Can aphantasics be hypnotized?

I have paid hypnotist money to be hypnotized with no result. I’ve recently discovered I’m aphantasic. Is there a direct connection?

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on August 28, 2020

Hey Jerry,

I am no expert on this topic but this is a question I’ve pondered quite a bit. I personally think we have a significantly lower probability of being hypnotized by traditional means. I personally have spent a lot of time listening to audio hypnosis sessions with no noticeable affects. I’ve seen multiple aphantasics ask similar questions throughout the web. And from what I understand, visualization is a pretty critical tool for most hypnotists. The way I’ve heard neuroscientist, Andrew Huberman, who specializes in mental states (such as hypnotic, flow, fight-or-flight, highly neuroplastic, etc) and vision, he describes the process of hypnosis as guiding the subject to broaden awareness to the feelings within your body, he sound from your surroundings, and visual elements outside of your physical surroundings, in a particular manner and sequence. When this is done properly, I guess we enter a highly suggestive state, simultaneously hovering between high concentration and relaxation. I intend to look into this more and also survey about susceptibility to conspiracy theories. I hypothesize we are likely more immune to these as well. Modern conspiracy theory videos seem to be leveraging principles of hypnosis, in my opinion.

Could you describe your experience with the hypnotist?

Again, thank you for the last message. I have a friend who took corses with NLP and practiced on me. We had an enjoyable time trying it out, but it didn’t seem to work for me. However, my friend felt he was successful with other volunteers. I’ve attented Hypnosis shows…were the hypnotist gets a bunch of people on stage, hypnotise them and entertain the audience with ‘tricks’. I volunteered several times, but was directed to my seat…until the last time I faked it. I stayed on stage for the first half doing what he asked the group to do. When he gave the key word to come back on stage for the second half, I didn’t go, as I was aware of eveerything. At the break I talked to a couple of other people who were on stage and hypnotized and they told me they couldn’t remember anything while up there. When the key word was given they immediately ran up on stage again.
For years I was a member of Eckankar, receiving precepts, or instructions on how to leave my body to ‘soul travel’. Each exercise was another form of guided meditation, but I was unsuccessful. Recently I signed up for Shaolin Tai Chi…which included marshal arts and meditation…a lot of guided meditation, which I enjoyed, but no experiences. So the bottom line is I’m a person who has witnessed success with hypnosis and meditation, but never experienced it.
If you think I could be helpful in your research I would be happy to chat with you. I hope you enjoy my ebook. If you do/did I will mail you the second book, which focuses on the benefits of meditation and reincarnation.

Hi there, my name is Marti and I’ve just discovered aphantasia. I’m happy to learn other people have had similar experiences as me. I saw a QHHT Practioner over the summer to experience a past life regression. The regressionist asked me to visualize simple things like a red bird, a yellow car, etc. I was unable to see anything but I knew what those things look like so I said a saw them and moved on. (at that point I didn’t know that when people visualize things they can actually see them as if they were looking at a picture!) Then she took me through a guided meditation where I was to imagine myself floating on a cloud and when the cloud landed I was told to explain what I saw; the environment around me, what I was wearing, what my body looked like, etc. I told her I saw nothing but darkess and sometimes some abstract lighting. She continued trying to get me to visualize something but I gave up out of frustration. I left feeling disappointed and foolish. My sister on the other hand is able to visualize easily can experience a past life simply from a video online. Thanks so much for the information on this website.

Thanks for contacting me, Zach. I submited information to this site in April and never heard back. What follow is my innital imput. I’m pasting it here in case you didn’t see it. However I will answer you question about my expeience with the hypnotist in more detail.

After discovering that I have aphantasia, I realized why I failed at my attempts to be hypnotized and unsuccessful with meditation.

 I’m seventy-seven. It was just last year while listening to the CBC radio I heard a discussion on aphantasia. As I listened I realized they were talking about me…a person who cannot ‘see pictures in my head’. It has been my normal throughout my life and has created much frustration in my daily functioning. I thought it was the way I was born…with a lower IQ than many people. I was always poor in spelling at school, and rejoiced when computers were invented with Spell Check. Now I realize my inability to spell correctly could be related to not being able to visualize the written word. Yes, I used phonics to sound words out, but instantaneous recognition of words did not work for me.

Watching cop shows on television created a feeling of failure in me because I would never be able to describe the events at a murder scene. I might be able to tell you some general things, like the number of people involved, or their general size, but I couldn’t tell you the colours of their hair, or clothe. To this day, my wife would comment on a certain person…you know the one with brown hair. It never helped me to recognize such a person. I couldn’t tell those details about anyone I’ve meant. I could not visualize them.

