The Direct Hypnosis Method of Dave Elman



Dave Elman used a technique known as direct hypnosis. It is still widely used today. The following is an account of the ideas and methods of Dave Elman. Direct hypnosis has a very formal structure and the actual therapeutic suggestions are very direct statements. Most of what follows is in his own words.


  • "Hypnosis is a state of mind where the critical faculty of the human is bypassed and selective thinking established."


  • "The critical faculty of the mind is the part that passes judgement. It distinguishes between the concepts of hot and cold, sweet and sour, large and small."


  • "Selective thinking is whatever you believe wholeheartedly. If, for example, you believe you will feel no pain, and you believe it completely, you will have no pain."

The 5 SIgns Of Hypnosis

Dave Elman used the following standard signs that a subject had developed a hypnotic trance.
  • Body warmth
  • Fluttering eyelids
  • Increased lacrimation
  • Whites of the eyes getting red
  • Eyeballs go up into the head

The 5 Levels Of Hypnosis

Dave Elman followed the traditional thinking that trance had various levels beconing deeper and deeper. The deeper in trance you were, then the more suggestible you were and the more could be accomplished.
  • Light hypnosis
  • Somnambulism (deep hypnosis)
  • Esdaile state (coma)
  • Hypnosleep
  • Waking Hypnosis

The Handshake Technique

Designed to put the subject into a hypnotic trance by shaking their hand.
  • Initially he used the following technique: "I'm going to shake your hand three times. The first time your eyes will get tired.let them. The second time they'll want to close let them. The third time they will lock and you won't be able to open them.Want that to happen, and watch it happen,..Now, close your three.and they're locked and you'll find they just won't work, no matter how hard you try. The harder you try, the less they'll work. Test them. And you'll find they won't work at all .that's right. Now, that's perfect eye closure."


  • He later developed it into: Shaking hands and putting hand in front of their forehead with the little finger of lefty hand before in front of face. Then say: "Keep your eyes on my hand as I bring it down under your chin. The hand is then brought down to be level with chin. Then say: "Now close your eyes and relax the muscles around your eyes, relax them to the point where they will not work. When you are sure they will not work test them.

The Relaxation Technique

"I'm going to show you how to relax.. Take a long, deep breath. That's it. Now let me have your hand. Now watch this left hand come down over the profile of your face. Now close your eyes. Relax those eye muscles to the point where they won't work and when you're sure they won't work, test them to make sure they won't work. That's right. Stay like that and let that feeling of relaxation that you have in your eye muscles go right down to your toes. I'm going to lift your hand and drop it and if it's as relaxed as it should be, it'll just plump down like a wet dishrag. Look at that relaxation. Now I'm going ahead with... and nothing I'm going to do will bother or disturb you from this moment on."


The Two Finger Eye Closure Method

Designed to put the subject into a hypnotic trance by having them focus attention on your fingers.


  • Method for children "All right, open your eyes wide. I'm going to show you this little game. I'm going to pull your eyes shut with my forefinger and my thumb, like this. [Gently places thumb and forefinger on eyelids and draws them down] Now you pretend with your whole heart and soul that you can't open your eyes. That's all you have to do. Just pretend that. Now I will take my hand away [removes hand] and you pretend so hard so that when you try to open your eyes they just won't work. Now try to make them work while you're pretending. Try hard. They just won't work see. Now just because you are pretending like that, anything I do won't disturb you at all. In your mind you can be at home playing with your toys and you won't feel anything at all."
  • Method for adults "Take a good long deep breath. Now open your eyes wide. I'm going to pull your eyelids shut with my forefinger and my thumb. Now I want you to relax the muscles that are underneath my fingers. Now I will take my hand away. Relax your eye muscles to the point where they just won't work. Then, when you're sure those eye muscles won't work, test them and make sure they won't work. Test them hard. That's right. Now let that feeling of relaxation go right down to your toes, and when I lift your hand and drop it, that hand will be so relaxed it will just plop down into your lap. And just let it plop. That's it ... Any work that I do from this point on in your mouth or any other part of your body, you just won't mind. Just stay relaxed like that. Make sure at all times that your eye muscles won't work and you have relaxation all through your body and you won't feel a thing ..."

Somnambulistic Trance

This takes the hypnotic subject into a deeper hypnotic trance by using the subjects compliance to suggestions to further suggest that they go into a deeper state of trance (compounding suggestions).


