You may know more about self hypnosis than you realize. You may already be under the influence of this technique.
Hypnosis is a term from the Greek word “hypos.” It means to sleep. It results in a hypnotic state. The hypnotic state is one that makes you susceptible to suggestion. It’s a way of circumventing our natural ability to think and reason. You are awake, but it disables your critical thinking centers of the prefrontal cortex.
How Your Religion Uses Self Hypnosis
This technique is how stage hypnotists get people to do outrageous things. It’s easy to hypnotize someone, especially if they are a willing subject. A good hypnotist can make the process look easy. The more you practice it, the better at it you become. It’s the same for the hypnotized person; the subconscious mind becomes more susceptible the more often you allow control.
It’s important to understand that a hypnotic state can take various degrees. One need not be completely catatonic to be in a semi-hypnotic condition. You can still be functionally conscious but will react to response stimulus anyway. Self-hypnosis is a powerful component of group hypnosis or groupthink manipulation. These techniques will override free-will, common sense, and our moral compass.
Hypnotists use the terms “subject” or “participants” to refer to those they hypnotize. “Parishioners” or “believers” are what religions call the people they hypnotize. The con-man refers to those they use these techniques on, a “mark.”
Even if you have never been on stage as a volunteer, you may have been subject to these techniques as an unsuspecting subject, parishioner or mark. Review the following steps or stages to see if this “feels” familiar.
Steps or Stages of Self Hypnosis
Step 1 — Get Permission
Get permission to speak directly to their subconscious. The hypnotist will ask them to agree with being hypnotized in so many words. Giving is a way of taking a position of authority.
They can do it directly by asking, “do I have permission to start.” However, the hypnotist can get permission indirectly. For example, one way it’s done covertly without you knowing is through phrases like, “You agree that we’re all here tonight to learn something important.” Or a more familiar term like, “we are gathered here together.”
These are passive but effective ways to get permission. They will look for subtle agreement, such as nodding of the head. A tactic is to make eye contact and nod your head. Most people will nod back in response.
Step 2 — Focus Their Attention
Galvanize the attention of the person or group. Use a series of emotionally charged questions to hold their attention.
They can use positive statements. For example, the hypnotist will say, “you want to stop smoking, right?” Or they can use negative comments like, “we know XYZ is behind the loss of your jobs.”
You may not want to quit smoking. You like it and enjoy it, but your spouse wants you to stop. So, you agree to the programming even though you are not entirely in agreement. Get them to focus on the positive result instead of fulfilling the immediate desire to smoke.
Another tactic is to blame someone or something. Let’s say you lost your job because of downsizing. There may be no evidence that someone or something is behind the loss of your job. But if you have someone or something to blame, this provides an outlet for your anger.
Step 3 — Access The Subconscious Mind
Bypass their critical thinking faculties using a focal point. As they concentrate on the focal point, to program the subconscious. Programming the subconscious is the crucial stage of self hypnosis.
They will use phrases like, “all you hear is the sound of my voice.” A common tactic in group situations is to get people to follow simple directions. They may say, “let’s close our eyes and pray. At this point, the mind is pliable and susceptible to suggestion.
The hypnotist will often test to ensure the subject or subjects are ready to accept a subliminal suggestion. They will ask for a response like, “tell me, do you feel rested?” Or, “can we agree that this or that is bad?”
Once the hypnotist confirms the rational mind is asleep, they can begin programming a subconscious response.
When the hypnotist works with one person or a small group, they will ask for agreement. They will say, “you are now asleep, isn’t that right?” They will look for subtle responses like nodding the head, etc.
The hypnotist will often use catchphrases to illicit group responses in larger groups. The phrase may not be accurate or on the topic of discussion. It does not matter. The catch-phrase does several things.
First, a focal point unites the group. When others around you agree, you are likely to go along. It is a proven response with group hypnosis or groupthink manipulation. Even those on the fringe who disagree can get caught up in shouting a slogan or catchphrase.
Second, when people have a powerful emotional attachment to the issue, they are more vulnerable to suggestion. When emotionally charged, people will act in ways that violate their moral compass. They will perpetuate violent acts if the subconscious programming is strong enough.
Third, those affected believe that the suggested outcome is their idea. Those under hypnosis will not realize the programming causes their actions. And they may not even think they are doing it. It’s as if you are watching someone else do it.
