Hypnotic Induction
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Hypnotic Induction

Perspectives, strategies and concerns

V. K. Kumar, Stephen R. Lankton, V. K. Kumar, Stephen R. Lankton

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eBook - ePub

Hypnotic Induction

Perspectives, strategies and concerns

V. K. Kumar, Stephen R. Lankton, V. K. Kumar, Stephen R. Lankton

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The age-old notion of 'hypnotic induction' receives a fresh look from notable scholars from Canada, England, Sweden, and the USA in this book. These scholars represent a breadth of theoretical perspectives: cognitive-behavioral, Ericksonian, psychoanalytic, and trance-state. It is well known that a wide range of hypnotic induction protocols is used to prepare individuals to enhance their receptivity to test or clinical suggestions. However, despite its popularity of use, it appears that little is known about its relevancy and boundary conditions either for testing for hypnotisability or for enhancing clinical efficacy. In this volume, the authors reflect on issues surrounding its definitions, relevancy, possible components, and approaches; they also suggest considerations and strategies for optimizing inductions. This book will be of benefit to both newcomers to the field and seasoned researchers and clinicians alike – it can stimulate new thinking and research about this important, but often taken for granted, notion of hypnotic induction. This book was originally published as a special issue of the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis.

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Hypnotic Induction: Enhancing Trance or Mostly Myth?

David B. Reid
Hypnosis has often, and primarily, been portrayed as a mystical means that controls and exploits vulnerable and defenseless people. Sources accused of perpetuating hypnosis myths and misconceptions have included numerous media productions and stage demonstrations at state fairs and festivals. Ironically, one largely unexamined potential culprit disseminating misinformation about hypnosis is the field of clinical hypnosis itself. This article not only questions the legitimacy of the term “hypnotic induction” and its derivatives but also explores the potential impact these terms have on the perpetuation of hypnosis myths and misconceptions. Through an examination of a selective history of hypnotic induction, the customary language of hypnosis, and information promoted by professional hypnosis societies, some of the contributing terminology is identified. Alternative terms that more appropriately embody the manifestation of trance are offered and discussed.
Hull (1933/2002) studied it, Erickson individualized it (Erickson, 1958; Erickson, Rossi, & Rossi, 1976), others quantified it (Shor & Orne, 1962; Weitzenhoffer & Hilgard, 1959, 1962), and professional hypnosis societies offer training opportunities for mastering it (American Society of Clinical Hypnosis [ASCH], 2016; Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis [SCEH], 2016). It is the subject of this special issue of the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis (AJCH). It is hypnotic induction.
Since 1950, the terms “induction” and/or “induce” have appeared in the titles of 76 articles published in the AJCH and 84 articles published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. Obviously, this term has been, and continues to be, embraced and promoted as an essential component of hypnosis. Furthermore, pragmatic techniques intended to bring this term to life have been taught at regional and national workshops sponsored by clinical hypnosis societies for several decades. Specifically, there is the eye-roll technique (Spiegel & Spiegel, 1978), hand and arm levitation induction (Erickson, 1958), eye fixation technique (Spiegel & Spiegel, 1978; Weitzenhoffer, 2000), Chiasson’s induction (Chiasson, 1973), conscious/unconscious dissociation induction (Lankton & Lankton, 1983/2008), progressive relaxation induction (Kirsch, Lynn, & Rhue, 1993), and alert hypnosis induction (Wark, 2006, 2015), to name only a few.
Interestingly, with the exception of the eye-fixation and eye-roll technique espoused by Spiegel and Spiegel (1978), there has been minimal empirical investigation of seemingly essential techniques for “producing” trance. Nevertheless, the Standards of Training in Clinical Hypnosis (Hammond & Elkins, 2005), published and advocated by ASCH, proposes a minimum amount of time to be dedicated to induction techniques, including didactic seminars and “in-vivo” supervised practice opportunities, for attendees of their Basic Workshop (60 and 240 minutes, respectively) and their Intermediate Workshop (60 and 180 minutes, respectively).
So apparently there you have it: Hypnotic induction techniques, mastered through practice and supervised experiences, and the subject matter of hundreds of peer-reviewed publications over the years, is apparently essential for hypnosis. Indeed, after the establishment of rapport, hypnotic induction has generally been considered the second in a series of necessary steps when using hypnosis (Hammond & Elkins, 2005). This is what I was taught, what I taught others, and what I practiced for many years. Then I read Laurence Sugarman’s guest editorial introducing the January 2015 special issue of the AJCH dedicated to the nature and domain of hypnosis. Sugarman’s words gave me pause, and his invitation to respond to articles published in that special issue prompted the writing of this article nearly 1 year later.
With the closed journal resting on my lap, I contemplated and questioned all that I understood about hypnosis, and more importantly, all that I did (or thought I did) when assisting others using hypnosis. I considered the concept of “hypnotic induction” and wondered: Does the term “hypnotic induction” truly characterize what we do during hypnosis? Does this term inadvertently perpetuate myths and misconceptions about hypnosis? And if so, should we adopt an alternative term that more accurately conceptualizes the apparent process that facilitates trance? Or, perhaps, should we abandon the term entirely, along with any notion that we as therapists or supposed “facilitators” of trance do anything to anyone during hypnosis?
I believe answers to these questions warrant a critical examination of the following: (1) hypnosis myths and misconceptions, (2) a selective review of the history of hypnotic inductions, (3) the language of hypnosis (emphasized by italics henceforth), and (4) education/training provided by professional clinical hypnosis societies and organizations.
Hypnosis Myths and Misconceptions
Fifty years have passed since Kroger (1963) opined that the general public feared losing control during hypnosis (e.g., “I will reveal secrets”; “I will do things against my will”). Despite persistent efforts of clinical hypnosis societies (e.g., ASCH, SCEH), professional psychological organizations (e.g., APA Division 30, Psychological Hypnosis), and trained clinicians promoting the health and behavioral benefits of clinical hypnosis, this therapeutic intervention remains misunderstood, poorly accepted, and underutilized (Lynn, Rhue, & Kirsch, 2010; Thomson, 2003). In a survey of 272 adults evaluating public opinion about hypnosis, Johnson and Hauck (1999) found that 55% of those surveyed believed that the therapist controlled hypnosis, and 50% maintained that during hypnosis a person could be made to do things they would not ordinarily do.
Negative attitudes concerning hypnosis have been promulgated by multiple sources including silver screen productions (i.e., The Manchurian Candidate, Silence of the Lambs), children’s cartoons (i.e., Scooby Doo, Robin Hood, Jungle Book), and sensational hypnosis stage shows where seemingly entranced volunteers involuntarily quack like ducks (Pratt, Wood, & Alman, 1988). At the very least, hypnosis has been portrayed as controlling and exploitive of defenseless, vulnerable people. Or worse, perceived as a nefarious key that unlocks a nebulous portal to the human mind, permitting satanic and unholy possession (Barrett, 2006).
A Selective History of Hypnotic Induction
In one form or another, hypnosis has been practiced throughout recorded history and traced back 4,000 years to the ancient Egyptian priest and pyramid architect, Imhotep (Osler, 2004). Inscriptions on walls of sleep and dream temples dating to Imhotep’s time tell of supposed cures by Egyptian priests who induced trance-like states that cast out “bad spirits,” offering relief to the suffering (Osler, 2004). It was also the Egyptians who introduced magnets and magnetized objects to produce therapeutic “sleep states” 2,000 years before Mesmer filled his first tub with water, iron filings, and powdered glass (Bonwick, 1878; Edmondston, 1986).
John Joseph Gasner, a German priest and exorcist, gained notoriety for his alleged cures of patients suffering from epileptic convulsions (Laurence & Perry, 1988). Relying on techniques compelling the devil to manifest his presence though hypnotic phenomena, Gasner expelled the evil deity through a patient’s extremities (Sheehan & Perry, 1976).
Best known for his writings and promotion of animal magnetism, some sources suggest that Mesmer likely plagiarized the writings of William Maxwell for his own self-promotion (Francher, 1990; Pattie, 1994). Mesmer eventually abandoned his theory concerning magnetic fluid (i.e., artificial tide) and maintained that “mesmeric” passes of his hands over a patient’s body was sufficient for producing cures.
Consistent with his reputation of being a flamboyant showman, Mesmer reportedly “mesmerized” a tree outside his offices, permitting the underprivileged to touch the “entranced” tree and benefit from his transferred curative energy (Hammond, 2013, emphasis added). Eventually, Mesmer constructed oak tubs, or baquets, resembling shallow, modern-day hot tubs that served as conduits for healing. While sitting in a tub of “mesmerized water, powdered glass, and iron filings,” patients were “magnetized” by Mesmer, or one of his assistants (Hammond, 2013, emphasis added).
During these sessions, Mesmer observed that some individuals were either unresponsive, seemed to enter into a deep sleep, or were minimally responsive, presumably due to personality traits or hereditary factors (Bowers, 1983; Morgan, Hilgard, & Davert, 1970). In essence, according to Mesmer, the facilitator was given credit for any positive treatment outcomes, while limited or no benefits were attributed to the patient.
Mesmer’s work was eventually discredit...


