She pulled down on her shirt, resisting the suggestion by doing the opposite. I smiled and took a sip of the beer that sat on the side table next to me. It was a nice cold IPA. I considered the taste, not saying anything as I watched her pulling the shirt down, doing the opposite of what I had just suggested.

She watched me as I enjoyed the beer. I could tell that she was wondering why I wan’t getting angry with her, why I wasn’t shouting at her to obey or snapping my fingers and telling her that the suggestion was getting stronger and stronger while she was getting weaker and weaker. If that was what she was wondering then she’d had a lot of shitty hypnotists in her past. A lot of bad masters who mistook volume for confidence and shouting for commanding.

She had not resisted removing her jeans. She hadn’t been quick enough, by the time she realized that she was doing it they were already on the floor but with the shirt she wanted to fight. Wanted to prove that she could resist. Maybe she wanted to provoke anger from me, the way she had in her past hypnotists. Maybe she wanted me to make her feel overwhelmed by overpowering her with the sheer force of my will.

I sipped the beer again.

“I’m resisting,” she said defiantly, her chin jutting out.

I nod, “Of course you are. If you decide to resist you can. But you didn’t come to see me to resist. And so when you are done proving you can do something so completely ordinary as not taking your shirt off we can explore how it feels to do something completely extraordinary like finding perfect obedience.”

“Until then,” I say lifting my glass, “I’m going to enjoy my beer.”

Again she was surprised. She had been expecting a hypnotic patter about how resisting made her weak, about how pulling her shirt down made her tired and sleepy and more open to my suggestions.

Hypnosis though, for all the fancy stage lights and bad tuxedos we bring to it, is simply a way to allow people to explore parts of their mind that they normally do not. It allows a subject to block out the part of their mind that’s running a Woody Allen style monologue in their head at all times, telling them how they’re not good enough or cynically mocking everything that’s happening while worrying that they’re not good enough.

It’s a way to find silence within the mind, so that other thoughts and feelings can be explored. Like sitting in a quiet library lets you read a book better than doing so at a football game. Reading in a library on the Oxford campus is much easier than in the stands at Old Trafford.

I watched her as she considered this. She knew what it was like to resist, knew what it was like to keep her shirt on and think her own thoughts. Letting go and letting someone else take over that responsibility was new. It was what she had wanted, as much as she wanted to think she wanted to be forced into it nobody could ever really do that.

I watched her face go calm and her arms relax. She blinked as she gave herself over to the enjoyment of the suggestion. To the pleasure in obedience. The shirt rose with her hands, and then fell to the floor. 

“Do you want to obey now?” I asked, setting the beer down.

“Yes,” she answered, her voice soft.

I rose from the chair. Studying her I cupped a breast and then leaned to her ear and whispered, “Then sleep deep now.”

Her body slumped against mine and I guided her to the chair. She was finally ready to obey.