How to prevent hypnotic stabbing pains
February 29, 2008 6:01 AM   Subscribe

How do you stop someone putting stabbing pains in your foot with hypnosis?


This might sound slightly weird, but sometimes when I’m having a conversation with certain people I’ll get a stabbing pain in my foot. I think they might be using hypnosis.

I once listened to a hypnosis CD course called Design Human Engineering. At one point on the course, a hypnotist makes a joke about putting a stabbing pain in someone’s foot. ‘How can you be so busy when your foot hurts that much? …. No, I’d never do that.’

After listening to that joke for the first time, I actually did get a stabbing pain in my foot which seemed to be a deliberate hypnotic effect (but not distressing in the context).

I’ve also been in a shop once where one of the other customers laughed with a strange tonality and afterwards I got a stabbing pain in my foot (at the time I thought something like ‘That’s an odd laugh’).

Could someone please explain to me how the hypnotrick involving stabbing pains actually works, and how do you prevent it?

Thanks in advance.
posted by Tnuocca to Education (27 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Phenomena explained: Here ya go!.
posted by dobbs at 6:07 AM on February 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

uhhhh…why would you suspect those people of wanting to put stabbing pains in your foot, through hypnosis or otherwise?
posted by violetk at 6:08 AM on February 29, 2008

How it's done, I have no clue. However, I think you should ask a trusted doctor about this phenomenon. Be sure to describe it as you described it here. I believe that a doctor could really help with this.
posted by nax at 6:14 AM on February 29, 2008 [16 favorites]

It's either psychosomatic as dobbs said, or you're reading too much in to what is a coincidence. From what I know of such things (which may be limited, but I'd still expect to have heard something if there were even enough people about who thought they could do that, let alone could do that for you to have met more than one) there's no way to do anything remotely like that in such a subtle way.

If you're really convinced this is real you should probably find a competent and trustworthy hypnotherapist somewhere, as maybe they can tell you with more authority that it isn't other people doing this to you.
posted by edd at 6:15 AM on February 29, 2008

I second nax. If this (or things like this) are happening to you a lot, I'd strongly suggest asking a doctor about it.
posted by ourobouros at 6:26 AM on February 29, 2008

The term "psychosomatic" doesn't mean that what happens to you isn't real. If you're feeling the pain, the pain is real. It's that simple. But the idea that people are deliberately doing this to you is not real, and it will never be real. You need to speak to a doctor.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:36 AM on February 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

Sounds to me like the CD you listened to, hypnotized you into thinking other people were doing this to you. I don't believe the average person has these kinds of abilities, but something they are doing is causing these stabbing pains because of the hypnosis from the CD. You might consider seeing a hypnotist to unhypnotize you from what that CD did to you.
posted by bindasj at 6:40 AM on February 29, 2008

This article looks pertinent. You are quite possibly among the 15% of the population the scientists in the article postulate are most susceptible to hypnotically-induced pain.

Or it could be that the pain is unrelated to the hypnotic suggestions you perceive, and your determination that they are related is simply confirmation bias.
posted by cerebus19 at 6:41 AM on February 29, 2008

Here's the course. Looks lovely.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:54 AM on February 29, 2008

Someone cant use hypnosis on your without you playing along and knowing it. Arguably, hypnosis can be done in such a way that the person temporarily forgets the suggestions, but it cannot be done in some kind of hollywood/supernatural way over the phone. Most likely your culprit is a poor pair of shoes and an overactive imagination. If you are honestly believing that friends and family are poisining your mind through normal conversation then thats a sign of more than a couple forms of mental illness.

There are no hypnotricks. What you see on television of 'instant hypnosis' is usually session 3 or 4 with a post hypnotic suggestion and someone really wanting to play along.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:58 AM on February 29, 2008

You have built this up from being the hypnosis from the CD causing the problem, to now other people you talk to are doing this to you. That is not healthy thinking; it's paranoia. You are giving the pain too much importance, and it will just be built up more and more, the more you do this. You have to find a way to remove the importance from this occurrence, whether that means seeing a hypnotist to remove the thought (if you can trust another hypnotist), seeing a therapist, or working on your own.
posted by veronitron at 7:01 AM on February 29, 2008

Um, I'm going to go out on an unpopular limb here, and suggest that you are psychologically unstable.

