Un-hypnotizable?

Postby questioneverything » Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:13 pm

I recently read an article on this site about people who have difficulty experiencing hypnosis and posted the following in response. I look forward to anyone's thoughts on this:

My post:

Being a long time "poor subject", this article immediately caught my eye. Yes, if you paint with a broad brush, the times I've "zoned out" or was so engrossed in an activity that I was unaware of someone calling my name, could be regarded as a form of hypnosis. One statement the author made that rang true for me though was this one: "So if you feel as if you can't go into hypnosis, what you really mean is that you haven't yet entered trance in a formal hypnotic situation in which someone is actually attempting to hypnotize you." That is precisely where I have my difficulty.

Distraction is a huge issue for me, being ADHD. I definitely see the disadvantages (having experienced them for literally all of my life), but I'm hard pressed to see how the distractions could possibly be useful. After decades (yes, you read right...decades) of trying with many hypnotists in a wide variety of settings and times, I have yet to have what I could truly call a successful session.

What is particularly frustrating to me is the hypnotist who then summarily accuses me me of "fighting it". One such person, a recognized expert in the field made this pronouncement on me after having talked with me for 15 minutes, and that online. And it wasn't even a session...it was just discussion about the problem. We never even met face to face! I find this simplistic and very convenient for the hypnotist.

I've also raised the question of whether I could be held back by some physiological condition. This has been immediately dismissed when I would bring it up, even though a study from Stanford has found physiological differences in key brain structures between highly suggestible people and those who are not. Well, wouldn't that possibility be denied even if it were true? For a hypnotist to admit the possibility, would be tantamount to losing that person as a subject, because then the doubt the subject has about ability to be hypnotized would be reinforced, yes?

Anyway, those are my thoughts. if anyone else has had these difficulties, I would welcome a dialog. Been looking for some resolution to this issue for literally years.

Peace.

BJ
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#1

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:26 am

Suggestibility is fundamental to hypnotism. Therefore, when a person is a skeptic regarding this fundamental it helps a hypnotist not waste their time. It is a huge uphill battle to convince a skeptic. Why spend all the time and effort, when you can just move on to others that already believe that they can be hypnotized?

This doesn’t make you un-hypnotizable, claims the hypnotist. It just makes your particular case not worth the effort. And this is the rub. The skeptic uses the hypnotists unwillingness to invest the time and effort as proof that hypnotism is a pseudo science at best and a scam at worst.

This brings to the question, “So what?”

What is your goal here? You want to be hypnotized, but you want the hypnotist to put in special effort to prove you are suggestible? Or are you just uncertain that some people can’t be hypnotized?
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#2

Postby jimmyh » Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:36 pm

Distraction is a huge issue for me, being ADHD. I definitely see the disadvantages (having experienced them for literally all of my life), but I'm hard pressed to see how the distractions could possibly be useful.


I'm definitely over to the ADHD side of the spectrum, and while my ADHD tendencies haven't been a pure unalloyed good in my life, I'm sure glad I have them.

Getting "distracted" easily is our brains way of saying "this is stupid and I don't want to do it". As is often the case, the utility of an impulse depends on the context in which it comes up, and how it is used. For example, you might have a hard time focusing in class. If the class is hard, this can make things really difficult and you'd probably be better off with a brain that is less reluctant to focus on what it's told. If the class is easy, however, it might pay off. It'll still make things *harder* if you don't pay attention, but if you can handle harder then you can let your thoughts wander during class and use that time to solve more interesting problems in your life.

In general, having an active "this is stupid and I don't want to do it" response generally makes things both more challenging and more interesting all the way up until the point where things begin to breakdown. You might be able to blow off the easy classes, but at some point there's that point where it's no longer feasible to get around doing boring things, and at that point those things must actually be done. Further impulse towards distraction only makes doing the necessary less pleasant and less efficient, and can begin to interfere with one's ability to accept and take on interesting challenges which build upon one another.

