I hope this makes sense I was wanting to go deep into what and why hypnosis works based on evolution and psychology.
These are my thoughts researched through experience, so necessarily anecdotal.
Let me first say that I’m working from some presuppositions
1. That extraordinary or unusual situations arise out of ordinary daily principles or forces. This is true whether we are talking about physical sciences as in the same forces must necessarily create beautiful calm day and a cyclone or tornado. So with psychology, extraordinary states, behaviours or personalities like sainthood, hypnosis or psychopathy must arise out of same forces that normal, sane, ordinary experiences and behaviours arise from.
2. That mind and body are one.
3. Most of the NLP presuppositions which you can look up.
4. All behaviours from social and human processes have some roots in evolution (even if it is not biological but rather the evolution of society and knowledge through the feedback of trial and error)
5. That we all share neurological structures that are similar *(even the neuro-diverse are within boundaries that mean they remain human. I know this is a particularly complex issue.)*
In the case of hypnosis, those psychosomatic forces are –
* mind and body are one,
* social needs specifically status interplays,
* desire for the comfort of certainty gained from following a trusted leader (whether you trust they will protect you or hurt you)
My hypotheses about what hypnosis is and why it works may be different from some common explanations out there.
I think hypnosis is the product of focus, *(this is common knowledge)* as an expression of the filtration process that NLP talks about. It’s a marriage of instincts (that go back deep into evolution), conditioning (as part of our individual conscious and unconscious education processes) and relationship dynamics.
Unlike many people, I think hypnosis comes from a marriage external and internal focus, with emphasis on the external *(this is different from the commonly held ideas)*. It is true that the power of hypnosis comes from an intense focus on imagination, which is internal, but it’s generally achieved through trust in an external situation involving the desire to follow a guide: the hypnotist, movie, story, video game or a slot machine, even a political or social leader.
It doesn’t necessarily involve the relaxed state usually called a trance. Flow state that comes from the right combination of challenge and safety is similar if not the same.
True self-hypnosis is only different if you aren’t using external guides, like recordings. Although self-hypnosis without tapes is most often based on a dissociation, in which focus on imagination and/or on achieving a relaxed state is achieved by separating the “deciding identity” from the emotional, focusing and imagining identity. In ordinary hypnosis, the hypnotee does something similar by resting the deciding identity in the trusted external guide, not always consciously. This is where suggestibility comes from.
Being in a safe place transforms the nature of the talent for focus we need to survive in dangerous situations.
The evolutionary part of this skill is divided into different aspects – some shared by all animals, others specific to primates (or maybe social animals or maybe only humans).
The part shared by all animals is an evolutionary hierarchy of what is important to pay attention to. All animals in any new situation have to evaluate stimuli in this order –
1. Is there a danger?
2. If there is no danger, is there nourishment?
3. If not nourishing, is there an opportunity to enhance reproductive success?
4+ once these are clear there are aspects that I think are mostly human, such as beauty, spirit etc (fill in the blank). *(this is inspired by the chakras and the Maslow hierarchy)*
These can all interact. Reproductive success may be enhanced by how the animals handle danger and nourishment. It is also obviously related to beauty and other elements which contribute to status and power.
The aspects that may be shared by other primates and social animals, but certainly is part of human instincts is that our survival, nourishment and reproductive success are based on status and power, on social settings. It might be said that our evolutionary success, our niche, is cooperation, the structure of which is based on status interplays as part of power.
This is possibly the simplest definition of power. That is there are three levels:-
* the capacity move people to exercise their capacities to fulfil your goals (and maybe theirs as well)
* shaping the personality, perceptions and habits of people
* Being responsible for setting up the structures within which cooperation (using whatever motivation) takes place.
As a result, we are particularly sensitive to other humans both verbal and non-verbal communications.
The evolutional hierarchy mentioned above underlies how we evaluate human relationships and communications as well.
Those social status interactions from childhood conditioning and education shape the individual psychology and perceptual filters for the details of what we experience as dangerous, nourishing, enhancing to reproductions and the so-called higher functions or desires.
