Covert Hypnosis is the ability to subtly communicate with another person's subconscious mind without them noticing. As it often takes place in the course of a seemingly regular conversation, it is also known as Conversational Hypnosis. The objective is to change the intended behaviour - a sales person, for example, telling the client how good she will feel buying the new product. An intentional use of carefully selected words, body language, intentional gestures that seem commonplace (pointing in a certain direction) and facial expressions (a frown to the buyer to convey the unspoken opinion that she is making a mistake) in order to covertly communicate with someone's subconscious mind. The final objective is to have the person make their own decision to change their mind.

It is a form of hypnosis attempting to achieve near hypnotic states in the listener (sometimes called "sleight of mouth"). [1]) In covert hypnosis the subject is unaware that the hypnotist is either a hypnotist, or hypnotising them, or that anything out of the ordinary is occurring.

Covert hypnosis is a phenomenon not too different from indirect hypnosis (as derived from Milton H. Erickson popularised as The Milton Model [1]) in style [2] but the defining feature is certainly the act of an individual subject becoming hypnotised and taking part in hypnotic phenomena without conscious effort/choice - covert hypnosis like "Ericksonian Hypnosis operates through covert and subtle means... to reach deeper levels of consciousness than are touched by the surface structure of language";[3] it is the concept that an individual, 'the hypnotist,' can control another individual's behavior via gaining rapport (co-operation of their attention - as without rapport covert hypnosis does not take place) [4] with the subject and then making suggestions which the subject isn't fully consciously aware the meaning of.

How it works Edit

The hypnotist gains rapport[4] [5] with the listener/s and the hypnotist maintains psychological congruency [6] [the act of truly acting towards your goals without hesitation] both linguistically and in one's nonverbal communication while this relationship of the subject listening while feeling a psychological connection with the hypnotist and the hypnotist displaying behaviors such as confidence and understanding[4] - the hypnotist then presents linguistical data in the form of some kind of metaphor "The Metaphor presents a surface structure of meaning in the actual words of the story, which activates an associated deep structure of meaning that is indirectly relevant to the listener, which activates a recovered deep structure of meaning that is directly relevant to the listener" [7] in other words; this process builds neurological (most likely unconscious) states within the listener and then neurologically associates those states through covert conditioning (see Anchor (NLP)) also known as covert anchoring [2], thereby forming unconsciously controlled behaviors and thoughts. Often methods of tricking the listener to believe that the hypnotist is talking about something else other than the subject are employed for instance by shifting use of time and use of identity in language; one famous example is employed by Milton H. Erickson "And A Tomato can be happy".[7]

A basic exampleEdit

The hypnotist says: "Don't think of a black cat" [quoted from Derren Brown's Mind Control, Series 2] and the listener's neurology has to access the association 'black cat' in order to understand the sentence thereby the state of understanding a black cat has been accessed in the subject purely by exposure from the hypnotist.

A more complicated exampleEdit

While the subject is paying attention to the hypnotist.[4] A state of forgetfulness can be elicited by talking about what it feels like to be in that state in a manner that implies the other person is currently experiencing it; once this state is at a heightened peak the hypnotist can then talk about that state relating to a concept like the unsuspecting subject's name (a phenomenon called Name Amnesia) and the subject will suddenly be unaware of his/her name on questioning (provided the suggestions implied immediate effect and the reader decides to play along). The purpose of covert hypnosis is to shut down or at least reduce the use of analytical mind in a person. This can be achieved fairly quickly by someone with practice - very often seen in a good used car salesman.

Signs you're not using analytical mindEdit

You are absorbed in a conversation to the point where a viewer would say you were "lost in the moment". You vividly follow what someone is saying and mentally agree with their position even if this is out of your character (yes, I would look good in those plaid pants). You take in information without questioning its origin and validity and you respond to emotionally descriptive language (language patterns, again seen in an expert salesperson).

Covert Hypnosis in the MediaEdit

The psychological illusionist Derren Brown has produced numerous effects which he claims to be achieved through forms of neuro-linguistic-programming directly related to covert hypnosis. Such examples are:

  • The Lost Taxi Driver - Derren Brown appears to use Covert Hypnosis to elicit a state of amnesia in a London taxi driver.[3]
  • The Magic Doll - Here he is seen to use a combination of indirect/covert hypnosis to cause a state in an unsuspecting woman.[4]

The mentalist Luke Jermay performs several feats in his mentalism tutorial video Skullduggery that he claims to be performed through using suggestions to affect the neurology of the participant.

See also Edit


External linksEdit

References Edit

  1. Dilts, Robert (1999). Sleight of Mouth: The Magic of Conversational Belief Change. ISBN 0-916990-43-5. 
  2. Erickson, Milton H. (December 1976). Hypnotic Realities: The Induction of Clinical Hypnosis and Forms of Indirect Suggestion. 
  3. Cohen, Michael H.. A Question of Time. pp. p. 8. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Trancework: An Introduction to the Practice of Clinical Hypnosis. pp. p. 37. 
  5. Haley, Jay. Uncommon Therapy. ISBN 0-393-31031-0. 
  6. Gavin, James. Lifestyle Fitness Coaching. pp. p. 41. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Communication and Consequences: Laws of Interaction. p. p. 207.