When someone is the victim of physical trauma such as a car crash, an act of violence, an accident, or disaster, or witnessing traumatic actions in riots, that person is existing in a highly focused, absorbed and emotional trance state. How that person is thinking is not going to be logical as they enter into survival mode. A person will respond to direct literal statements but may be unable to consciously process everything if their emotional intensity is too high. It takes training, support, and consistent feedback to operate under extreme stress, and those who do well have practiced several plans. Those who do well know how to access a situation and can work with what they have. This article will post basic principals to keep in mind that trained professionals from the dungeon to the solider get drilled on.
What is Emergency Hypnosis and how does it work?
In my work, I’d define hypnosis, (and erotic hypnosis), as a focused goal-directed, state of consciousness, that is often induced by another person, as well as self-induced, and this state allows us greater access to communicate with our subconscious. In times of crisis the conscious mind can often be overwhelmed and in this state individuals often act counter intuitively. When an individual is associated into this highly focused and intensely emotional trance state, a person is extremely susceptible to direct hypnotic command. So if a first responder or team member is trained in emergency hypnosis, that professional can utilize the already present trance state by applying hypnosis techniques that were designed with traumatic emergencies in mind.
Since the person is in a survival trance state when the first responder arrives, there is no need for formal hypnotic induction. Anyone who applies these skills should learn what street hypnosis is and that hypnosis does not only mean going into a profoundly relaxed state. Our subconscious mind never shuts down during our daily life and we fall back on what we have seen, experienced, and for most of the population that is movies, books, and video games. In all of the entertainment mediums that I just mentioned people are doing unrealistic things that get them killed, a signal they might be hurt or maimed, or are next to be. During a crisis, a person may utterly panic, especially if a person has experienced trauma before. To a hypnotist, we know that every person is in a trance state in every moment of our life and the environment, individual focus, and other people will affect that state. The first responder should become aware of the person in front of them and stay conscious of their own verbal and nonverbal communication.
One of the best things about emergency hypnosis is the very high rate of success that even inexperienced first responders can easily achieve. The success rates are so high because, when someone is severely injured, he/she is very afraid and desperate for your help. Whatever that first responder says can impact the phase of treatment, care, and will likely be remembered for years to come. This state of fear mixed with desperation makes a person extremely motivated to seek out the fastest way to establish safety and control. Learning about direct commands, and indirect or covert command instructions can be picked up as you practice and learn this material. I tend to use a mix of direct and covert command sets, but my emphasis leans towards a direct authoritarian style with some conversational softeners. Practice working hypnotic instructions, commands, and descriptions into sentences that you use every day. When you find sentences here that inspire you, write them down. Plan out where you might be able to use them as you practice.
Using language that comes naturally allows us to lessen any potential resistance with confident command statements even if they may seem foreign to you. Those of us that speak English daily may use different words and phrases to describe the things we encounter. What I call a footlong you might call a sub, hoagie, grinder, or edibles that bitches make us. Whatever it is, remember that part of the work you’ll do here is making sure you can apply this information to your life. Our personal interaction with ourselves and the world is akin to a hypnotic communication process. People who do best relating with indirect suggestive descriptions, instructions, and commands, are those who are skeptical of hypnosis, or unwilling, or unable to respond to direct suggestions. Just like the descriptions above, it’s all hypnotic. Some people and phenomena are just better at focusing a person’s attention and connecting pieces together to stimulate the subconscious mind. Let’s go over indirect and direct command phrasing briefly below. Command phrasing allows you to accomplish the goal of directing attention and moving the person’s emotional intensity in a particular direction. For example, “As you look over the last sentence again you can allow yourself to relax, breath deeply, and we’ll take care of you in the next paragraphs.” Emergency hypnosis was created for emergency first responders to hone their communication. However, anyone interested in being able to skillfully assist someone who is immersed in a crisis can develop this ability with proper guidance. “If you ever feel lost you can find me here… Take a deep breath with me now, and we’ll breathe the same breath. We got this together!”
One of the techniques for building rapport is called pacing and leading. The first step in pacing is observing the behavior of the person you want to get into rapport with and begin to take on some of the aspects of that person’s behavior yourself. After pacing the individual’s behavior, the goal becomes successfully leading the person to change their behavior to stay in rapport with you. Rapport is simply the feeling or belief that another person or group understands and respects each other's feelings or ideas and communicate well. I often see people do this naturally when expressing joy, love, fear, and anger. If a person is in panic mode the first thing you must do is get their attention and have a plan of what to do with it. That may be a direct statement to move, to slow down, and state what the goal may be. This is general advice and you will have to assess what a situation is and decide what is appropriate for yourself. If you were to pace and lead someone out of panic and they are screaming you would start out screaming at something other than them. Then slowly address them, and next begin to modulate your volume and attention to where it needs to go. The goal is to get the person out of a situation, lower the intensity of emotional reactivity, and get them the care that they need. This is not emergency therapy and if someone tries this while someone is in a crisis they are likely to respond with increased anger towards the one seeking to help them. Crisis communication is not therapeutic nor is it an intervention.