Have you considered speaking to a medical professional? minimum, if you find yourself seriously thinking about major life changes as a consequence of these "hypnotricks" you should definitely consult someone.
posted by aramaic at 7:03 AM on February 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

While I suggested speaking to a hypnotherapist so that they could tell you that you're not being somehow hypnotised on the sly because it's not possible in the way you're thinking, I'd be wary of seeing one to 'hypnotise you out of it' as veronitron and bindasj suggest. You'll only be giving the idea of hypnosis more power in your head, and it sounds to me like that's the last thing you need.
posted by edd at 7:22 AM on February 29, 2008

It's kind of hard to tell from the post how strong these thoughts are. I've had paranoid psychosis as part of my bipolar, and I'm not sure that I would have listened to a rational response from someone about it. We can tell the OP to go seek professional help, and they might go, or they might think we're all against him and telling him to do things that would cause more pain. But then again, maybe this isn't paranoia at all, and we're building up the problem as we see it.

These are dangerous questions to answer, because of that. If it's severe, things we say might be harmful. If it's not severe, the better answer would be like Mayor Curley's deleted answer, which would help the OP see that it's rather silly to think that someone else could control him in that way.
posted by veronitron at 7:33 AM on February 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Apply even, steady, warm, and deep thumb pressure to the dorsal surface of the foot, in the angle between the 1st and 2nd metatarsal bones. The hypnotic pain will disappear.
posted by breezeway at 8:27 AM on February 29, 2008 [3 favorites]

You should speak to a psychologist about this problem; I think they can help you with these pains in your foot. Seriously, please talk to a doctor.
posted by Justinian at 9:11 AM on February 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

What many people who are answering your question are thinking, but no one is saying, is that a psychiatrist might well diagnose you with schizophrenia.

I believe that is the first possibility a Western doctor would think of if a typical American or European person came to their office and asked this question the way you've asked it. However, there are many societies and ethnic groups, generally those with a tradition of belief in witchcraft and witches, in which your question would be normal and ordinary.

I think you should see a psychiatrist. Schizophrenia is bad, but there are good treatments for it, and the sooner it is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome for the treated person is likely to be. But if you or your family are part of a group in which belief in witchcraft is the norm, I still think you should see a psychiatrist, but I think it's very important that you choose one who understands and is sensitive to your culture.
posted by jamjam at 10:18 AM on February 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

Someone cant use hypnosis on your without you playing along and knowing it.

Not so. Milton Erickson showed otherwise. There is no hard and fast line between hypnosis and persuasive rhetoric, nor one between trance and 'ordinary consciousness'. It's more a matter of the degree of dissociation.

However, no one has ever been induced into a deep trance and then persuaded to act in ways that were contrary to their own interest. Milton Erickson, for one, did an experiment where he gave hypnotic suggestions for his subjects to steal their neighbor's mail. None of them did so. Other studies have been done where hypnotic subjects were told to reach out for a snake (which was separated from the subject by plexiglass), again, none of them did so.


I think there are two possibilities. The first is that this is self hypnosis. That segment of the CD caught your imagination, and perhaps outside of your awareness, you began to wonder what that would have been like. The laugh may have then triggered a kinesthetic hallucination. If the hypnotic pain reoccurs, tell yourself, 'Cancel that.". If it stops, you know this phenomenon responds to your thoughts and you know what to do should it ever be an issue in the future.

If the pain doesn't respond, then physiological causes or a deeply internalized belief could be responsible. With either of those possibilities, your best choice is to see a doctor.
posted by BigSky at 11:00 AM on February 29, 2008

I think jamjam is absolutely right. While I don't want to jump to any conclusions based on your question, it definitely made me wonder about schizophrenia. I think it would be worth it for you to find a psychiatrist you trust and get a professional opinion.
posted by ourobouros at 11:05 AM on February 29, 2008

If another suggestion to consult a doctor regarding this will help convince you, here it is.

Please consult a doctor. Explain exactly as you have here.
posted by owtytrof at 11:35 AM on February 29, 2008

As echoed with pretty much everyone else, definitely a good idea to see a doctor -- whether mental or physical, or both

There really isn't enough here to answer your question about what's really going on to know if it's psychosomatic, actual physical trauma or something else not yet defined.

