When you hear the word hypnosis, you may picture the mysterious hypnotist figure popularized in movies, comic books and television. This ominous, goateed man waves a pocket watch back and forth, guiding his subject into a semi-sleep, zombie-like state. Once hypnotized, the subject is compelled to obey, no matter how strange or immoral the request. Muttering "Yes, master," the subject does the hypnotist's evil bidding.
This popular representation bears little resemblance to actual hypnotism, of course. In fact, modern understanding of hypnosis contradicts this conception on several key points. Subjects in a hypnotic trance are not slaves to their "masters" -- they have absolute free will. And they're not really in a semi-sleep state -- they're actually hyper attentive.
What is Hypnosis?
People have been pondering and arguing over hypnosis for more than 200 years, but science has yet to fully explain how it actually happens. We see what a person does under hypnosis, but it isn't clear why he or she does it. This puzzle is really a small piece in a much bigger puzzle: how the human mind works. It's unlikely that scientists will arrive at a definitive explanation of the mind in the foreseeable future, so it's a good bet hypnosis will remain something of a mystery as well. But psychiatrists do understand the general characteristics of hypnosis, and they have some model of how it works. It is a trance state characterized by extreme suggestibility, relaxation and heightened imagination. It's not really like sleep, because the subject is alert the whole time. It is most often compared to daydreaming, or the feeling of "losing yourself" in a book or movie. You are fully conscious, but you tune out most of the stimuli around you. You focus intently on the subject at hand, to the near exclusion of any other thought.
In the everyday trance of a daydream or movie, an imaginary world seems somewhat real to you, in the sense that it fully engages your emotions. Imaginary events can cause real fear, sadness or happiness, and you may even jolt in your seat if you are surprised by something (a monster leaping from the shadows, for example). Some researchers categorize all such trances as forms of self-hypnosis. Milton Erickson, the premier hypnotism expert of the 20th century, contended that people hypnotize themselves on a daily basis. But most psychiatrists focus on the trance state brought on by intentional relaxation and focusing exercises. This deep hypnosis is often compared to the relaxed mental state between wakefulness and sleep.
In conventional hypnosis, you approach the suggestions of the hypnotist, or your own ideas, as if they were reality. If the hypnotist suggests that your tongue has swollen up to twice its size, you'll feel a sensation in your mouth and you may have trouble talking. If the hypnotist suggests that you are drinking a chocolate milkshake, you'll taste the milkshake and feel it cooling your mouth and throat. If the hypnotist suggests that you are afraid, you may feel panicky or start to sweat. But the entire time, you are aware that it's all imaginary. Essentially, you're "playing pretend" on an intense level, as kids do.
In this special mental state, people feel uninhibited and relaxed. Presumably, this is because they tune out the worries and doubts that normally keep their actions in check. You might experience the same feeling while watching a movie: As you get engrossed in the plot, worries about your job, family, etc. fade away, until all you're thinking about is what's up on the screen.
In this state, you are also highly suggestible. That is, when the hypnotist tells you do something, you'll probably embrace the idea completely. This is what makes stage hypnotist shows so entertaining. Normally reserved, sensible adults are suddenly walking around the stage clucking like chickens or singing at the top of their lungs. Fear of embarrassment seems to fly out the window. The subject's sense of safety and morality remain entrenched throughout the experience, however. A hypnotist can't get you to do anything you don't want to do.
Using Hypnosis in the scene
Ok, so now I know a little about hypnosis and I know that later on I’ll learn how to hypnotize a person (also known as putting them into trance) but what exactly am I going to use this stuff for in the scene?
The uses and ideas are limitless! Hypnosis is another toy that you can put into your toy bag to pull out and use as you see fit. Some prime examples of its use in-scene are:
- Bondage-less bondage
- Mind fucks (fire / ice confusion comes to mind)
- Increased pain tolerance (be careful with this one)
- Sexual simulations (you’ll have an orgasm every time I say the word Borris!)
Those are just a few of the things you can do in an actual scene/dungeon environment. I’ve used it in slave training for things such as position training reinforcement, working through personal life issues and, as Stacy will discover in the next few weeks, time keeping!
Setting the scene
Hypnosis is ideally suited for one-on-one use in a quiet setting. The techniques used involve relaxation which is not necessarily what you want the subject to experience (i.e. hypnosis on the rack!) However, this can be negated by getting the subject to relax their muscles and their mind. Noisy environments can be used to your advantage by taking the sounds surrounding you and using them as a cadence to your technique. In a large dungeon there’s usually some flogging or spanking going on. The use those rhythms to your advantage. Music! Nothing trances someone out better than music, the same kind generally used in the scene. Finally, light is your enemy when trying to get someone under but blindfolds limit your ability to watch for some of the signs that a person is in trance (more on that later). Try to keep light off the subject’s face.
