I had one of my first experiences responding to a post-hypnotic suggestion the other day.

My playmate suggested that, when I came out of trance, I would answer any question she asked with “Yes”. I would only be able to answer “yes”, regardless of my actual opinion on the question or the facts of the matter. This would persist until she told me I could stop.

It worked very well! She asked me a variety of innocuous questions, and I said “Yes” in response to each. Of course, to be mischievous, this included questions she knew I would normally answer with “No”, like “Do you hate beer?”, or “Do you dislike Macs?” 😛

The interesting thing to observe was how it felt to respond to this suggestion. I was aware of its presence; like, I wasn’t taken by surprise when I found myself answering “Yes”, I was aware I was responding to a suggestion. So I imagine it could have felt like I wanted to say something else, but just couldn’t make any other word come out than “Yes”.

But that’s not how it felt. Instead, it just felt like I didn’t even want to try saying anything else; I knew I had to respond “Yes”, and so I did. A little like following the path of least resistance, which tracks with the notion that hypnosis has a lot of do with expectation, rather than outside influence: it’s not like her “hypnotic power” was imposing itself on my mind, forcing the word “Yes” out of my mouth instead of any other answer (as sexy an idea as that might be); rather, I expected to respond with “Yes” because I had been given that suggestion, and so I did.

Another observation I made: The fact that she put boundaries on the suggestion—that it would only take effect until she switched it off later in the session (at least, that’s how I understood it, and that’s what she did), felt like it made it easier to accept and go along with, because I didn’t have to worry or concern myself with whether or not I’d be comfortable.

Among the many safety-related reasons that “open” suggestions are a bad idea, there’s another one: providing explicit boundaries for a suggestion helps the hypnotee relax and accept it.

That’s another thing I’ve found (and this is really hot in a hypnokinky way): the more “proof” you’re shown that a suggestion is working, the more it works. In this case, the more questions I found myself answering “Yes” to, the easier it became to answer “Yes” to each subsequent question, because I could see the suggestion was “working”. I don’t know if my playmate did this purposely or not, but it was clever of her to save the “resistant” questions, the ones I normally would NOT answer with “Yes”, until the end, when I was already thoroughly conditioned to respond to the suggestion.

One thing that did occur to me when she gave me the suggestion, and I gave her this feedback afterwards, is that suggesting I would answer any question with “Yes” was leaving her unable to effectively check in with me to make sure I was feeling okay with the suggestion; since, by definition, she couldn’t trust my response to any question she’d ask about it (see this excellent tip from @evilscientress).

That wasn’t an issue in this case, but it’s worth keeping in mind. I can’t remember where I got this list from (I want to say something The Secret Subject said or posted), but a useful checklist for properly specifying a post-hypnotic suggestion is:

  • Who
  • Where
  • Time
  • Place
  • What

Which, to the best of my recollection, breaks down like this:

  • Who: The suggestion will only take effect when I trigger it, no one else.
  • Where: The suggestion will only affect you when we’re alone in a safe place.
  • Time: The suggestion will stay in effect until I deactivate it, or until we leave the room, whichever comes first.
  • Place: …wait, how does this differ from “Where”? I must be missing something… 🤔
  • What: The suggestion will cause you to answer “Yes” to any question I ask, but you will be able to respond normally in conversation in every other way.

Clearly I need to get some clarity on how all of those are defined! But it’s a good place to start. It’s easy to forget one or more of these when giving a post-hypnotic suggestion, and end up with something that’s too open to ambiguity. The better the subject understands under exactly what parameters the suggestion should effect them, the more easily they can accept it, and the less likely there are to be negative consequences from its presence.