How to hypnotize someone using easy techniques
Do you want to know how to hypnotize someone? For most of us, especially as children this thought has crossed our mind.
I distinctly remember asking my parents for a pocket watch on my eighth birthday because I’d seen an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles where the heroes in half shells get put under a spell.
Couple that with the children’s programme ‘The Demon Headmaster,’ where a creepy headteacher has the ability to put people in a hypnotic trance using his eyes, and I was hooked.
When most people think of hypnosis these days it is usually from one of those cheap stage shows that you find on a package holiday in Benidorm where the stage hypnotist makes four burly men from the audience cluck like a chicken.
The British illusionist and trained hypnotist Derren Brown has also brought hypnosis techniques to the fore over the past two decades. As well as tricking celebrities, Brown also managed to convince an innocent man that he has killed someone through the use of hypnotic suggestions.
So where did hypnotism come from? Why does it work and how can we understand how to hypnotize someone?
Keep reading to find out the answer to all of these questions and more. By the end of the blog you’ll be able to understand how to hypnotize someone and put them into a hypnotic state.
Table of Contents
The History of Hypnotism
It probably won’t surprise you to know that the question of how to hypnotize someone has been around for a while.
Hypnotic techniques have been in existence for thousands of years. It’s origins go as far back as ancient historical times. Evidence of its use can be found in Sumerian, Persian, Chinese, Indian, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman cultures where it was closely linked with witchcraft and sorcery.
The famous Sanskrit book the Law of Mandu which is considered one of the best known legal texts of ancient India refers to many levels of hypnosis, including “Dream-Sleep”, “Sleep-Walking”, and “Ecstasy-Sleep.”
Across Europe during the Middle Ages, some physicians were believed to have the power of healing. They performed miraculous healings that were often attributed to magic or as a blessing from God.
Royalty were also thought to have been blessed by God and through that had the power to heal as Jesus did. The 16th-century physician Paracelsus was the first person to document the use of magnets as a form of healing.
This method of healing became popular, carrying into the 18th century and was often combined with other methods.
At this point very few people if anyone understood how to hypnotize someone with any real conviction. That came later.
Have you ever felt an animal magnetism towards someone ? Or felt mesmerised by something? I’m writing on your behalf but I’ll go ahead and answer yes.
Unbeknown to you, both of these terms stem from the founder of medical hypnosis as we know it today. His name was Franz Anton Mesmer (worked out the mesmerised bit yet?) and he was an Austrian physician, practising in the 18th century.
Mesmer believed that all humans and animals were connected with a force which he deemed ‘animal magnetism.’ This force could be used by those who had it in abundance to help cure people of illnesses both mental and physical. In his early work he was known to use magnets to assist in his procedures although he later stopped this.
Interestingly it was Mesmer who is thought to have first used music and worn a cape when conducting his experiments. After a royal investigation into his theories Mesmer was exiled, but his theories continued to carry weight and formed a talking point for physicians and scientists in the future.
Some of Franz Mesmer’s contemporaries such as Parisian Indo-Portuguese monk Abbé Faria believed that hypnosis wasn’t a magical power, but a trance-like state that relied on the belief of the patient.
In 1813 Faria began to research the validity of hypnotic techniques. He proposed that it was not magnetism or some outside force that caused a trance but rather the subject’s mind.
Faria’s approach formed the foundation for the theoretical and clinical work of the French hypnosis-psychotherapy school, the Nancy School (also called the School of Suggestion).
Ambroise-Auguste Liebault, the founder of the Nancy School, believed hypnosis was a psychological phenomenon and disregarded the theories of magnetism.
He focused his studies and hypnosis training on the correlation between being asleep and undergoing a trance. He concluded that hypnosis is a state of mind produced by the power of suggestion. He later published the book ‘Sleep and Its Analogous States’ in 1866.
During the peak of hypnotic studies and before the availability of medical sedatives many physicians used hypnosis for anesthesia. In 1834 the British surgeon and influential author John Elliotson who was considered to be at the cutting edge of his profession, reported multiple painless surgeries using hypnosis.
Although eventually he took his theories too far, believing that two of his subjects were able to diagnose and treat illnesses through their clairvoyant powers. The university hospital saw fit to encourage his resignation at this point.