I wouldn't suggest that you *want* all of the downsides you're experiencing from it now or that you're at any sort of optimum, but I'd suggest that you might not want to get rid of that tendency altogether. Tone it down a bit, probably. Learn to better steer it towards productive outcomes, for sure. But getting rid of it entirely would mean accepting that you're going to have a boring job and a boring relationship and a boring life -- because you'll have numbed the impulse to care enough to look for something more interesting. I don't know about you, but to me that sounds... terrible. In some cases it might be worth it, but even in those cases I imagine it'd be a hard decision simply because of the magnitude of what you'd have to give up. I wouldn't want to have to look forward to a 9 hour shift of a repetitive job and think "yep, this is what I want to be doing with my time and how I want to focus my thoughts".



What is particularly frustrating to me is the hypnotist who then summarily accuses me me of "fighting it". One such person, a recognized expert in the field made this pronouncement on me after having talked with me for 15 minutes, and that online. And it wasn't even a session...it was just discussion about the problem. We never even met face to face! I find this simplistic and very convenient for the hypnotist.


Heh, yes. This is a thing, and it is a poor showing on the part of the hypnotist. You're right that it is both a very simplistic and suspiciously convenient response for a hypnotist to give. His job is to hypnotize people. Regardless of whether or not you can be meaningfully said to be "fighting" it, if he can't hypnotize you, that means he has room for improvement at the thing he claims to be a professional (or even "expert") at. There is no way out of this. Even if you're fighting it, it just means that the place where he's failing is that he's not being someone with whom you would not fight it. This is an actual skill that can be developed, and is by no means beyond what is to be expected from someone calling themselves an "expert hypnotist".

In fact, I'd argue that's the key skill involved in being a half-decent hypnotist. Anyone can hypnotize the most compliant and easy subjects. Literally all you have to do is say "go into hypnosis and nod when you're there", and the easy ones will. I'm not making this up. If they say anything else other than "okay", they're being non-compliant by definition. It's a defeatist mistake to assume that the only reason someone might fail to comply with your instructions/suggestions is that they're "fighting" you -- as if "clarity of instructions" and a million other things aren't possibilities. After all, why would a client come to them if they weren't looking to be hypnotized and change?

This is a very interesting question in general, and I've talked about it a good amount on this forum in the past (ask not to be hypnotized for known goals,, self hypnosis in deep states, post-hypnotism etc). If you want to get a better idea of where my following suggestions come from and how to generate them on your own, these threads might be worth a read. Here though, I'll focus on the situation you present and point out what the hypnotist could have done differently.

The first thing that stands out is that your attitude towards the hypnotist involves things like "that's an awfully convenient excuse, and instead of respecting your 'expertise' I suspect you're just making up nonsense to protect your own ego" and "dude, this problem *sucks* and I absolutely don't want to have it, *you clearly don't get it*". I happen to think you're probably right here, but it's worth noting that both the lack of trust/respect and the expectation that this person doesn't get where you're coming from form a pretty effective barrier to hypnosis.

From the hypnotists side, you can do a whole lot to preempt things like this by actually making sure to understand where they're coming from, and refraining from making up bs to protect your own ego. Occasionally it's possible to end up in the position of your client seeing you as making up BS ego defenses and not-getting-it anyway, and if that happens the only thing of any importance is addressing it. You address it by *showing* it to be not true. By actually checking that you understand where they're coming from, and not pushing things away for threatening your ego. If you can say something like "I can see that you think I'm just making this up. I guess it does look like that, huh?", then it doesn't necessarily mean they'll believe you right away, but at least they'll be able to see that you're not unaware and out of touch with reality -- and that's the openness you need in order to explain things.

There's much much more to be said on this topic (obviously), but it's hard to underestimate the impact of even this first step and the power of respect and trust in obtaining "hypnotic" phenomena. In a lot of ways, the process of a hypnotic induction *is* the process of earning and developing trust and respect.

