Covert hypnosis

Covert hypnosis

Covert hypnosis is the ability to subtly communicate with another person's unconscious mind without their noticing. As it often takes place in the course of a seemingly regular conversation, it is also known as conversational hypnosis or sleight of mouth[1]. The objective is to change the target’s behavior subconsciously so that the target believes that they changed their mind of their own volition. When performed successfully, the target is unaware that the practitioner has hypnotized them or that anything out of the ordinary happened.

Covert hypnosis is a phenomenon not too different from indirect hypnosis (as derived from Milton H. Erickson popularised as The Milton Model [1]) in style [2] but the defining feature is certainly the act of an individual subject becoming hypnotised and taking part in hypnotic phenomena without conscious effort/choice - covert hypnosis like "Ericksonian Hypnosis operates through covert and subtle means... to reach deeper levels of consciousness than are touched by the surface structure of language";[3] it is the concept that an individual, 'the hypnotist,' can control another individual's behavior via gaining rapport (co-operation of their attention - as without rapport covert hypnosis does not take place) [4] with the subject and then making suggestions, the meanings of which the subject isn't fully consciously aware.


How it works

The hypnotist gains rapport[4] [5] with the listener/s and the hypnotist maintains psychological congruency [6] [the act of truly acting towards your goals without hesitation] both linguistically and in one's nonverbal communication while this relationship of the subject listening while feeling a psychological connection with the hypnotist and the hypnotist displaying behaviors such as confidence and understanding[4] - the hypnotist then presents linguistic data in the form of metaphor "The Metaphor presents a surface structure of meaning in the actual words of the story, which activates an associated deep structure of meaning that is indirectly relevant to the listener, which activates a recovered deep structure of meaning that is directly relevant to the listener" [7] in other words; this process builds most likely unconscious states within the listener and then associates those states through covert conditioning (see Anchor (NLP)) also known as covert anchoring, thereby forming unconsciously controlled behaviors and thoughts. Often methods of tricking the listener to believe that the hypnotist is talking about something else other than the subject are employed, for instance by shifting use of time and use of identity in language; one famous example is employed by Milton H. Erickson "and a tomato can be happy".[7]

A basic example

The hypnotist says, "don't think of a black cat" [quoted from Derren Brown's Mind Control, Series 2] and the listener's neurology has to access the association 'black cat' in order to understand the sentence there by the state of understanding a black cat has been accessed in the subject purely by exposure from the hypnotist.Here black cat even refers to a particular subject to which the hypnotist wants the listener to concentrate on.

A more complicated example

A state of forgetfulness can be elicited by talking about what it feels like to be in that state in a manner that implies the other person is currently experiencing it; once this state is at a heightened peak the hypnotist can then talk about that state relating to a concept like the unsuspecting subject's name (a phenomenon called name amnesia) and the subject will suddenly be unaware of his/her name on questioning (provided the suggestions implied immediate effect and the reader is suggestible enough to be influenced in this way). The purpose of covert hypnosis is to shut down or at least reduce the use of analytical mind in a person. This can be achieved fairly quickly by someone with practice - very often seen in a good used car salesman.[4]

Signs you aren't using analytical mind

You are absorbed in a conversation to the point where a viewer would say you were "lost in the moment". You vividly follow what someone is saying and mentally agree with their position even if this is out of your character. You take in information without questioning its origin and validity and you respond to emotionally descriptive language (language patterns, again seen in an expert salesperson).

Covert hypnosis in the media

The psychological illusionist Derren Brown has produced numerous effects which he claims to be achieved through forms of covert hypnosis. Such examples are:

  • Note: The majority of these examples are presentational story lines of professional magicians. The belief that these tricks use hypnosis is equal to believing anything you may see on a television entertainment program to be factual.
  • The Lost Taxi Driver - Derren Brown appears to use covert hypnosis to elicit a state of amnesia in a London taxi driver.[2]
  • The Magic Doll - Here he is seen to use a combination of indirect/covert hypnosis to cause a state in an unsuspecting woman.[3]

The mentalist Luke Jermay performs several feats in his mentalism tutorial video Skullduggery that he claims to be performed through using suggestions to affect the neurology of the participant.

Real estate trainer Glenn Twiddle recently appeared on the Australian television show A Current Affair. The segment explains how he teaches real estate agents these techniques to use on unsuspecting buyers of property. [4]

See also


  • Nathan Blaszak (2004). How To Hypnotize Anyone Without Getting Caught. Life Tricks Inc.. pp. 1–250. 
  • Kevin Hogan (2006). Covert Hypnosis: An Operator's Manual. Network 3000 Publishing. p. 232. ISBN 0970932146. 
  • Kevin Hogan and James Speakman (2006). Covert Persuasion: Psychological Tactics and Tricks to Win the Game. Wiley. p. 223. ISBN 0470051418. 
  • Igor Ledochowski and Clifford Mee *Conversational Hypnosis Indirect Information (2007). The Power of Conversational Hypnosis (Original "Conversational Hypnosis" published 2002). Street Hypnosis Publishing. 
  • Glenn Twiddle (2010). Advanced Hypnotic Selling. Glenn Twiddle Publishing.. pp. 136}. ISBN 9780980771107. 


  1. ^ Dilts, Robert (1999). Sleight of Mouth: The Magic of Conversational Belief Change. ISBN 0-916990-43-5. 
  2. ^ Erickson, Milton H. (December 1976). Hypnotic Realities: The Induction of Clinical Hypnosis and Forms of Indirect Suggestion. 
  3. ^ Cohen, Michael H.. A Question of Time. p. 8. 
  4. ^ a b c d Trancework: An Introduction to the Practice of Clinical Hypnosis. p. 37. 
  5. ^ Haley, Jay. Uncommon Therapy. ISBN 0-393-31031-0. 
  6. ^ Gavin, James. Lifestyle Fitness Coaching. p. 41. 
  7. ^ a b Communication and Consequences: Laws of Interaction. p. 207. 

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