That motto doesn’t just apply to Boy Scouts. Successfully getting someone into trance is just as dependent upon their preconceived notion that you can get them into trace as it is upon how you get them there. All it takes is to fail once miserably for their confidence in your abilities to be shattered. The only thing I can tell you is to practice your scripts.
Hypnosis/Trance vs. Subby/Head Space
The two are very closely related. Bottoms tend to experience trance-like states when they enter into head-space. This is good. What you’re trying to do with hypnosis is to get them into that place using your words rather than tools and touch. This is why hypnosis is so effective in the scene. You can wait until the bottom enters head-space and THEN do the hypnosis techniques. This one-two punch is usually irresistible and eliminates many of the problems described above.
You're Getting Sleepy
Hypnotists' methods vary, but they all depend on a few basic prerequisites:
- The subject must want to be hypnotized.
- The subject must believe he or she can be hypnotized.
- The subject must eventually feel comfortable and relaxed.
If these criteria are met, the hypnotist can guide the subject into a hypnotic trance using a variety of methods. The most common hypnotic techniques are:
- Fixed-gaze induction or eye fixation: This is the method you often see in movies, when the hypnotist waves a pocket watch in front of the subject. The basic idea is to get the subject to focus on an object so intently that he or she tunes out any other stimuli. As the subject focuses, the hypnotist talks to him or her in a low tone, lulling the subject into relaxation. This method was very popular in the early days of hypnotism, but it isn't used much today because it doesn't work on a large proportion of the population.
- Rapid - The idea of this method is to overload the mind with sudden, firm commands. If the commands are forceful, and the hypnotist is convincing enough, the subject will surrender his or her conscious control over the situation. This method works well for a stage hypnotist because the novel circumstance of being up in front of an audience puts subjects on edge, making them more susceptible to the hypnotist's commands.
- Progressive relaxation and imagery - This is the method commonly employed by psychiatrists. By speaking to the subject in a slow, soothing voice, the hypnotist gradually brings on total relaxation and focus, easing into full hypnosis. Typically, self-hypnosis training and relaxation and meditation audio tapes use this method.
- Loss of balance - This method creates a loss of equilibrium using slow, rhythmic rocking. Parents have been putting babies to sleep with this method for thousands of years.
Before hypnotists bring a subject into a full trance, they generally test his or her willingness and capacity to be hypnotized. The typical testing method is to make several simple suggestions, such as "Relax your arms completely," and work up to suggestions that ask the subject to suspend disbelief or distort normal thoughts, such as "Pretend you are weightless."
The process of getting someone into trance generally follows four steps:
Induction is used to get the subject to the desired state where suggestion can begin. Deepening is used to reinforce the induction state, often you’ll use this immediately before and after the suggestion step. The suggestion step itself is where you’ll do the “meat” of what you’re hoping to do. The awakening step is, as the name implies, the step in which you bring the subject back to their normal state of mind.
Ok, so lets get started. The first two example scripts are used to Induce the trance state. The key to making these work is the use of your voice. Knowing what tone to take and when to pause are just something you’ll have to learn with experience. I suggest keeping a printout of this handy. Since many of these examples use a numeric count method, I also recommend you count on your fingers so you don’t lose your place!
Example: Induction Technique #1 (Fixation Object Method)
Instructions to hypnotist
This is the traditional method of inducing hypnosis. The subject is asked to direct their gaze at the fixation object and not shift their focus. The hypnotist can intensify the induction by observing the subjects reactions and timing his suggestions very closely with them. For example, the remark, "Occasionally, they are going to blink," might be made immediately after he perceives a blink.
Spoken to subject
Stare at the shiny part of (fixation object). Fix your eyes on it. Take a few deep breaths. Just keep breathing deeply. Listen to the sound of my voice. You will find that your eyelids have a tendency to get heavy. Almost as if they had a heavy weight attached to them. And the longer you stare at this, the more your eyelids get heavy, and you blink, and they have a feeling like something is pulling them down, as if they wanted to slowly close, and get drowsier and sleepier and heavier. And you have a feeling as if they were slowly closing, slowly closing, getting drowsier and more tired, and when they finally do close, how good you'll feel. Drowsy, heavy, pulling down, down, down, slowly closing, getting harder and harder to see, and you feel good. Very, very hard to keep them open, feel that very soon they will close tightly, almost tightly closing, almost tightly closing, tightly closing. Your eyes are tightly closed; you feel good; you feel comfortable; you're relaxed all over; just let yourself drift and enjoy this comfortable relaxed state. You will find that you head will get heavier; tends to nod forward some, and you just let yourself drift in an easy, calm, relaxed state.
