Hypnotic Language

HypnoticLanguage.jpg (350811 bytes)Its Structure and Use
John Burton, Ed.D. and
Bobby G. Bodenhamer, D.Min.

Book Review

Table of Contents


Sue Knight leading UK NLP trainer, consultant and author of NLP at Work makes the following comments about Hypnotic Language: Its Structure and Use:

I think this book is beautiful. It was recommended to me by one of my delegates on a coaching programme who was using it as a handbook to guide him in his learning and application of coaching methods. I can quite understand why. This is one of those books that I just love to keep close to hand not only for its clarity of explanation but also for the richness of the writing. And more important for me than both of this is the ecology of the way that the concepts are presented. On every page I have found thoughts that have enriched my understanding of language patterns, strategies, belief structures and much much more. The writing is clear and compellingly simple yet simultaneously rich in the learning that it offers. I have (with Bob Bodenhamer's permission) used one of their stories to illustrate my own writing. Bob and John illustrate their command of language and their profound understanding of hypnotic processes by the way that they explain hypnotic language with clear, precise and clean words. I love it.

 Hypnotic Language: Its Structure and Use (2000). We each shape our own reality. Perceptions and cognitive processes unique to each of us determine our individual perspective on the world, and we present to ourselves what we are programmed to see. But what if we could change our perceptions and cognitive processes – and consequently our reality?

One way of achieving this is by harnessing the power of hypnotic language. This remarkable book examines the structures of the hypnotic sentence, and the very cognitive dimensions that allow hypnotic language to be effective in changing our minds. Defining the three facets that allow the mind to be susceptible to hypnotic language patterns, Hypnotic Language puts these insights into practice in case examples that demonstrate the application and effect of hypnotic language. Teaching us how to create the most effective hypnotic scripts, it provides new language patterns that address beliefs, time orientation, perception, spiritual matters and states of mind, and devises new hypnotic language applications that emphasize the importance of Gestalt principles and cognitive factors.

An invaluable resource for hypnotherapists, psychologists, NLP practitioners and counselors, Hypnotic Language promotes a new and deeper understanding of hypnotic language, clearly defining the divide between the conscious and unconscious mind – and those language paths that link the two. Providing a wealth of scripts for hypnotic trance, it presents innovative and original ways to induce cognitive change that enable you to access your unconscious mind – and the infinite resources it holds.

"Occasionally I pick up a book and find myself wishing that I had written it. Hypnotic Language is just such a book. Well-researched and explained in simple terms it will become a must on the reading list of anyone who recognizes the importance of understanding how the subconscious mind reacts to semantics. As a practicing therapist I have already found myself utilizing the material contained within these pages in my own work. There is a saying, ‘A small key can open a big door’. Hypnotic Language contains many keys that will open so many doors to changes in perception and attitude. I can say with conviction that this is a book not to miss. The price on the cover bears no relationship to the value of the immense wealth of information within that cannot fail to cause those who read it to make substantive improvements to their communication skills. The authors are to be congratulated on a fine piece of work that will become a valuable reference for all who seek to further their skills and effectiveness through understanding of the subconscious minefield that is language perception."  Roger P. Allen, Dp Hyp PsyV

"Dr. Burton and Dr. Bodenhamer's book should be part of every therapist's tool chest. The clear explanation of techniques and processes for change make it invaluable for those seeking to address the basis of problem issues to achieve swift resolution." Jeanie Phillips, MA, LPC

"This book demystifies hypnotic language and makes one aware of its everyday presence. Using hypnotic language in therapy and communication can be a shortcut to understanding and change.  A very useful and practical guide."   Michelle Quartermaine, MA, LPC  

Peter Mabbut, Director of Studies
London College of Clinical Hypnosis

Due to space limitations we only publish book reviews in this newsletter when a book of exceptional merit comes to our attention. Since Hypnotic Language came highly recommended from our ex-students we have asked the LCCH Director of Studies, Peter Mabbutt, to review it for our readership. As Peter describes below, this could well be the book you have been waiting for.

  ‘All communication invites the receiver into a hypnotic trance.'

This statement, made at the beginning of Burton and Bodenhamer's new book, may seem a bit excessive. Can all communication really send us into a trance, and wouldn't this contradict the 'active' nature of communicating? Yet as you progress through this extensive study, you realise the true hypnotic power of a key component of communication; language, and, more poignantly, that using language inherently involves moving from an objective to a subjective state an essential, trance-entering action.

