Practical Guide to Self-Hypnosis, A

Chapter 11

Psychological Aids and Their Function

Psychological or mechanical aids are used to help put the subject in a state of hypnosis. The use of the aids helps increase the suggestibility of the subject toward hypnosis. The two most widely used hypnotic aids are the crystal ball and chain and the 12-inch hypnodisc. One reason is that these two items have no other use or function outside of the area of hypnosis. Therefore, when the hypnotist proceeds to use one of these hypnotic devices, it must follow that a certain mental set, readiness, or receptivity must follow as a result of its introduction into the hypnotic setting. If the subject is uneasy about the hypnotic setting or his response, the introduction of the hypnotic aid can mobilize the subject's defenses which may be on a conscious or unconscious level. Generally, the mental set which follows helps augment whatever hypnotic suggestions are given. Certainly the same mental set would not follow if the hypnotist used a paper clip as a means of helping with the induction of hypnosis. It would only [104] start the subject wondering about the relationship of the paper clip to hypnosis. It obviously isn't in keeping with what the subject expects.

It is important to utilize the subject's expectation as to what he believes takes place in the setting as long as this expectation does not hinder the induction of hypnosis. The mere act of turning down the lights or drawing the curtains before the hypnotist begins to work with the subject is a non-verbal suggestion which can be considered as a psychological aid. The subject knows that the hypnotist is ready to begin at this point. Actually, it isn't necessary to darken the room at any time to induce hypnosis. Doesn't the stage hypnotist work with glaring lights? The room is darkened (and I might add that I use this procedure myself) mainly for the psychological effect. If I feel that this procedure might cause anxiety, I proceed with the room undarkened.

In discussing psychological aids, it is agreed that we are primarily interested in seeing the subject feel better or achieve whatever goals he seeks through the intelligent application of self-hypnosis. If a hypnotic aid will help the subject achieve hypnosis, we can concur it is justified. It is not to be considered a subterfuge. If the physician administers a placebo to a patient with the remark, "Here is a new medication that can help your condition" and if this technique does help alleviate the patient's condition, it is considered good medicine.

You know beforehand that in using the 12-inch hypnodisc, the subject's eyes must begin to water, his eyelids must get heavy, and eventually he must close them. Even before you begin to use the hypnodisc, you suggest that these conditions will take place. During the induction of hypnosis, as these reactions are noted by the subject, a [105] favorable, psychological attitude automatically develops which, in turn, helps further suggestions. If the subject reacts favorably to suggestions A, B, and C, it follows that he is more prone to accept suggestions D, E, and F which are therapeutic in nature. The subject can relate better to the latter suggestions when he has seen proof of his initial suggestibility. This approach works better than beginning immediately with the latter suggestions. The build-up of suggestions convinces the subject he is in a heightened state of suggestibility and can benefit from the therapeutic suggestions of the hypnotist or his own. Perhaps this needed assurance is so helpful because it eliminates the anxiety of the subject concerning his suggestibility. He seeks and needs the satisfaction of knowing he has attained the prerequisites necessary before any therapeutic program can benefit him. The subject's prerequisites need not be actually related to the hypnotic process, per se, but merely match his preconceived ideas about what is necessary. Let me give you an example.

Many subjects feel that they must experience amnesia before they can benefit from hypnotic suggestions. This premise is inaccurate since favorable and lasting results can be achieved in any degree of hypnosis, depending, of course, on the nature of the problem. Let me relate several interesting occurrences that take place every so often in my own practice as a professional hypnotist. A subject who is responding well to hypnosis, but not to the point of amnesia, insists that he will not benefit until he is "knocked out" and doesn't remember what happened. Trying to convince him otherwise proves fatal. He just refuses to accept whatever explanation you give him. My own method is not to insist that the subject is wrong, but somehow to use his misconception in a constructive manner. [106] After getting him into a cataleptic state, I suggest that I am going to stop talking for five minutes, during which time he is to mentally repeat "sleep" as he slowly and deeply inhales and "deep sleep" as he slowly exhales. At the end of this time, he'll be in a very deep hypnotic state. Instead of remaining quiet for five minutes, I take ten minutes. I then begin to whisper suggestions to the subject to determine if he is still under hypnosis or asleep. If he is asleep, I let him remain asleep for a still longer period of time, after which interval I awaken him. I ask him if he remembers what I said to him during the time he was deeply hypnotized. If he says, "No," I remark, "Very good." I further point out to him that he has now experienced amnesia and will now make rapid strides. The subject, on the other hand, is pleased to see that I now agree with him, and, in fact, the interesting result is that he does make excellent progress because his preconceived requirements have been met. It should be pointed out that I keep working with the subject until such time that he falls asleep. The transition from hypnosis to sleep is normal. It is easy for the subject to fall asleep because he is so relaxed.

