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Unlocking the Power of Hypnosis: Rewriting Your Subconscious Mind – Part I

Unlocking the Power of Hypnosis: Rewriting Your Subconscious Mind – Part I
Deep hypnosis can help reach and surpass one's goals by literally reprogramming the subconscious mind to make it an ally. (Credit: AdobeStock)

What are the different techniques and “schools” of hypnosis? What are the various brain states that can induce altered states of consciousness, as well as the neurotransmitters involved? What problems and conditions can be treated with hypnosis? Originally a pharmacist, self-taught in all types of hypnosis, and a mental coach for over 500 high-level athletes, Olivier Madelrieux answers all these questions. He also explains the techniques for reaching and surpassing one’s goals by literally reprogramming the subconscious mind to make it an ally. Finally, he addresses all those who think they cannot go into hypnosis or who cannot achieve their deepest desires.

How did you get into deep hypnosis?

Olivier Madelrieux: I have been a pharmacist for 36 years, so I come from a scientific background. I worked in the pharmaceutical industry and was the sales director of a generic pharmaceutical company. During that time, I developed a passion for all things esoteric. It was a revelation that began in 1993, when I was 30 years old, and was dealing with some major personal difficulties that forced me to suddenly become aware of the invisible world.

I became interested in numerology and astrology and went through several initiatory systems where I discovered magnetism, energy, chakras and, most importantly, altered states of consciousness. I realized that altered states of consciousness were the key.

“I realized that altered states of consciousness were the key.”

That’s how I began to delve into hypnosis in the late 1990s to early 2000s. At that time, there were not yet many hypnosis schools in France. The only one was the French Institute of Hypnosis (IFH), but it was reserved for medical doctors. Since I was not a doctor, I decided to learn on my own through reading, research and workshops.

On March 6, 1999, I had a terrible car accident. I was in a coma for several hours and the driver was in a coma for three weeks. For me, this accident was part of my journey. When I was in a coma, I didn’t see a tunnel with a white light. However, I did see three deceased people above me, but I didn’t want to join them (laughs). It wasn’t my time yet.

 Originally a pharmacist, self-taught in all types of hypnosis, Olivier Madelrieux is a mental coach for over 500 high-level athletes. (Credit: Olivier Madelrieux)
Originally a pharmacist, self-taught in all types of hypnosis, Olivier Madelrieux is a mental coach for over 500 high-level athletes. (Credit: Olivier Madelrieux)

This accident awakened abilities within me. But I was still filled with doubt and feared that what I was feeling was just mental chatter. Learning self-hypnosis and about altered states of consciousness allowed me to overcome this because when one is in those states, the mental chatter is no longer present.

What are the different branches of hypnosis?

Olivier Madelrieux: In 1999, I first discovered the Silva method of self-hypnosis and mind control. This method was developed in the 1960s by José Silva, a self-taught American born in Texas in 1914, as a commercial tool to promote mind control to individuals and businesses. Its goal is to enable people to improve their control over their mental and psychic faculties. The method emphasizes positive thinking, visualization, meditation and self-hypnosis.

At the same time, I learned four methods/branches of hypnosis:

  • 1/ Classical direct hypnosis or “stage hypnosis”

“Stage hypnosis” is hypnosis performed in front of an audience for the purposes of entertainment. But I am not talking about humorous hypnosis, used to mock or trick people, as seen on television today. I’m talking about classical direct hypnosis, which is based on four components:

1/ The hypnotic gaze, when one stares unblinkingly into the person’s eyes.

2/ Magnetism, achieved by touching the person with both hands.

3/ Telepsychy, which means imagining in your subconscious that the person in front of you is entering hypnosis (and you can already see the result in your mind).

4/ Verbal suggestion.

“In fact, direct hypnosis existed long before, for over 6,000 years, during the time of the Babylonians, the Egyptians and even the Greeks.”

I combed through the shelves of libraries and esoteric shops and read books by authors who, a hundred years ago, were already discovering hypnosis. This included Paul Clément Jagot (1889-1962), who talked about suggestion, telepathy, the hypnotic gaze and magnetism, the brothers’ Hector (1849-1923) and Henri (1888-1963) Durville, who also spoke of these powers triggered through altered states of consciousness and trance states, including the cases of fakirs.

