From the book, "Hypnotherapy" by Dave Elman.
Since the early days hypnosis has worn a cloak of mysticism. The mysticism quickly disappears when you study the subject, but the name hypnosis, derived from the Greek word "Hypnos",the God of Sleep, is constantly getting in the way of a proper understanding. Hypnosis is no more like sleep than night is like day.
Once you examine hypnosis clinically, you find it doesn't look, act nor feel like you think it should. The sooner you forget your preconceived notions, the sooner you'll learn what it is, how it acts, and how you can use it in your practice.
You probably think that in a few short sessions you will become an expert hypnotist. All you can do is to show a person how to go over the hurdle from a normal waking or sleeping state into the special state of mind known as hypnosis.
Those of us who practice the art of suggestion must admit if we are honest, that we have no power. Remember the injunction: "All men are created equal." There is nothing I do that you can't do. The only difference is that I possess certain knowledge which looks magical in operation. But given that knowledge, any feat I can do, you can do. Knowledge will give you power.
When we practice hypnosis, we become in reality "hypnotic operators," or '.Dream Pilots." For a1l hypnosis, once you have taught the subject how to achieve the trance state, the subject willing, you become the one who stimulates his imagination in the hypnotic state. If you're a good dream pilot, you'll give him good dreams. It's a pleasant idea to think that you can stimulate the imagination of almost everyone, and cause pleasant thoughts above and beyond those which are usually deemed possible.
I stressed the words, "The subject willing"? That's because you cannot give a suggestion to the subject unless he is willing to respond it. At all times and in all degrees of hypnosis the subject has full and complete power of selectivity, and reacts only to those suggestions which are acceptable to him.
At this point you are probably saying to yourself, "Impossible! I saw someone hypnotized once and he did the craziest things imaginable. Don't try to tell me that if he was in his right mind, he'd do that. If he wasn't hypnotized he wouldn't have taken such outlandish suggestions." If you accept my theory of "Dream Pilot" you'll quickly agree with me. There have been times in your own life when you've had outlandish dreams. Those crazy things you saw someone do in hypnosis were merely dreams induced by an operator, and you were watching a dream in action.
Most current books on hypnosis stress the fact that the hypnotized subject is "en rapport" with the operator. They seldom add that the subject is also "en rapport" with himself, for he can give himself auto-suggestions, and anyone can give the hypnotized subject a suggestion. and if the subject wants to take it. he will take it. But if he doesn't want the suggestion, he won't take it from anyone. including the operator. Clever operators find many ways to get around these seeming paradoxes, but it is an actual fact that if you take a person who has never known the word "hypnosis" nor has heard anything about the phenomenon and induce hypnosis, he may take suggestions from anybody, unless counter-suggestions are given.
Yet, amenable to suggestion as he is, the subject, in the final analysis, is in complete control. Let me repeat: It always seems to the outsider that the operator is in control. That is a fallacy. In every stage of hypnosis the subject is in control, and it only requires a crisis to prove that point. Let the crisis arrive and the hypnotized subject will either reject the suggestion and continue in the state or he will reject the suggestion by coming out of the trance.
The subject in the trance state has complete possession of all his faculties-he can hear-think for himself-speak -see -feel -and although in many cases, he looks unconscious. he is completely aware and can cooperate. Above and beyond all this, he has, in addition, the ability to give him~ self selective awareness or unawareness at will. He can accept or reject a suggestion as he pleases.
Let's state it another way: In hypnosis, the Body and Mind go into a state in which body and mind are equally suggestible. Remember, hypnosis has an effect not only on the conscious mind. but on the unconscious mind too. It has an effect on the autonomic nervous system. Therefore, when we take a person into the suggestible state and give him good dreams, his sensations upon awaking will be physical as well as h1ental. Physically he will be refreshed and invigorated. He will have had a pleasant experience.
When you see the way people react under suggestion, then you realize that with every individual you are going to get a different reaction, and you should 'be able to respond to those reactions, and know what to do in every case.
That is why your knowledge of the subject should be complete and entire. Never be in a position where you can be taken by surprise at an individual reaction. All reactions are individual and therefore different. Maybe there will be two similar reactions, and if you hypnotize thousands of people, you will begin to categorize reactions. But there will always be people who, in the suggestible state react like no one you ever saw before. No one can learn hypnosis thoroughly by observing it on others.
You must experience it yourself to know how different it is from the things you've heard and read about it. To completely understand it you must do more than see it from the inside looking in You must also experience it from the inside looking out. You will find hypnosis a pleasant state and will probably want to try it. Instead of resisting and fighting it, as your knowledge increases and your fear decreases, and the fallacies about hypnosis are cleared up for you, you will reach the stage where you will not only want it for yourself, but you will be able to hypnotize yourself. There is no one who can't be hypnotized.
There is no such thing as you not being hypnotizable. A hypnotized person will not take a harmful suggestion. Since he can hear, and all his senses are particularly acute in the hypnotic state, the law of self-preservation governs him in it, just as it governs him out of it. That is why in the history of the world, no one has been injured by hypnosis. Writers devote reams to the moot point: Could a crime be done by hypnosis?
But it has never been done because that is the long way around to commit a crime. Hypnosis has been in the hands of charlatans, fakes, dubs, amateurs and quack" for a long, long time, but you still have to find the first documented case on record which will bear investigation, where a person in a suggestible state has hurt himself or others. You may be sure that you can't do lasting damage with hypnosis.
We have conducted thousands of tests and in all cases one of two things happen if an improper suggestion is given: The subject either terminates the trance state, refusing the suggestion that way;
or he remains in the trance state but refuses to carry out the suggestion.