Let me tell you of a similar experience. Before telling you of this psychological technique, it is only fair to point out that the professional hypnotist varies his approach from subject to subject, not only to suit the needs of the subject but to break the monotony of using only a few successful procedures. His experimentation helps develop not only new procedures, but new concepts relative to the general nature of hypnosis and its many ramifications. I was interested to see what would happen to a subject if he thought he was deeply hypnotized without ever giving him verbal suggestions or reassurance that he would feel [107] better or overcome his problem. Of course, if the technique did not work quickly, I would drop the procedure for a more orthodox approach. Instead of trying to really hypnotize the subject, my aim is to get him to sleep. Once he is asleep, I let him remain so for about 30 minutes. Without having ever given him a therapeutic suggestion, I awaken him and inquire if he remembered what happened. If the answer is, "No," I tell him I'll "hypnotize" him again next week and this concludes the visit. When he returns next week, I ask him, "How did you feel during the week?" The answer is generally, "Much better." I keep repeating this procedure until such time that the individual has attained the goals that he seeks.

I know that the reader may be surprised that I would divulge such an unconventional procedure. The principle is the same as the physician using a placebo. I do so to illustrate the point that I made earlier in this chapter that so long as certain of the subject's requirements are met, whether valid or invalid, the subject's suggestibility is greatly enhanced. Naturally, the unsuspecting subject equated the period of not remembering, which was, as we know, true sleep, with the somnambulistic state. Actually, he was helped by self-hypnosis because he felt he would now make progress because he proved to be such an excellent subject. It is true, he was not using self-hypnosis as has been outlined in this book, but he had now achieved a heightened state of suggestibility (hypnosis) and was using this state to further his own ends.

The attainment of self-hypnosis can be an intricate and elusive procedure as I have already pointed out. The purpose of the entire book is to instruct, point out and give you the necessary understanding and knowledge required to achieve this end. Without this understanding, this can [108] become a very frustrating effort. It is hoped that by understanding and being aware of some of the ramifications of hypnosis, you will be able to achieve your goal in the quickest possible time. It should also be pointed out that no two subjects react in the same way and that different methods and requirements are necessary to suit the individual. It is a mistake to try to make the subject adhere to a rigid methodology. The greater flexibility of the hypnotic procedures, the greater the chance for success. Let me, at this time, further discuss some of the hypnotic aids that are used in the induction of hypnosis.

We have already discussed the use of the hypnodisc and crystal ball and chain. The same principles are involved in any other object which is used as a means of fixation or of tiring the eyes. Hypnotic phonograph records and hypnotic tape recordings represent new devices that have been instrumental in conditioning subjects for self-hypnosis. The subject plays the record or tape on his phonograph or tape recorder and is conditioned over a period of time to respond to hypnosis at a given signal or phrase. He, in turn, can change this key phrase to one of his own choosing. Should you own or have access to a tape recorder, I would suggest recording an induction of hypnosis and playing it back to yourself in this manner as though you were hypnotizing someone else.

I have produced three different hypnotic records and a 30-minute hypnotic tape containing the three records which are sold commercially. One record, called the Musical Hypnotic Record, has a very pleasant, relaxing musical background as the voice of the hypnotist induces hypnosis. The second record, called the Metronome Hypnotic Record, incorporates the monotonous and lulling beat of an electric metronome in the background. The [109] subject is instructed to mentally repeat "sleep" as he slowly inhales and "deep sleep" as he slowly exhales in rhythm with the beat of the metronome. While the subject is concentrating on this activity, the voice of the hypnotist induces hypnosis. The third record, called Self-Hypnosis Record No. 3, contains only the voice of the hypnotist inducing hypnosis. It features a unique approach and technique.