My most important revelation in discovering I’m aphantasic, is the realization why I was never successful at meditation. Most of my adult life I’ve been interested in spirituality, with particular emphasis on meditation. I’ve taken several courses, attended workshops, and meditation groups in order to receive the benefits of mediation…less stress, enhanced self-awareness, improved memory, improved sleep, pain control, decrease blood pressure, etc. All of my efforts proved elusive. I purchased visualization recordings and attended visualization groups, again with no success. I was persistent, knowing the great benefits of it.

I realized hypnosis was a form of visualization and studied that at university. I learned to be a hypnotist, and successfully hypnotized many people. I hypnotized dozens of people to help them stop smoking, and eliminate headaches. My passion led to hypnotic regressions, both to younger ages and to past lives. I ended up writing two books on the topic (see bio). I paid professional hypnotist to hypnotize me, with no results.

A hypnotist usual method is to suggest to the subject to visualize certain scenes like resting in a hammock, gently floating in a canoe, walking in a flower garden, etc. Most people were able to visualize these experiences making them good subjects to be taken into a hypnotic trance. As I proceeded with the hypnotic induction I realized I couldn’t visualize the experiences I had asked them to be involved in.

My interest in psychic things, and my success at helping others to accomplish such things as telepathy, precognition, astral projection and soul travel, made me envious to want to experience these things myself. I was persistent and kept working at it but with no success.

At the time I didn’t realize that other people really could clearly ‘see’ what I suggested and what they experienced. I thought somehow we were all the same…couldn’t actually ‘see’ pictures, but were objectively creating reality as a mind game. It was just this past year when I fully understood that I was a part of the two percent of people who couldn’t visualize…I was aphantasic. Knowing this, it was a comfort to know my failure wasn’t completely my fault. I’m less frustrated now and accept my inability to experience the ‘spiritual’ world. At the same time I know it is a reality for all of us, but not all can experience it.

I have a friend who has a photogenic memory. My assumption is aphantasia is the opposite of that. I have never been musical in my life, I cannot sing. I always wanted to play a guitar, so a few years ago I took lessons. I learned the finger placements for the cords and I practiced jamming with a group of people for a few years (I watched their finger placements). I had to finally admit that I could not distinguish one cord from the other…I’m tone deaf. I’m assuming this is another symptom of aphantasia.

Being aphantasia is not a pleasant thing. It creates frustration and stress. However, knowing you have aphantasia creates understanding and acceptance.

Marti, I sympathize with you. I have wanted to be hypnotised and regressed to pass lives for many decades now. Like you I can’t ‘see’ anything, and I just get frustrated. Is there anyone out there tha can hypnosise and regress peope wh can’t visualize?

From an early age I've been interested in ESP etc. Later I discovered that ESP could be acieved with menitation. Not only ESP by such things as 'astral projection', soul travel, chanelling, contacing your spirit guide, etc. I bought books on how to meditate. I practiced but didn't have any success. I connected meditation with hypnosis, or guided meditation. I bought many guided meditation tapes and listen to results. I then contacted a medical doctor who did hypnosis. He tried his best to hypnotise me, but no success (but I still had to pay him). I met friends who were also interested in hypnosis and exchanged sessions...many success. However, I was succesful in hypnostising the friend. I went to a weekend conference with a professional hypnotist as a speaker. He clained he could hypnotise anyone. I approched him at the conference and he agreed to do a session with me. His method was to visualize a teenage first car...and attempted to get me to talk about it. I couldn't 'see' anything to tell him (I only mentioned a few things I remembered). He took my hundred dollars and appoligized. I continued with guided meditation tapes until a years ago when I heard about aphantasia. It was a releaf to know why I couldn't be hypnostised, but a disappointment becasue I wanted to experience the benefits of meditation.<p>Since I was successful in hypnotising people, I continued with it. I started to regress people to younger ages, and then to past lives. I ended up writing two books about it. I helped recreate wonderful experiences for others, but no direct experience for me. </p><p>If you are interested I converted my first book to an ebook, and offered it for free. Here is the address for it:</p><p>Jerry Jordison</p>
on August 30, 2020