I discovered that direct hypnosis had in fact existed long before, for over 6,000 years, during the time of the Babylonians, Egyptians and even the Greeks. It continued to exist throughout the Middle Ages, and later the German physician Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) practiced hypnosis through magnetic passes.

  • 2/ Indirect Ericksonian hypnosis :

I also became acquainted with the only method of hypnosis taught at the French Institute of Hypnosis at that time, which was indirect Ericksonian hypnosis. This method only uses one of the four components of direct hypnosis mentioned earlier, namely verbal suggestion. The Ericksonian hypnosis movement emerged in the 1960s-70s and arrived in France around 2002/2003.

This type of hypnosis is referred to as “indirect,” because it does not rely on direct commands or affirmations. Examples of direct commands include: “Close your eyes,” “Your eyelids are getting heavier,” “The more you breathe, the deeper you go into trance,” “You cannot open your eyes until the end of the session,” etc. Instead, with Ericksonian hypnosis, suggestions are made such as, “Maybe if you close your eyes, you will fall asleep,” or “Perhaps when you are asleep, you will feel something,” etc.

“It’s important to note that Erickson himself learned the direct technique and used it about 80% of the time.”

The person then gradually enters hypnosis, and the therapist asks them to signal when they are in hypnosis with a hand gesture. This popular hypnosis approach relies on only one component—verbal suggestion—because as soon as the other three components are mentioned, we start talking about trance states or even shamanism, and that can be scary.

Milton Hyland Erickson (1901-1980) was born with sensory and perceptual challenges: he was colorblind, had no musical sense, lacked rhythm, and was profoundly dyslexic. At the age of 17, he found himself bedridden, paralyzed by a severe bout of polio that will change his life. (Credit: Wizard of the Desert)
Milton Hyland Erickson (1901-1980) was born with sensory and perceptual challenges: he was colorblind, had no musical sense, lacked rhythm and was profoundly dyslexic. At the age of 17, he found himself bedridden, paralyzed by a severe bout of polio that will change his life. (Credit: Wizard of the Desert)

However, it’s important to note that Erickson himself learned the direct technique and used it about 80% of the time, according to his biographers. He would only resort to indirect hypnosis when direct hypnosis did not work. In fact, the Erickson method is both direct and indirect.

  • 3/ The “New Hypnosis”

Then, there was another branch that emerged around 1985-1990 called “new hypnosis,” which is indirect. It incorporates Ericksonian hypnosis but is even more permissive and includes elements of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming).

Phrases used include: “I wonder when you will enter hypnosis,” and “I wonder if you will enter a light or deep hypnosis.” If the person responds by saying, for example, “deep hypnosis,” it means they have already accepted the suggestion. In other words, if the person truly wants to enter hypnosis, they will. As Erickson put it, we try to “bypass the critical factor”–meaning the person’s reluctance to enter hypnosis for their own reasons (a desire to maintain control at all costs, not wanting to lose touch, etc.).

So, we could ask the person, “In your opinion, will you enter into a light trance or a deep one?” “Will you enter hypnosis in two minutes or ten minutes?” “Will your body feel heavy or rather light?” etc. The therapist describes stages, and in responding to each suggestion, the person has already accepted the idea. For some people, this technique works, while for others, it may be too light. In my opinion, this technique involves a lot of talking and can be quite time-consuming.

  • 4/ Deep Hypnosis or Elmanian Hypnosis

Finally, there is the method that I practice and prefer: deep direct hypnosis or Elmanian hypnosis. What we know today is that 60% of people are responsive to direct hypnosis with its four components.

Elmanian hypnosis is a somewhat special form of direct hypnosis. It was created in the 1960s in the United States by Dave Elman, a renowned stage hypnotist at the time. He trained many doctors and anesthesiologists in his quick and effective hypnosis technique for anesthesia and pain management, among other applications. Elman’s hypnosis induction aims to achieve a deep hypnotic trance in four minutes for intensive therapeutic work.

Dave Elman (1900-1967) was dubbed the "youngest and fastest hypnotist in the world" during his teenage years. (Credit: Dave Elman Hypnosis)
Dave Elman (1900-1967) was dubbed the “youngest and fastest hypnotist in the world” during his teenage years. (Credit: Dave Elman Hypnosis)
Dave Elman (1900-1967) was dubbed the "youngest and fastest hypnotist in the world" during his teenage years. (Credit: Dave Elman Hypnosis)
According to Dave Elman, hypnosis is used to connect the subject’s subconscious and conscious mind by bypassing the critical factor.