I have had a great deal of correspondence with those who have used these phonograph records and the hypnotic tape for conditioning themselves for self-hypnosis. The results are quite interesting and run the range of immediate results to no results. One person wrote that one of the records hypnotized him at the first playing and conditioned him for self-hypnosis, whereas he had failed to respond to hypnosis after many visits to one of the country's foremost authorities. I have had similar experiences after having failed to hypnotize a subject despite many attempts. I can only speculate that the subjects in these cases unconsciously resist the hypnotist because they feel a personal threat. Since the record is impersonal, they are better able to relax and subsequently be hypnotized. Interestingly, this occurred when the subject was convinced that he was a very difficult subject. It would seem that only then was the conditioned response pattern finally established. The basic function of the hypnotic records and hypnotic tape is to establish a conditioned response pattern to a given stimulus. In time, most subjects are conditioned by the intelligent and systematic use of these recordings.

Let me describe another varied approach to achieving self-hypnosis. One of the chief assets of a good hypnotist is to be flexible in his approach in hypnotizing his subjects. [110] As I have already pointed out, it is necessary many times to adopt a technique that is suitable to the subject and not to make the subject adapt himself to the method of induction.

We know that with somnambulistic subjects any procedure will put the subject under hypnosis immediately. The hypnotist gains complete control of his subject as the subject is able to put himself in the proper psychological frame of mind for hypnosis. Unfortunately, most subjects do not respond at the first session or sessions because of conscious or subconscious fears that must be gradually eliminated. Once you get the subject to relax, or "let go," he will naturally succumb to hypnosis. This is the problem that confronts all hypnotists.

Merely suggesting to the subject to relax is not sufficient, as a rule, to bring about this desired mental state. The subject, at this point, cannot easily turn on or off his mental and physical feelings. Even if we have the subject lie down, this does not assure the hypnotic state as the subject can still be tense. Our main problem is to get the subject relaxed. Our situation is similar to the physician telling his patient to go home and forget about a certain problem. I'm sure you'll agree that the advice is virtually impossible to follow.

One of the major stumbling blocks in hypnotizing a subject or in self-hypnosis lies in the fact that although we use terms such as "relax," "let yourself go," and others, the subject cannot readily put the meaning of these words into effect. It is difficult for most people to let go when we live in a society that beckons us to "look sharp," "be sharp," "be alert," "be on the ball" and "make every minute count." Emphasis on productivity does not lend to a society of relaxed individuals.[111]

In my long experience as a professional hypnotist, I have tried many novel innovations for inducing hypnosis and teaching individuals self-hypnosis. Some have met with a great deal of success and others have failed. It is, furthermore, difficult to determine the causal factors for success or failure. We can only theorize.

I have used the following unorthodox technique for about a period of 15 years. Exceptionally good results have been attained with it, although it must be admitted that it is not infallible. It is suggested to you as another good technique. In order to help the subject relax, I have been using a phonograph record or tape that I recorded containing the continuous sound of various degrees of rain. One side has a half hour of very soft, light rainfall such as you have experienced in listening to rain falling on grass, canvas or a tent top. The other side or track contains a half hour of rain effects such as one would hear in a heavy downfall with loud splatterings of water on the pavement. The record and tape were originally designed to help insomnia sufferers and later incorporated into the hypnotic procedure.

The subject is instructed to close his eyes and listen to the sound of the rain while picturing himself relaxing near a warm, glowing fireplace. As you can note, the subject again incorporates the visual-imagery technique. The relaxing effect thus produced over a period of time enhances his chances of success in attaining a deep, hypnotic state.

There are many other interesting and unique devices and aids you can use for inducing hypnosis. Rather than present them all in this book, I have fully described them and their technique of operation in a 144-page illustrated catalog. This catalog not only contains a list of hypnotic [112] aids, but a description and listing of over 450 hypnotism and self-help books. Upon request, I shall be pleased to send it to you. Write to: Melvin Powers, 12015 Sherman Road, No. Hollywood, California 91605 and ask for Hypnotic Catalog No. 7. Should you have any questions on self-hypnosis or hetero-hypnosis, I shall be pleased to answer you.


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