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Three excellent ways to understand the continuum of trance levels

There are three excellent ways to understand the continuum of
trance levels:
1. seeing the six stages of hypnosis demonstrated,
2. experiencing the stages yourself,
3. taking a client through the stages.
When you begin to induce trance, the client will typically start at
Stage 1 of hypnosis, experiencing lethargy, then some relaxation.
The first catalepsy that you induce will usually be in the eyelids.
This is because the muscles controlling the eyelids form one of the
smallest muscle groups in the body and are easily relaxed. Eyelid
catalepsy occurs when the client’s eyes are so relaxed that they
cannot open them; they will seem to be stuck shut. Eyelid catalep-
sy is an excellent convincer to prepare the client for deeper stages
of hypnosis.
As the client moves into Stage 2 of hypnosis, you can elicit catalep-
sy of isolated muscle groups, such as arm catalepsy. Also typical
are heavy or floating feelings. This is still considered light trance.
At the deep end of Stage 2, you can induce catalepsy of complete
muscle groups, such as those in the legs, or even full body
catalepsy. Complete muscle group catalepsy is the beginning of
medium trance.
In Stage 3, the client will exhibit a specific level of rapport, called
hypnotic rapport, defined as the state in which the client hears and
sees only the Hypnotherapist. In this stage, you can induce dramatic
smell and taste changes. You can hold fresh cookies under the
client’s nose and tell them that it’s old cabbage, and they will say
“Yuck.” Or hold some ammonia under their nose and say it’s fresh
cookies, and they will say “Mmmmm.” You can also elicit number
block, causing a number to disappear for a client. You can say
“The number four does not exist,” and when you ask the client to
count something, they will count, “One … two … three … five …
six ….” The number simply will not exist in their repertoire of
numbers. (Be sure to put it back later.)
As the client moves to deeper levels of medium trance, they will
be at Stage 4. At this level, you can produce amnesia, suggesting
that the client forget portions of what happens in the trance ….
This is very useful for post-hypnotic suggestions to help the client Hypnosis: A Comprehensive Guide
achieve desired changes without ‘interference’ from their
Conscious Mind. You can also induce glove anesthesia, in which
the hand becomes numb, as if you had put an anesthetic glove on
it … or reduce sensations in some other part of the body. Just
beyond glove anesthesia is analgesia, the absence of sensation of
pain. When you have induced analgesia, the client can have
ambiguous sensations, but no specific pain sensation. They will
feel your touch, but not the pain of a needle jab.
At the deepest level of Stage 4 is automatic movement. The easiest
automatic movement to initiate is with the client’s hands. Simply
start their hands rotating around each other in front of them, and
they will automatically continue to rotate until you tell the client
to stop. (Motor coordination can be imprecise during trance; you
may need to guide the hands gently into the beginning of the
The client will begin to experience deep trance at the beginning of
Stage 5. Common at this stage is positive hallucination, that is,
seeing or hearing something that is not there. If you hold your
empty hand in front of the client and tell them that you are
holding a tennis ball, they will be able to tell you the color of the
ball and the number that appears on it. (The opposite, negative
hallucination, is not seeing or hearing something that is there.
Negative hallucination comes into play in Stage 6).
A Stage 5 phenomenon familiar from stage hypnosis is bizarre
post-hypnotic suggestion, which will cause the client to do some-
thing outlandish after they are out of trance, as long as it does not
conflict with their values or beliefs. Andr6
delightful story about post-hypnotic
said to a client in trance, “George, when you wake up, you will feel
an irresistible urge to give me a dollar.” George woke up and felt
the urge; but he did not give Weizenhoffer the dollar. Weizenhoffer
got a phone call the next morning at 2 a.m. from George, who said,
“Darn it, Andrk, I’m coming over to your house right now to give
you two dollars.” Weizenhoffer asked him, “Why didn’t you give
me a dollar at the time?” George said, “When I came out of the
trance, I had this irresistible urge to give you a dollar. I knew that
I would not have this urge normally so I knew you must have
given me a post-hypnotic suggestion. I said to myself, ‘I’m not
Stages of Hypnosis
going to do it!’ But I’ve been obsessing about it all night, so I’m
coming over right now!”
When you give a post-hypnotic suggestion intended only for the
time of the session, be sure to remove the suggestion before the
client leaves!
At Stage 6 the client is reaching the deepest trance levels. At this
stage, you can induce anesthesia, which would allow surgery
without a chemical anesthetic or drilling of teeth without
Novocaine. (If you induce anesthesia, I am not suggesting that you
attempt the surgery or dentistry.) This is the level of trance that Dr
James Esdaile induced by mesmerism to prepare patients for
surgery in India in the 1800s. Taking the client to Stage 6 may
require quite some time. They may need to go in and out of trance
for an extended period in the process of deepening the hypnosis to
this level.
At Stage 6, you can induce negative hallucination, or not seeing or
hearing something that is there. If you are in perfect rapport, you
can say to the client, “You only see me, you do not see or hear any-
one else here.” And if someone else were to stand in front of the
client and talk, they would not have any awareness of that person.
Progressing deeper into Stage 6, the client will enter the comatose
state. Dave Elman, whom we will be studying, calls this the
Esdaile state. In this state, the client is sleeping deeply yet still in
hypnotic rapport with the Hypnotherapist.
At the deepest of level of Stage 6, somnambulism, or sleepwalk-
ing, can occur. In the somnambulistic state the client can rise and
move about, producing behavior that looks almost as though they
were awake. You would have to observe their behavior closely to
notice that they were not quite moving in the way an unhypno-
tized person would move.
In later chapters, we will discuss ways of inducing the hypnotic
phenomena that are common to the six stages. To practise hypno-
sis skilfully, you need to memorize the stages and the phenomena,
so that recognizing them becomes second nature.

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