The length of suggestions and triggers induced by hypnosis
[How long do they last?][Why do some last longer than others?][How does it work?]
First and foremost, even though a hypnosis session is usually an exchange of at least two different individuals (the hypnotist and the subject), the experience of hypnosis is absolutely entirely internal. Every last suggestion, implanted trigger, change, and reaction originate from within the subject’s mind. Think of the subject’s mind as a sort of suggestion box. Anybody can suggest anything at any time, but in the end, only the owner of the suggestion box (the subject) decides what makes it into reality and what’s to be discarded.
As the very, very common phrase goes: all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. This an undisputed truth so long as no actual brainwashing occurs (with drugs, some light torture, and imprisonment). 99.9% of all hypnosis, however, is really just a conversation between two people. Not unlike with any non-hypnosis-themed conversation, the subject listens, processes the information, and then internally decides whether any given suggestion fits within their worldview－which isn’t to say that the subject always consciously chooses to follow a suggestion.
The debate between hypnosis being an objective process and a subjective one has been ongoing forever. There is no one, true answer and you’ll find that all hypnotists from all backgrounds have varying opinions…which leads me to believe that if anything, it’s a lot more subjective than objective. The methods and techniques used are similar, the foundation all but the same, with a few changes here and there. The experiences, however, differ greatly.
The subject won’t always react the same way. They won’t experience the same phenomena. Even listening to the same pre-recorded file will leave the listener feeling different things. Sometimes in a stronger way and sometimes not. Sometimes nothing at all. There are times when a subject just isn’t in the right head-space, and no amount of hypnosis of any type will stick. That’s just the truth. So whether hypnosis in general is objective or subjective doesn’t truly matter much in the grand scheme of things, long as you understand that hypnosis most certainly works, but not always. Just like techniques used by psychologists. There are default ones which work on the majority of people, but not all and not always. Matters of the mind are complicated.
So, how do triggers work?
Triggers are really just post-hypnotic suggestions, but centered around a specific word, action, or sight. They’re implanted in the same way that any other suggestion is, but by their very focused nature, they’re usually closer to the surface of conscious thoughts. Forming links between very specific triggers and reactions is easier than vague, general concepts.
The process of installing a trigger is relatively simple, if not always easy. A good, successful trigger will be associated in the mind of the subject with something they yearn to feel or experience. If it’s something that’s already desired on a subconscious and conscious level, the trigger will begin to work quickly and only strengthen with reaffirmation. If it’s something that the subject doesn’t yet know they desire, the process works much in the same way. Problems only occur when the subject is in some way opposed to the outcome, which shouldn’t often be the case unless listening to random recordings without descriptions or going under for a stranger in a live session.
Furthermore, if the result of the trigger is an emotion or sensation that already occurs on a daily basis, the subject will find it extremely easy to respond without much hesitation. So a trigger for arousal, which is very commonplace and something most of us enjoy feeling, would be one of the easiest to install. The subject wants to feel it, is told to feel it when triggered, and enjoys the entire process. There’s no reason to resist or hesitate, and so a trigger like this could last a very, very long time without any conditioning.
The strength of a trigger depends on various internal and external factors, but the most important one is how strongly the subject desires it to work either on a subconscious level or a totally conscious level. Many hypnotists will tell you that it’s all up to how skilled the hypnotist is, but there’s little truth to that. If two different hypnotists use the exact same method, the same script, at the same time, one may work and the other may not. If only because the subject prefers one voice over the other or has a stronger bond with one.
When talking about recorded audio and rapport (which is very important in live hypnosis), it becomes a bit muddled. Rapport builds slower with hypnotists over audio only, but it *does* happen in its own way. The subject does slowly begin to trust that whoever they’re listening to will keep them safe (if that’s the truth) and suggestions will begin to flow easier and easier. When this happens, trigger installation becomes effortless.
In short, if the subject isn’t opposed to result of the trigger, has some sort of rapport with the hypnotist (even just audio), is in the right head space, and if the hypnotist uses the right methods, triggers can be installed easily and *will* work. These don’t all have to align, but it does makes things easier.
Length of a trigger.
Now, for the main topic of the day. Why do some last only a short while? Why do some last what what seems like forever? What’s up with that?
Short-lived ones are usually triggers which don’t inspire the sort of feelings the subject most desires. Emotions and sensations which aren’t intense enough, don’t have the right flavor, or don’t last long enough. It could be a myriad of things, but in most cases, if the role of the hypnotist isn’t taken into account, the reason behind a fading trigger is simply that it’s not *fun* enough. This isn’t the sole factor, of course. It’s just usually the most prominent.
