What if it doesn’t work?!

Having formally taught this Hypnosis Without Trance method a few times now, it is coming to my attention that many people have a concern (maybe even an anxiety), that they are going to set up the process and have it ‘fail’ at a critical moment, leaving them looking foolish or incompetent.  I totally get this concern, because it was a concern of mine for a long time too! Interestingly, this very concern was a big part of what shaped my approach to hypnosis in the first place.  In this video I am introducing part of the method by which I guarantee that I NEVER FAIL, unless I choose to take a risk (playing it safe is not always the best way to learn and develop).  If you think that this sounds like a bold claim, watch the video and let me have your comments!

All the very best



About The Author

James Tripp

Hypnotist and Transformative Facilitator. Creator of Hypnosis Without Trance.


  • MikeStoner

    February 9, 2010

    I’ve done the handstick loads of times and found that when you ask “what’s more stuck – the fingers or the palm?” most people say “fingers”. However I’ve noticed that if they are in the small group who say “palm” then it is much more likely that the handstick will “fail” when you go for a hard test. Don’t know why this is – just an interesting observation.

    • James Rolph

      February 10, 2010

      Interesting observation! I have noticed that the fingers mostly seem to stick first, but not noticed the palm/fail correlation. But then again, knowing you Mike, you have probably done it a load more times than I have :-0.

  • DaveO

    February 10, 2010

    I wish I would have had this post a week ago. I was at a party on Saturday and attempted to duplicate your Hypnosis Without a Trance December Demo. I crashed and burned!

    I had practiced the verbage several times so I felt comfortable. I rehearsed in my head under self hypnosis and visualized the outcome. I was ready.

    At the party I got into a discussion about hypnosis with a group of friends and suggested we “try something that is not hypnosis but will show you some of what happens in hypnosis.” My subject was a guy. I asked him the questions “do you have a good imagination?/can you visualize?/can you focus and concentrate?” I got YES to all of these. By this time a crowd had gathered. I determined he was right handed and proceded to position his arm and hand and placed a business card in his hand. I ashed him to “visualize” his fingers locking and sticking to the card (using your words from the video” and suggested the he ignore any noise in the room. I told him that if he were to try to drop the card his fingers would stick/lock even tighter. Then I told him to “try to drop the card. He did and the card fell to the ground. He looked up at me sheepishly. Oops!

    I then tried to do the Elman induction to put him into trance and that didn’t work either. He was very apologetic and said it was hard to concentrate. I wasn’t too down about it but I did look pretty stupid in front of many of my friends.

    In that setup there doesn’t seem to be an opportunity for the “soft test” that you talk about in the video. Their fingers stick or they don’t. If they do stick you can move on. If tyhey drop the card where do you go from there?

    Any suggestions? Thanks.

    • James Rolph

      February 10, 2010

      Hi Dave

      Like you say…”Oops!”

      OK, I haven’t taught the card stick on the blog, only shown it. It is one of the things I teach on the HWT Hypnosis Mastery Programme (which should be released tomorrow morning, if all goes well.) You are right that when I do the card stick the way I most commonly do it I do not soft test. I rely on building hypnotic focus, setting an expectation, then pattern interrupting it to create a moment of confusion, which is utilised. I noted in your description that you told him that “if he were to try to drop the card his fingers would stick/lock even tighter’, before you issued the challenge With this you lose the pattern interrupt/confusion effect. However…

      This still doesn’t guarantee success. I do the card-stick as an opener because I know how to set it up and monitor ‘buy-in’, which makes it a pretty safe bet – but if I am not getting clear signals, I will approach with more caution, opening with more failsafe routines (like magnetic fingers/hands).

      If you want to build soft-to-hard testing escalation into the card stick, do it the same as the hand stick:

      1. Set up the card
      2. Pace across VAK
      3. Introduce the ‘glue’ metaphor to fire up the imagination
      4. Soft test with “what’s more stuck, your finger or your thumb”
      5. Escalate from there!

      Hope that helps!

      All the very best


  • MikeStoner

    February 11, 2010

    With the cardstick I’d suggest keeping the “try” instruction more vague. If it is worded as “fingers will stick even tighter” then you are rely on them already having a belief that they are stuck somewhat and you are setting quite a specific challenge.

    I tend to say “try to drop the card and find that you cannot” – finger snap – move hand from left to right in front of them – “really try – and find you cannot”. You’ve left the reason vague and the snap and hand movement distract them at the key moment. They think “hmmm, I wonder why he says I can’t drop it – what’s going to happen?”, rather than “he says they’re stuck – I’ll show him they aren’t”.

    Even if they manage to drop the card after a few seconds you can still pitch that as a “win” and escalate (or look around for the person who looks most impressed and is therefore probably the most suggestible next!).

  • philippe

    June 27, 2010

    it’s a bit off tracks, but as someone talked about the Elmann induction, soft tests etcetc; could you describe what is going on in the elmann inductioin ( at least till the eye catalepsy ) using as a tool your own concept of hypnosis ( Hypnosis ladder, loops , soft test )

    I have a probleme with the elmann induction: i feel ( against what i can see: i did it a few times succesfully , even if i mnot comfortable with it ) that ” make your eyelids soooooooo relaxed taht they will not work. And when you are sure, absolutely sure ….blabla bla : test it. ”

    i feel it arriving too quick with no soft test and no recovery…

    Any way to add some form of seeding before, or embedede command? how to manage a recovery?

    And as i said how would you describe and analyse it ,step by step…


    As i told uou in an other post, im too analytical for my own good;)

    BTW when do you have a workshop in London? ( i gues it is not this year that you will come to France?

    • Simon Tebbenham

      November 18, 2014

      I know this post is 4 years old, but I stumbled across it so I guess others will too. I think the Elmann induction is one of the easiest to ‘recover’ from a fail. As per Jon Chase’s book Don’t Look into his Eyes – if they open their eyes, you say something along the lines of ‘no, you’re testing if your eyes WILL open, we know they will but you need to imagine that they won’t…’. Then repeat and second time round, chances are they will do as your first instruction of imagining what it would be like or pretending they won’t open.

      I do find that with a subject who demonstrates resistance (or more accurately, inability to follow your creative suggestions), another option is to say ‘ah, that’s very interesting’ – complement them on being very good at following instructions amidst ambiguity and move on to something like an arm lock where the initial set up is nothing but pure instruction (which they’d be almost guaranteed to follow now) about making the arm lock before the test to try and bend it comes in. At no point is there a fail, just feedback.

      I remember a fellow student on my course with Jon Chase had a problem with accepting the eyelock induction (kept opening them and saying he couldn’t see how not opening them translated into relaxing), so we went with a ‘praying mantis’ induction (focussing on a spot, plus arm catalepsy, plus confusion). It went on for ages, to the point of tears streaming, totally transfixed on that spot (although getting him then to close his eyes and follow all the other suggestions then seemed impossible!). Just an example of how someone who struggles with a creative induction such as eyelock tend to relate to a challenge more easily. I haven’t hypnotised thousands and thousands of people but in my early days experiences, this is what I’ve found.

  • Ron Tedwater

    November 13, 2010

    Really nice post,thank you

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