Example: Induction Technique #2 (Gil Boyne Method)
Spoken to the subject:
You are about to enjoy a very pleasant and a very beneficial experience.
First, be sure that you will not be disturbed.
Second, remove your shoes or any apparel that will interfere with your physical comfort in any way.
Third, now stretch out on your back, with your legs separated, so that no part of your calves or thighs are touching. Keep feet separated at least 8 to 10 inches; arms extended loosely and limply alongside your body, palms facing downward and fingers limply outstretched.
Once we begin, you can help by remaining quiet and passive. Our first goal is for you to become unaware of your body. You can best achieve that goal by avoiding movement.
The first thing that I want you to do is to fix your eyes at a spot on the ceiling overhead. Pick out an imaginary spot, and stare at that spot without moving a muscle.
Now, take a deep breath and fill up your lungs. Exhale slowly. Sleep now.
Now, take a second and even deeper breath. Take in all the air that your lungs can hold. Exhale slowly. Sleep now.
Now, let your eyelids close down. Now, your eyelids are closed down. Please leave them closed down until I ask you to open them again. You will always be able to open your eyes, unless I were to give you a direct command and tell you that your eyelids are locked closed. And I don't intend to do that. Hypnosis is a state of mind, not a state of eyelids.
Now, I want you to mentally picture and imagine that you are looking at the muscles in the tips of the toes of your left foot. In your imagination, follow those muscles as they move back into the ball of the foot. In your imagination, follow those muscles as they move back into the ball of the foot. Back into the arch, and all the way back into the heel. Now, turn all those muscles loose. Let them grow limp and lazy, just like a handful of loose rubber bands.
Now, as the muscles begin to relax, just let your mind relax, too. Let your mind drift where it will. Let your mind drift off to pleasant scenes in you imagination.
And now, let the relaxation move on up, into the ankle now. From the ankle, all the way up to the left knee. The calf muscles begin to grow loose and limp -- heavy, and so relaxed.
All of your tensions are fading away. You're relaxing more with each easy breath that you take. Begin breathing more deeply, now, just as you breathe each night, when you are deep and sound in slumber. Just imagine that you can see your breath as a white mist, coming from your nostrils. Each and every time that you exhale this white mist, you are freeing yourself of tension, and going deeper, deeper into drowsy relaxation.
Now, from the knee, all the way to the left hip, the long thigh muscles are turning loose, easing off, and just relaxing now. Now, as those muscles relax, just let go a little more, and gently, calmly, easily, drift on over, into a pleasant state of easy relaxation.
Now let the wave of relaxation that started from the toes of your left foot just a few seconds ago -- let it move over now into the toes of the right foot, back into the arch, and all the way back to the heel. Turn all of those muscles loose, and go deeper and deeper into relaxation.
Into the ankle, the muscles let go. From the ankle, all the way up to the right knee. The calf muscles are turning loose and letting go.
You're relaxing more with each easy breath that you take. With each sound that you hear. Each sound carries you deeper, deeper and sounder in sleep.
From the knee, all the way up to the right hip. The long thigh muscles grow limp and lazy. Now, as those muscles relax, just go all the way down, deeper and deeper in drowsy slumber.
Turn them all loose and go deeper in sleep.
Now, the wave of relaxation moves on up, into the stomach now. Into the solar plexus, the center of nervous energy. Each muscle and nerve lets loose the tensions, relaxing. You're drifting down, deeper and deeper in sleep. Down, deeper in slumber.
Up through the ribs, the muscles relax. Into the broad muscles of the chest. The muscles of the chest grow limp and loose, and so relaxed. All of your tensions are fading away.
You're relaxing now, more with each easy beat of your heart, and going deeper in drowsy slumber.
Into the neck, the muscles let go. All around the neck, the muscles relax, just as they relax each night when you are deep and sound in sleep. Turn them all loose, and go deeper and deeper in slumber. Now let the relaxation start down your back. From the base of the skull to the base of the spine. Each muscle and nerve along the spine lets loose the tension, relaxing, your drifting down. Deeper and deeper in sleep. down deeper in drowsy slumber.
And the wave of relaxation spreads out into the broad muscles of the back. All across the small of the back. All across the back of the shoulders. Turn loose every muscle and every nerve in the back, and go deeper and deeper in sleep.
Into the shoulder, the muscles let go. From the shoulders, down to the elbows of both arms. The upper arm muscles are turning loose, easing off, and just relaxing now.
