The Haunted Key – Self-Hypnosis and the Ideomotor Response

Hi Folks

***VIDEO BELOW***

This is a slightly ‘left of field’ (off key?) piece, which initially I was not going to share because I thought it might be a bit ‘out there’, but…

Essentially I am taking myself into an altered reality to generate a hypnotic phenomenon – an ideomotor effect. Now this looks nothing like people generally expect self-hypnosis to like, but it is a great piece to illustrate certain principles, most notably, the hypnotic loop.

The effect is classically called The Haunted Key in Mentalism, and that is what I have called it here, although the way I present it is generally within an ‘energy’ or ‘chi’ frame.

httpv://youtu.be/rllgDllb1O8

It may take a little practise and dedication, but stick with it and you will have both a fun little performance piece as well as an interesting first person insight into the hypnotic experience.

See also: The Haunted Key Returns – Happening in Someone Else’s Hand!

ADDENDUM

I have been asked by private message whether this is a ‘special’ key. It is not! This can be done with any key of the right design, and in this instance, the key is not even a key – it is a bottle opener shaped like a key!
If you are practising this, however, do try it out with different keys, as all keys have different weightings and balance points and some will be easier to use than others. JT

2nd ADDENDUM

I would like to credit mentalist Richard Osterlind with this approach to The Haunted Key (From one of his excellent books Making Real Magic, or Making Magic Real… can’t remember which).

There is a more common approach to doing the Haunted Key that many magicians may be familiar with – it uses consciously directed hand angling, but it rarely looks very convincing because it is very difficult to do with the appropriate subtlety when consciously directed. THIS IS NOT THAT METHOD!

P.S. If you like this, please ‘LIKE’ this ↓↓↓↓↓!

About The Author

James Tripp

Hypnotist and Transformative Facilitator. Creator of Hypnosis Without Trance.

Facebook Discussion

49 Comments

  • Adis

    April 19, 2012

    Ok really fun piece indeed, but Im still “dumbfounded” I think thats the expression for not having a clue, anyways what does actually move the key-I do get you jumping into another reality so to speak but, what does move the key physiclly I mean cmon is it really micro muscle movements, because I dont really get how muscles could move the key as shown in the video-I dont mean to be too sceptical but this is one of those things that dont really fit in my “map”.
    Ouh and thanks for this video James.

    • admin

      April 19, 2012

      Micro-muscle movements in the wrist, palm and hand. Honestly, that’s how it works. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t post it here. The contour and angle of the hand changes subtly – try and do it consciously and the movements are obvious. Do it self-hypnotically (through practise you will build an unconscious model for how to do it – keep conscious thinking out of the way), and it will happen perfectly.

      To be clear, I practised this!

      I can assure you it isn’t ‘energy’ or ‘chi’ or telekinetic power or anything supernatural.

      All the very best

      James

  • Steven

    April 19, 2012

    Thanks for the video James. What specifically are you doing to take yourself into that ‘altered reality’?

    • admin

      April 19, 2012

      Hi Steven

      Well, there is no trance induction 😉

      I just go into that reality – believe it and act as if. Ensure my internal dialogue is congruent, believe I can do it and will it to happen. Or to put it another way, I vividly pretend.

      My guess is that it is not too dissimilar to what a ‘method actor’ might do when they ‘become’ the character.

      When I was a teenager I did a lot of work to develop various psychic and psychokinetic abilities, and then, in my 20s to develop ’empty force’ in martial arts practise, so I know what it is like to do this stuff in ernest.

      These days I do not really believe in such things, but I can ‘go into that reality’ pretty easily and ‘as if’ it (as and NLPer might put it).

      Hope that helps!

      All the very best

      James

  • Adis

    April 19, 2012

    Thank you for your response, now I guess its time to play.

  • jonjogill

    April 19, 2012

    Nice one! mind blowing!

  • Mehdi

    April 19, 2012

    This is great.
    Can we use self-hypnosis to get rid of irrational fears fast, too?

    • admin

      April 19, 2012

      Well, it kind of depends. Yes, to getting rid of them. Fast? maybe.

      For me, self-hypnosis is something that we are doing all the time anyway, we just don’t realise it (and therefore don’t know how to utilise it strategically). The trick is to understand how you shape your reality cognitively and semantically and utilise that in influencing your own system.

      Is this a simple technique – not really! It is a learned skill (as is the Haunted Key piece).

      All the very best

      James

      All the very best

  • Jeanne

    April 19, 2012

    I just tried this with a pen and it worked! I could feel the muscles in my hand tightening, but couldn’t see them moving. I will have to find a neat looking key to do it in public. Thanks for this!

