The History of Covert Hypnosis
The art of covert hypnosis, which is also known as conversational hypnosis, owes its existence almost entirely to the pioneering work of Milton Erickson, the 20th Century American psychiatrist.
Erickson is noted for his unconventional approach to psychotherapy and his use of and advancement of hypnosis.
Erikson developed indirect forms of hypnotic induction that could place a person in a trance state without them knowing what he was doing. Using indoirect language, confusion techniques and a few other methods designed to catch the attention of the conscious mind Erikson was capable of putting a person into trance extremely quickly - as are Eriksonian hypnotists today.
It was Erikson who identified that the trance state is a natural physical and mental state that everyone enters into throughout the day; you enter trance while reading, watching television, daydreaming etc.
Erickson also identified the fact that the subconscious mind is always listening, and because of that it is possible to plant suggestions into a person's mind even if they are not in trance.
Once he made this discovery Erikson developed specific techniques to influence the thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behaviors of people unconsciously and just by talking to them. This form of hypnotic influence would later become known as conversational hypnosis or covert hypnosis.
Using these techniques Erikson found that he could have a profoundly powerful influence over people because they offered very little resistance to what he was doing. By bypassing the conscious reasoning faculties of a person and communicating directly with their subconscious mind Erikson could make them do whatever he wanted them to do.
In fact Erickson perfected these techniques to such a degree that he would often use them into in his lectures and seminars.
At point in his career Erikson was order to attend a meeting for malpractice. During the meeting he spoke to the other doctors on the panel all of whom immediately dismissed the case, and later reported feeling slightly light-headed after the meeting. Was this just a coincidence?
Since the time of Erikson, who dies in 1980, many more breakthroughs have taken place in the field of psychotherapy and hypnosis. With the development of Neuro=-linguistic Programming, more commonly known as NLP, conversational hypnosis has become even more powerful.
The co-founders of NLP, Richard Bandler and John Grinder, based their techniques on the connections between neurological processes and the use of language and they connect to behavioral patterns. Although NLP incorporates physical gestures and other techniques it heavily relies on the use of language to "program" behaviors, thoughts, feelings and beliefs into the brain.
NLP is such a powerful tool for change that it is almost always incorporated into hypnosis programs by both stage hypnotists and hypnotherapists. It is so powerful that it now forms the basis of the best all hypnosis training courses.
It is the foundation of covert hypnosis and the techniques used in conversational hypnosis would not work without the aid of NLP. However, once the techniques are practised and mastered it is relatively easy to employ them in ordinary conversation.
When using conversational hypnosis the vast majority of people have no idea that you are doing anything. In a few small cases people will realise that you are speaking in a "funny" way yet will still be unaware of what you are actually doing.