  1. Cover
  2. Half Title
  3. Title Page
  4. Copyright
  5. Contents
  6. Citation Information
  7. Notes on Contributors
  8. Introduction: The Paradox of Induction
  9. 1. Hypnotic Induction: Enhancing Trance or Mostly Myth?
  10. 2. What Can a Hypnotic Induction Do?
  11. 3. Nuances and Uncertainties Regarding Hypnotic Inductions: Toward a Theoretically Informed Praxis
  12. 4. Conscious/Unconscious Dissociation Induction: Increasing Hypnotic Performance With “Resistant” Clients
  13. 5. Perspectives on Pathways to Induction: Confronting Unexpected Challenges
  14. 6. Induction Technique: Beyond Simple Response to Suggestion
  15. 7. A Comparison of Hypnotic Induction, Task Motivation, and a “Cold Start” Control Group on Hypnotizability
  16. 8. The Hypnotic Induction in the Broad Scheme of Hypnosis: A Sociocognitive Perspective
  17. Index
Estilos de citas para Hypnotic Induction

APA 6 Citation

Kumar, V., & Lankton, S. (2018). Hypnotic Induction (1st ed.). Taylor and Francis. Retrieved from https://www.perlego.com/book/1501151/hypnotic-induction-perspectives-strategies-and-concerns-pdf (Original work published 2018)

Chicago Citation

Kumar, V, and Stephen Lankton. (2018) 2018. Hypnotic Induction. 1st ed. Taylor and Francis. https://www.perlego.com/book/1501151/hypnotic-induction-perspectives-strategies-and-concerns-pdf.

Harvard Citation

Kumar, V. and Lankton, S. (2018) Hypnotic Induction. 1st edn. Taylor and Francis. Available at: https://www.perlego.com/book/1501151/hypnotic-induction-perspectives-strategies-and-concerns-pdf (Accessed: 14 October 2022).

MLA 7 Citation

Kumar, V, and Stephen Lankton. Hypnotic Induction. 1st ed. Taylor and Francis, 2018. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.