Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy Explained ...


Heroes of Hypnosis - Dave Elman
By Tom Connelly D.Hyp, FBSCH

Dave Elman (David Kopelman) was born on May 6th, 1900 to Jacob and Lena Kopelman in North Dakota. He died December 5, 1967.

It seems that Elman's first interest in hypnosis was inspired at an early age by watching his father who was a keen amateur hypnotist. Later the story goes that in Dave's eighth year his father fell ill with cancer and was in a great deal of physical pain. A family acquaintance (who was apparently a well known stage hypnotist but whose name is not known) visited the family and used hypnosis to lessen the pain considerably. Seeing this he made an effort to learn as much as he could about the subject.

The young Elman was attracted to show business and during his teenage years (he left school at 14) began to experiment with various comedy stage shows. He even flirted with stage hypnosis but apparently abandoned this when parents began to object to him courting their daughters, fearing his machiavellian influence! He also played the saxophone and the violin, wrote his own music, spending several years in New York playing to audiences at night and working for a music publisher by day.

Later Elman became interested in radio broadcasting and eventually got a job with CBS and worked with several networked stations. Gradually he picked up experience until he was writing and directing shows. In this role he worked with many of the showbiz names of the day. He did a stand in show for Jack Benny and worked with all the major advertising agencies.

During this time (around 1948) he had organised a show for charity but was informed at the last minute that the headline act would not be able to appear. In a tight spot, he tried in vain to get another act to fill the allotted time and at the last moment decided to resurrect the stage hypnosis act he had tried as a teenager. The performance was well received and afterwards he was approached by the representative of a medical practice who wanted him to teach his resident doctors about hypnosis. He readily agreed and early next year taught a group of around 15 doctors how to induce hypnosis and use it to relieve suffering.

The course was a great success and before long there were other requests for presentations and so began a long series of demonstrations and lectures to medical practitioners. Mr Elman spent the remainder of his working career lecturing to medical professionals and promoting the benefits of using hypnosis alongside orthodox medical interventions.

Later he published his training course as a series of lessons before collocating the written material into book form titled 'Findings in Hypnosis', later to be re-titled 'Hypnotherapy' (published by Westwood Publishing).

Perhaps the most well known aspect of Elman's legacy is his method of induction, which was originally fashioned for speed work and later adapted for the use of medical professionals (who would have a limited time to give to patients). Below is a transcript of his induction.


The Elman Induction

‘Take a long deep breath, fill up your lungs real good and hold it for a second. Now when you exhale, close your eyes down... And let yourself relax. Get rid of that surface tension in your body, let your shoulders relax. It's ok to relax today.

Now put your awareness on your eyelids. You know that you can relax those eyes beautifully. You know that you can relax those eyes so deeply, that as long as you choose not to remove that relaxation, those eyelids just won't work... And when you know that you've done that, hold on to that relaxation, give them a good test, make sure they won't work... And notice how good it feels. Test them hard, it's ok. (pause) that's good. Stop testing let yourself relax much more.

That quality of relaxation you are allowing in your eyes is the quality of relaxation I'd like you to let yourself have throughout your entire body. So take that same quality, bring it up to the top of your head... And send it down through your body from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. Let go of every muscle. Let go of every nerve. Let go of every fibre... And let yourself drift much, deeper, relaxed. You got it.

Now let's really deepen this state. In a moment I'll ask you to open and close your eyes. When you close your eyes, send a wave of relaxation through your body, so very quickly, you'll allow this physical part of you to relax... Ten times deeper. Just want it and you can have it. Let your eyes become open... Close your eyes... And really... Let go. Feel your body relax, much more. You're doing fine.

In a moment I'll ask you to open and close your eyes again. This time when you close your eyes, double this physical relaxation... Really let it grow twice as deep. Let your eyes become open... Way down... Deeper... Deeper... Relaxed.

In a moment we'll do it one more time... And notice how well it comes in this time as you learn how simple it is... At least double it. All right let your eyes become open... Way down (------), really let go. That's good. That's good.

In a moment I'm going to lift your right arm and drop it. Don't help me lift that arm... And when it drops down, just notice how much more, your body can relax very easily. (arm drop) perfect. Way down. Great...

Now the body's relaxed (------) so let's get the mind relaxed, that's really what we want to do. When your mind's relaxed you really can achieve anything you can think of, within certain restrictions of course. In a moment I'll ask you to slowly begin counting out loud, backwards, starting with the number 100. After each number, simply say the words, ‘deeper relaxed'. After each number double your mental relaxation, let your mind grow twice as calm and still and serene. Now if you do this, you'll discover by the time you just say a couple numbers, doesn't take long, you've relaxed your mind so beautifully and so completely, you've actually relaxed all the rest of the numbers out. Want that... And you can have it quickly.

Slowly begin counting out loud, backwards, starting with the number 100. Saying the words, deeper relaxed... And relax those numbers right out of your mind.

(100 deeper relaxed) That's good. (99 deeper relaxed) That's fine. (98 deeper relaxed.) Now you can let those numbers grow dim and distant, they're not important. (97 deeper relaxed) And when you're ready just push them out. (96 deeper relaxed) Now push them on out, just tell them to leave and they will go. Just let them go... And let them be gone.

... Numbers all gone ? (yes, or continue until yes is the reply)


Many hypnotherapists seem to get stuck with one single type of induction and this induction is often the progressive relaxation type. Of course there is nothing wrong with the progressive relaxation method, it's tried and tested but often takes a long time to take effect and uses a limited modality. Eye closure and muscle relaxation are useful and are also a part of the Elman induction but eye closure and relaxation of themselves may not guarantee a workable state of hypnosis. A workable state of hypnosis may only be present when the patient has partially or fully suspended disbelief.

The Elman type of induction works through the stage of physical relaxation (where the progressive relaxation method stops) but goes beyond this to effect mental relaxation too. The theory is of course that once the mind/brain system has relaxed then the critical faculty is much reduced or bypassed.

The first part of the Elman induction involves the eye lock procedure and this has a two-fold benefit. Firstly it demonstrates and anchors muscular relaxation (which can then be transferred to other parts of the body), secondly it introduces a partial suspension of criticality (by getting the patient to accept the notion that their eyelids won't work). Although it is rational that muscular relaxation will naturally prevent movement, it never the less acts as a catalyst / convincer.

The second part takes advantage of a natural psychological feature recognised by both Bernhiem and Vogt, which is that frequent trance induction eventually leads to deeper states. So Elman has the patient close their eyes and go deeper, then has them open their eyes once again and then repeats the process, several times over. With each repetition deepening suggestions are given.

Then a second relaxation test and anchoring takes place as Elman lifts the patient's forearm and drops it limply. This convinces the patient of deep muscular relaxation and absence of conscious control.

Having arranged physical relaxation Elman then proceeds to obtain mental relaxation by a similar process to the eye lock exercise. He asks the patient to count backwards from 100, doubling mental relaxation with each number until the numbers disappear. He asks them to want them to disappear and imagine it is so, just push them out etc. Eventually the patient stalls.

At this point we have physical and mental relaxation but most important of all, suspension of disbelief and critical faculty.


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