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Module 7 -- Waking Suggestions C

Backward Postural Sway
This experiment is only slightly more difficult than the preceding ones. However, you cannot practice this experiment on yourself. If possible you need a subject. If you do not have a helper (subject), you can practice on an imaginary person.

Learning a suggestion also means learning complex coordination of movement and speech. While it is true that mere recitation of suggestions can bring about a desire effect with some subjects, as will be seen later, most situations will require the hypnotist to do a number of other things while giving suggestions. It is very important that such activities are an integral part of the suggestion procedure, and the entire process is as smooth as possible.

Because speed of delivery, intonation, inflection and voice volume are crucial factors, you should practice giving suggestions aloud as much as possible. If you have a tape recorder, it would be a good idea to record your delivery and play it back.

Usually giving suggestions requires that you are standing near the subject, and requires certain motions on your part. Therefore, if you do not have a subject to practice on, you should imagine that you are giving the suggestions to some other person. Role-playing can be extremely useful here. As you continue to practice, you should imagine yourself faced with different situations and change your suggestions accordingly. If possible practice near a full-length mirror. You might use your reflection in the mirror as the subject.

When giving suggestions, your voice and manner should be that of a guide or instructor with no attempt at dominance or control. You should be familiar enough with the entire procedure to retain the over-all concept as you practice. It is not necessary for you to memorize the entire text of the suggestions as given here. Identical wording is not as important as identical meaning.

Although the structure and verbal content of a suggestion is of primary importance, the effectiveness of a suggestion can be greatly improved by a proper use of vocal expression. Quickening of the delivery combined with increasing stress upon critical words in the last half or last third of a suggestion will often increase the response. This is particularly true if there are some indications that the response is beginning to occur. Similarly, changing to an assertive, effective, dynamic expression when the responses are beginning to take place is more effective than continuing in a flat tone of voice. The transition itself has an effect that appears to reinforce the idea that now something is really happening. This not only conveys to the subject that what we have been predicting is now occurring, but the change in our vocal expression indicates to him that we are aware of it, which tends to make it more real to him.

Now, lets assume that you have a person who has volunteered to be a subject. We will also assume that he has little or no knowledge of hypnosis. You might start by saying something like the following to the subject: "I do not know how much knowledge you have about hypnotism, so I would like to tell you a few things about what we are going to do so you will not have any misconceptions about it. First of all, I am not going to put you asleep. I will also tell you if, or when, I intend to hypnotize you. The first thing we are going to do is see how you respond to suggestions. This primarily depends upon how well you are able to cooperate with me. This is not a test of wills. If you have made up your mind to resist, and not to cooperate with me, we might as well quit now. I have absolutely no intention of trying to overcome your will. But if you are willing to cooperate, and do exactly as I ask, we should be able to perform some interesting things. Not only will you find this a very interesting experience, but one that will be beneficial to you in the long run. Before we begin, if you have any questions, I will be glad to answer them." If the subject should have questions, try to briefly answer them. After this, proceed as follows with the experiment.

This experiment is known as "suggested postural sway." In the model suggestions, the words in larger type indicate that they should be said with emphasis. This is obtained partly by a rise in voice volume. Smaller type will indicate a decrease in voice volume or emphasis. Emphasis can also be obtained by enunciating each word in a phrase in a staccato fashion. This should be used primarily on text printed in large capitals. We will indicate an increase or decrease in tempo in brackets. Pauses between words will be indicated by punctuation.

Place yourself about a foot behind the subject. In a normal tone of voice say to him the following: I would like you to stand before me with your feet together, your arms and hands hanging by your sides... That's right; stand just as you are now. Look straight ahead. Let yourself relax and just listen to me. In a few moments I will ask you to think of falling backwards and shortly after that you will find yourself falling backward. Do not be afraid, I will be behind you and will catch you right away. Do not try to resist. Let me show you how it will feel.

[At this point place yourself no more than a foot from the subject. Place your hands on his shoulders; pull him/her gently but firmly backward (Fig. 2). If necessary, step back a little yourself. Quite often the subject will also step back to prevent himself from falling. If the subject does this, bring him to an upright position keeping your hands on his shoulders and say:] You stepped back. That is what you must not do. You did it because you were afraid I might let you fall. But you see, I was right here to catch you. Lets try it again. This time let yourself go. Don't be afraid... Alright now, just relax.

Note: Remove high heeled shoes as the heels may snap when swaying backward.