"Take a long deep breath and close your eyes. Now relax those muscles around the eyes to the point where they won't work. Then test them and make sure they won't work ... Test them hard . . . That's right ... Now let that feeling of relaxation go right down to your toes . . . Now we'll do that over again, and the next time I have you open and close your eyes, that relaxation will be twice as great as it is now and let it be ... Now, open your eyes really relax--close your eyes again ... That's it . . . The next time you do this you'll be able to relax even more than you have relaxed . . . Open your eyes ... Now close your eyes ... Now I'm going to lift your hand and drop it. I want it to be as limp as a dishrag . . . If you've followed instructions, that relaxation will have gone down to your toes. And when I lift your hand it will just plop down-let it plop down ... That's right ... Now physically you have all the relaxation we need. We want your mind to be just as relaxed as your body is, so I want you to start counting from one hundred backwards, when I tell you to. Each time you say a number, double your relaxation. By the time you get down to ninety-eight, you'll be so relaxed, the numbers won't be there. Start from one hundred and watch them disappear before you get to ninety-eight ... Double your relaxation and watch them start fading . . . Now watch them disappear . . . Now they'll be gone . . . Isn't that a nice feeling? Are they all gone? Let them disappear . . . Are they all gone? That's right ..."


The Esdaile State


The first thing you must do is to get the patient into somnambulism. Then explain that there is a basement to relaxation-a bottom floor-and you want to take the patient down to this bottom floor. Take him down to floor A, and you will find he is able to voice the letter A quite plainly. Tell him that in order to get down to floor B, he will have to relax twice as much as he did at floor A. When he gets to floor B, he may find difficulty in saying the letter B out loud, but tell him to do his utmost to say it out loud.


Some patients will fail to be able to do it. This is a good sign. Now, using the same procedure, take him down to floor C, at which point he should not be able to move his lips sufficiently to form the letter C.


When you are sure he is at floor C, without giving suggestions of any kind for anesthesia, take a pair of allis clamps or towel clips, and make a test for anesthesia. Don't use a word of suggestion for this If it is necessary to give suggestions for hypnotic anesthesia, you don't have the coma state.


When the patient has passed the test for anesthesia, he is ready for test number two. Ask him to try to move a large group of muscles such as an arm or leg. If he is unable to move the big muscles, he is ready for the third test.


This should involve a small group of muscles such as those around the eyes. Ask him to try to open his eyes. If he does, he is not in the coma state, and you must take him down a flight further, until the eye muscles will not work. In somnambulism when the patient tries to open his eyes you will see a movement of the muscles even though the eyes don't open.


But in the true coma state, those tiny muscles don't work at all, and you see no movement whatever. Your fourth test should be for catatonia. Realize that catatonia can be obtained in the lightest state of hypnosis. Therefore, it means nothing unless it is the fourth test you make in the coma state. When a patient passes all of these four tests in the exact order given, you may be sure you have the true hypnotic coma, and can proceed from there.


In your test for catatonia, no suggestions should be given. The catatonia must arrive by itself, without suggestions of any kind. Never go on to a further test until the patient has passed the first one. Don't make test two until the patient has definitely passed test one; don't make test three until the patient has passed tests one and two, and so on.


When you obtain the Esdaile state, you will notice that the patient is truly incapable of taking a "physical" suggestion. When he is asked to raise his arm, the muscles may quiver. Then movement ceases. We have found that many patients, after coming out of the coma, are certain in their own minds that they followed the suggestions of the operator, and did raise the arm as requested. Remember, they can hear and understand every word you say.


In the true state of coma, though the patient's physical activities are immobilized-he truly cannot follow physical suggestions much as he might wish to do so-he is quite capable of taking "mental suggestions"-in which there is no physical movement.


Script For Developing An Esdaile State


"I know how relaxed you are, but even in your relaxed state I'll bet you sense in your own mind that there is a state of relaxation below the one you're in right now. Can you sense that?"


The patient answered, "Yes."


I continued, "You know that you can clench your fist and make it tighter and tighter and tighter-and you might call that the height of tension. You can relax that same fist until you can't relax it any more. You might call that the basement of relaxation. I'm going to try to take you down to the basement."


"To get down to floor A, you have to relax twice as much as you have relaxed already. To get down to floor B, you have to relax twice as much as you did at floor A, and to get down to C, you have to relax twice as much as you did at floor B. But when you reach floor C, that is the basement of relaxation, and at. that point you will give off signs by which I will be able to tell that you are at the basement. You don't know what these signs are, and I'm not going to tell you what they are, but every person who has ever been at the basement of relaxation gave off those signs ... Let's get started."