The man who is considered to be the ‘father of modern hypnotism’ is the Scottish ophthalmologist James Braid.
He was the first to coin the term neuro-hypnotism (nervous sleep) which was then shortened to hypnotism in 1841.
The word ‘hypnosis’ was born and in the centuries following him, progress in the understanding of how to hypnotize someone was made, hypnotic techniques were used on soldiers with psychological problems following the world wars.
By this point however medicine had also advanced significantly and hypnosis was no longer as prevalent in medical procedures.
What is the relationship between science and hypnosis in 2021?
As you can tell from the long and storied history of hypnosis, it does have some merit and anecdotal evidence for success.
In a world of technology, science and medicine where do the once mystic techniques of hypnosis sit?
Irving Kirsch is the Associate Director of the Program in Placebo Studies and a lecturer in medicine at the Harvard Medical School. Kirsch is a leading researcher within the field of placebo studies who is noted for his work on placebo effects, antidepressants, expectancy, and hypnosis.
The basis of his hypnosis theory is that placebo effects and hypnosis share a common mechanism: response expectancy.
Kirsch’s idea on this topic is that the effects of both hypnosis and placebos are based upon the beliefs of the participant. He has characterized clinical hypnosis as a “non deceptive placebo.” In relation to the validity of hypnosis here is what he says:
Apart from these preconceptions, hypnosis is a well-studied and proven method of treatment for conditions ranging from anxiety to choosing healthy lifestyle habits. Kirsch believes that the method can be useful if used properly in helping patients.
According to Rebel Magic who write extensively about how to hypnotize someone, illusions and the power of suggestion Kirsch’s team discovered that those patients who couple cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with hypnosis lose significantly more weight than those who do not.
Along with things like smoking cessation, weight loss has been an attractive market for hypnotherapists to concentrate their marketing on.
Again, referring back to Rebel Magic’s research; following a period of four to six months, those patients who used CBT with hypnosis lost more than twenty pounds while those only using CBT lost ten pounds.
In addition, the hypnosis-tested group maintained that weight loss for eighteen months thereafter whereas the other group did not.
Aside from helping with negative habits, weight loss and smoking cessation, there is evidence that hypnosis can be effective in the temporary relief of pain. This seems to support earlier evidence from John Elliotson in 19th century England.
Leonard Milling, a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Hartford in Connecticuit, United States, states that hypnosis could help reduce post-surgical pain in children and pain related to other medical procedures.
Doctor David Spiegel of Stanford University School of Medicine, a hypnosis expert, and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences had some supporting information for Milling’s research on how the use of hypnosis can alter brain activity.
His statement is backed up by the Nicotine & Tobacco Research’s 2007 study, in which over 20% of 286 patients quit smoking after hypnotic treatment whereas only 14% quit by means of regular behavioral counseling.
The hypnotic treatment was particularly successful in patients with a history of depression and anxiety.
What are the stages of hypnosis?
Despite extensive studies into the effects of hypnosis pinpointing exactly how hypnotherapy is successful is tricky.
Each hypnotherapist will have a different anecdotal account of exactly how to hypnotize someone and why their method of hypnosis is successful.
One thing that most industry experts can agree on though is that the process of how to hypnotize someone occurs in two stages. The first stage is often referred to as induction. The second phase is the suggestion.
During the hypnotic induction phase, patients are put into a relaxed state. The doctor or hypnotist will tell them to focus their attention onto a single thing or thought and tell them that they are going into hypnosis.
Historically this is where the pocket watch comes out but that is mainly reserved for TV cameras these days. Once the patient or subject is in a trance-like state that is when the suggestion phase can begin.
The induction phase can be likened to a form of meditation and as well as being initiated by a hypnosis practitioner, self-hypnosis can also take place. This is a crucial phase when understanding how to hypnotize someone, as without this phase the second one isn’t possible.
The suggestion phase involves subtly proposing ideas and asking a simple question to the patient to help them address or solve unhealthy behaviors or emotions.
Patients are given scenarios to help them imagine hypothetical scenarios as if they were real. During the state of hypnosis the power of suggestion is used to talk to the subject’s subconscious mind and suggest changes depending on the reason for being hypnotised.
Got a better handle on how to hypnotize someone yet?
“While most people fear losing control in hypnosis, it is, in fact, a means of enhancing mind-body control.”
