People are naturally susceptible to hypnosis. That’s because people go into a hypnotic state several times daily and are not aware of it. For instance, when you tie your shoes, you don’t think about it; you just tie them. That’s because you learned to tie your shoes when you were young and your subconscious mind took that knowledge and stored it for future use. Thereafter, you had no need to figure out how to tie your shoes. You just do, while at the same time you can be thinking about something else using your conscious mind. It’s a fact the vast majority of things you do daily are carried out automatically by your subconscious mind. For instance, you are breathing right now but not thinking about how to breathe. How to breathe is in your subconscious mind which operates your brain which operates the autonomic nervous system that makes you breathe. If you were driving down a freeway in deep thought and missed your turnoff, you were in a state of hypnosis. You were so deep into a trance-like thought you became oblivious to your turnoff and zoomed right past it. When you type on your laptop or smartphone, you don’t think about it. You just do. Ditto, if you play the piano or anything that seems to be automatic and requires no conscious thought on your part to achieve your subconscious mind is handling that for you so you don’t have to “think” about it.
In theory, every normal person could be hypnotized under proper conditions by an experienced hypnotherapist. In actual practice, however, a small percentage of people cannot be induced into a hypnotic trance. While there are some people who enter a very deep trance very quickly on the first induction, others—even those willing to be hypnotized—may only reach a light trance on repeated attempts at hypnosis.
Although susceptibility to hypnosis seems to be a natural characteristic of people it may be neutralized in many ways. If a physician suggests hypnotherapy to his patient suffering from chronic stress, the patient will usually show a great desire to be hypnotized; he wishes to end his stress and the doctor has legitimized hypnosis to accomplish that. Yet despite being highly motivated, the subject may not be susceptible to hypnosis. On the other hand, a hypnotizable person who is forced into therapy by a member of his family or a friend but is not willing to relinquish his habit (for instance, smoking), may not be hypnotized. The former (who is consciously willing to be hypnotized but is not hypnotizable) is described as consciously willing but is an unconsciously unwilling client. The latter (who is unwilling to be hypnotized but if found to be hypnotizable) is described as a consciously unwilling but unconsciously willing client.
Therefore, it can be said that the most significant factor in susceptibility to hypnosis is the motivation to be hypnotized. Over-cooperativeness and over-anxiousness to be hypnotized, however, are counterproductive and make a hypnotic trance difficult to reach. An unconscious motivation to be hypnotized may be stronger than the conscious will to resist hypnosis. For this reason, if a person consciously resists hypnosis, he will finally find it difficult to stay awake and will drift into the hypnotic trance (The Law of Reversed Effect).
But passive subjects are clearly the most easily hypnotized. Clinical studies of susceptibility to hypnosis have been contradictory and are therefore unreliable. From the results of thousands of reported cases we can, however, make a rough estimate that about 20 percent of people reach the deepest hypnotic depth (Somnambulism, stage III) and that about 10 percent are not at all susceptible to hypnosis. The remaining 90 percent are said to be capable of entering light to the medium state of hypnosis which is more than adequate to achieve meaningful self-improvements such a weight loss, quitting smoking, ending sleep deprivation, etc.
For a more detailed and concrete analysis of proneness to hypnosis, the above figures may be examined along with other demographic factors, such as age, sex, intelligence, occupation, and personality.
In general, children under six or seven years old are difficult subjects because of their poor understanding of both language and verbal induction procedures. Conversely, seniors over age 75 are difficult to hypnotize, however, I have hypnotized people over 80 with complete success.
Sparing you, dear reader of all the doctor Latin talk, simply put, women are not more susceptible to hypnosis than men. It is true that women seem to be a bit more trusting than men (mostly curious) and due to their gender experiences tend to be more relaxed, cooperative, and submissive to suggestions and, therefore, many people believe women are more susceptible to hypnosis. The hypnotherapists and doctors of clinical hypnotherapy on my staff, since 1993 have hypnotized, collectively, over one and one half million people in private, and group hypnotherapy sessions and via audio downloads. It is our combined experience and consensus that men are equal to women when it comes to susceptibility to hypnosis.
I have found, generally speaking, the more intelligent a person is, the more susceptible they are to achieving a deep state of hypnosis rapidly. Bright people do very well with hypnosis. People who have an extremely low I.Q., generally speaking, cannot achieve a state of hypnosis. The reason for this is simple, they can’t stay focused on what I’m saying or simply do not understand me. Also, people who are mentally challenged, feeble-minded, imbeciles, morons, paranoids, and senile persons cannot be successfully hypnotized. In summary, people with a real intellectual deficiency make poor hypnotic subjects. If you know you are intelligent but cannot achieve a state of hypnosis, there is likely to be an underlying psychological reason such as subconscious resistance which must be discussed between you and your hypnotherapist to remedy.
People who have an occupation that requires a routine function are more susceptible to hypnosis. People who are accustomed to issuing orders such as military officers seem more difficult to hypnotize. This does not mean one cannot be hypnotized if in a leadership, managerial, or commanding occupation. I personally stood on a stage at the San Francisco Police Department in an auditorium filled with over 300 police officers and successfully hypnotized all of them as a group at the same time for weight reduction and tobacco smoking cessation.
Folks who are introverts are slightly more susceptible to hypnosis than extroverts. Extroverts tend to analyze the therapist and then the hypnotherapy induction. It is absolutely impossible to achieve a state of hypnosis while at the same time one is in a state of analysis. So, extroverts sometimes, while being hypnotized, analyze the therapist, then try to determine if they can be hypnotized or if they are in hypnosis. Since hypnosis, in and by itself, can’t be felt, all that is achieved is a failure in hypnotherapy for the analytical subject. However, due to some occupations such as engineers, computer programmers, scientists, etc., sometimes they have difficulty being hypnotized because they, by their nature, tend to analyze what is going on before they will follow the therapist’s suggestions and directions. People who are mentally balanced and well adjusted make excellent subjects for hypnotherapy and do extremely well with hypnosis.