Many people learned how to hypnotize in English, and want to learn how to hypnotize people in a second language. I’m often asked how to hypnotize people in Japanese. The simple answer is that it’s the same as in English. The basic empathetic pacing and leading frame of mind that one uses in English also works in Japanese on all willing subjects, because people are largely the same across cultures. Milton Erickson used to hypnotize people without saying a word by miming suggestions to relax and go into trance. As far as spoken word patterns go, below are some techniques and turns of phrase that I’ve found to work well. I’ve refined them at a number of parties, dinners, public speeches, and clinical settings, and I continue to refine them. Your comments are appreciated.

Using 「リラックス」 as compared to  「催眠状態」 or 「トランス」

When demonstrating hypnosis at a party, I find that people who are resistant to words like 「催眠状態」 or 「トランス」 are not resistant to the word 「リラックス」. So, I use the phrase 「リラックスしていけます」 instead of 「催眠状態に入っていけます」. Conversely, clients who come to me expressly for hypnotherapy tend to want to feel they are going into a unique hypnotic state, so in these situations I use.

Use ambiguity to your advantage.

Japanese, compared to English, has a lot of ambiguity in sentences. When processing ambiguity, the subconscious mind actually processes all possible meanings.

For example, there’s a pattern I use often in English: “You will go into hypnosis… each time better than the time before.” In Japanese, I translate this as 「リラックス状態に入っていける。するたびに前よりよくなります。」the 「よくなります」 in this case is ambiguously referring to either the ability to go into trance, or the subjects state of being upon going into trance, and both meanings will be processed by the subconcious mind. If you want to learn more about these sorts of patterns, here’s a good book (in English): Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson, M.D. This book excellently explains advanced language patterns, if you’ve had some hypnosis training.

Embed commands using conjunctive verbs.

Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP), a conversational variant of hypnosis, talks a lot about embedding commands, in which you sprinkle imperatives in your sentences while slightly changing your tone of voice so that the command is processed. This is relatively easy in English, but it took me awhile to find something that worked well in Japanese.

The analog is to use conjunctive verbs like「していく」where the 「して」is both a conjunctive form and an embedded command.

You don’t have to relax right now.

今からリラックスして…いかなくてもいいです。」

The 「今からリラックスして」forms the embedded command, and the 「いかなくてもいいです」removes the pressure on the subject to comply.

Take advantage of pacing in Japanese.

This is a variation of direct suggestion in English. While in English, I often use permissive suggestions, the sentence structures for these in Japanese are can be cumbersome because of the way Japanese builds verbs. Take this example.

E: Your eyes can become heavy. (permissive)
E: Your eyes are becoming heavy. (pacing)
J: まぶたが重くなれる

I’ve found it simpler to say.

J: 目がおもーくなる。目がおもーくなる。

Stretching out the 「おもく」and saying it twice paces the experience, and makes the adverb/verb shorter. (“omokunaru” instead of “omokunareru”) Interestingly, doing this sort of narrative pacing in English makes the verb longer. (“can become” compared to “are becoming”)

I know Japanese hypnotists who rely completely on pacing in this way to induce trance, but I find mixing in embedded commands and ambiguity can speed up the trance induction.