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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.
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What is Hypnosis?
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Ideomotor Action
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Deepening the Hypnotic Trance
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You Can Learn to Relax
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Module 8 -- Waking Suggestions D

Hand Clasping
Before you begin these experiments, request that your subjects remove any rings they may be wearing from their fingers. If you do not do this, there is the possibility that they may bruise their fingers.

Face your subject and say: I want you to clasp your hands in this manner... [Demonstrate to the subject by clasping your hands in front of you, fingers interlocked as shown in Figure 1.] Now look at my eyes and clasp your hands tightly together. Now I will count from three down to one, at the count of one, let your eyes close and relax., eye lids closed and relax. [At this point take hold of his hands and pull them forward, unless they are already extended. Momentarily hold and squeeze his hands together. See Figure 2].

Make them real tight, just as tight as you can. As you continue to tighten your hands you will soon find that your fingers are locking together, your hands are becoming stuck together. Your fingers are locking tighter and tighter, your fingers are sticking together more and more. Your hands are becoming more and more tightly clasped. Your fingers are sticking together. Your hands are sticking together. Your fingers are locked. YOUR HANDS ARE LOCKED TOGETHER; YOU CANNOT TAKE THEM APART. In a moment I will ask you to try to take your hands apart, but you will not be able to do this. Your fingers are absolutely locked together; your hands are so complete stuck together that YOU CANNOT PULL THEM APART. Try. You cannot take them apart. The more you try to take them apart, the more tightly they stick together. Your hands are firmly stuck together...Try hard, you cannot, you CAN'T take them apart.

When your subject is trying to meet your challenge, you should give your suggestions in rapid succession. If the subject responds well to the suggestions, you will usually not have to continue giving suggestions. The subject will still not be able to separate his hands.

It is important that you do not allow the subject to feel at any time he could successfully meet your challenge. If you see he is having some success separating his hands or suspect that he will, immediately say: "Now you can separate your hands, everything is as before." Then immediately say to the subject in a positive tone of voice, "You had a little bit of trouble separating your hands, didn't you...They felt kind of struck. Let's try the experiment again." It is very important to say this if the subject did have some difficulty. In no circumstances should you ever appeared dismayed at the results of an experiment. It should always appear that whatever happened was exactly what you expected and wanted.

If the subject should try to separate his hands before you issue your challenge, which may happen, you should point this out to him before trying the experiment again. Emphasize that he is to listen closely to your instructions and carry them out as you give them and not anticipate your instructions. Anticipatory reactions are often a sign of resistance or fear on the part of a subject. If you have reason to believe that the subject was not cooperating, it can be pointed out. Explain that the success of the suggestions depend upon cooperation. Sometimes you will find that subjects resist by weakly clasping their hands. This is one reason for holding their hands at the beginning of the experiment. This allows you to determine how tightly they are clasping their hands. If a subject fails to follow your instructions, you may have to be more assertive. You might say: "Come on, you can do better than that! Clasp your hands real tight, tight, JUST AS TIGHT AS YOU CAN!" At the same time strongly squeeze his hands together to emphasize your instructions. Even if he should then tighten his clasp, it is no guarantee he will maintain a tight grasp. Some resistant subjects will proceed to relax their hands before or at the time of the challenge. In this case you should again point out his obvious resistance to the suggestions. You will find that some subjects, despite their desire to cooperate, tend to respond in a passive way giving the appearance of cooperation. The following variation of the handclasp experiment seems to work very well with them.

Start the same as above, telling the subject: I want you to clasp your hands like this...Look at my eyes and clasp your hands tightly together... Make them real tight, AS TIGHT AS YOU CAN! Think of your hands as tightly clasped together, feel your fingers pressing down upon the backs of your hands, feel your hands becoming more and more tightly clenched together. [Continue holding the subject's hands. If they are not tightly clasped, continue to say: "as you do so and continue to listen to what I say you will find that your fingers tend to press against the backs of your hands, that your hands are being pressed tightly together. You are unable to help yourself." Else go on with what follows while gently letting go of the subjects hands.] Your hands are being tightly stuck together; your fingers are pressing your hands tightly together. Now your fingers and hands are becoming stiff, rigid...more and more stiff. Your hands are stuck tightly together. So tightly that you cannot take them apart. THEY ARE STUCK TOGETHER! YOU CANNOT SEPARATE THEM! Try! YOU CANNOT! YOU CAN'T SEPARATE THEM! THE MORE YOU TRY THE TIGHTER THEY ARE STUCK TOGETHER!

There are several things about the above procedures that should be pointed out. The subject's arms should be well extended out when doing the handclasp experiment. There is a degree of leverage in our favor when the arms are extended. The muscles involved are those used to rotate the arm about the shoulder. The further the arms are extended, the less leverage these muscles have against any force preventing the hands moving laterally outward (pulling apart). There is another mechanical advantage to this experiment. While the hands are tightly clasp, the joints of the fingers, due to their shape, tend to lock the hands together and prevent the fingers from sliding apart. For this reason you should make sure that the base of the fingers are against one another.