The level of status and trust in those social settings decide how much cooperation to you get and thus your power and evolutionary success.
There are lots of ways of getting cooperation, not all of them obvious. They can be broken down to three or four.
* Manipulating fear
* Manipulating desire *(these two are the most common,)*
* There are marriages of both of these first two, like emotional blackmail etc,
* Honest negotiation based on fairness, justice and egalitarianism *(as in proper BDSM negotiation)*.
The spectrum of status goes from high to low and are interactive and are interconnected. The problem with the duality of Dominance and submission separates them and in so doing undermines their necessity to each other. Status is different from power. Power can be achieved and expressed using high and low status, using Dominance and submission and in switching between according to the situation *(this latter is possibly the most powerful of all).*
###How does this relate to hypnosis?
The core of all these instincts for humans is social cooperation through mental-emotional focus, behaviours and how we apply attention as part of the above filtering criteria.
When there is real physical danger there is an intense state of focus that aligns mind and body to achieve apparently superhuman acts, like overcoming fear and acts of great physical strength. However, we know from research and experience that how you respond to and handle these dangers, such as traumatic experiences, are influenced by your conditioning, unconscious education, thus are based on social power and status, which both affect and are affected by your attitude including especially your locus of control/influence *(worth researching)* and this is based on conditioning.
Desire, love and trust (in its great variety beyond the simply vanilla erotic, such as that felt for great leaders/Dominants, celebrity, and teachers, therapists and hypnotists) can inspire similar intensity. Though, superpowers inspired by the desire to serve/follow or the ambition to lead don’t emerge from your unconscious as automatically as when physical danger is real.
It takes expertise in status interplays that transform them into power that moves people to achieve and exercise their superpowers on behalf of themselves and others. Status and power are both nonverbal and verbal ways of inspiring rapport and trust.
If you are in a situation of trust where the physical dangers are clearly subservient to social status and power (meaning humans control the dangers, especially the participants) then the intense focus mentioned above can become available in high-status to low-status relationships such as a leader and follower, hypnotist and subject.
This relationship provides the focus and its target which can be can be chosen as a result of the rapport and trust developed between participants can be parlayed, with skill, into helping people exceed themselves by allowing someone to lead them out of themselves, out of their history into a greater experience beyond the boundaries of fear and desire.
The techniques of hypnosis/NLP are behaviours, verbal and non-verbal, within the one-to-one relationship that are designed to achieve deep cooperation. It does this through the rapport and trust built conversation, the induction and the suggestions. Older styles of direct hypnosis use high-status Dominant styles of behaviours to gain cooperation. Ericksonian NLP conversational hypnosis use flexible styles that switch between high and low but tend towards more low status. Each of these styles demonstrates how power can be achieved both from a high, low and switching status positions.
While NLP with rhetoric is aimed at getting cooperation in group settings. Group or political dynamics are especially sensitive to status dynamics. If you think back to school high-status Dominant teachers easily controlled their classes but they distance and unknown without much fun rarely help student to long term education outcomes; low-status nervous teachers can’t seem to control their classes even when students may like them personally; while the switch teacher can control a class in fun ways taking jokes and dropping down then easily moving to high-status to lead.
Both the one-on-one and the group communications behaviours in these circumstances encourage people to hand over their deciding self, their will to a leader. I think people’s focus on conscious/unconscious when talking about trance and hypnosis are missing or may be misguiding newbies as to the experience of hypnosis. It leads people to get confused when they find they are conscious during trance which can break it. You can be completely conscious during the trance experience.
To wrap it up, hypnosis is a product of our evolutionary dependence on cooperation in social settings which in turn are governed by status interplays which are on a spectrum from high to low that inspire power as measured by how much and how deep the cooperation any particular person or group can achieve from others. Hypnosis, NLP and Rhetoric are fine-tuned specifically to get and give cooperation from the inside out, meaning it starts from inside but is focused on the outside, on the leader/guide and their artifacts like stories, games, movies etc.