Don E. Gibbons, Ph.D., NJ Licensed Psychologist #03513
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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

What GOOD is a Formal Hypnotic Induction Procedure?

If, with no prior induction, I asked a highly suggestible person to close his eyes, and suggested that when he opened them he would see me dressed in a Santa Claus suit, he would surely think that. I was crazy. And if such a suggestion should happen to work, he would think that HE was crazy! But if I plausibly suggested that he was going into hypnosis, and THEN I suggested that when he opened his eyes he would see me wearing a Santa Claus suit, such a suggestion could be actualized much more easily because it has now been made much more credible. 

An induction procedure provides both the opportunity and the occasion for those who have the ability to use their imagination in ways which are dramatically at variance with everyday experience to go ahead and do so. Are there other ways to do this? Yes, by patient leading 2 engage the imagination. But permanent change, as we all know, is brought about by the degree to which the suggested changes are more effective in serving as a catalyst for change, and not by a particular induction.

There is an old Russian folk take about a boy who was afraid to go to school because  he had a large, ugly birthmark on his cheek. One day, his grandmother told him that this was a sign from God that he was destined for greatness. His fear vanished, and with his new-found confidence, he grew up, married, and had a family. He never achieved greatness, but he did live
 a happy life. And no induction was necessary! 

However, for suggestions which do not fit so neatly into everyday reality, it is first necessary to accept the suggestion that one's conscious processes are operating differently in order to be able to make them believable enough to be accepted. For example, I once hypnotized a client who had been a talented gymnast in her teen years. She was in the middle of a divorce, preparing to take her U.S. citizenship test, getting fired from her job and getting kicked out of her apartment all at the same time. Under hypnosis, I suggested that she would experience winning an Olympic gold medal in a parallel universe, and bring those feelings of triumph back with her into this one. It provided just the kind of ego strengthening therapy that she needed in order to have the courage to overcome her multiple challenges.