I believe I can hypnotize almost anyone, if they want to be hypnotized, and if they pay attention to my instructions. The instructions are so simple that a child can follow them. Some people can be hypnotized in seconds, while others need to be trained in the skill, or conditioned for hypnosis. The first step is to eliminate any irrational fears or misconceptions so the client feels comfortable with hypnosis. The second step is to help the client to trust the hypnotist as someone who is there to help them in one way or another to have a better life, to find a lost object that has been misplaced, to reduce pain, to be more successful in sports, or a thousand other applications.
The client has to understand that he or she gains control and does not lose control with hypnosis, to understand that no one stays in hypnosis, or “gets stuck” in hypnosis, and that they will not be revealing personal information.
So, can a hypnotist quickly identify people who have a natural talent to be hypnotized easily and rapidly, or those who have been previously hypnotized. In many cases, the answer is yes. The ability to be hypnotized fast requires people who want to be hypnotized and who have a desire and ability to follow simple instructions; who are able to focus and pay attention to something such as a flickering candle flame, a hypnotic spiral, a swinging watch, or simply the hypnotist’s voice.
Some hypnotists claim that East Indians; Iranian women; Asians (more so than Europeans) are easier to hypnotize. I always found that French people in Canada were easier to hypnotize than others. When I presented entertainment hypnosis in the 1960’s and 1970’s, I noticed French people were more emotional, more enthusiastic, and more involved in the hypnosis and the show. Audience members would sit on the edge of their seats, fascinated with the mystery and humor in the show. Country people seemed less cynical and less analytical than city people, and often more relaxed as well.
Sometimes a hypnotist will place his hands on a client’s shoulders and move him back and forth, to determine the degree of relaxation. The hypnotist may shake the client’s hand to find out if the hand is warm, and if the arm is loose and relaxed. Facial muscles will often show greater relaxation as the person is going into hypnosis.
People interested in spiritual and New Age areas such as yoga, meditation, massage, Reiki, psychic phenomena, past life regression, are employed in monotonous work, daydream frequently, are creative with a good imagination such as musicians, artists and writers usually have a natural ability for hypnosis.
Some hypnotists claim that the military are more easily hypnotized because they are used to following instructions. People who have used chemically altering drugs in the past tend to be responsive due to their experience with altered mental states. Some alcohol relaxes to speed up hypnosis, but too much prevents paying attention to following instructions. When I was about 13, I had trouble hypnotizing a school friend. After he had one beer, he became hypnotized very rapidly.
If someone has been hypnotized before, they are more likely to be hypnotized easily and quickly again. If someone shows large pupils, it may indicate that they like you, are interested in the activity and thus able to focus attention very well. When a horrific accident or incident is described, does the person’s imagination kick in causing their face to grimace? Do they become emotionally involved in a movie in a theatre or duck when they see a knife thrown on the movie screen, or do they shed some tears in a sad scene? This shows a vivid imagination, which is helpful to be hypnotized in order to utilize hypnosis for the person’s benefit. People who are eager to be hypnotized are more suited to hypnosis than people who do not wish to be hypnotized.
People who sit close to a hypnotist in an audience, especially the front row, smile, are engaged with the speaker, laugh with the speaker, vocalize, (they are not bored); have a pen in their mouth; or nod after hearing “a lot of people love being hypnotized, it feels so good, they want to do it again and again” are showing strong receptivity for hypnosis. The more signals shown with such positive responses, the easier and faster they will go into hypnosis.
On the other hand, for people whose attention is easily diverted away from the voice of the hypnotist, who do not focus on what the hypnotist is doing, who may sit with arms crossed (may be disagreeing with the idea of hypnosis), they are likely to take more time, or need a specialized method to be hypnotized. For people who find too many “monkeys in their mind with constant mind wandering”, a faster confusion rapid hypnosis method would likely prove more suitable. A client may be told to take a long, slow, deep breath, yet he may take a short, fast, shallow breath. The client may have to learn to pay attention and to follow instructions.
In summary, people are generally very easy to hypnotize if the misconceptions are gone, there is a feeling of trust, they follow simple instructions, are willing to focus attention, willing to learn relax and melt away tensions, and willing to learn how to effectively use their imagination, they will be hypnotized easily, rapidly and deeply. As a result, whatever the client wants to accomplish, he will do it better with maximum success.