Everybody is responsive to hypnotic suggestion to at least some level, and that level is easy to measure. But psychologists have been trying since the the late 19th century to identify what personality traits indicate a good hypnotic subject – and with very little success!
Even so, there are five characteristics that can often be found in highly suggestible people, although there are still many who lack all of these traits and still are very hypnotizable.
What may be a surprise to certain skeptics is that these human traits do not include gullibility, dependency or submissiveness. Further, people with psychosis or mental retardation are traditionally considered as very difficult to hypnotize.
The confidence here is the kind of a subject being certain of their ability to respond to suggestion and hypnosis; unsurprisingly, they tend to be more hypnotizable. These are the people who don’t worry about getting things right; they don’t suffer from performance anxiety.
Motivation counts; the more you want to be hypnotized, the easier it will be to hypnotize you. In the past, doctors using hypnosis in a medical setting observed that their patients were more responsive than average, probably because people in hospitals are often highly motivated to accept treatment that might help them.
Suggestibility sometimes gets confused with gullibility, but in fact, the higher the level of intelligence, the more hypnotically suggestible subjects tend to be. IQ has been shown to positively correlate with performance on many different types of tasks, hypnosis is no exception. Research also suggests that the more people understand hypnosis the better they tend to respond.Patience
Research suggests that people who worry about “distractions” such as sounds or other disturbances during hypnosis tend to make slower progress than people who are more accepting of their experience. It’s normal for your mind to wander a bit, especially in the beginning. Hypnosis is a skill that can be learned and improved on, so be patient with yourself.
A particular kind of imagination is shown to be a factor in hypnotic responsiveness: the ability to become easily engrossed, such as in movies, novels or daydreams. It makes sense that people who can get deeply absorbed in their imagination will have greater ability to focus on suggested images as in hypnosis.
One reminder – don’t worry if you think you don’t have enough intelligence, imagination, confidence, motivation or patience! You can still be a good hypnotic subject and should certainly be able to improve your responsiveness with a little training.