From the elbows, down to the wrists on both arms, the forearm muscles grow limp and lazy.
From the wrists to the fingertips of both hands, each muscle and nerve lets loose the tensions, relaxing, you're drifting down. Deeper and deeper in sleep.
Into the jaws, the muscles relax. The jaws are parting slightly, teeth not quite touching. All around the mouth, the muscles let go.
Up through the nose, each nerve gives way. All around the eyes, the muscles are heavy, and so relaxed. Even your eyebrows are relaxing now. Across the forehead, the muscles smooth out. Across the top of the skull. Down the back of the neck. Down through the temples, back around the ears, all of the muscles are loose, and lazy -- just like a handful of loose rubber bands.
And you may feel now, a pleasant tingling sensation in the tips of your toes, or in your fingertips -- a pleasant tingling sensation, growing stronger and stronger now, as your entire body is being bathed in the pleasant glow of complete and utter relaxation.
Now you are completely relaxed. Each muscle and nerve in your body is loose and limp and relaxed, and you feel good.
Signs of Trance
Now that the induction part of the effort is complete, you’ll need to take stock in the subject. There are several outward signs of trance that can be observed in all subjects. These signs can not be simulated by the subject. The subject will exhibit at least one, and in many cases, multiple signs.
- Body warmth: Many subjects note a distinct change in body temperature. Many subjects feel cold, and others feel warm. This is attributed to the lower pulse rate and extreme relaxation of the subject.
- Fluttering eyelids (R. E. M.): Virtually all subjects in trance exhibit a 'fluttering of eyelids'. The subject is actually in R. E. M. state. (Rapid Eye Movement)
- Reddening of the eyes: All subjects will demonstrate a reddening of the eyes once they've entered trance. This phenomenon is attributed to the relaxation of the muscles in the eyes of the subject, allowing a greater flow of blood through the veins.
- Increased lacrimation: Many subjects, upon entering trance, will exhibit an increased 'tearing of the eyes.' This is attributed to the relaxation of the muscles surrounding the tear ducts.
- Eyes rolling back: Many subjects, upon entering trance, will experience their eyes rolling back in their head. It will appear as if the subject is looking up through the top of his head.
I’ve also provided an example of a testing technique you can use to see if your subject is really in trance.
Testing technique (Eye Catalepsy)
Spoken to the subject:
(Optionally, place your right thumb on the bridge of the subjects nose and apply slight pressure) I'm going to count from five down to one. As I do, you're eyelids lock so tightly closed that the more you try to open them, the tighter they're locking closed.
Five, your eyes are pressing down tightly.
Four, pressing down and sealing shut.
Three, sealing as if they were glued.
Two, they're locked shut. The more you try to open them, the tighter they're locking closed.
Okay, try to open your eyelids now and find them locking tighter and tighter. That's fine. You can stop trying now. Just relaxed and go deeper.
If everything went well then you’re ready to enter the Suggestion step. I always use a Deepening technique here however, just to make sure the subject is ready for suggestion. Doesn’t hurt! They’re usually short and sweet and you can use them anytime you think the subject is coming out of trance. Use them often if you’re in an environment that’s loud and distracting. Deepening techniques are provided below.
Example: Deepening Technique #1
Spoken to the subject:
Turn loose now, relax. Let a good, pleasant feeling come all across your body. Let every muscle and every nerve grow so loose and so limp and so relaxed. Arms limp now, just like a rag doll. That's good.
Now, send a pleasant wave of relaxation over your entire body, from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Just let every muscle and nerve grow loose and limp and relaxed. You are feeling more relaxed with each easy breath that you take.
Droopy, drowsy and sleepy. So calm and so relaxed. You're relaxing more with each easy beat of your heart ... with each easy breath that you take ... with each sound that you hear.
Example: Deepening Technique #2 (Staircase method)
Spoken to the subject:
In a moment I'm going to relax you more completely.
In a moment I'm going to begin counting backwards from 10 to 1.
The moment I say the number 10 you will allow your eyelids to remain closed.
The moment I say the number 10, you will, in your minds eye, see yourself at the top of a small set of stairs.
The moment I say the number 9, and each additional number, you will simply move down those stairs relaxing more completely.
At the base of the stairs is a large feather bed, with a comfortable feather pillow.
The moment I say the number one you will simply sink into that bed, resting your head on that feather pillow.
Number 10, eyes closed at the top of those stairs. Ten ...
Nine, relaxing and letting go. Nine ...
Eight, sinking into a more comfortable, calm, peaceful position ...
Six ... going way down ...
Five ... moving down those stairs, relaxing more completely.