Dave Elman wanted to dedicate his time to the hypnosis session itself to address the specific issue and not focus on the induction. Elman changed classical direct hypnosis by codifying induction and adding several techniques with a basic philosophy: bypass the subject’s resistance and ensure their participation. According to Elman, hypnosis doesn’t truly exist, only guided self-hypnosis. Therefore, the person must be guided into entering hypnosis themselves.

“According to Dave Elman, hypnosis doesn’t trully exist, only guided self-hypnosis.”

What’s unique about Dave Elman’s technique is that he takes people to theta brainwave levels, which are very low waves that are reached during the dream phase of sleep. However, they are not asleep; their bodies are at rest, and they can hear the therapist’s voice from a distance. Elman talks about “somnambulistic levels” and explains that it is at this level that people can truly reprogram themselves.

To summarize, there are four branches of hypnosis: classical direct hypnosis, direct Elmanian hypnosis, indirect Ericksonian hypnosis, and the new indirect hypnosis. There is also spiritual hypnosis, which relies primarily on deep induction techniques and is therefore essentially Elmanian hypnosis.

What are the different existing brain waves?

Olivier Madelrieux: There are four main types or categories of brain waves:

  • Beta waves, ranging from 14 to 25 hertz (Hz). Throughout the day, we are in the beta state, which is associated with everyday activities.
  • Alpha waves, ranging from 8 to 13 Hz. Throughout the day, we are in the beta state, which is associated with everyday activities. Approximately every hour and a half, we transition to the alpha state. We naturally experience this state about ten times a day; it’s spontaneous and physiological. It helps us relax, clear our minds and record information, among other things. This is why those who are always on the go and never “slow down” may experience burnout. The alpha state is one of relaxation and meditation.

  • Theta waves, ranging from 4 to 7 Hz. Theta waves correspond to the state of sleep with dreams. In hypnosis, a person in the theta state is not asleep because they are still conscious. They can hear the therapist’s voice but it will feel as if they are ten meters away.
  • Delta waves, ranging from 0.5 to 3 Hz. Finally, delta waves correspond to deep sleep without dreams. This state is used to go very deep, especially in spiritual hypnosis. Achieving this state is crucial for the success of hypnosis, as it allows individuals to fully experience what they see. They are no longer observers but active participants. In this state, you can access the way things were recorded by the subconscious mind without interpretation.

Do these states correspond to the release of neurotransmitters?

Olivier Madelrieux: Indeed, in terms of neurotransmitters, when you are in beta waves, you experience the release of dopamine, which makes you motivated and active.

When you enter alpha waves, you are in the realm of acetylcholine, which represents relaxation, the first altered state of consciousness. Acetylcholine plays two roles in the brain: it enhances creativity, visualization, and memory and has a hormonal role—it acts as a brake on adrenaline, helping to relax the body. People who are highly stressed may find it challenging to enter hypnosis and techniques involving the body or breathing may be necessary to induce hypnosis. Erickson and the new hypnosis movement work in the alpha waves.

There are four main types of brain waves. These states involve the release of neurotransmitters. (Credit: Tohoku University)
There are four main types or categories of brain waves. These states correspond to the release of beurotransmitters. (Credit: Tohoku University)

Transitioning to theta waves involves the release of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter also found in anxiolytics, which helps alleviate anxiety and distress. Someone lacking GABA may experience anxiety and fear. This explains why some people struggle to enter hypnosis.

In delta waves, serotonin is released. Serotonin balances the two hemispheres of the brain and prevents depression. It is an antidepressant that regulates mood. When you take LSD, you release serotonin, and the hallucinations under LSD result from an excess of serotonin. When Dave Elman suggests entering somnambulistic or hallucinatory levels, he works in these waves, where individuals release serotonin.

It’s important to note that drugs act on neurotransmitters. With hypnosis, we can naturally access these liberating states without taking anything, which is a significant advantage.

>>> What can be treated with hypnosis?

>>> Can trauma be resolved using the Elmanian regression technique?

>>> What about in psychiatry? Can hypnosis help with mental illnesses?

>>> Regarding mental reprogramming, does this mean that to achieve the results we want in life, we can do it by reprogramming our subconscious mind?

Find all the answers in Part II of this interview to be released soon.

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