As a subject, unfortunately there's not a lot you can do except "find a hypnotist who isn't a dingbat". While it is possible to develop the skill of being hypnotized to the point where any idiot hypnotist can do it, the person who you go to in order to learn that skill is called a "hypnotist", and there's no reason to do all the hard work yourself and then pay some idiot to think he did anything of value.


I've also raised the question of whether I could be held back by some physiological condition. This has been immediately dismissed when I would bring it up, even though a study from Stanford has found physiological differences in key brain structures between highly suggestible people and those who are not.


In one sense you unquestionably have a "physiological condition" that has been keeping you from responding in the way you've wanted to. In a more meaningful sense it is extremely unlikely.

It is definitely true that people who respond differently to hypnosis have different brain structure and activity. It's not apriori obvious whether these differences would be obviously visible through our current technology for sensing and decoding these things, but our experiences and behaviors are physical outputs of our physical brains. Of course if you're getting a different output *something* must be different on the input, and this something must be physical.

However, this doesn't say anything about what these differences are. One model is that that these physiological brain differences are akin to differences in skeletal muscle mass, where a person with little skeletal muscle just cannot lift a sufficiently heavy weight no matter what they learn or choose to do differently -- the structure just isn't there.

A completely different model is that the physical differences of importance encode things like "propensity to think in a certain way". In this view, the inability to be hypnotized is simply a consequence of how one is using their brain, and if this is changed so will be the results. This can still result in detectable differences in brain structure over time, as is seen in long time meditators.

These two hypotheses make different predictions, and it is possible to test for which is causing your problem. The basic approach is to remove all of the obstacles relating to "how one uses their brain" and see if you're left with a blank inability to do what is suggested, or whether positive results show up. As a hypnotist, when you hypnotize enough people you start to notice that every time you can get the obstacles out of the way, you get hypnosis. All of the people who don't enter hypnosis are ones in which you can see the problem, even if you don't know how to solve them. This obviously isn't true of specific suggestions like "start levitating and float away", but it does point out what it would be like to test for this and notice what happens when the subject does not have the physical capability of enacting the suggestion. Take an excellent subject who doesn't reject any suggestions and then suggest that they start levitating. They won't succeed because hypnosis isn't magic, but the way they fail will tell you something about how it looks to fail due to physical limitations as opposed to failing because of going about things wrong.

Well, wouldn't that possibility be denied even if it were true? For a hypnotist to admit the possibility, would be tantamount to losing that person as a subject, because then the doubt the subject has about ability to be hypnotized would be reinforced, yes?


By dingbats, yes. If the hypnotist isn't a dingbat then he or she should be able to acknowledge the possibility without interfering with their ability to successfully hypnotize the person. As a general rule, the "don't say ____!" type approaches aren't good ones because they rely on keeping an unstable system from tipping over. It's usually better to take an approach which is fundamentally stable so that if it's perturbed it'll return back to a good place. In this case it's easy enough to simply say "maybe".

"Maybe you can be hypnotized, maybe you can't. If you can't, there's nothing that can be done and paying me to hypnotize you will achieve nothing besides figuring this out. I understand if you don't want to pay for something that isn't 100% guaranteed to work for you, and if you don't want to take that risk that's okay."

If you go ahead from there, it's because even though there's a chance that you might not be hypnotizable, there's a chance that you *might*. And so long as your attention is on going into hypnosis it matters not what you believe to be the odds of success. In fact, by acknowledging that it might be impossible, it often takes attention off the possibility of failure, which allows more attention to be pointed towards success and therefore better results.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. if anyone else has had these difficulties, I would welcome a dialog. Been looking for some resolution to this issue for literally years.

What for, if you don't mind me asking? Is there something specific you'd like to achieve for which you think hypnosis would be necessary/useful (like the ADHD itself, perhaps), or is it more of an imprecise curiosity driving you to desire exploring the space in general?

