Having Trouble Going Into Trance?
You've come to the right place! Or, at the very least, a place that I hope will be a nice refresher on your hypnotic adventures. Before we get into it, let's establish a few things. First, this will not be comprehensive; odds are good that it -cannot- be comprehensive, because there are a million ways to be hypnotized.
Second, and most importantly, there is no such thing as a difficult subject.
I'll say it again: there is no such thing as a difficult subject.
Let me be perfectly clear, here: I'm not saying that subjects do not encounter difficulty being hypnotized...you are here, aren't you? There are a myriad of issues that can come between your mind and a good, comfortable trance state. Those issues can be mildly frustrating, highly annoying, or even downright disheartening; more than a few subjects have given up their pursuit of hypnosis because the problems they faced going into trance seemed insurmountable.
But those things - the issues, or problems - are not innate; that is, they are not peculiar to you. Analytical people are not harder to hypnotize than anyone else. "Strong willed" people are not harder to hypnotize than anyone else. These are pernicious myths, and serve no purpose aside from becoming frustratingly self-fulfilling prophecies.
Being hypnotized requires only the desire and a method (preferably a live hypnotist, but those can be notoriously tricky to catch.)
So why does it go wrong? Like I said, this won't be comprehensive, but we can certainly talk about some of the more common issues.
Do You Trust Your Hypnotist?
If I were feeling less verbose, I could end this page on that line. Significantly more than half of the time I've met "difficult" subjects, whether self-proclaimed or (worse) 'diagnosed' by another hypnotist, the issue has fallen to a lack of rapport. Rapport is a word you'll see thrown around in hypnosis circles, and for good reason; functionally, it equates to a sense of mutual understanding between individuals - one that I've found to be primarily an expression of trust.
But what do I mean by trust? Would you loan them a car? Should you be willing to provide your home address and full legal name? No, and that's why we often default to saying rapport instead. You need to have the ability to believe, reasonably, that the person hypnotizing you does not harbor ill intentions. It's additionally helpful if you feel at ease around them, and can carry on a conversation without strain.
That sounds fairly easy, right? Well, no. Particularly on the internet, you operate with a certain defensiveness regarding people you encounter. This is normal. Moreover, it's a good thing. You absolutely should not trust everyone you interact with on Twitter, that would be utter lunacy. But in order to be hypnotized, you do need to be willing - and able - to share a form of intimacy with the person trancing you, and that means getting past that stranger danger filter, at a minimum.
The intimacy in question isn't sexual, although many find that it can be. It isn't romantic, either, and it doesn't even necessarily need to be friendly. It's one of many subjective things about hypnosis, which makes it less straightforward to discuss. However, you can treat it clinically, in essence, and hit the key points.
If your doctor discusses test results with you, and your immediate instinct is to question their interpretation of said results...odds are good you don't have a useful relationship with that doctor.
How does this work with audio files, scripts, and videos floating around the internet? For these, there are a few defaults. One subset of subjects chooses to trust their own understanding of hypnosis and the mental guardrails they have put up over time to keep them safe, and they are able to bypass the trust issue thusly. Another group opts to perform a sort of suspension of disbelief - they'll deliberately subdue the filter, for awhile, and continue on. Still another faction will scan through the scripts or files, skipping around to look for warning signs, or even search out other subjects to confirm that the hypnotist in question is safe.
But those methods do not work for everyone. If you are having a hard time going into trance, the first thing to ask is whether you trust (or in many cases even know) your hypnotist. Having a conversation with someone, especially in this context, may seem daunting; but I promise, it will help more than you may realize.
Is The Method/Medium Good (for you?)
Let's say that you do trust your hypnotist, or you don't believe that is the issue at hand. What's next?
Method and medium. There are a million ways to be hypnotized, and they do not all work the same way for everyone. If there was a perfect induction, hypnotists wouldn't use any others - trust me, it's not easy coming up with these things.
Medium is a strong contender as well. Have you only tried text scripts? Only audio files? Only videos? Have you talked to a hypnotist in real time - was that over text, or voice? These things matter. Not everyone processes information the same way, and while nearly every medium -can- work, one or more is likely to be much easier for you than others.
It's also worth noting that pre-made files and scripts are a compromise on the part of the hypnotist. They have to be, by nature. Tailoring an induction to your particular language pattern, preferred pace, and most responsive style...that's the best plan for you as a subject, but when we're making a script or file for mass consumption, a lot of that specificity gets sacrificed in favor of more broad applicability and efficacy.
But let's talk about method. There are probably an infinite number of hypnotic inductions, but a sizable chunk of the common ones have the decency to fall into categories; some categories have been researched, analyzed, pondered upon, and others...less so. To be clear, the classifications I use here are not necessarily standard. Sorting induction styles into discrete taxonomies is outside the scope of this page; we're interested in the differences in functionality.