The process of hypnosis speaks to the subconscious part of the mind. Your subconscious is responsible for all of the processes you do that do not require concerted thought or effort.
Knowing how to hypnotize someone is one thing but knowing why it works is important.
Your subconscious mind is what directs most of your thought processes and can explain why you are able to do things automatically whilst walking or driving.
Your conscious mind evaluates your thoughts to make decisions and take action. It also processes new information so you can relay it in a new way. Psychiatrists theorize that relaxation and focusing techniques work to calm the conscious mind.
By doing so, it takes on a less active role in your thought processes. During this state of mind, you are still aware of what is going on, but your conscious mind takes the backseat therefore you are not using logic to reason against what is being communicated.
How is hypnosis practised today?
In 2021 there is a course for every hypnotic need and with the widespread use of zoom, hundreds of people can now attend a seminar about how to hypnotize someone for everything from curing phobias to losing weight or staying faithful.
But does hypnosis on mass really work?
Sadly the hypnosis/hypnotherapy landscape has become a breeding ground for scammers and many of the techniques around creating the trance state have now been pilfered by so called gurus trying to sell their own courses.
Hypnosis still requires the belief of the subject’s mind so in theory if a room or zoom full of people with no distractions wanted to believe that they were being hypnotized then they could enter a hypnotized state.
Although you don’t have to be Austrian physician Franz Mesmer to realise that the likelihood of this happening is far less than if it was done in a one to one setting by someone with extensive hypnosis training.
So how do you hypnotise someone with words?
In order to work out how to hypnotize someone correctly. Firstly you need to find someone that wants to be hypnotised.
Suggestible people are easy to work with and you will certainly have egg on your face if you try stage hypnosis techniques on someone that is actively trying not to be hypnotized.
As we have discussed, it is more about the mind of the person that you’re working with than knowing how to hypnotize someone in a specific way or how good you are as a hypnotist.
Before we get into the details to help you learn to hypnotize, you must understand informed consent and hypnotherapy. This term refers to the recipient giving the hypnotizer or hypnotherapist permission to perform hypnosis.
Do yourself a favour and don’t try to be cute by using a covert hypnosis technique that you find on youtube because in the inevitable circumstance that it fails you will be in big trouble.
Subjecting yourself to the power of hypnosis is no different than undergoing any other medical or procedure which involves another person interacting with your mind or body.
When you go to the doctors or even the gym you will have to sign a waiver that releases the practice or person from any liability. Scary though this is when you read the small print, it is extremely important if you want to begin practising hypnosis.
Avoid like the plague any notion of either getting involved with a non certified hypnotist or trying to practice becoming one without proper training.
The hypnotic experience is not without risk and the last thing you want is to be accused of altering someone’s brain function through a negative experience or adverse reaction.
What is classified as consent to hypnotize?
There are three types of consent;
implied, informed and explicit. Implied consent is a grey area and one that your Derren Brown’s of this world would use on the TV. Typically this would take the form of acceptance via a handshake and the covert hypnosis would begin as the hands touch.
Informed consent involves the hypnotist directly asking the client if they are willing to undergo hypnosis and they agree by saying yes.
This means that the client has received sufficient information and is making an informed decision. Stage hypnotists will often ask for this type of consent in front of their audience for avoidance of doubt.
Explicit consent is the type that you would give when you go to the doctors, hospital or gym. It is a recorded verbal or written acceptance by the recipient and releases the giver or any liability. Hypnotherapists like any other therapist would ask for this level of consent.
How to self-hypnotize
It’s all very well understanding how to hypnotize someone, but what about when that person is yourself?
It’s certainly one way of avoiding the consent conversation.
How I hear you ask, are you going to be both hypnotist and subject? Well it isn’t actually as complicated as it sounds and is quite a common method of hypnosis.
With the induction phase being basically a deep state of relaxation, meditation is a great way to practice getting yourself there. Meditation clears the mind of thoughts and frees the body from the stress of carrying them.
Meditation can be a relaxing tool or a preparatory action. Once in a state of meditation, the mind begins to search for answers to its problems or achieves what the Buddhists call ‘zen’.
Meditation can be helpful in removing fear before a situation and relieving stress after a situation. Elite sports people are beginning to incorporate breathing exercises and meditation into their training sessions.