I started out as a quite "difficult" subject as well, and wasn't particularly good at experiencing hypnosis. I've gotten much better at the parts of it I've found to be important, but not in a way that looks like what you'd expect and I still wouldn't self-describe as "a good subject". I just found other (preferable, IMO) ways to get the same things. If you're struggling to be hypnotized I might recommend a similar approach.
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#3

Postby questioneverything » Sat Mar 14, 2020 5:51 am

Richard@DecisionSkills wrote:Suggestibility is fundamental to hypnotism. Therefore, when a person is a skeptic regarding this fundamental it helps a hypnotist not waste their time. It is a huge uphill battle to convince a skeptic. Why spend all the time and effort, when you can just move on to others that already believe that they can be hypnotized?

This doesn’t make you un-hypnotizable, claims the hypnotist. It just makes your particular case not worth the effort. And this is the rub. The skeptic uses the hypnotists unwillingness to invest the time and effort as proof that hypnotism is a pseudo science at best and a scam at worst.

This brings to the question, “So what?”

What is your goal here? You want to be hypnotized, but you want the hypnotist to put in special effort to prove you are suggestible? Or are you just uncertain that some people can’t be hypnotized?



Hello, me again. Sorry I've been away for a while. Just wanted you to know I am still wrestling with this issue, and unfortunately I have come no closer to solving it than I was when I started. To answer your question (from over a year ago!), I am not certain that I personally can be hypnotized. I am constantly being told than it is possible for anyone, but all my experience has shown me otherwise. Am I wasting my time?
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#4

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Sat Mar 14, 2020 6:08 am

questioneverything wrote: Am I wasting my time?


I guess it depends on (1) what you think "hypnosis" will change in your life? And (2) why you think there are no other avenues to achieve whatever it is you are after? Is hypnosis your only path to fame and wealth? Or you think it is the only path to cure all that ails you?

It isn't wasting your time if for some reason hypnosis is so important or central to your existence that finding a way forward is an absolute imperative.

Of course is hypnosis is central to your existence my question would be, why?
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#5

Postby questioneverything » Sun Mar 15, 2020 6:18 am

It's become important at least (if not an imperative) for the simple reason that up till now, it has been unobtainable to me. It's driving me nuts that something that I'm told is so easy to do is something I have been totally unable to do. Does that make any sense? It's like I'm looking through a window at this great party going on, and I can't get inside to join it. If you knew how long I have been chasing this down, you'd know why it's so important to me.

Once I do get there (assuming I ever do), I have a number of things I want to accomplish with it. I have suffered from insomnia most of my life, and I understand hypnosis is useful in treating that. I have also wanted to use it to help me process some bad memories (not attempt to erase them, but make them easier to live with). So, I do have some practical things I want to accomplish, but none of that is ever going to happen, if I can't get to that point first. I can't drive the car from Point A to Point B if it has no gas.

Does that help explain my motives?
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#6

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Tue Mar 17, 2020 2:59 am

First, how did you get the perception it is some "great party"? Is this something you are selling yourself or others are selling you? Are you watching YouTube videos where people are all discussing the amazing, wonderful power of hypnosis?

The reason I ask is that somewhere in your past you have been sold this idea that hypnosis is some amazing power. You must have adopted this view somewhere.

I have a different view. My view is based on discussions with my colleagues, current applications of hypnosis in clinical settings, and scientific studies conducted over the last 70 years. Findings show hypnosis has some application, but there is no great party.

And where did you get the idea that hypnosis is useful in treating insomnia? Again, someone told you, you watched YouTube videos, read a few pop psychology articles online?

http://www.doiserbia.nb.rs/img/doi/0354 ... 02507S.pdf

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/a ... 9915001247

Skim the two above scientific articles. Like many studies on hypnosis they articles say further studies need to be conducted because hypnosis "may" help.

The current trend in hypnosis research has been to acknowledge that hypnosis alone isn't providing the results claimed by those attending the "great party". Instead, research is now combining hypnosis with other methods like CBT. Why? Because CBT actually does get results and now it is the goal to improve CBT by possibly adding elements of hypnosis into the treatment.