Three ... breathe in deeply ...
Two ... On the next number, number one, simply sinking into that bed, becoming more calm, more peaceful, more relaxed ...
One ... Sinking into that feather bed, let every muscle go limp and loose as you sink into a more calm, peaceful state of relaxation.
Example: Deepening Technique #3
Spoken to the subject:
Your arms are loose and limp, just like a rag doll. As I raise your hand, just let all of the weight hang limply in my fingers. An when I drop it, send a wave of relaxation all across your body. As you feel you hand touch your body, send that wave of relaxation from the top of your head all the way down to the very tips of your toes.
And as you do, you find that you double your previous level of relaxation.
Now, once again, with the other hand. (Repeat with other hand)
Example: Deepening Technique #4 (Stiff Arm method)
Spoken to the subject
Raise and stiffen you arm. Make a fist. (Help subject achieve this position, then let go) That's good. Just like a steel bar, stiff and powerful. So stiff and rigid and so powerful that the more you try to lower or bend your arm, the stiffer and tighter it becomes. Try to lower or bend your arm and find it locking stiff; stiff and rigid. The harder you try, the stiffer it becomes.
That's fine. When I touch your forehead, your arm drops limply down and you go deeper in sleep. (Tap forehead)
Once you’re all done with whatever it is you wanted to accomplish, its time to bring the subject back to their normal state. Don’t worry, if you don’t then they’ll most likely just fall asleep and wake up naturally. It’s impossible for someone to stay in trance on their own for long periods of time. Here’s an example of an Awakening Technique.
Example: Awakening Technique
Spoken to the subject:
(Based on the type of session, you may care to skip this paragraph)
Each time that you use this method for easy relaxation, you relax more easily, more quickly, and more deeply. Relaxation is a skill that you are easily developing with trance.
Now, I'm going to count from one to five, and then I'll say, "Fully aware." At the count of five, your eyes are open, and you are then fully aware, feeling calm, rested, refreshed, relaxed.
All right. One: slowly, calmly, easily you're returning to your full awareness once again.
Two: each muscle and nerve in your body is loose and limp and relaxed, and you feel wonderfully good.
Three: from head to toe, you are feeling perfect in every way. Physically perfect, mentally perfect, emotionally calm and serene.
On the number four, your eyes begin to feel sparkling clear. On the next number I count, eyelids open, fully aware, feeling calm, rested, refreshed, relaxed, invigorated, full of energy.
Number five: You're fully aware now. Eyelids open. Take a good, deep breath, fill up your lungs, and stretch.
Post-hypnosis aftercare is in many ways the same as any other post-play care. The subject should remember everything that happened and may feel somewhat embarrassed. Be sure to address this issue. Even someone who is really big into humiliation can be pushed beyond the bounds of their limits. Now is the time to have that cup of water and a warm blanket ready. However, if you remember to touch some of the aspects included in the above awakening technique, the subject will usually feel refreshed and relaxed, like they just woke up from a long nap on a sunny Sunday afternoon. This is ideal but as with any kind of edge play, you’ve got to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.
Hypnosis is EDGE PLAY!
You’re going in and mucking around with the senses, perceptions and memories of the subject. Even if you don’t do anything that you consider edgy that doesn’t mean the subject doesn’t think that. It can be a heavy-duty experience for both parties.
The core technique in getting someone to trance is to have them relax. Relaxing muscles don’t tend to hold someone up very well so take this into consideration if you’re doing a scene where the subject is standing. Include some sentences into your Induction and Deepening techniques that say things like:
§ “Just as a horse can stand and sleep without losing its balance, so too your legs are strong beneath you. You can stand and sleep. “
- (Alternate to horse description)” Your legs are stiff and rigid beneath you, supporting your body as you stand straight and erect. “
Pain and Body Language:
There’s good pain and there’s bad pain. When in trance a subject often looses the ability to determine if their body is hurt. Its similar to the effects of alcohol. You’ve got to watch what you’re doing to the subject while they’re under, their body language may be completely different than what you’re used to seeing from the person.
Some really bad shit can come from a heavy duty mind fuck. Regressing someone down to their childhood then doing sexual things to them may implant the memory of child abuse and all the emotions that come with it. Furthermore, a person tends to lose their inhibitions when in trance, especially a wakeful trance, and emotional defenses they’ve had up for years may come tumbling down.
If anything bad happens, follow the normal course of the session regardless of what the other person is doing. End the session with an Awakening and go into comfort mode. You need to finish with an Awakening as it signals the subject’s mind that the unusual state (the trance) is over and to return to normal.
When a person is in trance they are living the trauma. When they are out of trance they are remembering it.