Even though this trick is fairly difficult to execute I will explain it in a lot of detail so that it can be performed by anyone. It is best suited for a one-on-one scenario where you want to demonstrate hypnosis to someone, or you can perform it on an individual person in front of a group. If you have trouble with this trick I recommend looking up some easier tricks to practice first.
This trick uses waking hypnosis. You will not be putting anyone into a trance and the person you are performing it on will be completely conscious throughout. In fact that is one of the things that make this trick so cool.
It works on this principle. Have you ever had a really bad headache that wouldn’t go away? You would have noticed that the pain would often be intermittent. If you were paying attention to something else you could even forget about the pain momentarily before it would creep up on you again. It is a signal from the body to the brain that something is wrong and it is experienced by you, consciously, as pain. Because we are able to perceive pain intermittently between focusing on other things, we’re actually able to completely distract ourselves from the pain sensation and make it go away. This trick makes pain go away so completely that the person is left feeling numb. In the end you use it to numb the persons face so that they even have trouble talking.
To start this trick have the participant put their hand flat on a table. Make sure you are sitting next to them rather than opposite. Sitting opposite puts you in an adversarial position and might make the person resist. Tell them to take a deep breath and then to relax. Say something like this “the trick I am about to show you is really cool, but for us to pull it off I need you to listen carefully to what I’m saying. Can you do that for me?”
This does several things. First you frame the trick as “us” rather than you the hypnotist and them the subject. You are doing it together. Second you establish that the trick is fun and cool. Third you establish that it needs their participation to work correctly. You have already gotten them to comply with you by putting their hand on the table. You get them to comply with the request to take a deep breath. Now you get them to acknowledge that they are going to comply by asking your question “can you do that for me?”
Now it’s time to give them a story, rich with metaphor, which establishes subtly the nature of the trick. Start talking about pain. Tell a story about a time you were injured and how much it actually hurt and how it relates to pain being only in the mind. This is a story I use from my childhood: “When I was a kid I used to treat everything as an adventure. I’d always be running, climbing, jumping and rolling around. One day I was out with a friend exploring some rocks at the beach. My friend pointed at my hand and said, ‘you’re bleeding’. I looked down and saw that my hand was covered in blood and I’d been bleeding for some time. Then the pain hit me. It was only a cut but it felt like the pain was going right to the bone. It was suddenly so incredibly painful that I started to scream and ran to find my mother. Isn’t it funny that I didn’t start to feel any pain until I saw that I was hurt?”
Now to the next step. There is a pressure point between the thumb bone and the rest of the palm. To find it put your finger on the bit of skin between your thumb and index finger and move towards your wrist until you feel bone. If you press down on it, it will hurt more than if you press down anywhere else. What you want to do is apply a soft pressure to that pressure point on the participant’s hand. Then ask, “can you feel that?” Wait for them to acknowledge it and say “isn’t it interesting the way we feel pain. At first there is nothing there then like a sharp stab” – at this point press your finger into their hand a bit harder – “and it’s as though the pain shoots through your entire body.” Then press even harder on their hand and ask “how does that feel?” they should answer that it hurts. Push down even harder one last time and then quickly take away your finger.
Now say “Isn’t it interesting that even though my finger is gone it still hurts? How even though the pressure isn’t there anymore you can still feel the pain?” Drag out the word pain as though it literally pains you to say it. Now hover your hand above theirs and push down as though you were pushing air down right on the spot you were pressing with your finger. Now say “Notice that the memory of the pain is so strong that even though my hand isn’t touching you, you can still feel it. It feels as though I am pressing down on it again. Can you feel it?” Ask them the question and wait for them to respond that they do.
Now say “if pain were a colour I would think it would be black. I want you to imagine the pain as a black decay that that gets stronger as my hand presses down.” Then press your hand down slowly on that spot once more, still hovering above it so that you aren’t touching it. Now say “and it’s interesting the way pain can spread. How it starts in one spot and just spreads out.” As you say ‘spreads out’ pull your hand up and quickly splay your fingers out suggesting that the pain is spreading. Say “You can imagine that black decay spreading, as though it radiates from that one spot.” Then start to move your hand towards their wrist and say “you can feel it spreading to your wrist”, then move it back towards their fingers and say “you can feel it spreading to your fingers”.
By this point your participant should be feeling fairly uncomfortable. We want to push this just a little bit more before we offer any relief. Say “And as it spreads you can feel it getting blacker and blacker. You can feel the pain becoming more and more intense.” Lift your hand up a bit and start pressing down as though you were pushing some heavy weight on top of them, “and as my hand pushes down harder and harder you can feel the pain getting stronger and stronger”.
