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The Psychology of Suggestions

The Psychology of Suggestions

What is a suggestion?

1. A suggestion is any single thought, series of thoughts, ideas, words, beliefs, or actions given in any manner direct , indirect, conscious, unconscious, that changes or alters a person’s normal behaviour pattern.
2. A suggestion is any process whereby a person accepts a command, a plea, a proposition, a thought, idea, belief, or any direction to be acted upon in the absence of any critical or reflective thoughts which would normally occur.
3. A suggestion is any process whereby one person or group may have subtle or direct influence on another’s behaviour in any state whether it be the conscious, unconscious, or hypnotic state.

Suggestions come in a variety of ways. They influence us every day of our lives and have done so since the day of our birth. Below are a few examples of the types of suggestions that may have had a bearing on changing or altering our normal behaviour patterns.

Direct Suggestions are any verbal statement or physical action that is direct, to the point and without camouflage. Direct suggestions are given in an authoritarian or persuasive manner.

Everybody stand up. (authoritarian)
Everybody stand up, please. (persuasive)
Pass the sugar.
Come here.
Eat your food.

Indirect/Inferred Suggestions are generally not recognized as suggestions. This is because they are primarily non-verbal, often only motions or sounds, and the subject is not even aware of their influence.


Cough … and you cause others to cough.
Yawn ¦ and you cause others to yawn.
Smile ¦ and you cause others to smile.
Look up at tall buildings¦ and you cause others to look up.


Pointing a finger at someone, suggesting they come here
Pointing a finger at someone, suggesting they leave the room
Nodding your head to indicate your approval or disapproval
Making a fist at someone, suggesting violent action

Prestige Suggestions are those you accept and act upon as your very own without ‘second thought’ or contradiction because they were given by a person of prestige whom you like, trust, respect or in whom have some confidence. Prestige suggestions may enhance your life in some way socially, economically, politically, academically, emotionally, intellectually, physically or psychologically.

Examples of people who have prestige:

Friends, Parents, Relatives

Non-Prestige Suggestions are personalized conditioned reflex suggestions that influence a person’s conduct in the waking state.

Autosuggestion is the process of giving suggestions to one’s self, either in the a waking state or any alpha or meditative state.

Hereto-Suggestions are those given by one person to another in any manner.

Post-Hypnotic Suggestions are those suggestions which are specifically designed to be implanted during the hypnotic state, then used or acted upon after the person has been hypnotically awakened.

Pre-Hypnotic Suggestions are those generally used with deep hypnotic subjects to ‘pre-talk’ their suggestions in a conscious state prior to hypnosis induction. The pre-talk will include the goal or purpose of the induction about to take place, plus the time frame, or the conditions for awakening from the hypnotic state.

Negative Suggestions are designed to tell the client not to manifest something, be it a behaviour, emotion or thought.

Don’t feel stressed.
Don’t get angry.
You will not smoke.
Don’t roll your eyes at me.

While generally not recommended to use in hypnosis, negative suggestions can sometimes produce a desirable effect:

Don’t go into a trance too quickly.
Don’t think about relaxing too deeply.
Don’t smile as you think about your future.
Don’t enjoy this process too much.

Words that may indicate negative suggestions are being used:

Try Maybe Hope
Never Don’t Can’t

Positive Suggestions are designed to create images of the desired outcome.

Do feel happy.
You can relax deeply.
You will succeed.

Words that may indicate positive suggestions are being used:

Succeed Will Know
Always Do Can


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