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Authoritarian or permissive hypnosis?

By on July 18, 2014
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If you are a practicing hypnotist you will likely be familiar with two of the main approaches to hypnotic inductions and suggestions: the authoritarian approach and the permissive approach. The authoritarian approach involves the hypnotist giving direct suggestions and commands to the subject, such as, “You are beginning to feel relaxed, and this relaxation will continue to spread throughout your body.” In contrast the permissive hypnotist may say, “You may begin to feel relaxed, and you may allow that relaxation to spread only as quickly as is right for you.”

Of course this is not a black and white issue, it is a continuum, for example where would suggestions such as, “You are beginning to feel relaxed, and you may allow that relaxation to spread only as quickly as is right for you”, or, “You may begin to feel relaxed, and this relaxation will continue to spread throughout your body.”

Some hypnotists always use one approach or the other, depending on their training and preference. Fortunately, most hypnotists subscribe to the sensible notion that the type of hypnotic instruction to be given to your client will depend not so much on your preference as a hypnotist, but rather on your client’s preference. It is therefore gratifying to find some research on this topic that demonstrates the best approach is indeed dependent on the personality characteristics of the subject, although the permissive approach appears to give the best results over a range of personality types, so if in doubt be permissive!

You can read the abstract of the research here, unfortunately the full paper does not appear to be available online.

The purpose of this study was to compare the effectiveness of two techniques of hypnotic induction and hypnotic suggestion, an authoritarian and a permissive technique. cardinalscholar.bsu.edu

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