One of our TRANCED OUT coaching clients recently wrote us this e-mail:
During the third call, Taylor was explaining the difference between post-hypnotic suggestions and anchors. A trigger was compared to a computer program – “When X happens, Y follows after”. He talked about anchors being something learned at the neurological level. The example given seemed more like a non-verbal trigger, he referenced the process of getting Oleg to smile (Y) when Taylor touched his knee (X).
Given these definitions do all anchors begin as triggers? Are triggers “upgraded” to anchors due to repetition or compounding?
How does learning at the neurological level compare to the stimulus/response cycle of classical conditioning?
This is a fascinating topic to explore, and a great distinction to make as a hypnotist. The question is:
What is the difference in the MECHANISM and the EFFECT of a Post Hypnotic Suggestion versus Hypnotic Anchoring?
Here is my answer…
An anchor is the process of classical conditioning (AKA Pavlov). The dog salivates and Pavlov rings a bell. The dog salivates, and Pavlov rings a bell. Pavlov rings a bell, and the dog salivates!
What we are doing with a hypnotic anchor is pairing two stimuli together — and we’re training the brain to neurologically connect them. What makes them hypnotic, of course, is the suggestion, which we will get to in a moment.
Now for those of you who know a thing or two about anchoring, you know that the intensity of the stimulus (feeling) that you attach the anchor to, the moment in time at which you attach the anchor, and the uniqueness of the “trigger” are all important facts.
So an anchor works by one thing happening, and then another thing being triggered, as a “knee jerk” response. It is a below conscious response, and in fact happens at the level of the neurology.
Post Hypnotic Suggestions
Now, a suggestion on the other hand works primarily in a psychological way. It involves the mind, not the brain. Whereas an anchor is a one-way set of events (X trigger -> Y event), we can actually give two contrasting suggestions only a few seconds apart from each other and switch the direction of the effect.
Confused yet? What I am saying is that we can give a suggestion to a hypnotized person that “You have now forgotten your first name.” And then, seconds later, we can tap them on the head and say, “Now you remember! What’s your name?” And the second they remember we can say “Oops, it’s gone again! Where did your name go?”
And the suggestions will tend to be taken literally.
But with an anchor, there is no “literal” or “not literal.” It is kind of like getting a dog to salivate. It happens, and it happens, and it happens, but it never goes through the mind in order to work. It works below the mind.
What I advocate to hypnotists is that if something happens automatically at the neurological level, you are set for a much more powerful mechanism… Rather than having the pesky analytical side of the mind come in and mess up all your good work.
I thought it would be useful to include a segment of my reply to our coaching client. Here it is:
Now one way to examine this is what would happen if we needed to change these anchors/suggestions. If we needed to change an anchor, we would either need to nullify it’s effects by doing something like collapsing anchors, or we would need to re-pair the stimulus to do something else. With a suggestion, we don’t need to do all that, we just remove the suggestion.
So in a practical sense, it’s like how I compare/contrast direct suggestion with regression work. This is a discussion I have with a lot of clients. Most hypnosis tries to re-arrange the subconscious programming without regard to the feelings. If you follow the analogy, the effects of a direct suggestion results from the following of post-hypnotic suggestions, whereas regression work deals with changing/releasing the anchors involved (in an emotional sense) for the person’s issue.
Hypnotic Anchoring == emotional / neurological. A post-hypnotic suggestion = Almost feeling-less at the core, unless following the suggestion also involves invoking feelings.
Comments? Do you have a different view on the workings of these two techniques?
I’ll leave you with a thought: One of the marks of a professional hypnotist is being able to set an anchor… and make it look like a post-hypnotic suggestion. Hint, hint. Until next time!