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The Power of Suggestion

You may have seen examples of this yourself, but consider the scene - a very strong man is hypnotised and all of a sudden he is unable to lift a simple pencil off a table even though he is usually able to lift over 300lb. On another occasion, an athlete is given a grip strength test and he registers 100lb. He is then hypnotised and told that he is now much stronger. He is given the tests again and now he registers 125lb! Or seemingly more bizarre, a woman under hypnosis is told that the finger touching her arm is a hot piece of metal and she winces in pain and develops a red mark on her arm!

Each of the above examples demonstrates the power of suggestion delivered under hypnosis. Now you don't need to be given suggestions under hypnosis for them to be able to work. The difference between hypnosis and normal suggestion (ie no hypnosis) is that with normal suggestion, conscious control is maintained but with hypnosis that control is partially handed over to someone else. So what is the point of all of this and how does it apply to learning?

Well, suggestion can be applied to the way we think and learn to improve those abilities. You see, the thing about the hypnotic process in the example where the athlete's strength seemingly increased as a result of hypnosis, was that the athlete did not suddenly gain more strength out of nowhere, it was just that his belief about how strong he was changed and with a new, more empowering belief he was able to access more strength. So in effect he wasn't so much hypnotised as de-hypnotised.

An American psychological researcher investigated the impact of negative self image on students' ability to learn. What she discovered was that all of the students she studied had innate ability but were unable to fully access that ability because their negative self image and associated beliefs would not let them. These beliefs and hence the poor self image about learning had come about either because they were repeatedly told at an early age that they were no good at maths or, because they had interpreted a single failure early on as a generalization that they were no good at a particular subject. She believed that if she could improve the self image using the power of suggestion then she could improve the student's ability to learn.

The results were extremely empowering. A "poor" speller with an average success rate of 45% increased it to 91%. A Latin student took her grades from 30% to 84% after just three encouraging chats with her tutor and an English student who was written off won the literary prize a term later.

Source "Accelerated Learning" by Colin Rose

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