After reading the above paragraph you may get the impression that this experiment is based on a mechanical illusion and deception. This is not true. If a subject is not suggestible, he will simply relax his hands before or shortly after trying to pull them apart. This is not the situation if he is responding to suggestions. The subject will tighten his hands to a considerable degree as you give suggestions. In fact with a very suggestible subject you can start with his hands clasped loosely and his hands fairly close to his body.

Many subjects will respond very strongly to hand clasping suggestions. In fact they may respond so strongly that you can challenge then repeatedly to separate their hands. They will make all kind of contortions trying to get their hands apart all to no avail. They will not be able to get their hand apart until you tell you them they can. In this case you can end the response by snapping your fingers and saying: "Alright now, relax. You can take your hands apart now. They are not stuck anymore." Even after this some subject may still have some difficulty separating their hands. If this happens, take hold of their wrists and pull their hands apart saying again: "Your hands are relaxed now, can easily separate your hands." Incidentally, such individuals will nearly always make very good subjects for hypnotic experiments. Almost invariably, most people that respond well to hand clasping suggestions can be hypnotized fairly deeply and with little difficulty.

Chinese Handclasp
The following is a variation of the hand clasping experiment. Have your subject extend his hands and arms in front of him, palms facing one another. Now tell him to bend his hands so the palms face him and the tips of the fingers are opposite each other (Fig. 3A). Next have him spread his fingers apart and bring his hands together so the fingers interlock and touch at the base (palms still apart). See Figure 3B. Now tell him to rotate his hands so he sees the backs of his hands (Fig.3C). Finally, have him elevate his hands above his head, palms outward and his arms outstretched as much as possible (Fig. 3D). Demonstrate the procedure as you as you tell him what to do. Then have him go through the procedure, step by step. Then say to him:

Please look into my eyes and listen carefully to what I tell you. Keep your hands above your head, arms extended and fingers interlocked. Think of your arms stiffening and your fingers becoming tight. As I speak your fingers and hands are becoming tight. Your arms are becoming stiff... Think of nothing else... The muscles of your arms and hands are becoming more and more tight, stiff. Your hands are getting tighter and tighter, your arms are becoming stiffer and stiffer. I am going to count from one down to three; at the count of three you will not be able to unlock your hands and fingers. One...Your hands are getting tight, very tight, so tight you cannot separate them. Two...Your hands and arms are getting stiff, stiffer, so stiff you can't move them. THREE...your hands are stuck. Your fingers are locked together. YOU CANNOT TAKE YOUR HANDS APART, the more you try the tighter they become stuck. Try...You CANNOT...The more you try the tighter they stick together.

Some hypnotists prefer to give the above suggestions with the subjects eyes closed. Both methods seem equally effective. The important thing in this experiment is that nothing distracts the subject's attention from the suggestions.

Wolberg's Method

Another variation has been described by Wolberg. It differs from the other methods in that he makes use of the subject's imagination. He usually has the subject sit down and clasp his hands. He then says: I want you to close your eyes for a moment and visualize a vise, a heavy metal vise whose jaws clamp together with a screw. Imagine that your hands are like the jaws of the vise, and as you press them together tighter, they are just like the jaws of the vise tightening. I am going to count from one to five. As I count your hands will press together tighter, and tighter, and tighter. When I reach the count of five, your hands will be pressed together so firmly that it will be difficult or impossible to separate them. One, tight; two, tighter and tighter and tighter; three, very tight, your hands are glued together; four, your hands are clamped tight, tight; five, so tight that even though you try to separate them, they remain clasped together, until I give you the command to open them -- Now open them slowly.

Eye Catalepsy

The term "catalepsy" actually refers to a state of muscular rigidity in which a person's body retains any position it may be given. However, it is used rather indiscriminately by hypnotists to cover a number of situations. It's common to use it to refer to any muscular condition in which a subject is unable to voluntarily move any part of his body or his entire body. In any event, we will use it to describe "eye catalepsy" as well as the other "catalepsies" regardless of their nature since it is a well-established terminology in hypnotic literature. Stand next to your subject and say: Please close your eyes and relax. Don't be afraid, I am not going to hypnotize you yet. [As soon as he complies, place your finger on the top of his forehead.] Keep your eyes closed tight and turn your eyes upward as though you were looking through the top of your forehead at the tip of my finger. Keep your eyes tightly closed and keep looking upward. As you do so, you will find that your eyelids are becoming heavy and closing more tightly. They are closing more and more tightly and becoming very heavy, very heavy. They are sticking closed. Shortly I will tell you to try to open your eyes, but you will find this very difficult to do, very hard, because your eyelids are being stuck just as if they were glued shut. They feel very heavy, like lead. They are stiff. They are stuck. They are sticking tighter and tighter. They are heavy as lead. Your eyelids are sticking closed, as if glued closed. They are stuck closed. Your eyes are sticking closed. They are stuck closed, YOU CANNOT OPEN YOUR EYES!...the more you try the more stuck they become.