During the meditative state of hypnosis, your fast-wave brain activity, used for thinking and processing, decreases, and slow-wave brain activity, used for relaxation and focus, increases greatly.
As you prepare to go into a meditative state you can use specially designed apps or youtube videos to help work on the areas of your life that you’re trying to change.
A step by step breakdown of rapid-induction hypnosis works
Now let’s give you a basic understanding of exactly how to hypnotize someone.
Firstly you will need a willing participant and one that is susceptible to direct suggestion. An easy way to identify someone who is suggestible in a group of people is to watch how they react when you or someone else is talking.
If when you are asking questions they are nodding along and in agreement then these are your type of people. Open and inviting body language also denotes that these people are embracing by nature.
If you feel the need to try and convince someone to be hypnotized or notice they have closed body language or ask lots of challenging questions then you should find someone else. Remember hypnosis is as much about the subject’s belief as it is about the proficiency of the hypnotist.
Once you have found a willing participant you will need to make sure that the environment is free from any obvious distractions. Background noise is fine and may actually help with concentration but try not to practice in a place where you are likely to be disturbed.
Being interrupted whilst part of the way through the process can actually stress out the subject as well as ruin your hypnosis session. Before you begin let them know what to expect.
Most people have wildly inaccurate ideas of how to hypnotize someone from movies and TV. In reality, it is mostly a relaxation technique that helps people gain clarity on problems or issues in their subconscious.
We actually enter states of hypnosis all the time — in daydreams, when absorbed in music or movies, or when “spacing out.”
Remember, that the majority of all communication is nonverbal build trust with the person you want to put into a trance by using lots of eye contact and embracing body language.
Try using the following script for rapid-induction hypnosis as outlined by Exemplore:
1. Identify your subject and engage with them. Start by giving subtle, suggestible commands. Make statements like, “It is getting late,” followed by physical reinforcing movements like yawning.
2. Watch how they react to your suggestion and look for cues in their body language and facial expressions. (In a group of people, this can give you clues about who is the most suggestible.)
3. Make sure to approach your chosen subject when they are in a group of friends. This way, you know they have their guard down. Use small talk and chat with the group. Once you feel you have their trust and some rapport, go ahead and ask if they want to see a trick. Most of the time they will say “yes.”
4. Begin with the aforementioned technique. If the person does not immediately fall into a trance, keep using your suggestible commands to put them into a trance. Say things like, “That’s good. Now keep feeling that way as you sleep.”
5. Use your hands to guide their gaze down as you speak. Use phrases like, “You wouldn’t want that to happen now, would you?” The subconscious mind throws out negatives like (wouldn’t) and only recognizes the keywords and phrases like (“you want” and “that to happen” and “now”). Direct their gaze into your eyes to gain their focus.
6. The person should immediately slump over and perhaps fall into you. It is important that you bring them close to you and guide them to your shoulder, turning their head to rest comfortably. It is important not to let them get hurt by falling onto you.
7. Now, rub their back and say, “That’s good, that’s good. Now relax. Just feel yourself relax. You are fine.” By reassuring them, you give them a feeling that it is all going to be ok. It is a very good idea to have a person help you to seat your subject into a chair or lay them on a bed or sofa.
8. Once the person is in the trance state and is in a safe, seated position, you can use the power of suggestion on your hypnotized subject. For example, you can tell them that when you count to three that they will open their eyes but that they will not remember their name.
9. Count to three and tell them to open their eyes. When their eyes are open, ask them to tell you their name. They will be amazed that they can’t remember their own name.
10. Awakening the subject is as easy as putting them back into a trance with the sleep command. Look them in the eyes and again, tell them to sleep, and place them back in the chair. Then, tell them that you will count to five and that they will awaken feeling good and refreshed.
11.Count to five and say with a powerfully authoritative voice, “Awake!”
Hypnosis vs Hypnotherapy
You may have noticed that throughout this article I have used the terms hypnosis and hypnotherapy interchangeably.
The difference between them is that hypnotherapy is a form of therapy and hypnosis is the process that takes place. A hypnotist is someone that is familiar with the practice of hypnosis but may not necessarily be a qualified hypnotherapist.
Confused yet? Good.
Breathing techniques are an important part of knowing how to hypnotize someone in hypnotherapy and are often neglected in stage hypnosis.