"You will ride down to floor A on an imaginary elevator and you will use that same elevator to get down to the basement of relaxation. You are on that elevator now. When I snap my fingers, that elevator will start down. If you relax twice as much as you have relaxed already you will be down at floor A. Tell me when you are at floor A by saying the letter A out loud."

In about thirty seconds, he murmured "A" in an almost indistinguishable voice.


I followed a similar procedure, taking him down to floor B.


It was almost impossible for him to say the letter B out loud, but he formed the sound with his lips. When he reached floor C, he was unable to speak, and not a muscle moved.


The depth of relaxation was astounding. Then, without a word of suggestion, we proceeded to give him the first test for the coma state-that is, a test for general anesthesia. The doctors tested him in various ways and the anesthesia was profound.


Remember, not a word of suggestion had been given to produce hypnotic anesthesia. It occurred automatically. The second test we made was to order him to lift his leg. He didn't respond. There was a quiver in his leg, suggesting that he was trying very hard to move it, and then he apparently gave up trying. The third test was made on a smaller group of muscles, those around his eyes. The suggestion was given that he open his eyes. He didn't follow this suggestion either. I then lifted his arm and found it to be completely catatonic. It stayed in whatever position we put it into. The doctors put him into various positions, and no matter what position he was put into, he stayed that way.


A typical Induction


"Take a long deep breath, fill up your lungs real good and hold it for a second. Now when you exhale, close your eyes down... And let yourself relax. Get rid of that surface tension in your body, let your shoulders relax. It's ok to relax today. Now put your awareness on your eyelids. You know that you can relax those eyes beautifully. You know that you can relax those eyes so deeply, that as long as you choose not to remove that relaxation, those eyelids just won't work... And when you know that you've done that, hold on to that relaxation, give them a good test, make sure they won't work... And notice how good it feels. Test them hard, it's ok. (pause) that's good. Stop testing let yourself relax much more. That quality of relaxation you are allowing in your eyes is the quality of relaxation i'd like you let yourself have throughout your entire body. So take that same quality, bring it up to the top of your head... And send it down through your body from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. Let go of every muscle. Let go of every nerve. Let go of every fiber... And let yourself drift much, deeper, relaxed. You got it. Now let's really deepen this state. In a moment i'll ask you to open and close your eyes. When you close your eyes, send a wave of relaxation through your body, so very quickly, you'll allow this physical part of you to relax... Ten times deeper. Just want it and you can have it. Let your eyes become open... Close your eyes... And really... Let go. Feel your body relax, much more. You're doing fine. In a moment i'll ask you to open and close your eyes again. This time when you close your eyes, double this physical relaxation... Really let it grow twice as deep. Let your eyes become open... Way down... Deeper... Deeper... Relaxed. In a moment we'll do it one more time... And notice how well it comes in this time as you learn how simple it is... At least double it. All right let your eyes become open... Way down, really let go. That's good. That's good. In a moment i'm going to lift your right arm and drop it. Don't help me lift that arm... And when it drops down, just notice how much more, your body can relax very easily. (arm drop) perfect. Way down. Great. Now the body's relaxed so let's get the mind relaxed, that's really what we want to do. When your mind's relaxed you really can achieve anything you can think of, within certain restrictions of course. In a moment i'll ask you to slowly begin counting out loud, backwards, starting with the number 100. After each number, simply say the words, deeper relaxed. After each number double your mental relaxation, let your mind grow twice as calm and still and serene. Now if you do this, you'll discover by the time you just say a couple numbers, doesn't take long, you've relaxed your mind so beautifully and so completely, you've actually relaxed all the rest of the numbers out. Want that... And you can have it quickly. Slowly begin counting out loud, backwards, starting with the number 100. Saying the words, deeper relaxed... And relax those numbers right out of your mind. (100 deeper relaxed.) That's good. (99 deeper relaxed.) That's fine. (98 deeper relaxed.) Now you can let those numbers grow dim and distant, there not important. (97 deeper relaxed.) And when your're ready just push them out. (96 deeper relaxed.) Now push them on out, just tell them to leave and they will go. Just let them go... And let them be gone. ... Numbers all gone ? (yes)"

This is then followed by the necessary direct hypnosis suggestions. These are simply statements with which the subject is expected to comply.