    • admin

      April 19, 2012

      Cool!

      J

    • Rebekah

      April 20, 2012

      Same here; tried a pen. Interesting experience, as the clip on the side of the pen moved up a bit, then paused. I kept repeating internally that I believed my mind and body knew how to make this happen, and suddenly the pen finished flipping.

      Hmm…

  • Paul

    April 19, 2012

    Hi James, I like this, both the performance element and how you use the effect to demonstrate your self-reinforcing loop….excellent vid of a fantastic effect.

    I have practised and performed some of your material that I’ve learned off your vids with some of my own clients (to be honest, to show off a little 🙂 and to use as convincers….and I have to say that I always start out with this mindset that this effect is going to happen….and the vast majority of times it does work and when it doesn’t I utilise it into something else.

    In the past I was not a hundred percent convinced of your loop……However, using what I’ve learned from watching your vids and exploring my own ideas, reading numerous books and playing with my ideas with lots of practice to build my own belief and confidence…I have drastically changed my thinking and ideas about ‘hypnosis’ and your loop now makes absolutely perfect sense to me and fits neatly into my own thoughts of what hypnosis is and the subconscious processes and altered consciousness etc..

    I consistently learn something new from each post, thank you.

    Kind Regards
    Paul

    • admin

      April 19, 2012

      Thanks Paul

      Glad to hear you’re getting some stuff cooking with it!

      All the very best

      James

  • Kevin Hunter

    April 19, 2012

    Wow! Just great. It’s really helpful that you avoid all that secret cloak (I’m a higher being than you mere mortals) image. You just do, and explain it. Great.

  • Hi James,
    Fascinating and great fun. I don’t know how long it will take me to get it right, but I’m going to do this!

  • SS11

    April 20, 2012

    I don’t get it. He tipped his hand down, and then flexed his hand muscles.

    I just did it with a pencil.

    So am I missing something?

    • admin

      April 20, 2012

      Of course I moved my muscles, the point is HOW.

      Ideomotor… Ideo = idea, motor = muscles

      It’s not magic, it’s an ideomotor effect – at least the way I do it. Sure you can tip and flex your hand, but IME most people who do it that way can turn the key but the muscle movement becomes too overt and the effect is lost.

      Good for you for giving it a go though!

      All the very best

      James

  • Gene

    April 20, 2012

    Great effect!!!
    But I rather like the idea of hypnotizing the subject and putting the key in their hand and having them turn it.
    Hold their hand and do your energy thing.

    • admin

      April 21, 2012

      😀 Gene, you are getting ahead of me!

      I have it already filmed (should be releasing it next week)

      J

  • Laura

    April 20, 2012

    This is absolutely beautiful. I once saw a belly dancer lay on her back on the stage, lay a small handful of coins on her abdomen side by side, and then stack them all with just tiny repetative movement of her stomach muscles. It was amazing and miraculous to watch. I imagine what you did here and what she did are related.

  • JC

    April 20, 2012

    Hey James!

    Nice one, I really enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing!

    Can you tell us how long you practiced before you did it? And did you “know” it would work beforehands, or was it something you did as an experiment?

    And also, where did this idea come from? Did you see someone do something similar and decided to do it?

    Thanks James!
    JC

    • admin

      April 21, 2012

      I got the idea from Richard Osterlind, but it is ‘as old as the hills’ in the world of magic.

      I didn’t ‘know’ it would work beforehand, but I took it on faith because Osterlind said it would.

      All the very best

      James

  • ray

    April 20, 2012

    You Say—
    For me, self-hypnosis is something that we are doing all the time anyway, we just don’t realise it (and therefore don’t know how to utilise it strategically).

    Could that account, somewhat at least, for Self Limiting Beliefs ?

    • admin

      April 20, 2012

      In my view, most certainly. In simple terms a ‘limiting belief’ is just a part of how we have organised our reality.

      All the vey best

      James

  • Robert Brookes

    April 20, 2012

    Hi James
    Thanks for this.
    Long time no see.
    I have been a little sidetracked down Ormond McGill’s path, this fits well.
    Expect to see you soon.
    Now.
    Kind Regards as allways.
    Bob

  • Jinian

    April 20, 2012

    This is wonderful stuff, and leads me to answer the question (Especially as there are micro muscle movements involved) if this could not be used effectively for anyone that wishes to improve on something “Mechanical” (For want of a better descriptive).