Very interesting, Jerry. I do have some recollection of either seeing or hearing about your post earlier in the year. Your story is phenomenal, hearing about the depths to which you immersed yourself in these practices and neither you nor the hypnotists you met along the way recognized there was a stark difference in each other’s mental representations. I too have spent much time practicing meditation, visualizing, and self-hypnosis, with little to no perceivable value, mostly just frustration. I have taken much more to movement meditations of various sorts – yoga, ecstatic dance, breathwork, and a ton of running. I use these tools like one uses the more western-popularized forms of meditation, and receive reliably gain the beneits of calm, arousal control, clarity, insights, and more. The only meditation /hypnosis I’ve found semi productive is yoga nidra, particularly sessions that have you directing your attention to specific spots of the body at a somewhat brisk pace. This often requires heightened focus and the spotlighted focus triggers a notable somatic experience. I use it in bed sometimes in order to release my mind from circular thoughts and move into deeper relaxation.
The common denominator between all of the above-mentioned practices is body awareness. I believe body awareness is a reliable doorway to the subconcious mind, helping amplify creativity and gain greater awareness and control over the program running that is running in the background. I still would like to learn a technique of hypnosis that could be executed in a more directed manner, and have also spent some time researching Erickson Hypnosis & NLP. Have you looked into these at all?

If you were up for it, I would love to chat sometime. This is a topic I plan to curate tools around and write about. It would be great to collaborate with you on this! I’ve downloaded your Ebook and an Ebook reader, I look forward to reading it.

Mr. Jordison, I have visited Your site: to download your ebook (succesfull). I would like to read Your second book to. Where to obtain it? Your site responds with Testing 123.

Erik, send me an email message with your address and I’ll send you a book.

I am new to this Aphantasia idea. It would seem to explain a lot.
Like some of you, I never learned to spell adequately as the visualization
techniques used to teach it were wasted on me. I can not visualize a face,
not even my Mothers. I have come to realize that I too would make a
particularly lousy witness.Among other things, I am a trained Hypnotherapist.
Which is why I am replying to this thread. My mentor was a particularly gifted
therapist. In her technique you start the session with a few unimportant
questions, the purpose of which is for the therapist to learn what is the
“dominate sensory mode” of the subject. You note if a person uses
answers containing phrases like “I can see” (visual), “I feel” (kinetic or touch),
“It sounded to me like” (auditory), or “it just did not smell right” (olfactory).
Then you would tailor the session to match their dominate mode. In the
session you watched eye movements, changes in skin tone, breathing,
etc to gain clues as to if you were having success, and build on it when
you did. So, in my humble opinion, those of you who had a Hypnotist
just assume visualization would work well with everyone, well, there’s your problem.
It is also the basis for the view of Aphantasia I am leaning toward: that there may
well be several versions of Aphantasia. Consider this. Just because you can not
visualize well, does not mean that your dominate mode will be the same as
anyone else who can not visualize well. Perhaps you are primarily an auditory
person while I am primarily a kinetic person. It would do me little more good
to try and rely on auditory ques to learn, or be hypnotized, than it does for you
to rely on visualization. As I said, I am new to all this, so there is no
guarantee that I am not completely wrong in this. But, I would propose an experiment;

  1. Self analize what is the mode of experiencing the world that has the strongest resonance with you
  2. Find a “Guided Hypnosis” or “Guided visualization” that you generally like and “translate” it to your more effective mode using "felt", or "heard", or "moved" instead of "saw".
  3. Record this translation in your own voice, or get someone who has a good storytelling voice to record it for you.
  4. In a dark space, or with a sleep mask on, in a relaxed posture, give this translation a try for at least 15 min a day for a week and see what happens.Alternately, you could seek out a form of meditation that relies on other than visual ques. If you can find it, there is an excellent book (probably out of print now) titled “Richard Hittleman’s 30 Day Yoga Meditation Plan” that is a sampler of many different meditation techniques using some differing modes.

I’d be interested to see how/if any of this works for others, especially you kenetic types like me.

Thanks, DKB, for this clear explanation. Of the 5 senses, kenetic probably applies to me the most. My experiment in trying to learn music, and failed, tells me I’m not auditory…I seem to be tone death. I can’t make my ‘mouth water’ thinking of delicious foods, so that eliminates smell taste and smell. Have you been sucessful in being hypnotized using kenetic words, such as feel, tecture, soft, hard, etc? While I can rationize those ‘touching’ words, I don’t think I can ‘feel’ them.
As a hypnotist, I realize I used all of the senses during the induction of hypnosis…drifting in a canoe with fingers touching the water; walking in a garden smelling the flowers; hearing beautiful music on a journey to the source of the music at a hamock and, of course, visualizing the experience. I’ve been quit succesful hypnotizing subjects with these combination of words. I can’t recall the induction used by the people who attempted to hypnotise me.
I will have to try and make a ‘guided visualization’ tape and give it a chance to work. Thank you for your comments and suggestion.