Most of what goes into how long a trigger lasts is on a deeply subconscious level. It’s not really something that’s *chosen.* There are things that can be done to strengthen and lengthen a trigger, but it’s rarely enough to just wish it into reality. If an audio trigger installed through recorded hypnosis isn’t working the way it should or fading too quickly, repetition is usually the simplest way to make it happen. Continue listening, dropping deeper each time, until it sticks.
Alternatively, different methods may be required. Perhaps even a different hypnotist. The linking of a sensation and a trigger can be done in many different ways, and not all of those work the same way for everyone.
Then we have triggers which last and last, year after year, even after having not listened or had sessions since. Why are there ones which persist like this while others don’t?
Good, strong triggers are a lot like those tremendous events which happen to us in our formative years, following us all the way into adulthood and helping mold us into our present selves. When a trigger is done right, it’s closely associated with a somewhat unique sort of feeling, blended together from a host of other, more common, desirable ones. A persistent trigger is a mix of emotions and sensations brewed into a singular, perfect fusion of momentous efficacy.
For example, let’s take the word, “hypno.” Imagine, for a second, that this is a trigger which inspires feelings of joy, arousal, losing control, and strengthens the desire to become someone you’re not. Someone you’d like to be very much. Someone you dream about being and would do anything at all to become one day. This blend of reactions is somewhat insidious, but very effective, because if it works, all of those sensations will slowly begin to blend together. With the use of the trigger or not. With time, the connections in the mind will form and all four will share a lane in the pathways of your neural processes. This happens on a physical levels, right there in your brain. The connections form in a very real and solid way, literally changing the makeup of how your brain works.
Every thought releases a chemical in the brain, and if a certain thought is repeated, inspiring the same sort of chain of chemical reactions, it evolves into a habit. A habit which very much happens on the subconscious level, needing no prodding from the conscious awareness. Once this habit is formed, it’s no longer about making sure that a trigger works, but about how *well* it works and in what circumstances. Or about removing it.
If the thought of changing and becoming someone else pulls at your arousal and joy, you’ll obviously want to continue experiencing it on some level. With this desire comes the strength of the trigger and plays so well into the fourth feeling, which is the desire to lose control. If you already enjoy losing control, feeling yourself react this way subconsciously can already be arousing all on its own, without any additional conditioning. But if we take this loss of control, this arousal, this joy, and combine them all with the desire for change, each one plays off one another, strengthening each other as time passes.
This is just an example, but it can be done with almost any emotion, any sensation. Take something that you enjoy feeling, like arousal; something that’s just a vague feeling of contentment; something that will bring further changes to behavior; in the end, what you’re left with is a blend of things you enjoy experiencing with but a single trigger. A single thought of the trigger. The very *idea* of the trigger. This sort of thing most likely bleeds over into real life. Life outside out hypnosis. Outside of triggers. And that only reinforces the trigger.
So, in most cases, when a trigger is long-lasting, it’s because it makes you feel things you don’t in any other case. A blend of feelings which you can only experience with the help of this trigger. Something common enough when parted, but wholly unique when combined into one.
On the flip side, there is also the topic of repression. It’s not as common in 2021, but even just a few years ago, repression was just something everyone had to deal with. Something everyone accepted as part of life. When you find that perfect hypnosis session which loosens repressed feelings and makes you feel something you had always wished to feel, but were never given the chance, your worldview shifts just a little bit and nothing’s ever quite the same. That sort of thing sticks with you. You don’t just skim over it and forget it had ever happened.
If this sort of experience happens to be generated by a trigger, it won’t soon be weakened, because it was a turning point in your life. That moment when everything changed, even in a small way. Think of hypnotic triggers in a non-hypnosis related way for a moment. Think of them as regular triggers which we all have. Think of something that had happened in your childhood which has been stuck in your mind ever since. The way that memory had been engraved onto your mind is no different than a persistent trigger. Major change to the mindscape isn’t common as we grow older, so anything that still allows that to happen, allows us to feel that unique type of sensation, tends to bounce around in our brains for a long time.
How does one get rid of a persistent trigger? Some would say to give it time, but with some triggers lasting years and years, that’s not always the right answer. The alternative is to break down the parted emotions and sensations into individual pieces. When a trigger only makes you feel one single thing, it’s easy to manipulate. So the goal here would be to take it apart piece by piece with targeted suggestions. It would start with lessening what the original trigger does, taking away some of its control. Then, suggestion by suggestion, taking every other reaction out of the equation. Perhaps replacing them with something else.
Something like this can really only be done in live hypnosis, through custom audio hypnosis, or with self-hypnosis. No fix-all vague audio session will help, unfortunately. It has to be detailed and personalized, from my own experience.