How to deal with an aphantasiac (or other senses) in hypnosis?



How does one go to work and hypnotize someone who cannot conjure visual images in their head, or to imagine how their body might feel, or to hear sounds (like music) that is not there?  

I wrote a piece on kinesthetics last week (here and @shaman58​ correctly remarked that being strong in kinesthesia does not mean one cannot work with visual or auditory “images”. As an example, I have a play partner who is very kinesthetic, but also strong in visual and auditory modalities. I think she could work all the other senses too, though we haven’t yet tried. 

So today I’m going to write a little about my own experiences as an aphantasiac and my slave’s experiences as someone who has quite similar lack into kinesthetic sensory imagination. (And I am painfully aware of my lack of vocabulary for describing non-visual sensory imagination.)

First, I will point out that your garden variety visual tools, such as pocket watch or crystal work quite well for me, but I think mostly as part of a verbal induction. Similarly, I think anything that includes touch works with my slave. They might not be the best choices, but they work. 

This is because a lack of mental imagination for one sense does not mean you cannot experience that sense through external stimulus

However, if you try to work a spoken induction with described visual imagery, I will not be falling into a trance. And when I’m already in a light trance, I may pop out, if you tell my mind to imagine something visual. My mind goes like: I gotta do this, I can’t do this, how does this even work, and plop, the earlier focus is gone and my mind has found a dozen new things to think about. 

The same goes for my slave. If I tell her that she feels herself drop deeper into trance, she is likely to pop out of trance. She just doesn’t feel imaginary things. 

When I’m in a deep state of trance, I sometimes experience visual imagery. That can be really powerful experience, but so far I’ve had that happen less than five times total in my life. I’m looking forward to having more experiences with this, though, so if you’re interested in giving it a try sometime when we’re in the same city, send me a message. 

(My slave thinks the same goes for her, in a deep state of trance, she can imagine feelings, though we don’t as of yet have much experience with this.)

So how to work with someone with a severe lack of imagination in some sense (and doesn’t have any or much experience with hypnosis? 

You work with their strengths, be mindful of your vocabulary (they may in time learn to ignore things that don’t work with them), and get them good experiences first. Later on, they might want to experiment with the sense that is difficult for them, but first go with those things that work. 

Finally, a word of warning. This post is based on experiences of two people and may not be generalizable. If you lack an imagined sense (i.e. modality) or have done hypnosis with someone who lacks a modality, I would love to read about your own experiences. And if you have encountered research or any kind of collected wisdom into this topic, I would very much like to hear from you. Drop me a comment or a message and we’ll talk. 

I find that asking someone to close their eyes and describe something very familiar to them, (for me it might be walking through the house, perhaps as if my eyes were closed, and describing the path I’d have to take and why) using every sense they have, can be a nice way to jump start both their own ability to recognize how they pay attention to their senses and for the person working with them to understand more of how their brain works.

Yeah, I’m about 90% sure I’m aphantasic too, so this is useful info for next time I want someone to trance me.