If I had to guess, people you associate with are telling you of the wonderful results they have achieved individually with hypnosis. It sounds like a great party. And if I had to guess, they are telling you that hypnosis can not only cure insomnia, but can provide all sorts of other benefits as well.

In the above sense, I think that I understand your motives. I mean, if you believe all the wonderful applications of hypnosis that you have been sold then it would indeed be a great party.

My question, why do you believe them?
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#7

Postby Infinite » Wed Mar 18, 2020 2:22 pm

Wow that guy gave a real well thought response on hypnosis. I think there is no such thing EVERYBODY! some yes some no. So maybe you are one of those people that cannot be suggestible unless you are in extreme pain or some other pressure exerting over your brain and you are sort of distracted psychologically or may not.

I think and for a person who had dissociation for a long time, if you grew up in a very traumatic childhood and sort of learned how to shutdown from hostile environment or a person, you are not easily compliant. You become not so easily compliant cause being compliant when you were a child could have result disintegration of the self - complete psychosis, annihilation or death. So you are sort of a silo person and it sounds you are functional to a point but you are not easy to learn or change, or comply unless it results a physical or real change you are after.
I think hypnosis will result you lose autonomy at least in your head and you were probably beaten so bad that you are not (or simply cannot) allow to give autonomy to your parents then and to anyone now.

This is my take on your post. Out in the field but you may have some protection for the mind to always watch over a body that was abused as a child. So in essence, your mind and body are dissociated and hypnosis cannot repeat voluntarily. However, it is good for you to explore if you have serious trauma so you are aware if sh...hits the van in your life, you can be grounded for good and not fall apart involuntarily. If you cannot allow something, something else can force you. Unless you are aware of what that "something" is.
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#8

Postby questioneverything » Thu Mar 19, 2020 5:19 am

@Richard:

I think you may be taking my "party" analogy a bit too literally. I am not looking at hypnosis like some big "wooo hooo" kind of thing, nor as some awesome power. I've spent a great many years researching this (from legitimate sources, btw), and I can assure you, I have a more realistic view of hypnosis than you give me credit for. What I meant by "party" is the feeling of exclusivity I feel when I read and hear about other peoples' experiences. They find it possible,even easy. My reaction is why can't I?

As for where I heard that hypnosis can be useful in treating insomnia, that came from the many certified hypnotists and hypnotherapists I've interacted with over the years. Incidentally, there are articles on the subject right here in "Uncommon". This is not "Youtube" information, believe me.

So...where do we go from here?
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#9

Postby questioneverything » Thu Mar 19, 2020 5:26 am

@ Infinite:

Interesting take on all this, and with not a small amount of merit. Only thing is, I had no such trauma as a child.

I don't know...maybe I'm just chasing after something that I just can't have.
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#10

Postby Infinite » Thu Mar 19, 2020 10:43 am

Maybe you are special case and hypnosis is not for you. I am surprised all the research you have done you have not come up with a plausible answer or found another person like you. I think you are anomaly and you have absolutely a unique psychic and powerful psychologucal mechanism to withstand ever breaking down whether in hypnosis or a real life adversity. I think honestly you should donate your brain after you pass so it can be studied.

I am impressed with your posts. Thank you for sharing your story.
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#11

Postby questioneverything » Thu Mar 19, 2020 1:45 pm

Interesting thought...I have often been looked on as an anomaly, but usually for other reasons! I have to say, what you suggest is not the news I would have hoped for, but it does explain a few things, if accurate.

Plausible answers have not been very plentiful. All too often, the matter is summarily dismissed as "resistance" or a block of some sort. I'm beginning to think there might be a physiological base to this, and some research out of Stanford seems to support the idea. Without a brain activity scan I have no way of knowing, and I'm not about to sink the kind of money into it that a study of that kind would require.

As for finding others like myself, I am hunting down forums on the subject with the goal of doing just that. So far, I remain a party of one.\

Thanks for your thoughts.
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#12

Postby questioneverything » Sat Mar 28, 2020 4:18 pm

Richard@DecisionSkills wrote:First, how did you get the perception it is some "great party"? Is this something you are selling yourself or others are selling you? Are you watching YouTube videos where people are all discussing the amazing, wonderful power of hypnosis?

