Myths and Facts about Hypnotism? – basic hypnosis – Part II

Myths and the archetype of “Svengali”

Through the earlier half of the 20th century, an oft-quoted statistic suggested that only about fifty percent of the population could be hypnotized. There are other myths about hypnosis, the most common being that intelligent people cannot be hypnotized because they are “too smart to fall for it,” or that only weak-willed people can be hypnotized.

Because hypnotism is a natural extension of how we learn and process information, it is immediately obvious that bright people can be hypnotized. In fact, they probably get more out of it than most others, just like they may get more out of reading or listening. I’ve found that the more intelligent a subject is, the better they tend to respond to hypnosis. I tend to believe this is because a person who is more intelligent is more likely to have pre-existing levers to help get beneficial concepts through the critical are of mind. Even someone very self-destructive, who is also intelligent, may have a lot of channels “around” their self-destruction carved by intellect.

And of course, being hypnotized has nothing to do with being weak-willed. The concept goes back to the image of George du Maurier’s Svengali, who wields an unhealthy power over the innocent young (and eponymous) heroine Trilby. If you’re not familiar with the stereotype of Svengali, Phantom of the Opera is essentially the same story with the antagonist presented in a rightly more sympathetic light.

I won’t go into a lengthy revisionist interpretation of Trilby (Svengali does better by her than might generally be assumed) but merely say that the fact that a strong-willed older man can dominate a younger girl does not establish a model for hypnotism, but for a power exchange relationship.

Most subjects of hypnosis are not Trilby. They are as likely to be Svengali. The cultural tar-brush of being associated with a weak-willed and originally talentless young girl has kept many away from the hypnotists’ chair out of fear of comparison. In fact the strong willed likely make better subjects having more ability to assist in pushing mutually agreed upon information through the critical area of the mind, and greater ability to master the “willing suspension of disbelief.”

But the myth remains that only half the population can be hypnotized. In the early 1960s, Dr. John Kappas came to believe that he had the key to a major element of suggestibility when he identified what he called “Emotional” and “Physical” personality types. In practice, his distinctions, while not perhaps as unique as he would like them to be, seem to bear out empirically and a large school of hypnotism which gets good results have been founded on his behavioral model.

We now know that most people can be hypnotized, but that about half the population has a different suggestibility that does not look like the classic “stage hypnosis”

Everyone can be hypnotized. The overload of message units that bypasses critical area of mind takes place:

  • Driving a car, when our conscious mind disengages and we are not aware that we are driving
  • Watching a movie when we jump in our seat or cry because we have lost the line that tells us that the movie is “not real.”

In fact the “willing suspension of disbelief” is synonymous with “helping to bypass the critical mind.”

E & P Personality Types
The first thing to understand about “Emotional” versus “Physical” sexual-personality types is that the terms were first used in a clinical setting, talking to Hypnotherapists. They don’t refer to the actual traits but to the defense mechanisms.

Now Dr. Kappas was a smart guy but not apparently an advertiser or communications specialist. Rather than come up with more descriptive names, he shortened them to “E” and “P” since that would be easier for a layman to understand….err…hmmm….helpful like cats John…

The full exploration of “Emotional” and “Physical” Suggestibility and Sexuality is beyond the scope of this writeup. We will focus on the Empiric characteristics that allow you to recognize and hypnotize Emotional and Physical Suggestibles.

The E&P Suggestibility and Sexuality model presents a valuable method for analyzing relationship dynamics, and we’ll revisit the model in that capacity, but for now we are going to focus on what it means for human suggestibility.

“Emotionals” (people who are emotionally defensive)

“Emotional” means “uses emotional defense mechanisms to safeguard the physical body and the ego” not “is gothic” or “projects wild emotions…” Emotionals respond to attempts to touch their physical body or induce physical intimacy by putting up ego defenses of fear

The suggestibility of the Emotional is based on a defense to protect his or her physical body. They will lead with their emotions before they will accept physical touch. This doesn’t mean being “overtly emotional” rather that they will experience embarrassment, fear, anger, anxiety, irritation, or frustration as a line of defense to protect their physical body from “invasion” (unwelcome touch, physical intimacy, etc.).

The Emotional suggestible may be overly concerned with what others think of them, and easily embarrassed by their physical body.

The Emotional ends up repressing feelings in the physical body, and becomes “more remote.”

Being an Emotional Suggestible is often a response to the behavior of the primary caregiver. In the first five years, if Mommy said “I love you” but appeared detached and distant, the Emotional learned not to trust the direct language, but to look for the meaning “behind words.”

The Emotional tends to speak very literally but takes information in inferentially

Well adjusted emotional – the sober businessman who seems unemotional, but is solid and reliable. He comes out around his family and close friends and can be warm at times.

Poorly adjusted emotional – the workaholic who has gone through two divorces, and never has time for his family, who seems to enjoy putting rules and money ahead of any human considerations in the name of a “logic” so cold it is scarcely logical at all. The “human factor” infuriates him.

Physicals (people who are physically defensive)

The Physical uses their physical body as a defense to protect their emotions. They respond to physical touch positively and seem to need a lot of it, as it represents acceptance. They fear being emotionally “crushed” more than they fear touch or harm.

Talking Physicals tend to be very animated and use a lot of gestures, and want to get close to the person they are talking to.

Often Physicals are social and outgoing, tend to dominate conversations, and have difficulty understanding the emotions of others because they cannot relate to what other people say and feel, only to what they say and feel.

The Physical tends to speak inferentially but take in information very literally

Well adjusted physical – the sexually active woman athlete. She likes volleyball, and tends to hang around with “the guys” a lot, is social and outgoing. She may have a few partners, and she is conscioius of setting boundaries to keep from getting too deeply hurt by them, while remaining intimate.

Poorly adjusted physical – the sexually active girl who has to climb on everyone’s lap. Barely aware of the other women around, she throws herself bodily at anyone who might give her touch and attention, often drinking or getting high without really understanding why it helps her to act out. Driven by emotion she has trouble maintaining a steady relationship, but is devestated when they fair.


Do not confuse how someone wants to respond with how they do respond. Use inferences to communicate with Emotionals and direct literal suggestions to communicate with Physicals.

Making Suggestions

Our business with these types is knowing how to make suggestions to them. Use Literal suggestions with Physicals, Inferential suggestions with Emotionals.

With Emotionals, you have to get “behind” the issue. For example, in conventional hypnosis, if client lacked confidence speaking in public, with the physical you might suggest that “You will be more confident talking to a group of people because it allows you to be more successful.”

With the Emotional you might need to find out how they feel about the situation (embarrassed, not up to it, etc.) and then have them imagine feeling comfortable in a group situation and that they are an adequate person, and that now that they are comfortable their anxiety will dissipate. This creates a comfortable “known.”

Emotionals often experience delayed reaction , whereas Physicals often notice a result right away.

Special Cases

Equally suggestible. Some people fall near the 50-50% mark, and are about as suggestible in both directions.

Intellectual Suggestibles. Some very high Emotional suggestible need a “reason” for everything. They want a “why.” You must not only use inferred suggestions, but give a reason why they will work.

The best way to handle this sort of person, rather than rationalizing each statement, is to use a method known as “auto dual” where you have them repeat everything after you and explain that they will hypnotize themselves.

Now that we’ve explained this very important area of suggestibility…(we’ll revisit it later as a theory of human sexuality) we’re ready to discuss the Laws of Hypnosis, and also the….ethical concerns and considerations…the juicy breast meat I know you’ve all be waiting for.
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