In NLP this is called creating a “loop”. We started talking about pain, which set up the loop. Then when you press your finger into their hand it opens up the loop and exposes them to pain. You keep the loop going by implanting the suggestion that they can still feel the pain even though your finger is gone. You then anchor the pain to your hand pressing down above the spot that hurts. You then anchor the pain to the color black and get them to imagine that it is there. As you move your hand around theirs, that anchor still exists so it causes them to feel pain wherever your hand is. This gets them to imagine that the blackness is spreading, reinforcing the pain. Make sure that as you say the part “as my hand pushes down harder and harder, you can feel the pain getting stronger and stronger” and you really emphasize harder and HARDER as well as stronger and STRONGER.
Your participant can at any point break the feeling of pain by breaking the loop. They just have to move their hand, stand up or even say “I don’t want to do this anymore”. This is why it’s important to make sure that you have a lot of rapport with the participant. Make sure they think this is “cool”. And make sure they feel safe.
At this point it is time to close the loop. Straight away after you say the words “stronger and stronger” lift your hand quickly, click your fingers and tap them on the center of their forehead. This uses what’s called a “pattern interrupt”. You interrupt the thought pattern that the person is going through by doing something completely unexpected. You also make a loud noise with the click that wakes them from the pain. Then you provide them the first actual physical sensory input they’ve received since you were pushing on their pressure point. This shocks their system. It reminds them what real pain feels like and completely distracts them from the artificial pain you were making them feel.
You use the moment they are shocked and dazed from the interrupt to implant a suggestion. Right after you click and tap them on the head you say “And just like that the pain is gone. It is completely gone and there is none of it left and you cannot feel the pain anymore…” then give a short pause and almost as an afterthought you say “… in fact, you can’t feel anything anymore.” You let this thought sit for a moment and before they have a time to properly process it you start talking again “it’s as though all feeling has left your hand. It is as though your entire hand has gone numb.”
Important: Whenever you say numb for the rest of this trick always extend the last syllable. It’s as though your mouth was goes numb each time you say the word.
Now say “your hand is so numb in fact, that you could not lift it even if you tried.” This tells them subtly not to try to lift their hand. But because they want to, they want to test if they really can but you’ve just told them not to do it, it reinforces the idea that their hand is numb. Pause for a moment and let the idea stick in their minds.
Now say “as you sit there, listening to the sound of my voice, your hand stuck to the table, completely numb and without feeling, you can imagine yourself trying to lift your hand. And the harder and harder you try and lift your hand the more and more numb it becomes… until… it is completely devoid of feeling and it has gone completely numb. How does it feel?” The first part of this statement contextualizes the last part. They are in fact sitting there listening to you. Then you reinforce the suggestion you’ve been working on by saying “your hand stuck to the table” as though it were a matter of fact, you could just as easily have said “the sky is blue” and your tone of voice would have been the same. When you ask them how it feels, really drag out the word “feel”.
They should say that their hand feels completely numb. Use two fingers to pick their hand up by the wrist and lift it up. It should fall completely limp to the table as though it had no feeling at all. Ask “can you feel that?” and they should say no. Press on the top of their palm (one of the areas with the least feeling in the hand) and ask if they feel that and they should say no.
Now say “I want you to imagine that the feeling of numbness is escaping your hand” – at this point put your hand on top of theirs – “and imagine that it is escaping into my hand. That the numb feeling is leaving your hand and entering mine” – now lift your hand up off theirs – “and it is completely gone and you are able to move your hand.” They should feel relieved as they lift their hand up in to the air with all the feeling returned to it.
Now look them straight in the eye and don’t withdraw your gaze. They should be so impressed with what you’ve done that they find it difficult to avert their gaze and stare directly into your eyes. Now say “That feeling of numbness exists in my hand. Wherever I touch it will be like a paintbrush, painting numbness onto your body. Everywhere I touch will go numb”. This time really drag out the word numb as though your whole face is going numb when you say it. Then take your hand and put it to their face. Touch their face as though you are lightly grabbing their jaw. Your thumb on one end of their jaw line your fingers on the other.
Now pullback and click your fingers and say “and suddenly all the feeling is gone from your face, and your mouth and your jaw. Everywhere my hand touched went numb. And that feeling spreads rapidly through your face until you can feel nothing at all and you are completely numb. How do you feel?” At this point they should say numb as though they actually were numb. It should sound as though their whole face were paralysed. It’s usually accompanied by a look of shock.
Now click your fingers and tap them once more on the forehead and say “and just like that the numbness is gone and all feeling has returned to your face. You are feeling calm, refreshed and relieved. And you’ve come out of this knowing that pain is just in the mind.”
As a conclusion I would like to point out that this trick is hard. It might be a good idea to do it after you’ve already demonstrated hypnotic ability either on the participant or on someone else before them. And remember, practice makes perfect.