How the BLEEP did that happen?! - Episode 11

[I recommend going in numerical order with the Episodes. They build on each other.]

Episode 30 contains the full resource list.

This next episode is exciting and disturbing. Pay attention, there are mighty big clues in here! It's a little longer than my usual posts, but stay with it. I make some important comments at the end.

'Word Salad' as described in Episode 2, can be used to throw people off point, but it can also be used as part of trance induction. Read below; this refers to Naturalistic Trance Induction excerpted from Margaret Singers book 'Cults in Our Midst'.

The work of Milton Erickson, a renowned medical hypnotist, and his colleagues provides an excellent compilation of the methods and techniques that can be used to elicit cooperation and decrease resistance to change. A number of these techniques are among the processes we see used in cults.

Milton Erickson was interested in hypnosis and trance in a very special way. As both a researcher in hypnosis and an experienced psychiatrist, he knew how difficult it is to help people change, especially when they must change their habit patterns. Dedicated to helping people, Erickson devised a unique way of treating his patients, and his work offers one of the clearest explanations of how ordinary words, conversational style, and careful pacing and leading of an interaction can bring one person to the point of being able to secure the cooperation of another person without using pressure, high-demand announcements, or commands.

Until Erickson's work became known, most persons who employed trances -- whether they were stage hypnotists, scientists studying hypnosis, or dentists and others using it to reduce pain and anxiety -- relied on formal trance inductions, procedures clearly announced to the patient -- "I am going to hypnotize you. Please close your eyes and relax." Erickson redefined hypnosis, seeing it as an interchange between two people in which the hypnotist gains the subject's cooperation, deals in various ways with resistance to cooperation, and promotes acknowledgment from the person that something is happening. Through this process, the hypnotherapist indirectly suggests the behavioral changes the patient comes to make.

During Erickson's naturalistic inductions, he did not announce, "We are now doing hypnosis." Nor did he even mention that "this is hypnosis." Instead, he "paced and led" the person he was working with into whatever levels of trance the person could attain at a particular time. People who went to him knowing his fame as a medical hypnotist found themselves sitting talking with him, hearing him tell tales and chatting along disarmingly, unaware that what was transpiring between them was producing trances of varying depths. As a result of these interactions, the patients' attitudes toward themselves and life were changing. Erickson's development of naturalistic trance induction was a major contribution to therapeutic intervention.

A critical difference between Milton Erickson's work and cult leaders' methods is that Erickson kept the best interests of his patients foremost and did nothing self-serving with what he recognized as a very powerful means of changing people. He used influence techniques to help his patients change for their own betterment and based his treatment methods on decades of astute and careful observations of patients. Nevertheless, Erickson's carefully noted observations on influence help us recognize and label the techniques put into play in cults and thought-reform groups. In Chapter Three, I outlined what thought reform is and the three stages unfreezing, changing, and refreezing a person's attitudes and behavior. Erickson's work gives us a way to understand the context in which the moment-to-moment alterations take place and the methods used during the process of change induction.

It is the naturalistic trance induction that is likely to occur in cults, thought-reform groups, and some New Age groups. Most leaders of these groups probably do not consider what they are doing as trance induction. However, even when trances per se are not produced, the activities of skilled recruiters and cult leaders capitalize on the essential ingredients of pacing and leading, exploiting positive transference (discussed later in the chapter), and making indirect suggestions, all of which are central to the processes of hypnosis and trance.


.... One widely used trance induction process, described in the work of Hillel Zeitlin, is to evoke universal experiences, as is done in these words: "Who among us has not stood on a hillside, looking out over a valley...and felt some mysterious emotion welling up in our heart?" Evoking a feeling or universality in a person helps the speaker solicit cooperation from that person.

Sometimes the induction method is speech filled with paradox and discrepancy -- that is, the message is not logical and you are unable to follow it, but it is presented as though it were logical. Trying to follow what is being said can actually detach the listener from reality. A good example of this technique comes from cult leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh's comments at an initiation ceremony in which he gave each disciple a new name along with directives to wear first orange- and then plum-colored clothing and a necklace with his picture on it. Reading what Rajneesh said can give you a feeling for what words can do to cause a person to enter a light trance, or space out.

First, the picture is not mine. The picture only appears to be mine. No picture of me is really possible. The moment one knows oneself, one knows something that cannot be depicted, described, framed. I exist as an emptiness that cannot be pictured, that cannot be photographed. That is why I could put the picture there...The more you know the picture -- the more you concentrate on it, the more you come in tune with it -- the more you will feel what I am saying. The more you concentrate on it, the more there will not be a picture there.

Rajneesh perhaps was aware of the common human response to doing something repetitively: the repeated act can lose meaning. Children catch on, for example, to how they can say their names over and over until they have no meaning. In the quotation, Rajneesh is capitalizing on the way words commonly lose meaning through banal repetition. In relation to a trancelike state, he is also implanting the suggestion that "the more you concentrate on it, the more there will not be any picture there." - Margaret Singer

This information was SO important to me. I'll explain. In my 30+ years of pursuing 'being a better me' through lectures, classes, retreats etc. I found a common occurrence. Perhaps you have too? I noticed that when the teacher or lecturer 'droned on' about some topic, I would sometimes find myself getting very... very... very sleepy... At times the staff at a retreat might come and prod me and others, explaining that some weakness or limitation in our psyche was making it difficult for us to take the 'sacred' information in.

After I read about Naturalistic Trance Induction, I realized that what may actually be happening is the 'lecturer' was actually NOT making sense and was using 'speech filled with paradox and discrepancy' to perhaps purposefully lull us into a somnabulistic trance state, disconnecting us from reality, and opening us to all manner of suggestion.

Next up. A staggering example of hypnosis.

To be continued....

Mark Vicente ©2017