Self-Hypnosis Techniques - Double Bind

The double bind technique is a hypnosis technique that offers two suggestions or choices within a single suggestion. One of the choices within the suggestion is usually stronger. This is done by design since most people will respond to the stronger suggestion.

Here are a couple examples:

Getting My Daughter to Vacuum

Let's say I'd like to get my daughter to vacuum the carpets. Now, I know my daughter isn't very fond of washing the dishes or vacuuming. That's putting it mildly. But she does prefer vacuuming over doing the dishes. This little tidbit of knowledge will help me to get her to do the vacuuming, and she'll be happy to do it. If I asked her to wash the dishes, she would try to find a way to get out of doing the dishes. And if I asked her to vacuum, again, she would try and find a way to get out of vacuuming. But if I offer her a choice, here's what will happen. I give her a double bind suggestion, "Do you want to do the dishes or do you want to vacuum." She makes a face because she doesn't really want to do either. But she knows she has to make a choice. So, instead of trying to figure out a way to get out of doing what I've asked her to do, she focuses on which chore she'd rather do. Though she doesn't like to do either one, she prefers vacuuming over doing the dishes. The double bind occurs because she doesn't want to do either, but she has to make a choice. And she'll make the choice that she likes the best, the choice she prefers. And she will have a better attitude vacuuming because she's managed to get out of doing the dishes. Okay, that was pretty sneaky of me, even manipulative. But it worked.

Using a Double Bind to Get Someone to Quit Smoking

It's not easy to get someone to quit smoking, even if they want to. It's such a deeply ingrained habit and they're usually conflicted about quitting. A part of them wants to continue smoking because they love smoking, yet a part of them wants to quit because they know how unhealthy smoking is for them. Here's an example of a double bind to help someone quit smoking: "You can continue to smoke and poison your lungs and throat till you get cancer and die a painful and ugly death, or you can choose to be a non-smoker and live a long, healthy life." Offer this suggestion to a smoker during hypnosis sessions, and there's a good chance they'll quit.

Double binds can be used in a variety of situations.

Go back to the Self-Hypnosis Techniques Index page.

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