The numbers won’t go

This is perhaps the most feared problem that comes up for people using the Elman induction, especially if they have been trained to approach it like a script. Thankfully, it is by no means insurmountable and there are a number of things that you can do if your client struggles to ‘lose the numbers.’

Firstly, you may want to explore your terminology. ‘Losing the numbers’ is not a desirable description and perhaps provokes the concern that you will not be able to find them again. Preferable language might speak of ‘letting the numbers go’ or ‘relaxing them away’.

Whilst we are talking about the numbers, when you ask your client if they have gone, it may help not to draw their attention back to them. So, instead of asking (in a voice that reveals uncertainty), “Have the numbers gone?”, you can ask, “Are they gone?” Or, even, “Have they gone yet?”

Another approach is to use something as an alternative to forgetting numbers. You can have someone forget letters from their name, or how to spell a word, for example. This may be especially useful if you are working with those for whom keeping track of the numbers is an essential task.

Having said that, this reason for failing to achieve amnesia comes up far less often than concerned hypnotists, or inexperienced trainers, may assume. More often than not, the issue is due more to the congruity and delivery of the hypnotist, than the engagement of the patient.

Nevertheless, I have found that the approach used by Elman is a reliable and effective way to address the issue of stubborn numbers:

Elman: [to doctors] Let me show you again the technique I use when the numbers don’t disappear. I lift his hand and say, “When I drop your hand the lights will go out and you won’t see any more numbers… There you are… The lights are out and all the numbers are gone…

In effect, this is a slight pattern-interrupt, followed by alternative visualisation. It is fairly common that the reason someone struggles to achieve amnesia is not so much because of a resistance to losing the numbers, but because of a failure to fully understand your directions. In such instances, a different approach to the same goal is recommended.

As well as the visualisation used by Elman, you might have them picture numbers floating away on clouds, or numbers on a TV screen getting smaller and smaller, or further and further away.

Related to the issue of not fully understanding your directions, some clients will need you to be more explicit. They may not fully appreciate how amnesia is to be reached, or what it would feel like. So, I may at times employ descriptions like, “…the way that someone’s name can be on the tip of your tongue, but you just can’t find it…” or “Like when you know that you know an actor’s name and you stumble around in your mind but you just can’t grasp it. You know you know it, but right now it is just out of your reach, just on the tip of your tongue, but you can’t quite get it…”

Finally, another approach is to adopt a more abrupt pattern-interrupt. This is especially useful if you suspect that their conscious mind has become too pre-occupied with keeping the numbers and resists letting them go. In such a situation you might choose to switch to something like a hand-drop induction, before carrying on with the Super Suggestion:

From this moment on whatever I say is your reality. What I say you hear is what you hear, what I say you feel is what you feel, what I say you see is what you see… because you have a super powerful mind…