Covert Tests and Convincers for Somnambulism within Hypnotic Guided Imagery

I received a rather interesting email request for some advice on testing for hypnotic responsiveness and thought I’d share my response here. I have removed the name and email of the person who asked the questions.

My wife and I have been playing with erotic hypnosis for the past few years and have had some very erotic experiences with it.

That’s what it’s for. 🙂

I have usually relaxed her to a point where I feel she is in a somewhat deep trance and then go into guided imagery to get her to experience some of her most erotic fantasies.

So far, so good.

I have read where it is best to try to get to somnambulism to really experience hypnosis at it’s fullest potential.

This really will depend upon the context of the hypnosis and the goal of the session. While I am one of the pro-somnambulism guys, I would also suggest that we not take it to the degree that we get frustrated in recreational tranceplay with our significant others. With your wife, the goal is to share and enjoy the experience together, depth is not so relevant. If the quest for somnambulism gets in the way of enjoying the experience, then stop it.

The question I have is that I am not sure if she is at this level. I feel like she has never or rarely ever truely "let go".

Whether she’s "letting go" or not, it does sound like she is enjoying the experience . . . so relax . . . breathe in, breathe out, relax and just let any worry about the whole depth thing just float away. Heck, there are folks who will tell you with a complete straight face that there’s no such thing as depth anyway, that somnambulism or any other sort of measure of depth for hypnotic trance is just an illusion cooked up to make it easier to discuss phenomena but actually has not objective reality . . . along the lines of the folks – like myself – who open lectures and explanations of hypnosis with the line "there is no such thing about hypnosis, but it works so well." 🙂

With that said . . . while I do believe most depth scales are bogus, I also believe there is a difference between the imaginative involvement, bypass of the critical factor of the conscious mind, heightened expectations, and the phenomena of somnambulism that of the so-called waking state or of lighter relaxed trance states. For me, somnambulism may not exist objectively but it is certainly the working level I prefer . . . albeit, this is context-specific.

I do a basic progressive relaxation induction and then deepen with a stair case or something along this line to deepen the trance once I feel she is there we do the guided imagery.

In and of itself, the Progressive Relaxation induction only guarantees relaxation, not hypnosis. While many folks are able to enter somnambulism or gain a wonderfully active degree of imaginative involvement in the experience using the progressive relaxation induction, this has more to do with their own natural trance ability than anything inherent in the induction process. As relaxation is NOT trance, the only thing you can be certain of is that the person is relaxed. I would not reccommend using the PR as a primary induction for therapy or changework hypnosis. However, given the context you are using it for, it is not inappropriate and seems to fit your wife’s needs of the moment . . . albeit, you might consider switching it to act as the deepener rather than as the initial induction.

I am wondering how I can get her to go to the next level and then how I can check to see if she is there.

First . . . don’t worrry about it. If you are having success and enjoying the experience together fo recreational purposes, then enjoy what you have and don’t think that somehow it is of less value because of some quality that has nothing to do with the positive experiences you are already having.

Second . . . switch to the Elman induction. It is quick – should take four minutes or less for the basic induction – and it has built-in fractionation and tests for somnambulsim. There are variations in the archives at Hypnosis Technique Exchange at although I would strongly suggest reading something like Dave Elman’s Hypnotherapy at for real information. Gerry Kein at has excellent videos on how to do the induction (albeit for therapeutic rather than recreational use). Gerry’s variation is on the web at Here is an outline of the Elman inducton process pretty much as I often use it:


The outline of the Elman Induction is as follows (it will make sense to you after you read the induction through from one of the sources above – this induction should never take more than four minutes):

  1. Eye Closure. Close eyes and relax the entire body

  2. Can’t Open Eyes Convincer Game. Relax the eye muscles to the point that they won’t work so try them and find they won’t work and when that happens stop trying and send a wonderful wave of relaxation through the entire body. (quit trying and go deeper) (first convincer)

  3. Deepening Eye Open/Close Three Times. This is fractionation which is an incredibly effective deepener and responsiveness builder . . . open/close three times, each time going even deeper, count down from three to one for eye closure and only close at one – fractionation deepener. (confirming, hidden test)

  4. Arm Catalepsy Test. Test arm for relaxation, relax and go deeper (second convincer and deepener)

  5. Number Countdown and Disappear – Suggested Amnesia. Now have to get mental numbers to disappear (100-97) Being able to get numbers to disappear is main sign of somnambulism. You take them down three. 100, 99, 98. (saying each number as it disappears) And the last one on their own….they don’t say 97…they make it go away. Each time you ask them to let a number go then you tell them they are two or three times more limp and more loose than before as the number goes. Take your time with this and don’t rush. "they just disappeared didn’t they?" Test for somnambulism. (third convincer and test for somnambulism)

  6. Deepeners and/or Hypnotherapy Suggestions and/or Guided Imagery. Use deepening methods while layering affirmations, suggestions, and posthypnotic suggestions.