Sometimes when a person looks upward he may not be able to completely close his eyes. Therefore, you may find that some subjects show an appreciable slit, or after they begin to respond to your suggestions they tend to lift their eyelids a little. Do not be concerned about this. Just repeat your request that they keep their eyes closed and keep looking upward. By watch the rolling of his eyes under the eyelids, you can usually tell how well the subject is looking upward. Some subjects may complain that it hurts their eyes or that they cannot do both, look up and close their eyes tightly. In such cases ask them to look up the best that they can without discomfort, but with their eyes closed.

A person that is somewhat suggestible will experience considerable difficulty opening his eyes. If he does succeed, but shows some difficulty, you should point it out to him. As with the hand clasping experiments, if it looks like the subject is going to overcome the suggestion, quickly say: "Alright, stop trying, you can open your eyes."

Frequently, when asked to close their eyes, subjects assume this is a preliminary step to the induction of hypnosis. If they are not ready for this, they may build up resistance because of anxiety. For this reason the subject should be told at the beginning that he is not going to be hypnotized. Note in the above example that we said: "I am not going to hypnotize you yet..." This is not the same a saying to him: "I am not going to hypnotize you." or "I will not hypnotize you with out telling you first." The first statement will reassure the subject, but says nothing about the near future. If you should hypnotize the subject later, he will be less likely to feel he has been tricked, and that you can't be trusted. Also, if you tell the subject: "I am not going to hypnotize you." it could act as a counter-suggestion to later suggestions leading to an induction of hypnosis. Later you will see that eye catalepsy can be made a part of a trance induction technique.

Arm Catalepsy

Have your subject hold his arm horizontally straight out at his side, form a fist and look into your eyes. Hold his fist, squeeze it lightly, and pull his arm outward. While you are doing this, with your other arm grasp his forearm and speak to him as follows: "Think of your arm as stiff and rigid, stiff like a steel bar. Your arm is becoming stiff, stiffer and stiffer. It is becoming stiff like a bar of steel, ridge as a piece of iron. In a moment it will be so stiff and rigid that you will be unable to bend it or move it. Your arm is now stiff and a rod of steel. You can't bend your arm, you cannot move it. TRY. YOU CAN'T!...etc."

Making the Hands Heavy or Stuck

Have your subject sit comfortably with his hand resting in his lap. Fixate your gaze on the bridge of his nose and say to him: "Look at my eyes and follow my instructions carefully. Soon you will find that your [right or left] hand is becoming heavy. It will get heavier and heavier, so heavy that you will not be able to lift it when I ask you to try. For now just listen to my voice. Your hand is beginning to feel heavy. A feeling of heaviness is flowing into your hand and back into your arm. Your arm and hand are becoming very heavy...heavier and heavier. Your hand feels very heavy...your arm feels very heavy. They are now very heavy...v-e-r-y h-e-a-v-y, just like lead. They are so h-e-a-v-y that you cannot lift your hand. Your hand feels as though it were stuck to your lap. You cannot lift it! YOU CANNOT! Try! YOU CAN'T! The more you try, the heavier you hand becomes."

Making the Subject Unable to Drop an Object

If you succeeded in getting a strong response in the hand clasping experiment, you will nearly always succeed with this experiment. Especially, if you also got a good response to the eye catalepsy or arm rigidity experiment. Give the subject some object (i.e. a spool of thread) to hold in one hand in such a manner that if he opens his hand the object will fall to the floor. Have him fix his gaze on your eyes and firmly say to him: "Hold the spool tightly. I am going to count from three down to one; at the count of one you will find it impossible to let go of the spool. You will not be able to drop it. Your hands and fingers are going to be stuck to the spool...Three...your hand is sticking to the spool; your fingers are becoming stuck to the spool. Your hand and fingers are now stuck to the spool. They are sticking tighter and tighter, so tight you cannot open your hand no matter how hard you try. Two...Your hand and fingers are now stuck fast to the spool. They are sticking tight, so tight you can't open your hand. ONE!...Your hand is struck to the spool, your fingers are stuck to it! YOU CANNOT DROP IT! Try! YOU CAN'T. YOU CAN'T OPEN YOUR HAND."

Forcing the Release of an Object --Have the subject hold the spool as described above and instruct him to hold it tightly. Fixate him and give suggestions that he will not be able to hold on to the spool. The more he tries to hold on to the spool the less able he is to do so. Tell him that his hand is opening, that the spool is repelling his fingers, forcing them open, that he cannot hold on to the spool, etc.

