Volume 11, Issue 2, page 5

LTHO I am inclined to think of hypnosis as a myth, I do not wish to
imply, foolishly, that such a state
does not exist, but rather that it
has no independent existence of
its own, is not a phenomenon isolated from the work-a-day world, and, in
effect, despite the dramatic appearance
of the hypnotic trance, the average person is just as deeply hypnotized (i.e.,
suggestible) right now, as he ordinarily
ever can or will be. A person is no more
subject to the influence of suggestion in
the setting of a formal hypnosis session
than he is in the more prosaic setting of
the family dinner table. Thus can be explained much of the common, but otherwise
inexplicable phenomena that fall outside
of the classical hypnosis induction patterns -- such as waking hypnosis, instantaneous hypnosis, faith healings, posthypnotic suggestion, and, perhaps, many
mental anomalies.

For about 100 years, since the French
physician, Liebault, reportedly originated the method of hypnotic induction by
verbal suggestion, it has been erroneously
believed, taught, and practiced -- at least,
in effect -- that a person could be made
more suggestible by suggestion. Previous
to this time, the trance was induced and
deepened by various non-verbal methods,
such as mesmeric passes, eye-fixation,
"shock" hypnosis, monotonous physical
sensations, etc. With the advent of verbally-induced hypnosis, the older methods
gradually were discarded, but whether the
same phenomena were produced by the new
method was hotly debated, and, perhaps,
never really resolved. Now, commonly,
verbal suggestion is all that is used to
w induce and (attempt) to deepen the trance,
w altho some eye fixation methods are somen4 times used for induction. In most modern
04 inductions, it is arbitrarily assumed that
w the subject is, at first, not very suggespq tible. Therefore, considerable time is
a spent suggesting to him that he is becoming more suggestible, or a condition such
w as "deep sleep" is suggested to him,
.,sl wherein it is assumed, or hoped, he will
F. be more suggestible.

Despite its long-time popular acceptance, I would like to propose that the
idea of increasing suggestibility by sug5 gestion is not only absurd on the face of
it (being the mental equivalent of raising oneself by his own boot straps), but
is not borne out by evidence nor experience. Rather, the individual, or subject,
being hypnotized is just as suggestible
the first word spoken to him, in the waking state, as he will be after an hour of
suggestion, or many sessions later, no
matter how "deep" he may appear to be. In
fact, the much maligned stage hypnotists
seem to know this, or, at least, to take
advantage of it. One of them states, in a
booklet on instantaneous hypnosis, that a
person can be just as deeply hypnotized
in five seconds, with suggestion, as he
ever can be with an hour of it. (Most
instantaneous hypnosis, as commonly seen,
is, however, the result of post-hypnotic
suggestion.) Unfortunately, this evidence
is unknown, or disdainfully ignored, by
most amateurs, and virtually all professionals who use hypnosis for therapeutic
purposes, and they use unduly long, laborious methods of induction and deepening. The apparently exceptional cases
whereas a few subjects cannot at first be
hypnotized, but later can be, is probably
not due to any increase in their suggestibility, but rather, to having their fear
of either the hypnotist or hypnosis overcome by a gaining of confidence in him,
his methods, or his ethics. Or perhaps,
if the sessions are continued long enough,
the subject will become sufficiently bored
or tired, and he may eventually drowse and
drift into the slightly more suggestible
somnolent state.

To quote Mr. Webster, or, rather, Messrs.
Funk and Wagnall, "Suggestion, in hypnotism
(is) the causing of an idea, or action on the
part of the subject by the will power of the
operator, also the idea so suggested". The evidence indicates that suggestibility is an almost inalterable, innate temperament characteristic (perhaps inherent, at least deeply
ingrained) that varies greatly in kind and degree from individual to individual, with the
great majority of persons being susceptible
enough to carry out the suggestions and assume
the conditions formally known as hypnosis.
However, this induction of hypnosis by suggestion is merely the specialized utilization, or
taking advantage of predisposition, or characteristic already in existence, and does not
increase nor alter that condition one whit.

Those who speak glibly or aloofly of the
dangers of hypnosis are generally ignoring a
larger portion of the fact. If these concepts
are true, then the implications are very evident that any dangers are not inherent in the
hypnotic state, per se, but in any undesirable
use of suggestion at any time in the presence
of the suggestible -- which is, in reality,
everyone, to some degree. Therefore, the average person is no more affected by suggestion --
adversely or otherwise -- whether in the waking
state or in formal hypnosis. He is not neces