With hypnosis, you can't be hypnotized without your consent and even more importantly, you can't be convinced to do something under hypnosis which is outside something you would normally do while not hypnotized. So, even if you would only consider it under duress, the pain in your foot when a certain tone is used can only have appeared to you had you thought it was already possible for it to happen.

Whomever you choose to see, make sure to get into as much detail about everything as possible. It could be physical or mental pain, but I highly doubt it's actually hypnosis.
posted by Gular at 1:57 PM on February 29, 2008

Strangely, I finished the day yesterday with stabbing pains in my heel. Internets think its Plantar Faciitis, but in light of this thread, I am now suspicious.
posted by nax at 9:02 AM on March 1, 2008

Response by poster: I used to believe hypnosis was a hoax, because I knew someone who had an MA in Psychology and they once told me that 'all this Hypnotic World of Paul McKenna stuff is just rubbish.' So for years I used to believe the people in stage hypnosis shows were just actors.

Until fairly recently the general public didn't really know much about hypnosis.

If it is possible to cause stabbing pains with hypnosis, the fact that it's possible might not be well known.

The next point I'd like to make is that it's very possible to hypnotise someone against their will, if you surprise them. I've read about Milton Erikson's hypnotic handshake. Apparently people used to rationalise that in terms of temporarily not paying attention, etc.

Considering that people have had open heart surgery using only hypnosis, it makes sense that some hypnotist somewhere could have devised a way of causing pain with hypnosis.

The last point I'd like to mention is that is hypnotically possible to induce (I hope this doesn't sound stupid) flatulence with hypnotic writing. Considering that it's possible to control a physical response like flatulence, maybe other another physical response like pain is controllable as well.

The people who I think might be using the pain hypnosis on me also sometimes go into full blown trances when they're talking to me but I have no way of proving that.
posted by Tnuocca at 2:27 PM on March 1, 2008

The people who I think might be using the pain hypnosis on me also sometimes go into full blown trances when they're talking to me but I have no way of proving that.

I reiterate even more strongly; I think a psychologist could probably help you with this problem. You should at least talk to one and see what he or she thinks.
posted by Justinian at 3:05 PM on March 1, 2008

Sorry, but youre way out of touch with reality. I was a self-taught hypnotist and practiced it with my friends for years and no where did anyone like hypnotic flatulance and trance via phone ever, ever come up. So I'm not just a member of this straw-man 'general public' you mention. Re-read my post and talk to a professional. You are 100% not in reality right now if you believe anything that you wrote. Metamail me if you are curious about real hypnosis, not paranormal conspiracy theories and paranoid delusions. Its actually more interesting than hollyowood and newage shucksters would have you believe, but honestly you are a person who needs to talk to a doctor. Sooner than later.
posted by damn dirty ape at 4:10 PM on March 1, 2008

Also, you should re-read this thread. There are some pretty smart and experienced people here telling you to see a doctor, yet you find it more believable that you happen to be in the middle of a paranormal hypnotic pain conspiracy with your friends and family, who can perform a trick no one has ever heard of without any formal training and are only doing this to you for reasons you havent identified (if there are any).

Which scenario do you think is more likely right now: that youre part of some major conspiracy to hurt your foot or that things may not be right in your head right now?
posted by damn dirty ape at 4:23 PM on March 1, 2008

My husband is a board-certified hypnotherapist and he says all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. So no one is hypnotizing you, you are hypnotizing yourself. When you see a hypnotherapist, you are allowing them to induce a trance state.

People do go in and out of various trance states, such as when they are focusing on a TV program or reading a book and don't hear someone speaking to them for a few minutes.

However, I believe my husband and any qualified hypnotherapist would urge you to seek out a medical professional to get yourself checked out because either you are doing it to yourself or it's coincidence and you're seeing it as external; that must be an upsetting way to be walking around thinking, so you might get relief if you see a therapist or psychiatrist for treatment or at least to put your fears to rest. BTW, my husband won't treat people who are seeing a psychiatrist or a psychotherapist without a clearance from the doctor (i.e., such as someone with anxiety or other diagnosed disorders).

Stage hypnosis, yes, you will notice that all the people volunteered so they want to have fun and bark like a dog. It's that simple.

I hope you find your answer and get help for your problem. Remember, you are in control of your mind, not others. If it's keeping you from functioning please do seek help.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:54 AM on March 2, 2008

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