It occurred to me if a person reacts to kinetic, instead of visual (or taste adn smell) clues then a guided visualization or guided hypnosis tape wouldn’t work very well. You would need to have someone (hypnotist) to be present to touch you…to hypnotize you with physical maniputlation.
Another thought I had…if a kinetic type person was successful in being hypnotized, then to regress that person to past lives, s/he may not be able to ‘see’ (to see pictures) the events of a past life to explan to the hypnotist. I’d be interested in hearing the experience of a regressed aphantasic person…that they can be regressed and experience a past life?

Thank you a lot for reminding me of the the multi-sensory! I can hypnotize others but almost cannot be hypnotized. Next time I’ll try hypnotizing myself with sensory suggestions other than visual.

“It occurred to me if a person reacts to kinetic, instead of visual (or taste and smell) clues then a guided visualization or guided hypnosis tape wouldn’t work very well. You would need to have someone (hypnotist) to be present to touch you…to hypnotize you with physical manipulation.”

That had also occurred to me. However, I am not sure that it is an issue. If I were to try an induction with you (or you with me) that instructed the subject to “imagine a red ball” we know that would not work. If, however, I were to instruct you to “imagine the feeling of holding a ball. Now imagine you toss the ball over your shoulder”. I am guessing you would be able to describe the shape of the ball (round or football) and the texture, etc.

Perhaps I could suggest a classic and simple kinetic meditation technique. Sit comfortably in a darkened, quite room. Focus your attention as completely as you are able on your breathing. Breath in through your nose slowly. Then breath slowly out through your mouth. Follow the feeling of the air with your mind as it travels in, around, and out. If any words show up in your mind, refocus on your breathing. Do this at least 5min a day for a week.

I, personally believe that hypnosis is a meditative state. And meditation is simply non-directed hypnosis. Once you are able to enter the meditative state with little trouble, consider that your induction. Then you could try a recording of instructions coached in kinetic terms to deepen your state, and finally, to achieve a goal. Keep the goal simple to start. Something like remembering the texture of a toy you had as a child.

Good luck.

on January 30, 2021

Hi DKB, thanks for sharing. I’m curious, do you possess any other type of mental imagery? Can you imagine feeling or movement? Or taste or smell or sound? I’m fully aphantasic, although I do think your script of following the breath could be an effective induction.

There was a study that was measuring flickering light-induced illusions, and found aphantasics not only were less prone to illusions & incapable of complex illusions, but also that the stronger your visual mental imagery, the more susceptible you were to altered states. They float the possibility this may have to do with the heightened excitability of the neurons in the visual cortex in people with lower imaging abilities – that because our neurons are already in an excited state, we aren’t experiencing a transition from low to high excitability and, therefore are resistant to altered states of consciousness.

Btw, I’m working to encourage some labs studying hypnosis to look at aphantasia & hyperphantasia!

Hypnotherapy is also an extremely safe procedure. The therapist will not play with a client’s mind or make a client do something improper or embarrassing, as seen on TV. Particularly when we talk about disorders like smoking, overeating, nail biting or similar issues, the client will not actually be fully hypnotised. They will experience meditative-like state and be able to move, itch and open their eyes if they wish. Been under smoking hypnosis brisbane

It is illegal to guarantee a treatment outcome including hypnotherapy.  However the majority of clients respond very well to hypnotherapy and experience the sustainable benefits rapidly.  If you are committed to the change you desire, are open and positive about hypnotherapy then your sessions to achieve your goals should be successful.  Hypnotherapy like hypnotherapy for weight loss brisbane in case in our place is not a magic pill administered by the qualified clinical hypnotherapist, it is your subconscious that does the work.  You have the power to change your mind.

I have tried hypnotherapy and it was a waste of time an money.  To be clear, the therapist I went to had an extensive background dating back to the 60’s.  He founded many schools and was awarded several honors in his field of work.  But, he was utterly incapable of hypnotizing me because his techniques were all founded on visualization of <enter said thing> as a means of pulling people deeper into their subconscious.  We tried several times and in the end, he wrote me off as being unwilling to participate in the process.  I wrote to several other hypnotherapists afterwards and was very upfront about my lack of visual experience, all of them wrote back saying their work depended on my ability to visualize and as such they would not be able to work with me.