The Arm Twirl Experiment
Tell the subject to hold his arms and hands as illustrated in Figure 4. Then tell him to twirl them away from himself and around each other slowly like he would do if he were twiddling his thumbs. (Note: the thumbs could be used in this experiment instead of the arms.) Then suggest to the subject that when he tries to stop twirling his arms he will not be able to do so. Suggest that his arms are twirling faster and faster, etc.

Forcing a Subject to Sit
Have the subject stand in front of a chair in a way that he could easily sit in it. Have him fixate on your eyes and say to him: "Think of sitting down. I will count from three down to one, at the count of one you will find your legs feeling very weak, your knees will fold, you will feel so heavy that you will have to sit down... Three... two... one! You are becoming heavier and heavier... heavier... Your knees are folding... your legs are getting weak... Your knees are folding, folding... Your body is heavy... Your body is going down, down... You are sitting down... sitting down... etc.

As soon as you see any response from the subject, you should partially bend your knees and lower your body slowly downward. Also it is very effective to hold your hands up, palms facing the subject and at the right moment slowly lower them in a suggestive manner. The two techniques can be combined to enhance each other. See Figure 5. If the subject is not responding it is helpful to use these techniques at the time you tell the subject to sit down.

Causing the Subject to Hallucinate Heat

Responses to motor suggestions are by far the easiest to achieve in the waking state. Sensory hallucinations and distortions can also be produced but are more difficult to produce. Probably the easiest sensory effect to produce is the illusion of heat. For this you need a subject that has responded well to the experiment given above. Ask your subject to hold his hand out horizontally, palm up. Place a small coin in his palm. Have him look at the coin and say: "Shortly this coin is going to begin to get warm. You will feel it get warm...warmer...warmed and warmer, then hot. [If your subject is very suggestible, this will be sufficient to produce the sensation of heat. The subject will drop the coin and report that it got very hot. If this does not occur, then continue.] Now the coin is getting warmer...warmer... warmer...You can feel it getting warmer, don't you? It is now very warm, fact it is getting hot...very hot...hotter...HOTTER...RED HOT!"

Producing Anesthesia

The hallucination of heat as in the above experiment is called a positive hallucination. The reverse of this is called a negative hallucination. One of the easiest negative hallucinations to produce is suggested anesthesia for pain. Have your subject sit comfortably in a chair, his hand on his lap. Have him fixate on his hand and tell him that in a moment his hand will become numb and he will be unable to feel any pain. Then continue with: Now let your eyelids close and listen carefully to my voice. Shortly all feeling will be gone from your hand. You will not be able to feel anything with your hand. Think of your hand as getting though it were going to sleep. As you keep this thought in mind, you will find your hand is becoming numb. With every sound of my voice, your hand is becoming more and more numb...You can feel less and less, your hand is losing all feeling. Very soon you will be unable to feel any pain in your hand. You will feel absolutely no pain. I will count from three down to one; at the count of one your hand will be totally insensible to pain. You will be unable to feel pain...Three...your hand is becoming insensitive to are losing all feeling. It is getting very numb, more numb. You can feel less and less with your hand and you are losing awareness of it. Soon you will be unable to feel anything with your hand. Two...Your hand is becoming number. There is very little feeling in it. It feels like it was asleep. It is impossible to feel any pain in it, it is completely numb. One...Your hand is completely without feeling. YOU CANNOT FEEL ANY PAIN...NO MATTER WHAT I DO. YOU CAN'T FEEL ANY PAIN.

The standard test for anesthesia is to lift a flap of skin on the back of the subject's hand and pierce it with a sterile pin or needle. When using waking suggestions it is best to keep suggesting to the subject that he feels no pain as the needle passes through the skin. It is also a good idea to suggest that there will be no after-pain after the needle is removed.

Many other kinds of hallucinations can be induced in the waking state. However, the best results are obtained with hypnotized subjects. Therefore, we will leave further discussions for inducing hallucinations until later. In general, the techniques for inducing hallucinations in the waking state and in hypnosis are essential the same. Usually in the waking state it is necessary to give longer and more elaborate suggestions than in hypnosis. You can often say to a hypnotized individual: "At the snap of my finger you will feel very warm -- very hot," and get a positive response. With waking suggestions you have to go more slowly. Waking individuals, as a rule, tend to give weaker responses to suggestions (there are exceptions). The responses to waking suggestions also tend to be more temporary than those elicited under hypnosis. This will conclude our discussions on waking suggestions. In the next module (module 9) we will discuss suggestions in general and in module 10 we will discuss hypnosis and hypnotic suggestions.

Continue to Module 9 - Suggestion In General

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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