Covert hypnosis

NLP techniques

Covert hypnosis may best be described as the opposite of what you see happening when a stage hypnotist is performing.  

In that latter case the hypnosis is overt, but in the former you are unaware of it.


Think twice before you speak because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another

Napoleon Hill



Those who take the stage with entertaining hypnotists, are pretty extrovert characters on the whole. 

If you have ever been to a hypnotist’s show you will have witnessed the stampede to get to the stage as soon as a request for volunteers is made.  

You will also have seen how carefully the hypnotist calibrates each volunteer before accepting them into his performance. 

They are the sort of people who know what they want and will readily cooperate with all that is asked of them.

Covert hypnosis when you don’t expect it

But covert hypnosis takes place when we are least expecting it.

Journalists, television presenters and politicians are experts at it.  

Think how often you have formed an opinion merely because of something you have seen on television or read in a newspaper?

In some ways it is even easier for politicians.  Most of their rallies are supported by people who are already members of their party, so they have rapport to start with.

Most of those who are not already supporters will find it very difficult to resist in that sort of atmosphere.

If it shocks them covert hypnosis won’t work

Let me say at this stage, that I don’t honestly believe that you will succeed if you attempt to use covert hypnotic techniques to get somebody else to perform an illegal act or to do something they really don’t want to do.

If they were in some sort of altered state, or trance, at the time you made the suggestion, the moment the suggestion was made they would likely snap out of it.

Dating and covert hypnosis

Take dating as an example.  One partner wants to take the evening as far as he or she can go and end up in bed with the other, but wonders whether the partner will go that far.

For the purposes of this example –and merely to avoid confusion - I will refer to the dominant partner as “he”, although it matters not whether it is he or she.

Rapport and covert hypnosis

He should concentrate during the date on getting a close rapport.  You might – quite properly – consider this to be common sense, but what is really more hypnotic than lovemaking?

Be patient.  Take things gently.  Use language that makes the partner go inside and make dreamy pictures.  “Shall we relax at my place” or “your place”?

“Relax” is a good word to drop into the conversation a few times.  Immediately, the partner goes inside and thinks of other relaxing times.

Covert hypnosis and the imagination

“Imagine” is another fantastically powerful word to drop in. 

Imagine if we could go on holiday and relax on a remote beach all on our own” etc. 

There we have used both the words in one sentence.  

You cannot read the words without seeing yourself in that situation, hearing the sea and feeling the sand between your toes.

Neither can your partner, and when they are in that sort of dreamy state it is easier to bypass the conscious mind.

You will know when they are in that sort of state because the eyes may dilate a little, you may get an unconscious response in the form of a half-smile or a stroke somewhere on the body.

The signs with covert hypnosis

When you get the signs you will know them.  Again, go carefully, but you can at this stage start to seed your ideas, perhaps by talking about examples that will appeal to your partner.

After you have planted the seeds, water them:  that is to say, gently repeat powerful words and phrases so that they embed themselves in the unconscious.

Don’t think that by employing this sort of technique you will get sex with someone who doesn’t want it with you. 

On the other hand, if your partner is merely hesitating, it may just tip the balance in favour of success.

A mundane example of covert hypnosis

Coming back to a more mundane example, as a courtroom lawyer I always endeavoured to start by getting the witness’s attention and building rapport.

If the witness was my own, it was quite straightforward because I would make sure I had a quick introductory chat with her before she ever entered the court room. 

Once she came into court to take the witness stand she knew at the outset that there was someone in that room on her side.

If a witness tells you they are not nervous they are probably lying.  That puts you in a strong position if they regard you as their friend in court.

Getting the attention with covert hypnosis

So I have the witness’s attention and, although I am not permitted to lead my own witness, I can nonetheless direct her mind with questions such as, “I would like you to recall where you were at around 3 o’clock on Tuesday 18 December of last year.”

If the witness hesitates all the advocate has to say is something like, “Well, you remember why you have come here today to give evidence.”

You can see the witness’s eyes go up as she searches inside herself.  At that stage she is in an altered state. 

The power of suggestion with covert hypnosis

It works equally well in cross-examination.  Assume a witness has identified my client as someone who stole money from the victim.

The witness’s evidence is that he saw the defendant take the money from a table in the victim’s house sometime after they had all eaten dinner together.

I would always start by asking the witness to help me with simple matters that he would find agreeable and smile as I asked the question.

That sort of approach is critical to gaining rapport.  In that way I obtained the confidence of the witness before I moved on to the important matter of the money.

Once we have reached that stage, the witness should already be moving into an altered state and it is time to ask questions like, “From the distance you were away from the table, could you see how much money was there?”

If the witness makes a guess or says no, the follow up might be, “Could you see how many dollar bills (pound notes, euros etc) there were?”  Again, you may well get a vague answer.

“Did you see the defendant and victim talking during the evening?”  If they all had dinner together, that is almost bound to have happened.

“Did you hear anything said about the victim owing the defendant money and how it was to be repaid?” 

Even if the answer is “No”, the suggestion is being planted not only in the mind of the witness but also in the mind of the judge or jury who is to decide the facts and who should also have gone into an altered state at this stage.

The good advocate, whilst asking the questions, will be casting glances in the direction of the judge or jury to look for unconscious responses.

How many will respond to covert hypnosis?

It is sometimes said that 20 per cent of the population will go into trance almost immediately, 20 per cent are not hypnotisable and the other 60 per cent are persuadable.

I agree that 20 per cent will go quickly but my own experience is that the other 80 per cent is persuadable if they don’t know it’s coming.

The use of the television set for covert hypnosis

Can you see what a powerful asset a television set is to someone who wishes to hypnotise the masses? 

The crazy thing is that the masses even pay for their own televisions!

If you have a product to sell, make sure you plant your advertisement right in the middle of the most popular soap or talent contest.

By the time the advertisement is reached, the viewer is already in an altered state and completely open to suggestion. 

Why do you think adverts during prime time television cost so much? 

Why do you think party political broadcasts are made during prime time television?  It is very carefully researched and we fall for it every time.

This article has but touched on covert hypnosis.  Have a look at the hypnosis articles on this site and others such as: PersuasionThe meta model, and NLP language patterns such as deletions, distortions and generalisation.





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