- Progressive relaxation: the name gives this one away. You are instructed to relax, progressively, with varying degrees of specificity and accompanying imagery. This can be good for subjects talented at either visualization or sensory hallucination - that is, if someone asks you to "feel the texture of the blankets around you" or "imagine yourself in a comfortable place" and your mind moves easily to that task, you might find this method effective. It's also the most common, on average.
- Eye fixation: again, fairly straightforward. You are asked to stare at a particular thing - pocketwatch, metronome, crystal, flame, etc. The induction takes place around that focal point. These are vastly better when adjusted to the person being hypnotized, but if your attention is readily captured by shiny objects, it might be worth a shot.
- Confusion: this is a more broad category, and gets into the peculiar mechanics of hypnosis. It features sub-categories such as the pattern interrupt, mental input overload (aka 7 +/- 2), and nonsense inductions. (Yes, it's fair to argue that those are each their own category, but again...outside the scope of this page.) Confusion inductions are a great area of exploration if the previously mentioned methods don't seem enjoyable, or have failed you thus far. They rely on subverting your expectations, in some way, so it can be a bit problematic if you repeat the same type multiple times unsuccessfully, as you'll begin to anticipate the "surprise" moments.
- Kinesthetic: these inductions are based on touch, primarily, and sometimes exclusively. Massages, light stroking, maybe even a bit of tickling or being tied up. They rely on that feeling of intimacy, and will be most attractive to people who are very touch-oriented. There is a lot of overlap with things like rope play (if you've heard of or experienced sub space, that's a thing that can be guided into a trance space.)
- Authoritative: you are going to fall into a trance because I am telling you to do so. This method requires perhaps the highest level of rapport, and can be combined with other styles. You could consider it a form of confusion induction, but the thing being subverted is your anticipation; that is, knowing the "trick" or the pattern is not going to alter the outcome. This style is particularly useful if you find dropping into sub space comfortable, already, but as I mentioned...it relies heavily on rapport and trust.
Do all of those methods sound familiar? If not, perhaps it's time to explore a new area - or, better, ask a hypnotist to demonstrate one for you. This is by no means a complete list, so if you're afraid that you've tried all the methods and nothing works...don't despair.
Are Your Expectations Appropriate?
It's here where this page can really start to go on endlessly. Hypnosis is as much an art as a science, and it sits at a strange intersection between psychology, neuroscience, and stage magic. If you're here, you have an expectation about what a trance "is," whether or not you're fully aware of the depth and scale of that preconception.
The fact of the matter is that you slip into and out of trance states all the time. It is a thing your brain does when certain stimuli (both internal and external) synchronize appropriately; maybe that's reading, watching television, scrolling a social media feed, driving on a highway, meditating, playing an instrument, writing or drawing, browsing porn...anything you can "zone out" while doing? Very much akin to being hypnotized.
I'll add that repeated failure can produce its own set of issues. If you've been trying for a long enough time, you can start to develop the expectation (conscious or unconscious, reasonable or otherwise) that the hypnosis won't work. Can that doubt, alone, get in the way? Absolutely.
So are your expectations getting in the way? Do you believe that you have to be a mindless, drooling zombie for the hypnosis to have worked? Are you waiting for a decisive shift in your inner monologue or perceived headspace? Are all of the suggestions you receive supposed to work immediately?
It's subjective, first. Some subjects pass through the mechanism of hypnosis and are barely even aware of it; others drop like an anchor when the magic words are spoken. Still others feel a shift, but get anxious or doubtful because it wasn't what they were planning to feel. Would you believe me if I said subjects can giggle and have wandering minds, when they're entranced?
It's a skill, second. Going into a trance is a skill as much as hypnotizing someone is a skill, and depth is very much a factor in some of the standard expectations. You might not have that total brain-stopping snap, at first. It can require practice, repetition, and learning how you actually react...which can often involve unlearning how you expect you are supposed to react. Every subject is unique.
Maybe you're great at visualizations. Maybe it's very easy for you to feel things, when they're described appropriately to you. Maybe you are extremely susceptible to compulsions and post-hypnotic suggestions. Maybe you'll be a natural at hypnotic amnesia.
Or maybe not, yet. If you trust your hypnotist -and- have a method and medium you like and believe should work for you, it's time to go over your expectations - again, preferably with a hypnotist.
We'll cap it here, for now, but I'm very likely to edit this page frequently as I think of more elements to add or different ways to phrase things.
I'd very much like to see comments (which have an approval process to mitigate spam, sorry about that) from subjects. Talk about your successes, or your failures, things that worked when you weren't expecting, things that didn't work even though they seemed like they should.
In any case, I hope this discussion proves useful to some of you.