to another, in search of a "magic bullet" that is going to work with everyone. But despite claims to the contrary, most induction procedures work about equally well, and the differences in responsiveness are due to other factors. Decades of laboratory research involving hundreds of investigators have conclusively demonstrated that for everyone who responds poorly, you are statistically certain to find someone who responds so well that your perseverance in the use of hypnosis will be amply rewarded over time.
  • Be sure to create an exit strategy that ends the hypnosis effects with a trigger that won't be easily reproduced but is not impossible to produce without your presence. This allows that a person can deprogram easier if you are unable to be present.
  • Always use positive reinforcement rather than negative reinforcement to create conditions and hypnotheraputic treatments.

Induction

Hypnotic induction is the process undertaken by a hypnotist to establish the state or conditions required for hypnosis to occur.

Self-hypnosis is also possible, in which a subject listens to a taped induction or plays the roles of both hypnotist and subject.

James Braid in the nineteenth century saw fixing the eyes on a bright object as the key to hypnotic induction. A century later Freud saw fixing the eyes, or listening to a monotonous sound as indirect methods of induction, as opposed to “the direct methods of influence by way of staring or stroking” - all leading however to the same result, the subject's unconscious concentration on the person of the hypnotist.

Modern alternatives include the Elman Induction, introduced by Dave Elman, which involves what is known as instant (or snap) induction. Instant hypnosis inductions employ the principles of shock and surprise. A shock to the nervous system of the subject causes their conscious mind to be temporarily disengaged. During this brief window of distraction the hypnotist intervenes quickly, allowing the subject to enter the state of hyper imagination and inner focus known as hypnosis, or trance.

Specific hypnotic inductions and scripts are easily found for free online through search engines.

Beginner Induction

It should be very easy to hypnotize a person who wants to be hypnotized because all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. The hypnotist merely functions as a guide or a personal trainer to help you to focus the power of your imagination more effectively. The progressive relaxation method presented here is one of the easiest to learn and to use.

  • Part 1 of 5: Before Hypnosis
    • Make sure that your partner clearly understands what you are going to do and when he or she is going to get out of it.Keep in mind what you say to the partner before. The introduction is just as important, and perhaps even more important, than what you say during the hypnosis itself. How well people respond to hypnosis depends not only on their ability to respond to suggestion, but also on their beliefs and expectations about hypnosis and their trust and confidence in the person providing the suggestions.
    • Ask your partner if he/she has been hypnotized before, and inquire what the experience was like. If they have, ask them what they had been told to do and how they responded. This will give you an idea of how responsive the partner is likely to be to your own suggestions, and perhaps what things in the procedure that you should avoid.
    • Tell the partner ahead of time that he/she will clearly remember everything that happens. This serves as a "waking suggestion" which defines the experience in such a way that the partner is likely to remember everything, even if they otherwise might not. It is very useful in building trust, and in obtaining feedback when the session is over.
    • Reassure the partner that they cannot be made to do anything under hypnosis that they do not want to do.
    • Ask your partner to sit or lie down in a comfortable position in a dimmed room where you are not likely to be disturbed for a while. Turn off cell phones and pagers. Make sure that your partner is not so tired that he or she will be inclined to fall asleep.
  • Part 2 of 5: Induction
    • Ask your partner to close his or her eyes, and imagine being in a "happy place" where one can feel comfortable and secure, such as relaxing in a meadow beside a gently running stream. Elaborate on calming details of the place and make sure to note how calm and comfortable they feel in their place. And make sure the person will not laugh or be distracted
    • Speak slowly, in a low, soothing, "hypnotic" voice timed to your partner's breathing, with considerable elaboration and repetition far beyond the point of boredom in an ordinary conversation.
    • Ask your partner to relax all over, using words like these: "Just let your feet relax, and your legs relax. Feel your hips relaxing, and your waist relaxing. Feel your chest relaxing, and your arms relaxing. Your shoulders relaxing, and your neck and head relaxing. Feel your entire body relaxing, all over."
    • Ask your partner to feel themselves flying through the air, with the wind whipping their hair behind their head as they laugh with glee. No stress, no worries, no cares. Say that they land on a cloud and ask them to feel the softness of that cloud. This particular cloud is made out of pure relaxation. Tell them to feel themselves sinking down into that cloud, and the more they sink down, the more relaxed they feel, and the more of their stress and worries flow out. Tell them to just visualize the stress, worries and cares flowing out of them like a river and tell them to feel those feelings being replaced by relaxation.
    • Gradually change your instructions into suggestions which increase the strength of the feeling of relaxation. "You can feel yourself relaxing now. You can feel a heavy, relaxed feeling coming over you. And as I continue to talk, that heavy relaxed feeling will get stronger and stronger, until it carries you into a deep, peaceful state of hypnosis."
    • Using your partner's breathing and body language as a guide, gradually make your suggestions more directive, using suggestions similar to the following. Repeat the suggestions a few times, much as you might repeat the verses and choruses of a song, until your partner appears to be totally relaxed.

