Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Throwing Out A Few Words

As hypnotists, we inevitably have to be wordsmiths, poets, story tellers, (and more importantly) listeners, and watchers.

A few terms or concepts perhaps that maybe should be modified in our vocabulary:

Under - meaning that we put people under hypnosis, as in under my spell, under my bed? Under where? Or is this under as one would be in anesthesia? Still, seems odd.

Susceptible - wouldn't receptive be a better word? People are susceptible to colds, not usually receptive.

Subjects - are we royalty (yes, again with the queen dreams)? The word also sounds so scientific and research based. With our clients, we may be experimenting in that we have to figure out what works for the client (assuming one is a client-based hypnotist), but it sounds so negative.

(I cannot take credit totally for these thoughts, only that I agree with them. A friend of mine brought it up the other day, saying these were thoughts mentioned in a workshop she had attended).

Okay, hypnotist, your thoughts, please.


Anonymous said...

Those same words bother me, too. My clients don't go 'under hypnosis' (I certainly never 'put them under'!) and they don't 'wake up' from it; they go into trance and they come out of trance, often several times in the first session.

I never even discuss 'susceptibility' with people because that implies that going into hypnosis is the result of a trick of some kind. In many people's minds 'susceptible' equals 'gullible' and nobody wants to be gullible. Instead I explain that going into hypnosis is a skill, like singing or cooking or remembering names. Some people are naturally good at it, but most people can learn to do it reasonably well with some guidance and practice. By putting it that way there's no pressure on anyone to perform -- it's simply a question of what the client's current level of hypnotic expertise is and the understanding that they will get better at it (go into trance more easily and deeply) with experience.

'Subject' is a particularly strong pet peeve of mine for some reason. It's so irritatingly impersonal, as you noted. A subject is something to be studied, poked, prodded, evaluated. I work with people. Or I'll use 'client' in the abstract sense, if I don't have anyone in mind specifically. And I never poke anyone, though I sometimes prod. ;^)

-Michael Raugh, C.Ht.

The Transparent Hypnotist said...

And I agree with the "wake up" words, as well.

Paul said...

I'd agree across the board. I remember distinctly reading in many texts how Erickson started the "wave" of not using specific words that had been used for years, but funny enough the one he chose to continue using was "sleep" and all forms of that word.

"Utilize" or "Utilization" became the NLP catchphrase also over the years also.

In my opinion - dangerous territory here - it is *ok* to use some of the patient's beliefs about hypnosis when they walk in the door, even if that means using some of the "myths" to get them situated. But again, that's my thinking, and I don't force it on anyone.

If your choice of language or words allows them to get there sooner - the faster they achieve that state the more time you have for the real work - then I'm all for it.

Erickson I believe stuck with the word "sleep" and all it's various forms because if you try to explain what a state of hypnosis or trance will feel like, you're going to have a really wicked hard time doing so without using the word "sleep" or saying something like "Well, it feels like you're asleep, or falling asleep, or waking up" as the case may be.

So I'd say it's ok to use some words - like "sleep" specifically - when it comes to the description of what's about to happen. I say "Well, imagine what it's like when you wake up in the morning from a restful nights sleep (unless of course the client is coming to me for help because they CAN'T sleep well) and you're there underneath those soft warm covers, blankets, etc. That pleasant twilight between being awake and asleep."

You simply have to cover the ground with the tools available, aka utilize the patient's beliefs to make magic happen, even if you're fudging it a bit.

Using the word "sleep" in a hypnosis session is like telling a little white lie: it doesn't hurt anyone, and afterwards when the client comes up they're going to say "Wow, that was like a nice short nap, like I was asleep. But you're right in what you said: it's not sleep, and I (sorta) knew what was going on and could hear or sense everything around me."

Funny how that works. :)

Have fun, always...

Lee Darrow said...

As someone who is primarily a stage hypnotist, I use words like "volunteers" instead of "subjects," simply because I am not performing an experiment (even though some stage hypnosis books refer to the various routines that we do on stage as as "experiments..")...

"Deeper" and "sleep" I use because the audience expects them, but I modify the idea, hopefully, in my pre-induction talk, explaining that "hypnosis is kind of like having your body go to sleep, but your mind is still awake..."

I never use the words "susceptibile" or "susceptibility" during my shows, but I sometimes will comment on how superbly someone is responding to my suggestions - and then direct the applause to that person which amounts to operant conditioning of a positive kind.