Totally Hypnotically Focussed!

Hi Guys and Gals!

I wanted to do this as a videopost, but my sinusitis is still too bad for me to dare video (no one must see me this way ;-)).  I had an email from someone asking about… Well, you can read it yourself:

“Hi James,

Great new blog entries. Thanks

Just a quick question about keeping peoples attention.  When I have tried the hand stick a couple of times and it hasn’t been successful I have noticed its because when I have asked a question (eg whats more stuck..) the volunteer has turned to me, looked at me  and answered instead of keeping their concentration on a fixed point ie the hand.  From then I can see the concentration is broken and it breaks down.

Can you suggest where I may be going wrong.  I am guessing its in the set up?  Or the surroundings.  Any tips or ideas.”

Now I can’t say what the specific problem is in this case, because I have not seen what has been done in this instance, but my guess at what is happening is either a break in the subject’s hypnotic focus, or they were not hypnotically focussed in the first place.

So what do I mean by hypnotic focus?

What I cal hypnotic focus is essentially…

…an uncritical focus on current and anticipated experience.

Hypnotic focus is what keeps the subject caught in the hypnotic loop, because they are focussed on their current and anticipated experience in an uncritical way. In classic hypnosis parlance this is in part what is known as bypassing the critical faculty (please don’t say critical factor, ‘cause that is just plain wrong) – that part of the mind that tests and evaluates the validity of experience and ideas.  But there is more than that to it – there is a focus on something specific (the elements within the hypnotic loop), as guided by the hypnotist.

In hypnotic focus, The bypass of the critical faculty is essential, because critical thinking will ‘pop’ the subject out of the hypnotic loop. Conversely, when the subject is uncritically focussed on experience, the experience tends feed belief and amplify itself through the hypnotic loop. One of the basic skills of hypnosis is being able to lead people into hypnotic focus.

Just to be clear hear, hypnotic focus is not trance – there is no depth or ‘turning inward’ or whatever. The subject is either focussed, or they are not.

One of the basic means of focussing is to pace and lead experience.  This means heightening focus on what is happening by referencing it and then connecting new ideas to that existing experience.  So with a client that is looking at a point on their hand, you might say:

“as you continue to look at that point on your hand… you can notice your breathing now… and begin to imagine as you continue to breath… a powerful glue spreading between your hand and the table…”

So I am pacing existing experience and leading with the glue idea.

Now these are just the words – how you deliver them is every bit as important. You want to leave just enough time after each pacing statement (certainly earlier in the process, when initially setting up) for the person’s focus to shift to the element of experience that you are pacing. If you gabble to fast, you are moving on before they are able to focus fully, and you lose the power of the pace.  Now I am not saying that you have to speak slowly, just leave enough space for the subject to respond to the pace.

Another key element is that you watch to see whether the person looks absorbed in what you are describing – do they look in rapt attention or are they distracted?  If they look distracted, give suggestions such as “allow yourself to focus” and “become fully absorbed in the experience” and give more pacing statements.  If they look like they are beginning to focus in more, encourage them with such statements as “that’s right… just allowing yourself to be … focussed”.

Another important point is where and how you look – that is, use your eyes.  This is especially important when asking questions.  In normal conversation, when you ask a question you will look at the person to whom you are addressing the question, inviting eye contact.  If you do this, it will draw there focus to your eyes.

In hypnosis, this is OK only if you intend to use that focus in the loop you are running.  So I might say:

“when your name’s gone now, and you look at me (gesturing to my eyes)… what happens when you try to say your name… and it’s gone… and you look at me (gesturing to my eyes) and its gone..?”

So the question I am asking is setting up a loop that includes the experience of looking at my eyes and their name being gone. However, if I am going for a hand stick and I have set up a loop including the element of looking at a point on their hand, then I draw eye-contact when I question “what’s more stuck, your fingers or your palm” I am pulling them out of the loop that I have gone to great care to set up.

In this instance, I would look and point at their hand as I ask the question (specifically, I would look at it with genuine fascination, because that is exactly what I want from them, so I model it for them).

The subject will see me looking at their hand, just as they are, in their peripheral vision, so they will stay attending to what we want them to.  This is really important, because if you look at their eyes or face when you ask the question, they will see this in their peripheral vision and look up to meet your gaze, which is not part of this particular hypnotic loop.

So that is a little about hypnotic focus and how to build and maintain it.

If you would like to learn more about this, and develop serious skills and ability in doing it, please do hurry and grab one of the remaining places on February’s Hypnosis Without Trance Live Workshop.  If you have a look at the booking page you will see that I have increased the value of this massively by adding in a super FREE bonus (those who have already booked will get this as well, so don’t panic if that’s you). Find out more at:

All the very best


About The Author

James Tripp

Hypnotist and Transformative Facilitator. Creator of Hypnosis Without Trance.


  • Brett

    January 10, 2010

    Brilliant ta.

  • Phillip Ryan

    January 11, 2010

    Hi James,
    Fantastic really helpful and full of details… ;0)
    I Really Want to attend your course on the 13th & 14th Feb

    However i need to wait about a week to ensure i am free
    I will do my utmost to see you then…

    Thank you

  • James Rolph

    January 11, 2010

    Thanks Phill – I hope I will see you then!

  • shy

    January 12, 2010

    I acctually perfer written articles over videopost.

  • James Rolph

    January 12, 2010

    Thanks for the feedback Shy. I’ll see what I can do to get more of a balance.


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