Hypnosis is a process for individuals in pursuit of achieving internal change via a suggestion in a sleep-like trance, which has been amply studied and documented by the scientific community.
Despite earning a spot as a legitimate psychological treatment, many people don’t believe in hypnotism, not out of bad faith, but can’t experience it.
That corroborates with a good deal of evidence that we have, which points towards the notion that some people are more susceptible to hypnosis than others. In this article, we will find out precisely what makes a person easy or hard to hypnotize.
Let’s Talk Statistics
Dr. David Spiegel, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, estimates that about 25% of the world population is “immune” to hypnotism, with a minority of 5% to 10% being extraordinarily and the majority of 79% being only mildly susceptible.
That explains why, while most people can be hypnotized, some can go into a trance with greater ease, while others are incapable of experiencing it.
Now, we have the number, but not the cause; it’s time to talk about the characteristics of highly hypnotizable people.
In the 1980s, Ph.D.’s Cheryl Wilson and Ted Barber of the Medfield foundation interviewed a group of highly hypnotizable people about their childhood memories and adult life.
This group was called “fantasizers” by both doctors – people with an imagination that can be as vivid as reality itself.
These fantasizers all shared a series of similarities with each other, such as spending most of their waking hours fantasizing while simultaneously fulfilling their daily tasks.
Here are some common characteristics that they share:
- – Unreliable memory: Fantasizers tend to mix events and things they have imagined with their recollections of experiences, often translating into inconsistent or incorrect memories.
- – Imaginary Friends: Most Fantasizers remember having had an imaginary friend with whom they interacted and played with as children
- – Zoning Out: The habit of getting caught up on their imagination to the point of ignoring the real world is also a common trait of Fantasizers.
- – Fantasy identity: Fantasizers tend to develop their own “internal world” as they grow, with recurring themes and images.
- – Sensibility to imagined events: Fantasizers tend to have physical reactions to imagined events; for example, if you had them picture themselves swallowing a fly, they will cover their mouths.
- – Stimulating Parents: Fantasizers often come from family backgrounds, where imagination and creativity are activities that were highly encouraged.
This ability to experience imaginary constructs very vividly is what makes them so prone to suggestion, as they receive it, they imagine it, and by believing, they live it.
In the opposite corner of this spectrum, people who are more analytical or logical are practically impossible to hypnotize since they tend not to be imaginative.
Imagination is not the only fact that makes someone open to suggestions and is, therefore, easy to hypnotize; there is another: Familiarity.
If someone has been through a hypnotism session before, they will not be as apprehensive as someone that goes through for the first time, as they know what to expect.
The same goes for people who have never been hypnotized themselves but witnessed a session or had friend or family member relate their experience.
Even people who have experienced your run-of-the-mill therapy or yoga class might be more open to suggestions as they are well versed in accessing their inner selves and moving their minds along with their bodies.
Consent and Belief
There is one last factor which we must look at to properly explore what makes someone susceptible to hypnotism, whether they want and believe they can be hypnotized.
That is to say since hypnotism is an entirely mental and imaginative process. For someone to undergo it willingly without raising any form of resistance – it’s far more likely that subject will be able to be relaxed enough to achieve the necessary mental state.
Likewise, hypnotism implies that there will be a noticeable change in one’s mind and behavior, so it only makes sense that someone will only see this change if they believe that it can happen.
All of this corroborates to a single idea. If someone wants to be hypnotized, they will be hypnotized.
In many ways, this can be compared with a placebo effect, where, if your mind believes that the medicine you just took can cure your body, then your internal chemistry will act as if you had chosen it.
That means that if you believe you are being hypnotized, then you inevitably will experience it.
Imagination plays such a huge role here. If a fantasizer is asked to picture and describe a lemon, they will be more likely to feel as if the lemon is there.
Moreover, the subject will also describe where the lemon is. If there is a painting on the wall, whether the picture is funny or sad, and so on.
It is also why someone that had experienced hypnotism before, or heard about someone’s experience is more susceptible, as they are more likely to believe it works.
Someone that is either skeptical or apprehensive about hypnotism is likely to have a voice in their head saying “this is bogus” mar their ability to be influenced by a hypnotist.
Imagination is Key
In conclusion, the effectiveness of a hypnosis session is for the most part dependent on your mental state at the time you undergo it.
Its success weighs entirely on how capable you are to slip into your mind and allow change to occur.
That is not to say hypnosis is a matter of faith, only that best results are based on the power your mind has over itself and your body.