Secrets of the Elman Induction
C Michael Brannan

The Elman Induction, or a variant of it, is one of the most often used inductions in Hypnotherapy and Stage Hypnosis as well. It is perhaps the most powerful and versatile induction out there today. On the surface, it is simple, yet the induction relies on crucial principles of hypnotic psychology. A close study of the induction, practicing and experimenting with it can take your induction skills to a whole new level. This induction is easy to learn and can easily take well over 85% of people into a deep hypnotic trance in under four minutes. How cool is that? Elman thought anyone who was cooperative could be taken into somnambulism with this induction in under four minutes. Fast and effective. This Hypo-Tip explores the Elman induction, and shows how you can use it with the greatest effect. You'll learn:

  •    A brief history of the Elman Induction
  •    A complete text of a modified Elman Induction
  •    Suggestions for when things don't go exactly as planned
  •    Modifying the Elman Induction for Stage or other group settings.

One of the hypnotic greats of the 20th century, Dave Elman (1900-1967) primarily taught dentists and other medical professions how to use hypnosis. One primary use was pain relief. For the doctors and dentists to use it, the induction had to be fast, reliable and result in a deep trance. Countless hypnotists have used this induction as the "go to" induction for clinical work. And countless others have adapted it for stage hypnosis shows and group demonstrations of hypnosis.

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 to hold on to that relaxation, those eyelids just remain closed.... And when you know that you've done that, hold on to that relaxation, give them a good test, make sure they remain closed.... 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 fiber... 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...

In a moment I'm going to lift your right arm again and drop it. ... And when it drops down, just notice how much more, your body can relax very easily. [arm drop] perfect. Way down. Excellent...

In a moment I'm going to lift your right arm one more time and drop it. ... And when it drops down, just notice how much more, your body can relax very easily. [arm drop] perfect. Way down. Excellent...


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.

"98 deeper relaxed" That's fine.

"97 deeper relaxed." Now you can let those numbers grow dim and distant, they're not important.

"96 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]

That's the induction. It seems very simple and straightforward, yet there is a lot of hypnosis going on the few minutes it takes to go through the induction.
That's the original induction, and there are many, many slight variants of it. Most hypnotists change it to synch with their own style even as they keep the basic structure intact.

Here Are Some Key Elements:


All hypnosis is self-hypnosis, it is said. Notice how Elman entices cooperation from the subject right at the start. You "can relax those eyes." He leaves total control over the process to the subject. Throughout the induction, Elman simply asks the client to produce hypnotic phenomena: He invites them to produce eye closure, deep relaxation and eventually, number amnesia. It goes step by step from the easier hypnotic phenomena to the more difficult.

Double Bind

There is a cooperation element in the eye closure as well.  The words of the induction tell the client to test the eyes only when he knows that he has relaxed them to the point where the eyes stay closed as long as he holds on to that relaxation. If the subject actually opens his eyes, he didn't follow the instructions; that is, he isn't cooperating with the hypnotist.


This is one of the keys of the induction and you can apply it to any induction and many other things as well. Elman noticed in his practice that people went deeper and deeper into trance with each trance experience. The opening and closing of eyes is a way to take the subject up from trance, and then back down. Each time you do this, you take them deeper into trance. You see stage hypnotists do this kind of thing all night long, and by the end of the show, all the subjects are in a quite deep hypnotic trance.

Hypnotic Suggestion (Arm Drop)

The subject is tested for depth of trance and taken deeper into trance with the hypnotic suggestion that dropping their arm will take them deeper into hypnotic trance. If the person is already in some level of trance and the suggestion is accepted, the arm drops take them deeper and deeper into hypnotic trance. You see stage hypnotists use this effect all the time: in a band skit, the hypnotist may say something like, "the louder you player, the deeper you go and the better you feel." This is a way to "pyramid suggestions." Use one success to create additional hypnotic successes.

Number Amnesia

Amnesia is one of the tests for Somnambulism, a deep hypnotic state. Yet, notice how Elman here asks the subject to create the phenomena for himself. Let the numbers go, tell the numbers to leave and they will go.


Elman attaches a motivation to each of the hypnotic phenomena that he wants the client to create. At first, it's relaxation and feeling good. For number amnesia, he tells the client that when they relax their mind in the way he is asking them to, they can achieve anything they want to. A pretty big motivator to do that, is it not?

When Things Go Wrong

Not everything works perfectly 100% of the time. A couple common things that can happen are:

They open their eyesNot a big deal, but it suggests the client is not fully cooperative. Ask them to just close their eyes down again, tell them that they  are fully in control of the process, and the more they are able to do what you ask them to do, the more able they will be able to make the changes they want. Do not redo the test.

Their arm is not relaxed during the arm drop

Once again, this is a cooperation issue. We all can relax our arms completely. You will need to give the instructions again, and retest. "Just relax your arms completely, so they are loose and limp, like a wet dish rag…" If they still are not relaxing, you may need to have them open their eyes and talk to determine how they are stopping themselves from going into a nice deep trance. Remember, give them a motivation for cooperating with you…"It just feels so good to let your arm relax," or "the more you relax, the easier it is to get all the things you want."
That's it, just practice, practice, practice, and notice how quickly you can take people into trance with this incredibly powerful induction.

Stage and Demonstration Hypnosis

Most of the induction can be used as is for stage shows or for group demonstrations. There are just a couple of places where you will have to modify the induction.

Fractionation Step: 

You won't be able to guide each person in a group to open their eyes/close them (Fractionation), so you have them open the eyes, looking at some particular place (such as yourself), and then close their eyes. That way, they won't be distracted by anything they see when they open their eyes. It's an easy enough adjustment.

Arm Drop

If the size of the demonstration crowd is too large or too far apart, you may not be able to do the arm drop for each person. You can substitute something else, such as a "nice deep breath," and when you release that breath, you'll go much deeper.

Number Amnesia

You may not want everyone counting out loud in a group, so do the counting for them. After a few numbers, say "that's right, the numbers are disappearing, just finish letting them go…" And then go on with whatever you wanted to do.
That's about all you need to do to use this induction for groups.


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