Stories About Hypnotism
Sometimes examples can help a person to know what to expect. A number of experiences involving hypnosis might give you a better idea of how the process works.
For example, I once hypnotized a woman to do her master's thesis. She finally began doing it, but believed it had nothing to do with having been hypnotized.
One night she was working, and thought to herself, "I want to keep working, but I need to get my sleep so I can do an even better job tomorrow." Then she thought, "Oh, my goodness -- those are the exact words he said to me."
Then she did believe that being hypnotized had something to do with it. But she had had no "feeling" that seemed to make her do it. She simply had less of a resistance in her motivation, which had impelled her not to do it, or to put off until later.
Likewise, I once hypnotized a man to lose weight. He was convinced that he had not been hypnotized, because he could hear everything going on around him (which is normal.)
He attended a meeting where there was a buffet, and he just took small portions of healthy foods. But he was convinced that he just "decided to do it." I was unable to convince him that that is the usual experience. Before that time he had been unable to simply make that choice, and carry it out.
In other words, hypnosis increases your free will, by allowing your conscious, reasoning mind to decide what you will do. Some people make remarks that they fear hypnosis decreases their free will, but the truth is just the opposite. One does not "freely" choose to smoke, if he wants to quit smoking, but has difficulty doing that.
Recently on TV, Howie Mandell was hypnotized, and shook hands with everybody around him, believing they were wearing thin rubber gloves. (He generally will not touch anybody's hands.) He did this because he was willing to do so. That is, he volunteered to be hypnotized, knowing the hypnotist was going to have him do something odd.
Inside a hypnotized person is a "silent observer," that can determine what is really going on. If one's "silent observer" decides it is something he would never do, such as a crime or endangering himself, then they will not do it.
In one instance, I was hypnotizing a woman, who suddenly popped her eyes open and said, "I don't want to not like food. I want to like food, but choose not to eat it." In other words, I was not able to give her a suggestion that she was unwilling to accept. You are in charge of what suggestions are acceptable to you, and which are not.
I once hypnotized a class to exercise. The next week, one of the students came back, and said that he was sore all over, because he had been exercising all week.
"Oh," I said. "So it worked."
"No," he said, "I've been planning to do this for a long time. I just hadn't gotten around to it until now."
"Well, you remember, that is what the suggestion said. That you would find the time to do it."
However, I could not convince him that being hypnotized had anything to do with it, or that feeling that one "just decided to do it" is the normal way that it happens.
A woman in a hypnotism class asked me if she bought a non-smoking tape, if it would stop her son-in-law from smoking. "Does he want to stop smoking?" "No." Then there is no way the tape would stop her son-in-law from smoking, even if he listened to it, which he probably would not.
My grandmother taught herself self-hypnosis, when she was a little girl, though she didn't call it that. When she wanted to go to sleep, she just imagined she was a sack of potatoes, and that one of the potatoes would roll out of the sack, and the rest of the sack would shift a little bit.
Then another potato would roll out of the sack, and so on. Soon she would be asleep.
When she grew up, she used the same technique when she was having babies, and had five children without pain. She taught my sister her technique, and my sister had her children without pain.
All the same, my grandmother was always suspicious of "hypnotism," as something spooky, if it was called by that name.
Suggestion without a trance
I was once eating some tuna and watching TV. There was a story about a drought in Africa, that showed a dry lake with dead fish laying on it. It was disgusting and I was revulsed that I could actually smell it. Then I realized I was smelling my tuna.
I once offered a root beer to a Chinese friend. He answered, "No, thanks. Root beer has always had a sort of medicinal taste to me."
When I took the first sip from my own, it reminded me of medicine. It tasted exactly the same as always, but just reminded me of a medicinal taste. For a long time, I disliked root beer, which continued to remind me of medicine.
When my sister was in high school, she once brought some joke plastic "vomit" to school and placed it on the teacher's desk. Students coming into the classroom said they could smell it, and some of them became nauseous.
I just saw a news report of an airplane passenger who passed out. Several other passengers then passed out. The pilot dropped the oxygen masks and landed at the nearest airport. The people who had passed out were revived. The second person who passed out apparently thought there was something in the air that affected the first one, and passed out also. Then others who saw this also passed out, based on the belief they were being affected by the air.
Years ago, a women was taken to an emergency room, and one of the staff passed out. Others on the staff then began passing out, and they suspected that some chemical was coming from the patient that was poisoning them. No evidence of this was ever found, and it was concluded that the staff were victims of mass hypnosis, in the belief that something in the air was affecting them.
A hypnotic trance is not always necessary in order for a suggestion to be effective. Advertisers and sales people use that fact all the time, with the use of well chosen words, and picturesque speech containing vivid imagery, referring to emotions or desires, rather than data, or command statements, like "Enjoy Coca-Cola." Likewise, relaxing music in stores is intended to put you into a more receptive state, to respond to advertising.
Limitations of Hypnotism
A woman once came to me, who said she had three jobs, and wanted to start full-time college without quitting her jobs. She also wanted to participate in an athletic program, and run the decathlon expecting to try for the Olympics. She said she often felt tired, and wanted me to hypnotize her "to have more initiative." I told her she already had more initiative than anybody I had ever met, but I couldn't make her have more than 24 hours in a day. In fact, she needed to get more sleep.
I told her if she was to go to college full time, she would have to quit one or two of her jobs, she might need to take a roommate, and she might have to do without a car, and perhaps get a bicycle instead. She said she was totally unwilling to do any of that, but I didn't hypnotize her.
Incidentally, it occurs to me that the picture above can be deceptive. We can fail many times, but that does not make us "a failure." It just means we tried something that didn't work. So long as we realize that, we can safely use that word.