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A learning center for hypnosis and self hypnosis education. A resource for finding professional referrals for hypnosis treatment of medical and psychotherapeutic issues. A learning center for hypnosis and self hypnosis education. A resource for finding professional referrals for hypnosis treatment of medical and psychotherapeutic issues.
Member: American Psychotherapy and Medical Hypnosis Association
What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis: Fact and Fiction
Is Hypnosis Dangerous?
Ideomotor Action
Semantic-Imagery Relaxation
Structuring Auto-Suggestions
Administrating Auto-Suggestions
Deepening the Hypnotic Trance
Testing the Hypnotic Trance
Emotional Behavior
Neuro-Dynamics
Psychosomatic Disorders
Rules of the Mind
Language
The Power of Creative Imagination
How to Set Realistic Goals
Self-Inventory
You Can Learn to Relax
Glossary of Terms
Finding a Hypnotherapist Near You
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Hypnosis Training For Professionals
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Hypnosis Learning Modules

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Module 5 -- Waking Suggestions A

Ideomotor Action There are many hypnotic techniques that depend on leading the subject (directly or by inference) to believe that there is a power or force involved in the process of producing hypnosis. This is not our intention. We do not want to develop any false beliefs. In fact we hope to remove even the smallest shred of implication that may connect these techniques with any mysterious, supernatural power or force. We hope to establish a firm belief in the scientific basis of these techniques. In the experiments that follow, the responses are evoked by ideas and images in the mind of the subject. These ideas and images create impulses in the brain that trigger muscular activity appropriate to the idea of action in the individual's thought processes. This muscular activity is initially very weak. It is only a small fraction of the activity that would result if the subject were to actually perform the full movement instead of just imagining he is doing so. It has been demonstrated many times using delicate electronic instruments that when a person thinks about performing a physical act (i.e., tying a knot), the muscles that would be used to actually perform the action become energized. The movements are small and are difficult to observe with the naked eye, but they always exist. This is true for every normal human being. If you think about playing a piano, there will be muscular activity affecting the fingers generated. You have no control over this phenomenon it just happens. In the experiments that follow, the presence of another pattern of strong muscular action or tension involving the same muscles or part of them will mask or block the weak pattern induced by thoughts. For this reason, a certain amount of relaxation seems to favor ideomotor action. However, too much relaxation can be counter productive. A certain amount of general muscle tonus is desirable for optimal effect. Deep relaxation produces an active inhibitory effect, which serves as a blocking agent in respect to muscular activity. Chevreul's Pendulum--This is one of the oldest demonstrations of suggestibility, but a very enlightening one. Chevreul, in 1812, was the first to recognize the nature of the phenomenon involved. It is of interest because it is one of the simplest experiments to perform. Despite its simplicity, it can be used to demonstrate several of the properties of suggestibility. It can also be used to get an indication of an individual's susceptibility to hypnosis. Before you attempt to use this experiment, you should read the entire demonstration. There are many ways of performing this experiment, and later on when you are more familiar with it, you can use your own version of it. If you are just learning hypnosis, you should try the experiment on yourself. If you have a helper, try the experiment on each other. First you have to make a pendulum. This is nothing but a small weight hanging on a thread or string. If you want to be more professional, use a light chain instead of string. You can probably buy a pendulum at a magic shop; most have intriguing pendulums made from crystal, plastic, glass or onyx. Some may have "magic" potions or exotic substances embedded in the spheres. However, your homemade one will work just as well. You can use a spherical button about inch in diameter tied to the end of an ordinary piece of thread about 10 inches long. See Figure 1. Actually the color and shape are unimportant. You should try this experiment yourself. Sit at a table; rest your forearm (left or right) near the front edge of the table. Rest your other elbow with your arm lifted vertically a little in front of your other arm. Hold the end of the thread attached to your pendulum, between your thumb and first finger. The pendulum should hang in front of the center of your body (medium plane) and the bob should be approximately an inch from the tabletop. See Figure 2. Actually, none of these details are crucial. If you just approximate them, the experiment is almost certain to succeed. In fact, if you don't have a table, you can do the experiment standing up.


Use your free hand to steady the weight so that it comes to a standstill. Now imagine a line on the table running from left to right. As you imagine the line, the pendulum will begin to swing, slightly at first, back and forth along the line. Another variation is to imagine that the pendulum is the pendulum on a grandfather's clock. In your imagination, see it swing from side to side like a pendulum on a clock. Once it starts to swing, it will increase its motion even if you think intermittently of something else, as long as your thoughts do not involve a different motion. See Figure 3.