    Example, i’m a musician who’s currently learning several new instruments. The struggle with learning anything new in this scenario (& i suspect in others) is the belief(s) that the only way to learn is slow, slow, repetitive practise? EVEN WHEN you already have the relevant motor skills from a previously encountered (Similar) instrument? For instance, i already play guitar proficiently and have reasonable finger control & co-ordination in both hands, so applying this to the violin that i have just started to learn should be fairly easy, obvious & straightforward? And yet…. i find that, although it’s not like a beginner because of my previous musical knowledge, i’m still held back by my belief that it will be a long, slow and laborious process?

    If however, i could use this technique to somehow “Bypass” these self limiting beliefs, then surely acceleration of the learning and playing would be the outcome?

    It could be that maybe i’m expecting too much, but somehow i don’t think so. The power of our minds & belief is immense, and the agreement of others (& the self) as a part of this only serves to encourage & support any belief. So where others may see a great stage trick, i see something that, with time and focus in the chosen direction(s), could help people achieve so many goals?

    Thank you so much for sharing this James. I am not a Hypnotist but i am immensely interested in the subject from a “Personal Change” perspective (Again not the best choice of words but i’m sure you know what i mean?) 🙂

    All the best to you & keep on doing what you do so amazingly well…. you’re pushing boundaries, breaking barriers down & that can only be a good thing. 🙂

    Jinian

    • admin

      April 20, 2012

      Hi Jinian

      I am a guitarist as well as professional Brain Wrangler ;-), and, for me, what I do ‘inside my head’ is everybit as important as moving my fingers and the sounds I’m producing.

      I have often ‘modelled’ techniques and licks from other players by letting go of the technical side and ‘hypnotically identifying’ with them as they play. Of course, I work on it from a technical perspective as well, but it is a different but complimentary way of learning.

      all the very best

      James

      • I really like what you are doing with waking hypnosis!

        As a hypnotist in private practice, one thing I add with clients for skills development is to, in deep hypnosis, combine an imaginary “practice room” with time distortion. That way they get lots of, say, one-hour practice sessions (but each one is only a minute).

        I also include hypnotic modeling in the hypnosis session (as long as they’ve already seen or heard the artist play, dance, sing, etc.).

        I’m going to add what you do, suggesting the client “hypnotically identify” with the artist *during* a performance – great idea, thanks!

        • admin

          August 31, 2012

          Thanks David

          Love to hear how you get me know how you get on with that!

          All the very best

          James

  • Robert

    April 20, 2012

    This principle will also work very well with the impromptu Haunted Deck that Derren Brown features on Devil’s Picture Book. That is something that I have used but dropped because I found tensing the arm awkward and obvious. This method of achieving the same effect is more subtle, and therefore looks a lot more “real”.

    • admin

      April 21, 2012

      I’ll have to look that out again, as I have no memory of that being on there at all!

      Thanks for the tip-off!

      J

      • Robert

        April 21, 2012

        It’s the very first revelation of the very first effect on the tape do you shouldn’t have to sit through the whole thing! Probably gets a mention in Pure Effect too.

  • Mark

    April 21, 2012

    Hello James ,
    Really Great effect! and Gene gave a very good idea of putting a key into spectators hand ufffff
    Respectfully,
    Mark
    P.S.
    James you are very welcome to NYC

    • admin

      April 21, 2012

      Thank you for the welcome Mark.

      I already have part 2 – Haunted Key in Spectators Hand – filmed, so I should be releasing it towards the end of next week!

      All the very best

      James

  • admin

    April 21, 2012

    Here’s an interesting observation from Miranda, who PMd me:

    “I enjoyed your Haunted Key. Interestingly, I was skeptical, but when I tried it I found it too easy. Then when I tried it again it would not work.

    Only when I acknowledged the power of belief, would it roll on demand and without fail. And as we all know belief is the foundation.”

    Thanks Miranda!

    James

  • Marc J.

    April 21, 2012

    James,

    1st off, love your model of hypnosis, the whole HWT is brilliant, but….

    ….as for this “Haunted Key” Ideo-Motor Effect (IME), your demo is pretty damn perfect with a slo-mo turning effect, however, it may be a little suspect based on others who demo this with a spooky ghost stories attached. This type of effect is all over Youtube and most are listed under magic using the title “Haunted Key”. The poor demos on this exploit the workings, no IME is needed just a steady hand then a slightly micro tilted one in the direction you wish the key to go using a very very balanced key (or a bottle opener, yes I know it’s a bottle opener you used, I have one). Sadly I think packaging this up as a Hypnosis/IDE, on any level, kind of demotes the IDE premise because it’s already out there pre-packaged as something else (a magic trick) but may work well on Hypnotic subjects IDE systems that are in a trance. Now if you could roll the key up with the hand on an upward tilt using IDE that would be a powerful thing.