Language lives at the very heart of hypnosis. It provides the route to the unconscious mind because of its ability to transport us from the present (in time and space) to the imaginary, and because it is itself a complex mental process capable of generating multiple meanings. What Burton and Bodenhamer set out to demonstrate is exactly how the structure of hypnotic language invokes the more sophisticated capacities of the cortex, as they identify the very cognitive dimensions that allow hypnotic language to be effective, and those principles of perception that cause the perceiver to automatically enter a state of trance.

The authors pose three key questions in the first section of the book. Examining the characteristics of hypnotic language they ask:  what features make some communication more effective than other communication for inducing a trance?; what makes the receiver of linguistic communication respond to the invitation and go into trance?; what takes place while a person is in trance that makes this form of communication produce change in that person? In the course of answering these questions, Burton and Bodenhamer consider a whole range of linguistic and cognitive factors in communication, and also the many common flaws, such as either/or thinking, irreversibility, over-generalizing, egocentrism, and animism.

The result is an investigation that is as fascinating as it is rigorous. By concentrating upon the functions of language and communication, Hypnotic Language provides a truly elucidating description of the conscious/unconscious mind split, and a unique view of the structure of the hypnotic sentence. Chapters 2 and 3 prove to be particularly valuable. The former concentrates upon the cognitive factors in hypnotic language and reaches some interesting conclusions about centreing; the latter identifies Gestalt principles in hypnotic language, providing a highly original anatomy' of hypnotic language. We learn of the perceptual components that affect the efficacy of hypnotic language (namely the elements of figure-ground, likeness, closure, simplicity, dissonance reduction and continuation), and realise the need to organize what we sense in a way that allows us to fully understand the information.

The second section of the book is the practical part, offering dozens of hypnotic language scripts with explanations of the cognitive principles at work. Containing language patterns for beliefs, time orientation, perception and spirituality, Hypnotic Language demonstrates how such patterns work to promote change in cognition and even perceived reality, while also providing numerous case examples. The most significant revelations address the beliefs of a client. Altering beliefs results in a change in behaviour precisely because we behave in ways consistent with them. We find that the foundation of a belief can change 'from the inside out', as we choose new beliefs and behave accordingly, or 'from the outside in', as we behave differently in order to 'create' new information and change the foundation of our beliefs. Also of interest here is the time work. I was intrigued by Burton and Bodenhamer's suggestion that one can only fear something in the future or past, and found this an excellent principle to live by to enjoy life in the present.

The insights into the structure and uses of hypnotic language will make this book an invaluable reference for cognitive psychologists, counsellors and NLP practitioners, but it is to the hypnotherapist that the book is most indispensable - exploring, as it does, the dynamics of hypnotic language, and how to exploit these features in creating more effective hypnotic language patterns. Everyone will benefit from the reader-friendly format of the book, and from the wealth of scripts provided. I would, however, warn the more traditionally-grounded practitioners to be wary, as parts of the text on have an NLP 'flavour'! But should you wish to gain a deeper understanding of how hypnosis works, or would like to become more aware of the language you use during hypnotherapy sessions, this is the book you’ve been waiting for                                           LCCH News, Autumn/Winter 2000/1

Table of Contents





To the Reader


Part One -- The Three Facets That Allow The Mind To Be Susceptible to Hypnotic Language Patterns


Introduction  -- Hypnosis And The Cognitive Pathways It Travels


Chapter 1       The Conscious-Unconscious Mind Split


Chapter 2       Cognitive Factors in Hypnotic Language


Chapter 3       Gestalt Perceptual Principles in Hypnotic Language


Part Two -- Case Examples Showing The Application And Affect Of Hypnotic Language Patterns


Chapter 4       Hypnotic Language Patterns Addressing Beliefs


Chapter 5       Hypnotic Language Patterns Addressing Time Orientation


Chapter 6       Hypnotic Language Patterns Addressing  Perception


Chapter 7       Hypnotic Language Patterns Addressing Spiritual Matters   


Chapter 8       Hypnotic Language Patterns Addressing States Of mind 


Chapter 9       The Milton Model of Language




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