Step 4 — Insert Post-Hypnotic Suggestion
Program the unconscious response. The programmed subliminal programming can take many forms. We can see the unconscious response acted out when someone does something on stage, like bark like a dog. We don’t see the subliminal suggestion of someone who decides they don’t like the taste of smoking.
A typical post-hypnotic suggestion to stop smoking could be, “when the desire to smoke arises, it will make you feel ill.” The taste of tobacco that used to be pleasurable is now distasteful”. This kind of suggestion doesn’t have a failsafe to end the program. The intent is for it to run continually to break the chain of addiction.
Step 5 — Insert Failsafe Ending
Don’t forget a failsafe to remove the post-hypnotic suggestion. Even temporary suggestions should include a failsafe to remove the hypnotic response. Adding a false is the responsibility of the hypnotist. If they don’t program a way for the post-hypnotic suggestion to stop, someone could end up barking like a dog at inappropriate times the rest of their lives.
We see this effect in those with deeply held hatred and bias. All this person knows on the conscious level is that they hate someone or some group. They don’t realize this response was programmed, and the rationale for their hatred is irrational and baseless.
Step 6 — Test the Post-Hypnotic Response
Test the pre-conditioned response. It is a step in the hypnosis process to reinforce the programmed response. It makes it harder for the subject to resist the programmed stimuli. If the hypnotist sees resistance or doesn’t get a proper response, they may go back to the beginning and make sure they follow the voice or visual cues. Then re-install the programming and test again.
For example, the programmed response is for the subject to hand over their wallet when you say a keyword. You say the keyword, and the person will automatically reach in their pocket and pull out their wallet. But then their natural self-preservation instinct kicks in and signals that something isn’t right.
If the subject hesitates, they have their wallet in their hand but are unsure they “want” to give it away. An experienced hypnotist will recover by returning to step 1. They will ask questions like, “aren’t you supposed to do something after you take out your wallet?”
Step 7 — Activate the Program
The hypnotist will activate the program by bringing the subject back from the state of hypnosis. However, the process isn’t over. The hypnotist will ask several questions to make sure the subject or mark is ready. They will ask how they feel and what they remember. The person hypnotized should not feel disoriented or sick. Ideally, they will have no memory of the session or the post-hypnotic suggestion installed.
A promising sign that the post-hypnotic programming is successful is when the subject tells the hypnotist they are ready to be hypnotized, not realizing the process has is done.
A good con-man is a good hypnotist. They use these same steps to condition their mark to gain their confidence. Narraccists are natural hypnotists and come by many of these tactics by instinct.
What Can Go Wrong?
As we just mentioned, a con-man uses these same techniques subtly. It starts by permitting them, even when you don’t realize it.
A good con-man will use fundamental emotional drivers like fear, anger, or greed. They will ask questions to get you to say yes. Before you know it, they have your confidence and trust.
The next thing you know, you are driving home in a used car that you didn’t set out to buy. Or you realize that you’ve joined a Church and given them your life savings. But in both cases, you think it’s a good thing, and you don’t know why you feel good about it.
Removing a Post-Hypnotic Suggestion
Let’s say you realize you’ve bought a car you didn’t want. Perhaps you find your bank account empty because you gave the church all your money. You can’t take back the vehicle, but you can stop yourself from buying another. You can’t get your money back from the church, but you can stop yourself from giving them your used car.
The process to remove an unwanted post-hypnotic suggestion is the same one used to install the programming. If you have a friend, they can lead you through it. Or you can do it on your own.
Sorry to tell you, but you will need to do this several times to remove the original suggestion. If the hypnotist or preacher failed to add a failsafe, then you’ll need to break it with repetition. For the best results, do it daily. The average to achieve success with something like the urge to buy used cars or give more money to the Church is twenty days.
If you’ve been exposed to additional programming to reinforce the post-hypnotic suggestion, like going to church, it could take more than a few months. We urge caution with the use of self hypnosis techniques.
We don’t recommend experimenting with self or group hypnosis. These are powerful techniques that install scripts in the subconscious mind. Only use this technique with a trusted and qualified hypnotist. Beware of your exposure to these hypnosis techniques in group gatherings.
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(1) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia
Sorry for violating the grammar rule to hyphenate self-hypnosis. The Google keyword has no hyphen.