When you approach someone during a crisis they may be sobbing, laughing hysterically, screaming, silent and standing in a daze, or curled into a ball on the floor. Hypnotic communication teaches you how to recognize subconscious behavior and communication and facilitates you to direct that communication towards further stimulating the subconscious mind. We all are communicating with each other every day and since hypnosis is using words and gestures we all use that makes us all hypnotists. The person is likely going to be in a lousy mood and you do not need to announce you are using enhanced communication training before you begin. The client can be resistant to relaxation techniques or hypnosis in general. You are not doing therapy nor are you counseling them. Your goals are to get them to care, lower any emotional intensity, and get them out of the situation. The person who is acting irrationally is not always compliant! Have you ever witnessed a drowning man attempting to fight his rescuer? I have. Stick to a plan and get frequent training. Many people in a crisis will also be desperate for your help and are willing to do whatever is asked to survive their ordeal. Don’t be fooled into a false security that you won’t be hurt if they panic and seek to escape again.
If you find yourself in a crisis and you are seeking to help others please keep these five crisis principals in mind.
Seek to establish a verbal agreement. Your goal is to get the person out of a situation, lower the intensity of emotional reactivity, and get them the care that they need. Once you have the person responding to you more calmly share these goals with them using appropriate language in the situation. Ask the person to verbally agree to work with you to accomplish these goals. Once they agree keep your communication with them as positive as possible and give them short and direct directions when they need to move or assist.
Practice pattern interrupts and ways to break an intense focus. This technique utilizes visualization, guided imagery, and situational awareness to select tasks that remove the attention of what is overwhelming someone. The goal here is capturing attention and directing it to something to decrease the intensity of emotional and sensation based stimulation. This mental tasks will assist in helping to control pain from pepper spray, cuts, burns, or emotional trauma while in the situation.
Bring attention to focus on bodily sensations of relaxation and pleasure. Direct commands to relax, think about things they are grateful for this week, recall the best moments of their life, etc. This principle is about redirecting thoughts so that the person stays calm and resourceful. It involves having the subject focus on several parts of the body that have NOT been injured. I do not remark on injuries as I am not a doctor or medical professional. I will mention that staying focused on these resources will make it easier for them to get care. That we will be out of the situation soon.
Learn how to use compounding commands with environmental feedback. This technique involves compounding a positive command phrasing with an activity that is taking place around you. So you might mention that the siren lights on the ambulance are flashing, and each time they notice the flashing lights they will feel more relaxed… they will focus on only the good feeling that got them there… as they notice those feelings, relaxing deeper, they can feel confident they are getting the best care possible.
Expect that you may have to wait. Have a plan to utilize when all you can do is wait and the wait is taking forever. First responders trained in Emergency Hypnosis can do amazing things! I can’t advise you about emergency medicine, but during a crisis, there are often long moments where all we can do is wait. Once you do all you can it’s time to wait. In these moments you can share positive stories and reminisce about moments that made you the person you are today. You may find it useful to utilize the 54321 exercise. This is a useful grounding exercise that can encourage a calm and mindful experience. The 54321 exercise is used to help individuals break their state. To say that another way, it allows a person to do a pattern interrupt on themselves. This is especially useful if they have intrusive negative thoughts in a crisis. It works by shifting their thoughts out of routine, or problem states, and into undirected states of awareness. You can use this exercise to practice bringing people in and out of trance states. This method works by having you bring your attention to five different elements. I’ll run over the method quickly before exploring it more fully with you. Take your time reading it and moving through each aspect to fully associate with the sensations mentioned.
5. Bring your attention to something you see, fully experience it now.
4. Bring your attention to something you feel, fully experience it now.
3. Bring your attention to something you hear, fully experience it now.
2. Bring your attention to something you smell, fully experience it now.
1. Bring your attention to something you taste, fully experience it now.
Don’t neglect your own needs and self-care. Caring for others takes energy and we all need to be sure we are taking care of our own needs also. Self-care doesn’t mean you are making this all about yourself. It means you are ensuring that you have the resources to continue doing your best. The best of who you are is what you want to display when taking care of others, so if you are one of those people who have difficulty asking for help, do it for someone else. Our self work is the foundation of how we stay healthy and establish our personal state control.
We’re living through an amazing moment in history. The changes that humanity needs to deal with in the coming decades are unprecedented, not because similar things have not happened before during our common history on this planet, but because many of them are happening at the same time. I hope you found this article useful and timely in how you take care of yourself and others.
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