  7. Emerging Techniques. First set trigger word for state, then count from 1 to 5 and have eyes open and wide awake.

I often put an additional step into the mix between steps 4 and 5 where I do a "arm raising" or "balloon" test coupled with the "unbendable arm" catalepsy test. The arm test in step 4 is a catalepsy test but I find the rigidity one to be even more powerful as a convincer for most people. I sometimes will do the Esdaile Process anywhere after step 5 as well. You can do a truncated variation of this or the Ultra-Height process or the like as a very nice deepener. I often use the Elman as part of a hyperempirc process as well which is particularly useful when doing guided imagery work for therapeutic or recreational purposes.

The process is simple to learn and easy to execute. It is also quite fast. Actually, many folks who expect a progressive relaxation will wonder why it’s so fast and expect more (use staircase or progressive relaxation as deepeners AFTER the Elman so they can still enjoy the slow process with confidence you have the state you’re after). As progressive relaxation does not have tests built into the process, one is never really certain that one has the desired degree of imaginative involvement.

She does not like long inductions so I have given her a trigger phrase of "take a deep breath focus and relax" which seems to get her to relax deep very easily.

That’s what it’s for. 🙂 Always establish a re-induction trigger and compound and reinforce it at every opportunity. Once a person’s been conditioned, then ANYTHING will pop ’em where you want ’em to go. I’d suggest some conditioning with Elman (with Progressive Relaxation as a deepener . . . btw, since you’re doing "erotic" recreational hypnosis and imagery with your wife, the progressive relaxation process can be adapted very easily to this . . . when running the various body parts for relaxation, simply have her imagine an erotic massage loosening the muscles for her as the hands relax her and let her feel an "erotic wave of relaxation" through her body . . . while erotic relaxation sounds like a contradiction in terms, it works very well). Then alternate with different playful takes on the reinduction trigger as part of a longer four minute induction and as part of various instants and the like with deepeners and compounders. Create a habit of positive response and reinforce that.

If I try anything which seems like a hypnosis type of test she will open her eyes and want to get to the guided imagry. She likes for me to hypnotize her but I feel like she may be afraid to really let go for fear she might do or say something she may not feel comfortable saying in the open. What is you opinion of this and do you have any advice for me.

I think you’ve already answered your question.

If she is really uncomfortable surrendering in that way with you at this time, then I’d suggest not pushing it . . . let her decide the timetable. If she would like to increase her responsiveness to the imagery, then go that route without any mention of hypnotic depth or the like. She could do some visualization training without so-called depth (not just visual, including other senses to increase the experience) – there are plenty of basic books on visualization techniques out there which might work for you or perhaps some of Tom Vizzini’s material on visualization at could be adapted to your needs. Just drop the changework context and focus it on experiential imagery. If she wishes, she could also do the fractionation conditioning at DRTRC at which I like to think is pretty damned good, but then I’m biased.

Focus on imagery and suggestions within the consensual recreational context you have already established along the lines she prefers. It is still possible to increase her imaginative involvement within those contexts. The Elman process is very quick and should not bore her or get in the way. Then do the guided imagery with a twist . . . for instance, rather than doing a straight on vanilla suggestibility or depth test of say the handclasp or the arm lock or rising arms or whatever, you can build them into the imagery (depending upon her fantasy preferences – for instance "as you safely and comfortably imagine the pirates have tied your arms and legs spread eagle upon the bed so you cannot move them, the more you struggle, the hotter and more excited you get and the more you cannot move them and the hotter you get, go ahead and feel the ropes or chains and really struggle and let yourself become hotter and more excited by the experience" or the like or "as you imagine you are standing in the forest clearing and as the moon rises over the trees you feel your body changing into that of a powerful and beautiful werecat, really feel your fur, your face changing, your body responding as you become a beautiful sensual werecat . . . a werecat in heat" and note her physical responses to the suggestions as she enjoys the imagery and deepens or increases the imaginative involvement . . . even something as fairly vanilla and straightforward as "with each breath in, feel my penis enter you, deeper and more erotic with each thrust" becomes a test as you can observe physical responses merely by placing the palm of your hand over her pelvis as the imaginary thrusting occurs).

Regardless of "depth" . . . compound positive experiences and results and build upon those within the context of imagery she responds well to.

That increases the imaginative involvement and follows along the lines of imagery which are most positive for her. Reinforce positive responses, and drop negative ones. Always keep all imagery and suggestions within contexts she prefers. Anything done within her trance experience should be within her comfort levels to enhance her pleasure of the experience . . . even without so-called objective tests, as long as she is having a positive experience and is enjoying the process, her imaginative involvement will increase with practice.

No need to formalize things or put any extra pressure on her to go into experiences she is uninformed of or uncomfortable with. Keep the context cenetered on her and enjoy.

Thank you for any comments and suggestions.

I hope this has been helpful. Perhaps others have some ideas you can use as well.

All the best,