After you have the pendulum swinging for a while imagine that it is swinging on a line going toward and away from you. As you develop this image, the pendulum will slow down and then begin to swing with increasing amplitude back and forth, toward and away from you. After you have done this for awhile, imagine that the pendulum is on the outer edge of a phonograph record and is going around and around in a circle. See Figure 4.

Once you get the pendulum going well in one direction, you can cause it to stop and then revolve in the opposite direction, or just make it stand still. It will obey whatever thought you have in your mind. See Figure 5.

You will probably succeed with the experiment as presented, very few people fail. If you do not get any positive results, do not give up. Some individuals have to try several times before they can get more than small irregular motions. Try a number of times on consecutive days. Try using different lengths of thread and different bobs, some heaver or lighter. The movement in your fingers is very small. It is the length of the thread that amplifies the motion. In general, the longer the thread the greater the motion. If you still have difficulty, try drawing a large circle with a cross inside that touches the circle at four points on a piece of paper. See Figure 6 below. Place the paper on the table and try the experiment again. This time start with the pendulum over the intersection of the straight lines and imagine it swinging in the direction of one of the lines. Let your eyes follow along one of the lines as you think of the pendulum following it.

Regardless of the results you have obtained experimenting on yourself, try it using a subject (your helper). Give him the pendulum and have him sit at the table. Instruct him to concentrate on the bob and pay close attention to what you tell him. Then say: [Note: The suggestions given here and in the following experiments are intended to be taken only as models. All situations in which suggestions are given tend to be unique in various aspects. You should use your own words, and tailor your suggestions as the situation demands.]

"I would like you to look at the small bob. Fix your attention on it. Don't think of anything but the bob and what I am going to tell you. Let yourself relax and continue to stare at the bob. As you watch the bob you will see that it begins to move a little. In which direction it moves is unimportant. It is going to move, a little at first, then a little more. It is beginning to move a little now, it is beginning to swing. See it is moving a little. Just keep watching it. Think of it as moving. As you do it will move more and more."

By this time the bob should be moving. As soon as you can determine the direction it is beginning to move in, suggest that it is moving in that direction. If it seems to be moving in a circular motion, suggest that it is moving in a circle. If it seems to be moving sideways, continue as follows:

"See, it is moving sideways. It is moving back and forth, back and forth. [If possible, synchronize your voice with the actual motion of the bob.] It is swinging more strongly, back and forth, back and forth. Now you cannot stop the bob from moving. If you try to stop the bob it only makes it move faster, back and forth." [Only give the suggestion that the subject cannot stop the bob, if you are getting a good response.].

Lets stop here and analyze the procedures and suggestions we have used. It is important that you understand the reasons for each step we have asked you to follow. This will help you better relate practice to theory and fact. One obvious application of theory and fact is the request to have the subject fixate on the bob of the pendulum. If this induces any degree of hypnosis, our suggestions will be more effective. In any case, the focusing of attention on the bob will probably tend to prevent stray thoughts from entering the subject's mind, which could compete with those being suggested. If you suggest that the pendulum is going to move, you don't want the subject thinking "He says it is going to move, I wonder if it will really move, I remember seeing a pendulum on a clock moving, I guess I shouldn't be doubting..." Focusing his attention on the bob will tend to prevent these kinds of thoughts from passing through his mind.

The effectiveness of suggestions depends on several factors. There is the subject's innate capacity for ideomotor action or innate suggestibility. Another factor is his attitude. A negative attitude will certainly not help, while a positive one will help. A negative attitude will set up muscular tension patterns that interact with those set up by the suggestions. Abstract conditioning, which is also a part of suggestibility, is relatively sensitive to attitudes. For this reason, proper timing, as well as the proper choice of words is of paramount importance in giving effective suggestions. If you should tell the subject, contrary to facts, that something is occurring or is going to happen, he is likely to form an unfavorably mind set. However, if he experiences events taking place as they are suggested, he tends to form a positive mind set for subsequent suggestions. Therefore, in the Chevreul pendulum experiment you do not want to tell your subject that the bob is moving in a circle if it is in fact moving sideways. If you want the subject to make the bob move in a circle when it is moving sideways, tell him: "The bob is swinging very strongly now. Soon it will begin to change its course and move in a circle. It is going to move in a circle. See, it is beginning to change its motion now. Soon it will move in a circle. There, it is beginning to move in a circle."

