Covert hypnosis, created by Milton H Erickson, a psychiatrist by profession is a process wherein the hypnotists have the ability to hypnotize their subjects without their even noticing it. It is an extension of conversational hypnosis and involves the application of conversational tactics to transit the subjects into a suggestibility state where they do not show resistance to listen to suggestions. Choice of words, persuasive tone of language are the hallmarks of covert hypnosis and its uniqueness lies in the fact that it dispenses away with the requirement of use of body language.
Explained in a scientific manner the brain uses waves as modes of communication. Some of them are known as alpha, beta, delta, gamma, and theta waves. Alpha waves at 8-13Hz are found to produce a calm and relaxed state of mind. Beta waves operating at 13-30 Hz are known to carry the subjects into a state of intense concentration which is capable of enabling them to think deeply and analyze logically. Delta waves at 0.5-4 Hz induce a total state of relaxation similar to a state of deep sleep. Gamma waves operating at about 40Hz facilitate a high level of mental activity. Theta waves operating at levels between 4 and 7 Hz are known to take the subjects to a total state of relaxation and in such a state people are found to have the ability to slip into day dreaming. Theta waves are the ones which are considered to be most relevant for covert hypnosis because they facilitate the subjects to transit themselves into a trance state. When people during the process of being hypnotized slip into trance state the extent of their acquiescence to suggestibility is significantly higher.
Technically, covert hypnosis works on what is termed as the ABS protocol, where A signifies attention, B bypassing and C covert. Even though the words technical and protocol are used here, they are only to explain something better and not to complicate. For these reasons, in the next two paragraphs they are explained in a layman’s term wherein the first one expands the theme and the second explains the methods followed in applying such a theme.
In whatever you do in life, it is necessary to get the attention of the people to listen to you. Hypnosis is no exception to this. It is difficult to hypnotize a person when he/she is not in a listening mode and it is at this stage the rapport is established to facilitate their listening. The second task at hand relates to the bypassing the conscious part of the mind whose function is to critically analyze all suggestions and information given. If this stage is not crossed, the subjects do not enter into a state of suggestibility. Covert hypnosis achieves this by enabling the subjects to enter into a trance stage. The final and crucial stage is the covert hypnosis protocol. Covert stage stimulates the unconscious part of the mind to imprint the suggestions on the subjects.
A trained hypnotherapist typically applies the following steps in covert hypnosis:
- Induce their clients to engage with them in a mode of conversation during which process the subjects come out with their thoughts and feelings.
- Reassure them if need be even by touching their clients that they are listening in an intensive and empathetic manner
- Once the listening process is over, they start conversing by carefully choosing only those words which their clients are comfortable to hear essentially to create the rapport between the hypnotherapist and his/her client.
- As soon as the rapport is created, the hypnotist starts the to use suggestibility words in a positive persuasive but soft spoken manner which builds the confidence in his/her subject and once they are sure they have gained such confidence, they proceed to the next level of putting their clients into a state of trance.
- When the subjects are in a trance state, the messages are passed on in such a manner that it gets into the subconscious mind of the subjects.
- Covert hypnosis finally achieves its goal of bringing out the desired changes in its subjects by successfully programming the subjects’ minds to carry out the messages implanted therein.
The main criticism against covert hypnosis is that it is a subtle mind control technique, manipulative in nature that can distort the proper functioning of the mind by interfering with various mind waves described earlier in the article. When used in a negative manner, as for instance, in covert operations or interrogating persons who are alleged to have committed some crimes, it can destroy a person’s living. Other controversies surrounding covert hypnosis rely on the presumption that evil thoughts could be implanted into the subconscious minds of these individuals because the hypnotist hypnotizes his/her subjects without obtaining their consent.
While it needs extensive amounts of research to establish or deny the criticism that covert hypnosis being used in military and covert operations, at least in regard to the controversies we can state that they project a distorted definition of covert hypnosis. What in effect covert hypnosis implies is hypnosis in the subjects could be produced without a need for their having to be hypnotized. Stated otherwise, in hypnosis nothing can happen without the consent of the people who are hypnotized. This logic to some extent can be applied in respect of criticisms too but substantiating it in such extreme cases is difficult.
Covert hypnosis is found in many walks of day today life. You would have seen many skilled orators through their power of speech leaving you spell bound. This in effect means they have successfully implanted their ideas into your subconscious minds. Here, neither did you attend a pre-programmed hypnotic session nor underwent any hypnotic techniques. It just had happened while you were very much conscious. You would also observe covert hypnosis is used in writing by distinguishing while you found some material were boring making you to switch pages quickly, there are others which keeps you absorbed .Specifically, narrative accounts fall into this category.
Finally, covert hypnosis finds more applications in the fields of advertising, marketing, and selling. However, it has its uses in therapy also. The artistic part of hypnosis could be found more in the applications of covert hypnosis even though the basis of such applications is still scientific.
We can conclude by stating the source of convert hypnosis is conversational hypnosis and for that reason many of the techniques that are applicable to conversational hypnosis would also apply to covert hypnosis. Instead of duplicating them, we have given you the core points governing covert hypnosis with the objective of dispelling the fears and or misconceptions you may have so that you can take control of your lives by benefitting from it.