Read Chapter 5 of A Practical Guide to Self-Hypnosis , free online book, by Melvin Powers, on

How to Arouse Yourself from the Self-Hypnotic State

You will note that this chapter precedes instruction on how to attain self-hypnosis. The reason for this is to alleviate whatever anxiety you may have in regard to the question, “If I’m hypnotized, how do I awaken myself?” It is important to understand that even though you are hypnotized, you are in control, are aware of your surroundings, what is going on about you, can think clearly and can arouse yourself very easily. It is only necessary to say or think, “I shall now open my eyes and wake up feeling fine.” You could also give yourself a specific count and say, “As I count to five, I’ll open my eyes and wake up feeling wonderfully well and refreshed. One ... two ... three ... four ... five.”

It should be remembered that while we sometimes use the word “sleep” to describe the hypnotic state, we are not actually referring to true sleep. This accounts for much of the confusion. The individual thinks, “If I’m asleep, how can I awaken myself?” If the subject were asleep in the true sense of the word, this would be impossible. Actually, the subject is in a special or heightened state of awareness. In self-hypnosis, he is extremely conscious although his general physical appearance is one of passiveness. In the self-hypnotic state, the individual consciously gives himself whatever suggestions he desires. This proves he is conscious and, therefore, can awaken himself with the appropriate suggestions.

Occasionally, the subject falls asleep while giving himself suggestions or while relaxing to get into the right psychological mood. Naturally, in this case, the subject will awaken in due course. If the subject practices hypnosis when he is normally set to fall asleep in bed, he would awaken refreshed in the morning at his usual time.

Before beginning to give yourself therapeutic suggestions, you could give yourself the following suggestions which give you a specific length of time that you will work with self-hypnosis:

“I shall work with self-hypnosis for 15 minutes. At the end of that time, I shall open my eyes and wake up feeling wonderfully well, wide awake, confident, cheerful and optimistic. The moment I open my eyes, I’ll feel refreshed. In case of any outside danger, I’ll be able to awaken immediately, be fully alert and act accordingly.”

You will notice that these suggestions take into consideration the possibility of something happening of danger to the individual, such as fire, etc. These points arise in the minds of most individuals attempting self-hypnosis and are well taken. You could also set an alarm clock to awaken you at a designated time.

Let us assume to arouse yourself you gave yourself a suggestion to open your eyes and be wide awake at the count of five. You count to five and for some reason you are unable to open your eyes. First of all, DON’T WORRY. Remain relaxed and give yourself the suggestions over again, emphasizing to yourself that at the count of five you will absolutely, positively be able to open your eyes very easily and will feel fine. You then begin the count again reiterating between each number that you will positively open your eyes at the count of five and be wide awake. This should do it. Should this not do it, may I reassure you again, DON’T BECOME ALARMED. Relax for a few minutes and try again. You’ll be able to open your eyes and wake up.

I hope I haven’t frightened you with the prospect of not being able to awaken. I bring this up only to acquaint you with the procedure to use. Actually, the problem of dehypnotization is a rare one. I should point out a very important fact. I have never had a subject practicing or using self-hypnosis tell me he had the least bit of difficulty in awakening himself from the self-induced hypnotic state.

I have had persons tell me that they heard or read of a case where the hypnotist could not bring the subject out of the hypnotic state, and, as a result, the subject slept for so many days. Not one of the stories could be documented. Years ago, for publicity purposes, stage hypnotists would have a subject sleep in a store window for several days. This was on a voluntary basis, though, and should not be confused with what we are discussing.

In working with subjects, I have very rarely had a subject who did not awaken at a specific count, but I have had this experience. I have usually found that the subject is so relaxed that he just didn’t want to awaken for fear of losing this pleasant sensation. When the subject doesn’t awaken, I merely ask him in a calm manner, “Why don’t you wish to wake up? You can answer me without awakening from the hypnotic state.” He usually replies he’d like to remain in this state for another five minutes or so. I agree to this extended period while getting a firm commitment from him that he will awaken after this period. This is usually sufficient to bring the subject out of the hypnotic state.

Occasionally, the instructions to wake up are not clear to the subject. If this is the case, clearer instructions should be given. You could also deepen the hypnotic state and then give suggestions to awaken at a specific count in a very authoritarian manner. Every so often, I have found that the subject has fallen into a natural sleep and just hasn’t heard the instructions. In this case I raise my voice which is usually sufficient or gently shake the subject awakening him as you would any sleeping person.

I would like to relate a rather interesting experience that I had with a male subject. I had worked with this particular subject six times previous to this occasion. He was a good hypnotic subject, and he failed to awaken in the usual manner. Since he had carried out several posthypnotic suggestions, it was rather perplexing to analyze what had happened. After about ten minutes, he finally agreed while he was under hypnosis to awaken at a given count. I asked him what was the nature of the difficulty. He replied, “I wanted to see how you would react.”

In conclusion, having difficulty in dehypnotizing yourself is extremely rare. Should it happen, keep calm, and repeat the suggestions with emphasis. Even in hetero-hypnosis, where the hypnotist hypnotizes a subject, it is extremely rare. There are explainable psychodynamic factors for this. However, they can be met adequately while the subject is under hypnosis.