You may want to experiment with the way you initially suggest how the pendulum will move. You might start by suggesting it will move in a certain way or direction or you might suggest the pendulum is going to move, but not specify a direction. The main point is to watch what the pendulum is doing and tailor your suggestions accordingly. You want to be sure that the subject experiences what is being suggested. This is a prerequisite for the production of abstract conditioning. If your suggestions contradict what is actually occurring, this conditioning will certainly not take place, and a negative, inhibition-like effect may be induced.

Timing and Proper Wording

Timing and proper wording means, among other things, that when you give suggestions you should alter the model suggestions given in this module to fit various situations you encounter. Subjects tend to react in individual ways. Some will respond very slowly, others very quickly, some will produce motion of large amplitudes, and others will only produce slight motions at the start. You will have to tailor your suggestions accordingly. For example, if there is a large movement of the pendulum immediately after you have suggested movement, then right away say: "See it is moving." If the movement should be sideways, continue by saying that it will be a sideways motion and enhance the motion by saying: "It is moving sideways more and more ... more ... and more ... It is swinging more and more strongly." You may want to change the motion into a circular motion by saying: "It is moving sideways now, but as you continue to focus on the pendulum, the motion will begin to change into a circular one. Soon the bob will begin to rotate ... round ... and round. Think of a circle ... See the motion is changing. It's moving in a circle. The circle is getting larger, the pendulum is moving faster."

Often the pendulum will oscillate and even swing a little from the beginning, even before you have given any suggestions, because the subject's hand is not perfectly steady. Obviously, it would be absurd to tell the subject that the pendulum is going to move when it is already moving. In this situation, impress on the subject that he should relax and not be tense. You can also hold the bob, and keep it still for a moment. If you cannot prevent some initial movement and the subject is aware of it, then call the subjects attention to it in the following way: "You may notice that the bob is moving a little, Don't pay any attention to this, it is because your hand is shaking a little. However, in a few moments you will notice that the bob will move more strongly. You will also notice that it begins to move in a definite direction, perhaps sideways, right and left, or around and around, in a circle ... It will move...See it is already moving a little stronger ... It is definitely getting stronger. Now it is moving from side to side (or whatever way it is moving)."

Because you want to time your suggestions properly, you usually should not go to fast in giving your suggestions. If you do, you may tell the subject something is happening before it happens. However, there may be times when there are indications that an event is going to take place. In such cases, you can suggest that it is occurring. Sometimes a suggested event occurs so quickly after the suggestion of its future occurrence that you will have to immediately make a positive statement about its occurrence.

One way you can prevent yourself from getting ahead too fast is to use repetition. Also repetition enhances suggestibility in a cumulative manner. You may find that a subject gives a very weak response to a suggestion, or no apparent response at all. Through repetition alone it is possible build on the suggested idea to the point where a response is clearly detected. Another way repetition helps the effectiveness of suggestions is through monotony. Monotony is believed by many hypnotists to have the ability to bring on the hypnotic state.

The basic idea in this experiment is to get the subject to think of the pendulum as moving without conflicting thoughts occurring. The pendulum will move in response to his thinking and the ease with which it occurs will give you some indication (although not conclusive) of his ability to enter the hypnotic state. Experiment with the pendulum phenomena until you are thoroughly familiar with them, and your subject's responses to them. In module six we will present a number of experiments that operate on the same principle. They represent other demonstrations of psychical control over our physiological responses and will facilitate in developing the hypnotic state.

Continue to Module 6 - Waking Suggestions B



The instructions presented are from the personal collections and writing library of Mr. Robert E. Cutter, who died December 13, 2001, while in the process of completing the transfer of his work to the internet. These are offered as educational instruction only. The purpose of this instruction is the effective learning and use of hypnotic techniques for vocational or avocational self-improvement. This instruction is not offered as a substitute for, nor as a supplement to, any form of therapy concerned with physical, mental, nervous or emotional illness. Robert E. Cutter served as web consultant for American Psychotherapy and Medical Hypnosis Association for three years. His hypnosis education came through the training he provided at a school he owned in the 1950's in Los Angeles, California, along with his wife who preceded him in death in 1980. Robert Cutter was not a psychologist and did not practice psychotherapy, but his interest in hypnosis motivated him to provide free resources materials for others who wanted to learn to use the power of their minds to improve well being and health-related issues.
Michael A. Robinson, R.N.- BC Psychiatry
Licensed Texas State Nursing Board Registered Nurse
Texas State Nursing Board Certified in Psychiatry
In Honor and Memory of Robert E. Cutter, B.S. 1923-d.2001
From the Writings of Robert Cutter's Self Hypnosis Center
About Feelings Network
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