Slowing the breathing calms the heart rate and the thought process. Focussing on the rate of breaths per minute helps to channel the mind to achieve the deep state relaxation.
Once the breathing is controlled and the heart rate has slowed, the muscles will also start to relax. It is not unusual for your subject to look or act like they are asleep, it is a common misconception that under hypnosis the subject is asleep. They are actually just in an altered state of consciousness.
Hypnotherapists will talk in a soothing tone of voice to help maintain the state of relaxation. If you check out hypnosis videos on Youtube you will find that almost everyone has a monotone voice behind them.
Check out how to hypnotize someone using a step by step guide.
A step by step breakdown of how hypnotherapy works
A typical hypnotherapy session may follow a script similar to the one below. The questions asked will steer the subject into the guided imagery that follows.
How to hypnotize someone that wants to lose weight:
1. Once in a state of relaxation the hypnotherapist may ask, “Do you want to stop eating junk food?” They will answer yes.
2. The therapist may then identify the topic of smoking and relate it to the person, such as, “Do you use food as a way to feel good?” And then ask a question that relates the topic to their help, such as, “Do you want me to help you get past your addiction to junk food?” Once they have determined the goal they will then go on to the guided imagery.
3. Their voice will never change from the soft, monotone one they have been using. Guided imagery is going to open the subject’s mind to the topic they are trying to overcome and identify how it is having power over them. Next, the therapist will paint a different picture of the topic, and ask the subject to refocus how they feel about it to meet the new image.
4. The hypnotherapist might say, “I want you to picture yourself eating chocolate right now. Do you feel familiar with this?” They will answer yes. “I want you to picture that chocolate and how it looks coming out of the pack. Can you see it?” They will answer yes again. Now they will steer the subject’s thoughts by painting a new picture that reaffirms the bad habit.
5. “Now I want you to imagine that every time you open a chocolate bar it smells like a blocked drain. Do you know the smell of a blocked drain? Do you know that smell is off putting?” Of course, they will answer yes to both questions.
6. “Every time you want to have a chocolate bar, you will now remember that horrible smell as you open the wrapper, ok?” They may go further by giving them a new feeling. “Every time you have a craving for a chocolate bar, you will remember that horrible smell and you will not want it. You will have a piece of fruit instead, ok?” They will say yes.
7. They will verify that the imagery is consistent with the goal they are trying to achieve. They will ask the subject, “What are you going to smell when you take a chocolate bar out of the wrapper?” The subject should say, “A blocked drain,” or something similar.
8. At this point, if they do not know, then the hypnotherapist should repeat the imagery. If they are conclusive with it then the therapist will verify with a final confirmation question. If the subject reverts back to wanting chocolate then the therapist will begin the process again from the start.
9. The goal of this exercise is to replace the junk food craving with something healthier.
10. Once the subject is in full agreement to smell a blocked drain and eat a piece of fruit, the hypnotherapist will tell them how they should expect to feel. Something along the lines of, “I want you to imagine feeling satisfied after you eat fruit. The fruit will make you feel good. How will the fruit make you feel?” They should say, “I will feel good” or something similar.
11. They will consider the session successful and end the hypnotic state in the same relaxed and soothing manner with which they have been speaking throughout.
12. Before they bring the subject out of the hypnotic state, they will make sure to cancel out any suggestions that they do not want to stay active in their life.
13. They will tell the subject to bring themselves out of the hypnotic trance as they count backwards from three to one
14. Should the subject have trouble ‘waking up,’ then the therapist will tell them it is ok to awaken, to open their eyes, or to move
15. The subject will need to stretch properly after they awaken and probably have a cool drink of water.
Congratulations you have made it to the end!
Hopefully you are now much more informed about how to hypnotize someone, the practice of hypnosis and its origins than you were before you started.
Remember hypnosis can be a powerful tool and shouldn’t be regarded lightly. The hypnotists you see on the TV or hypnotherapists that are practising in the community have undergone years of training so don’t expect to read this blog and think you are an expert.
As with everything that is worth doing, it is worth doing properly knowing how to hypnotize someone requires the correct training.
If you want to learn more about becoming a hypnotherapist then find a college course or placement near you.
If you’ve enjoyed learning how to hypnotize someone like to find out more about mindfulness then stay on our page and check out one of our other articles.