[Repeat the previous procedure. Usually the subject will let himself fall this time. Even if he does offer some resistance or does step back, continue to say:] That was better. [If he did not show any resistance, say:] Very good. You did very well that time. Now I want you to stand the same way again. Put your heels and toes together and your arms at your sides... Hold your head up straight, [Place your hand under his chin and tilt his head slightly back] let your eyelids close and listen closely to what I have to say.

[Proceed in a similar manner if the subject responds correctly the first time. Should he still show some resistance or mistrust, make him aware of this. Reassure him that you will only let him fall a few inches. Repeat this if necessary, and then continue as follows:] Now I want you to think of yourself as a board, balanced on one end. Think of yourself as falling backward... Imagine you are falling backward, that a force is pulling you backward. In a few moments you will feel a force pulling you backward. Now a force is beginning to pull you backward. You are falling backward... falling backward. Do not resist, let yourself fall. You cannot resist the force. [Often the subject will show signs of swaying or other signs of responding earlier in the suggestions. If so, shorten the suggestions and proceed to the next part at once. If however, the subject is slow in responding or shows overt resistance, delay the last part and repeat the earlier first part of the suggestions. If the subject should resist, it often helps to interpose this suggestion: "The more you resist, the stronger the force gets, pulling you backward...stronger and stronger."] You are falling backward, falling, falling, falling, FALLING, FALLING...FALL! [You will usually have to alter this last phase considerable, lengthening it or cutting it short, depending on how the subject is responding, and particularly upon what you anticipate his next response will be.]

When given the above suggestions, most people will fall backward. A few will waver and sway, but not fall completely. In this case, you should say the following: "You didn't quite fall this time... But you did sway quite a bit. You did feel yourself being pulled back, didn't you? [Immediately continue with out giving the subject time to answer the question.] I sensed that you were a little afraid to fall. Let's try it again, but this time let yourself go. Do not be afraid, I am right behind you and will only allow you to fall a few inches. Now put your feet together...."

A few others will step backwards. In this case you should say: "You did not trust me, you stepped back. That is too bad because you would have fallen if you had not stepped back. Let's try it again, but this time try to be relaxed and let yourself fall when you feel yourself being pulled back. Alright now, put your feet together...."

What if your subject did not even sway? Then speak to him in the follow way: "I am afraid you are not cooperating... You must have resisted. Perhaps you are afraid I will let you fall. I assure you I will not. I will be right behind you and only let you fall a few inches. You did feel something, didn't you? [Again, do not give the subject time to fully answer, but continue to say:] Now, let's try again, but this time relax. Think only of falling. In your imagination, see yourself falling. Feel yourself falling... don't resist. Just let yourself go. Now think of falling, only falling. Keep thinking of falling..."

In this experiment, as in most of the experiments we have presented, you should keep firing a continuous barrage of suggestions at the subject. He must not be allowed to think of anything but the desire effect to be produced. Speak in a normal tone of voice, unless otherwise indicated. Pause, more or less as indicated in the sample suggestions. You want to keep firing suggestions at the subject particularly when he begins to respond. At this point you want to particularly hammer him with suggestions, quicken your delivery and emphasize key words.

In doing this experiment there are three things you should watch for. Sometimes, a subject may tend to fall in the opposite direction. This is very rare, but it does happen, and you must be ready to catch him no matter which way he falls. Also, on rare occasions, you may encounter a subject that responds strongly almost immediately. If you are not watching for this you can get caught off balance. The last thing you must watch for are people that have some nervous condition that causes them to lose there balance when they close their eyes. The direction of their fall is unpredictable.

There are many variations of this experiment. For example, in the sample suggestions given above, we asked the subject to close his eyes. Usually closing of the eyes will increase the response, but it is not necessary. You can stand in front of the subject as you explain to him what you expect of him, have him close his eyes or leave them open, and then stand behind him. In the procedure outlined above, we tilted the subject's head slightly back. This is not necessary, but does shift his center of gravity further back, so he is more easily thrown off balance.

Usually you should only try this experiment twice, unless the subject shows definite evidence of responding the second time. Then try it a third time.

Of course, if you are doing the experiment for practice, you can try it as often as you like, or until you or your helper get bored or tired. If your subject does not respond the second time, you should try different suggestions. If the subject shows a good response to other suggestions, then return to this one at a later time. As you will learn in a later module, the backward postural sway experiment can be turned into an extraordinarily rapid method of inducing hypnosis.

Postural Sway Variations
The following variation of the backward sway experiment is very effective, but is somewhat more difficult to perform.

