According to Milton Erickson, the father of hypnotherapy, trance occurs when the following three conditions are met:
1. Narrowing of awareness and the field of focus
2. Surrender to an experience that is not the result of a conscious choice
3. Presence of certain stimuli*
*I wrote more extensively about this part of trance induction in my prevous article. In essence, such stimuli that deepen the trance state can include flickering candlelight, music or erotic touch.
We all slip into trance states all day long. Reading a book, exercising, listening to music, or watching the world pass us by through the window of a moving car.
However, there is a big difference between self-induced trance states, even if unconscious, versus those perpetrated upon us by manipulators, such as the narcissist or a psychopath.
The Natural Born Hypnotist
The narcissists and other pathologically inclined individuals, seem to be quite apt at inducing trance states in their targets. Be it due to their inability to feel as deeply as the empath, which makes them exaggerate and dramatize the context, or perhaps merely polishing an effective skill they’ve picked up in childhood, they seem to know how to quickly capture their target’s attention and then do with it as they please.
From a psychological and chemical standpoint, the relationship between the narcissist and codependent, or an empath, comes across as the perfect match. The former is predominantly the taker while the latter the giver.
When such opposites come together, they create a sizzling chemistry.
This largely unconscious condition creates a fertile ground for a variety of hypnotic states ranging from seemingly having a common vision of the future to intense sexual experiences that result in chemical and emotional bonding, also known as ‘trauma bonding.’
What is easiest to see is often overlooked. –Milton Erickson
Inevitably, given the narcissist’s inability to genuinely connect, the crests of intense exchanges will be followed by troughs stemming from abandonment and feelings of loneliness on the part of the target.
Scabs will melt and old painful wounds will begin to throb once more, creating a deep soulful yearning to re-merge with the narcissist to soothe the agony. This promise — to end the pain — is what the narcissist uses to keep their empathic and/or codependent partner on the ‘hook.’
Since it is impossible for any hypnotist to put anyone in trace without their willing participation, the narcissist uses a very simple technique to begin slipping suggestions into the mind of their target — they observe them putting themselves in trance!
Now, this is no ordinary trance. By asking the target key ‘interview’ questions, they sit back and watch to see whether the interviewee qualifies to become their source of supply. If so, the narcissist will then also evaluate their potential degree of involvement, or investment, into the life of the target. The degree will depend on the narcissist’s evaluation of the quality of resources they will be able to extract for the target.
I’m stating this process in a dry form on purpose, to make you see how the narcissist approaches this situation. It’s a lot like a military invasion of a country to extract its key assets. It is calculated and ruthless.
Sure, the narcissist will also get some emotional and chemical supply out of the deal. They will enjoy dominating their target in bed, for example, and get high on dopanime watching them ‘fall in love,’ as the narcissist finds just the right mask to wear in order to evoke and sustain that state in the mind (and body) of the target. It will give the narc an ample supply of thrills and kicks to make them get off, as they strategically unleash all sorts of methods of control to fuel their ego.
Regression with Reward
I call the interview process the narcissist conducts upon meeting the target, regression with reward. By asking the target about their childhood and past experiences, and especially zooming in on the hurtful experiences, the narcissist is able to recall within the mind of the target all sorts of painful memories.
Being there in a way that the target’s exes or parents never were, creates an experience of deep bonding and nascent trust begins to form between them. The target feels ‘heard’ and ‘seen’ like never before. The hole in their soul is quickly filling up. It feels intoxicating, especially so when the narcissist and the target eventually part their ways. With enough exposure, the target will soon begin to pine for the narcissist.
What the target doesn’t realize yet, is that the deep feeling of lack they feel as a result of no longer being in the physical presence of the narcissist is quite reminiscent of their parents, or source figures, leaving them when they were as young as an infant. A baby is wholly dependent on their caretakers, hence the ‘abandonment’ event is logged inside their subconscious mind as traumatic.
For example, when leaving the room, the baby doesn’t know whether the mother will ever return. To a baby, abandonment by source figure equals death. It is terrifying. In normal cases, the mother will return and work to instill a sense of love and safety within the infant. But if the parent is repeatedly neglectful, it will create a deep sense of lack and emptiness inside that person that will trail them into the adult years and make them vulnerable and susceptible to narcissistic and psychopathic ‘love bombing.’ Because such events are so distant, they are difficult to access with conscious memory. But they can easily resurface under the right trance conditions.
Another thing the target doesn’t realize just yet is that the substance with which the narcissist is filling their soul vacuum is pure poison. This is because such ‘love’ is conditional and agenda based. It has as its goal the desire to control rather than nurture the target. It will evoke the unresolved core wound that the target had worked so hard to forget or run away from, making the eventual breakup that much difficult to process and the bond that much harder to break.
In the beginning it all seems sweet and innocent. The target feels awesome due to all the attention he or she are receiving, and the narcissist enjoys seeing how well his or her tricks are working. Both parties are happy for their own unique reasons. All goes well until the moment the narcissist is unable to sustain the ‘giving.’ It creates a state of confusion due to cognitive dissonance emerging inside the mind of the target — a fertile ground for trance.
A confused person has their conscious mind busy and occupied, and is very much inclined to draw upon unconscious learnings to make sense of things. A confused person is in a trance of their own making — and therefore goes readily into that trance without resistance. [Source.]
Obsessed with making things right and bringing the good times back, the target does everything in their power to please the narc, activating an old program used in their childhood milieu to garner approval — a desire to please. It creates a frantic, unbalanced state the narcissist knows how to take full advantage of.
Five Stages of Trace
So therefore, in a nutshell the narcissist’s process of trancing, and therefore controlling, the mind of the victim goes like this:
1. Regress. Ask questions that make the target go into regression — such as recall painful childhood or more recent events, exes and all sorts of painful memories. Listen in for the clues and cues to understand the target’s core vulnerabilities.
2. Reward. Make the target feel heard and seen in a way that meets the deepest longing of their soul. Provide empathic or codependent supply in the form of acknowledgement, care and attention.
3. Confuse. Gradually or abruptly withdraw codependent supply. This will happen consciously or unconsciously or as a blend of both. When the narc is busy looking for backup supply, their attention will inevitably waver, hurting the target. This will set in a state of confusion, which breeds obsession.
4. Promise. Make an untold promise of returning the good times to keep the target on the hook. Utilize the ‘bait and switch’ technique by making the target work overtime to sustain an illusory dynamic of a fairytale relationship, a fake vision the bought into in the love bombing stage of the relationship. Yes, future faking is a powerful form of trance.
5. Dose. Make the abuse cycle go on and on, sprinkling little doses of affection, or reward, towards the target so that they keep believing that things will get back to normal, all the while extracting resources from the target. This will go on until the target is no longer useful to the narcissist, in which case they will move on to someone else.
Unless the target wakes up and leaves first. . .
I wrote this piece in an effort to empower the targets and victims of narcissistic abuse by making them aware of the tactics and techniques that narcissists, psychopaths and other manipulative, malignant persons use to sustain their parasitic lifestyle.
I hope this post was helpful to you and look forward to meeting you in the comments. Your 👏🏻 are the rocket fuel that inspires me to keep up this work.
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You don’t have to fall for their traps any longer! Awareness and knowledge are key. If you are suffering from the post-breakup shock of realizing that you’ve been subjected to narcissistic abuse, please look into my three-step SOS program currently available for free on my website.
As usual, below is the video companion to this article.