"Every word that I utter is putting you faster and deeper, and faster and deeper, into a deep, peaceful state of hypnosis."

"Sinking down, and shutting down. Sinking down, and shutting down. Sinking down, and shutting down, shutting down completely."

"And the deeper you go, the deeper you are able to go. And the deeper you go, the deeper you want to go, and the more enjoyable the experience becomes."''

You can conclude your induction with words like: "Now you are resting comfortably in a deep, peaceful state of sleep, going deeper and faster and deeper and faster all of the time, until I bring you back. You will only accept those suggestions which are for your benefit, and that you are willing to accept."

  • Part 3 of 5: During Hypnosis

Provide positive suggestions which are specifically geared to achieving the goal. This will allow the partner to try out new attitudes, feelings, and behaviors which often are not voluntarily attainable. If the suggested changes are more adaptive than the old patterns after everything is taken into account, they will be retained. More than one hypnosis session may be necessary until the suggested changes are firmly rooted in the partner's life. Don't try to "scare" somebody into achieving their goal by dwelling on the consequences of failure, or by using "shoulds," "oughts," or "musts" in your suggestions. Research has conclusively shown that fear is a poor way to motivate people, and the side effects usually outweigh any possible benefits. Here are some examples of simple positive suggestions that you can elaborate on:

"You will look back on this experience as a game-changer in your life which will turn each day into a thing of wondrous beauty."

"As a result of these suggestions, you will feel as if you are headed for a certain and predetermined success.."

"You will be able to act, think, and feel as if it were impossible to fail."

  • Part 4 of 5: Concluding the Session This is easier than inducing it, because all you have to do is essentially ask your partner to stop imagining.
    • Begin by saying, "I'm going to count from one to five, and at the count of five you will be feeling wide awake, fully alert, and completely refreshed."
    • It's also helpful to suggest, "And as a result of this hypnotic experience, you will find many exciting changes taking place in your life, some of which you may already be aware of and some of which you may not yet realize." This provides the partner with an extra measure of encouragement to process and complete any constructive changes they are already working on.
    • Repeat for emphasis, "And as you continue to explore these deeper dimensions of experience, you will discover even more exciting changes taking place in your life, some of which you may be aware of and some of which you may not yet realize." Suggestions of this type tend to serve as self-fulfilling prophecies, because the mind acts upon them in such a manner as to bring about the outcomes which have been suggested.
    • Start counting, interspersed with suggestions to the effect that the partner is waking up more and more, "and by the time I get to the count of five, you will be fully awake and feeling wonderful"
  • Part 5 of 5: After Hypnosis
    • Discuss highlights of the session with the partner, and ask if there are any questions or if there is anything they would like to change.
    • Now you should be able to re-induce hypnosis more easily. If your partner has responded well, repeat the session using a shorter induction and go over the positive suggestions you gave previously.
    • A series of two or three short inductions is usually more effective than a single longer one. This also allows more opportunity for the partner to provide feedback.
    • At the conclusion of each session, suggest that whenever your partner is willing to be hypnotized by you in the future, they will be able to enter hypnosis faster and go deeper each time because of the practice they have had.
    • Always be sure to emphasize how good the partner is going to feel when the session is over, to insure that the experience is an enjoyable one.
Hypnosis Tool