    I only put this out there not to expose (allegedly) the rabbit in the hat but to stop people from not knowing the true effect on whats going on (sure maybe some IDE is going on) and wasting a lots of valuable time on this. Come on, James, you could of been a little more specific with the workings of this technique, like hand position, type of key, etc. I’d love to believe that we are controlling the micro hand muscles under the key and allowing them to relax and contract causing the key to roll but at the end of the day it’s just gravity.

    James I do very very much enjoy your stuff, you have a great presents, but this one was a miss for me. Packaging this up as self hypnosis I think was a stretch, sure maybe it could be but the 12 year old who performed the effect badly on Youtube wasn’t self hypnotized. To me using a pendulum with a volunteer has more of a true IDE flavor to it and it displays the effect 100x better and the subjects are more amazed because it’s them doing the effect so they can’t think “Ok, what’s the trick” when I’m doing it with a key. I have to say your performance was spot on, nice job.

    Just my thoughts,

    Marc J.

    • admin

      April 21, 2012

      Thanks for the feedback Marc.

      The reason that my demo is, in your words ‘pretty damn perfect’ is because I’m really doing it the way I say I am! Creating the reality in my mind and letting it happen!

      So maybe this is a stretch to call this self-hypnosis, but IMO, hypnosis is simply vividly altering a persons perception of reality, which exactly what I am doing to my self here.

      Regarding giving technical details… well, that isn’t how I do it. And it isn’t how I learned it either!

      It is what it is. I take myself into a reality and get an ideomotor response. That’s it.

      And I think it’s pretty relevant to how hypnosis works!

      All the very best

      James

    • admin

      April 21, 2012

      Also Marc, please see the ‘2nd ADDENDUM’ under the main video!

      All the very best

      James

  • Marc J.

    April 21, 2012

    Ahhhh, James, you neuro-handling son-of-a-gun, using my own phrasing…oh you. Lol. Old habits..eh?

    I here what you’re saying and I always try, scratch that, attempt to accept a new way of thinking using somebody else’s perceptions of reality. In this age of information I closed off your perception entirely and squashed it when I found other type(s) of similar technique and dismissed your frame, my apoligies – I blame my parents (lol). As for IDE I’ve always been fascinated with it and it’s connection to the subconscious and actually done a simple technique causing my own fingers to levitate using a sort of disassociation. I know it sounds a little out there but think of Elman “allow that arm to flop down like a wet dishrag” I use “that hand”. There’s a few other steps but let me tell you when it happens it’s freaky. Hey it’s worked for me and others.

    Later,

    Marc J.

    • As a hypnotist, I use IDE a lot with clients, as a convincer, a part of induction (i.e. Mottin’s “Hand to Face” induction) and for therapeutic purposes (raise one finger for yes, the other for no). Elman would use it (with a thumb) as a way of signaling whether the root cause was found or if there was more.

      I’d never thought of using ideomotor for other demonstration purposes (pendulum for lottery numbers doesn’t work that well 🙂 ), but I’m going to be experimenting.

      • admin

        August 31, 2012

        Hi David

        And I look forward to hearing the results!

        All the very best

        James

  • macka

    May 1, 2012

    Thanks James that was Awsome Ive done it on myself and on others hands now.
    I love magic too and this would have to one of the closest things to real magic Ive ever seen and done, It even feels like your magic when your doing it to yourself no gimmicks Awsome work.

  • Stuart

    May 4, 2012

    James,

    This is brilliant stuff. I went straight out and bought a key and started having a go myself. At first I was disappointed because, although I could make the key roll easily, I knew it was just the tiny change in angle that I was putting my hand in (so minor that it couldn’t be noticed, but I knew what I was doing). HOWEVER, as I continued to practice I genuinely stopped deliberately moving my hand and the key still rolled. NOW, I hold my hand flat and not even at an angle and the key still rolls when I WILL it to – to be honest, I started out feeling it was a bit of a parlour trick but now it is genuinely happening through involuntary ideomotor response it’s kinda freaking me out!! LOL

    What’s even more amazing is my 9 year old daughter can now do it perfectly and is absolutely obsessed (in a nice way). Any more of this sort of stuff out there?

    You’re the best,

    stuart

    • admin

      May 4, 2012

      That’s great Stuart… And make sure you check out Part 2 – Happening in Someone Else’s Hand!

      J

      • stuartmcr

        May 4, 2012

        Yeah, frightengly she did that tonight on our local publican!! She used the metaphor of rolling over from one side to another when resting in bed and the key started moving! Now her dream is to be a hypnotist (after 3 years of wanting to be a vet).
        Ever so slightly worried what we’ve created… 😉

  • ken

    July 26, 2014

    try haunted key with electric touch gizmo

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