As before have the subject stand in front of you. Move close to him, almost touching him. Extend your arms outward on both sides of his head as close as possible without touching him. Position your hands level with his eyes, and curve your fingers slightly inward so that the subject can fix his eyes on them (Fig 3A). Extend your hands forward as far a possible and say: "Look at the tips of my fingers. Now, I want you to think of falling backward. In your imagination see yourself falling backward. In a moment I will pull my hands backward; as I do so, you will feel a force pulling you backward. Continue to watch my fingers. As I pull my hands backward [start to do this very slowly] , you will feel a force pulling you backward. Now the force is beginning to pull you backward. Soon you will fall backward. You are falling backward. A strong force is pulling you backward. You are falling backward. A force is pulling you... more and more... stronger and stronger. You are falling backward, falling, falling, FALLING, FALLING, FALL!."

All the time you are speaking, you should be pulling your hands backward. At first, very slowly, then more quickly. This is accomplished by flexing the elbows outward (Fig. 3B). As you do this prepare yourself to step backward as your hands approach the subject's face (Fig. 3C). By this time, if you are successful, the subject should be swaying backward and you will be near the end of the suggestion. As your hands pass swiftly by the side of the subject's face, you should have finished stepping backward (Fig. 3D). At this point, give the emphatic command "FALL!". Then immediately, position your hands to catch the subject (Fig. 3E).

This variation requires considerable coordination between what is said and done. Also timing is very crucial here. However, it is a very effective method that combines a number of effective devices. The fixing of the subject's eyes on the fingers is used to focus his attention. It probably does not produce any degree of hypnosis, as it is not allowed to persist long enough. Indirectly it does aid in the effect of backward motion. The movement itself acts as an additional nonverbal suggestion. Also the subject may reflexively try to avoid the approaching hands by leaning backward or at least tilting his head further back. This would displace his center of gravity in a favorably way. The subject probably does not recognize his avoidance response and confounds it with the expected suggested sway. Therefore, his attitude and suggestibility may also be indirectly positively influenced. Another, simple variation of this procedure is to stand a foot or so behind the subject, and place the palms of your hands against his shoulder blades as in Figure 4A.

Your hands should be situated so that your finger tips point toward the top of the subject's shoulders. The remainder of the procedure is much the same as we did before, except that after the introductory instructions you say: "As I pull my hands back from your shoulders you will feel a force pulling you backward." As you do pull your hands back, do it very slowly, maintaining contact with the subject's body until you detect a definite sway (FIG. 4B).

Another variation of the backward sway is to face the subject and ask him to look into your eyes. Then fixate your eyes upon the bridge of his nose. Stand far enough from him to be able to take at least one step forward. Now say to him something like this: "Keep looking into my eyes. Very soon you will feel a force pushing you backward. Think of falling backward... You are going to feel a force pushing you backward. A force is pushing you backward, the force is getting stronger... pushing you backward. You are beginning to feel a force pushing you backward, forcing you back... forcing you to fall. You are going to fall. You are falling backward... etc." If you do not want to have the subject fixate on your eyes, you can have him fixate on your finger. Hold your finger above and slightly in front of your head, so the subject has to look up at it (Fig. 5A). Give suggestions of falling backward as in previous examples. Slowly begin to bring your finger toward the subjects face (Fig5B). In this experiment it probably would be a good idea to have an assistant available to catch the subject as you may find this difficult to do.

All of the model suggestions we have presented so far have contained a lot of repetition. This is not always necessary. It is possible to get a desired result without a lengthy repetition of suggestions. Sometimes only one single statement is all that is needed. A very effective technique consists of saying to the subject: "I want you to listen carefully to what I am going to say to you. I am going to count from three down to one. At the count of one you will feel an irresistible urge to fall backward. Do not be afraid to fall, I will catch you. Alright now, three...two...ONE! FALL!" The degree of success you have with this technique depends on the degree of suggestibility of the subject. This technique is best used after the subject has shown good responses to a variety of other suggestions. It is not uncommon for a subject to go into a trance or semitrance during the falling response. When this occurs, the subject usually appears to be unstable on his legs when he is helped to his feet after falling. He may sway and appear "tipsy" or somewhat dazed. If this occurs, unless you want to take advantage of the situation in order to produce a deep trance, snap your fingers near his face and say in a loud voice: "Wake up! You are wide awake, feeling fine." Converse with him a few moments to make sure he is fully awake. When giving any kind of suggestion you should always make sure when you are finished that the subject is fully awake and that there are no aftereffects of your suggestions.

Continue to Module 8 - Waking Suggestions D



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
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