The reason I ask is that somewhere in your past you have been sold this idea that hypnosis is some amazing power. You must have adopted this view somewhere.

I have a different view. My view is based on discussions with my colleagues, current applications of hypnosis in clinical settings, and scientific studies conducted over the last 70 years. Findings show hypnosis has some application, but there is no great party.

And where did you get the idea that hypnosis is useful in treating insomnia? Again, someone told you, you watched YouTube videos, read a few pop psychology articles online?


Skim the two above scientific articles. Like many studies on hypnosis they articles say further studies need to be conducted because hypnosis "may" help.

The current trend in hypnosis research has been to acknowledge that hypnosis alone isn't providing the results claimed by those attending the "great party". Instead, research is now combining hypnosis with other methods like CBT. Why? Because CBT actually does get results and now it is the goal to improve CBT by possibly adding elements of hypnosis into the treatment.

If I had to guess, people you associate with are telling you of the wonderful results they have achieved individually with hypnosis. It sounds like a great party. And if I had to guess, they are telling you that hypnosis can not only cure insomnia, but can provide all sorts of other benefits as well.

In the above sense, I think that I understand your motives. I mean, if you believe all the wonderful applications of hypnosis that you have been sold then it would indeed be a great party.

My question, why do you believe them?


I think you may be taking my "party" analogy a bit too literally. I am not looking at hypnosis like some big "wooo hooo" kind of thing, nor as some awesome power. I've spent a great many years researching this (from legitimate sources, btw), and I can assure you, I have a more realistic view of hypnosis than you give me credit for. What I meant by "party" is the feeling of exclusivity I feel when I read and hear about other peoples' experiences. They find it possible,even easy. My reaction is why can't I?

As for where I heard that hypnosis can be useful in treating insomnia, that came from the many certified hypnotists and hypnotherapists I've interacted with over the years. Incidentally, there are articles on the subject right here in "Uncommon". This is not "Youtube" information, believe me.

So...where do we go from here?
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#13

Postby Candid » Sun Mar 29, 2020 7:01 am

Infinite wrote:if you grew up in a very traumatic childhood and sort of learned how to shutdown from hostile environment or a person, you are not easily compliant. You become not so easily compliant cause being compliant when you were a child could have result disintegration of the self - complete psychosis, annihilation or death.


That feels right to me. Unfortunately those of us abused in childhood typically 'act out' for the rest of our lives, rebelling against someone who's no longer there, and greatly to our detriment.

I consulted a hypnotist at a time when drinking was the least of my troubles. She repeatedly said "I can have a drink any time I like, but I don't want one now", and each time she said it I thought "I'll pick up a bottle on the way home", which I duly did. I hadn't been thinking of it on the way there. In my case, "not compliant" equates to "defiant".

When hypnosis requires the subject's consent, why does anyone need a hypnotist? CBT makes much more sense.
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#14

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Sun Mar 29, 2020 7:22 am

Candid wrote:When hypnosis requires the subject's consent, why does anyone need a hypnotist? CBT makes much more sense.


I like the hat.

My current theory is that hypnosis taps into a similar thought process of denial of responsibility or that of being granted permission.

"It wasn't me, I was hypnotized."

Or

"I can't, because X doesn't work for me."

You have a strong sense of self, a strong sense of self-agency. When an authority figure tells you to push a button and deliver an electric shock you refuse because you believe that ultimately you are in control of your own actions. Many people struggle, but push the button and then say, "The doctor told me to."

A lot of people have low self-efficacy across many areas of their life. They don't have the confidence that they can stop smoking, etc. so they need a mechanism that they can use as a means to avoid confronting that weakness. Hypnosis provides that lever for many people.

We find similar levers in blaming a boss, seeking justification in a spiritual text, or asking for permission or forgiveness from an authority figure or parent. The hypnotist said I can.
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