The Elman Induction

by Mike Mandel

Here’s a simple outline of the Dave Elman Induction, that I will deconstruct for you. I have divided it into 5 steps:

  1. Yes Set and Compliance Set
  2. Eyelid Catalepsy
  3. Fractionation
  4. Test for Physical Relaxation
  5. Mental Relaxation and Number Block


Although this may initially seem complex, there is a logic and a simplicity in this methodology. In this explanation, italics indicate the words you actually say to the subject. Bold text indicates the subject’s response.

Note too, the use of the phrase “In a moment…” This pre-frame is vital to the Elman Induction, and guides the subject to what you’re going to be doing next.


Step 1: Yes Set and Compliance Set

First you create a Yes Set, also known as an Agreement Frame. Basically, you’re simply getting the subject to say Yes or agree with you to get rid of resistance.

Many hypnotists don’t realize that the Yes Set reduces resistance and makes the induction easier, so they wind up leaving it out. You’ll have better results when you leave it in.


Can you imagine making a fist so tight that you couldn’t possibly squeeze any tighter?


And can you imagine the opposite, relaxing your hand so much that you couldn’t possibly relax it any more?


Well that’s the quality of relaxation I want you to get with this induction. In a moment, I’m going to ask you to relax the muscles around your eyes so much, that as long as you hold onto that relaxation, your eye muscles just won’t work.

Now at anytime, you could choose to be in control, and let go of that relaxation, and open your eyes, but you do that every day. I want you to stay in control by relaxing those muscles and not opening them.

You demonstrate by relaxing your own eyelids so they won’t work, and forcefully move your eyebrows up and down to model what you want the subject to do. A good demonstration will ensure they do it correctly.

You now get the subject to relax the muscles around his eyes as per your instructions. This begins creating a Compliance Set, where the subject follows your instructions without question.

It’s a great way to lead a person into trance. The subject continues the Compliance Set by moving his eyebrows up and down, while keeping his eyes shut. This causes catalepsy and begins the shift into a trance state.


Step 2: Eyelid Catalepsy

We’ve marked out eyelid catalepsy as a step, but in reality it’s just the result of the above compliance set! So already you can start to think of the Elman induction as just 4 steps instead of 5.  See! We’re making it easy for you.


Step 3: Fractionation

Now you continue:

Now stop testing and let a huge wave of relaxation flow from the top of your head to the soles of your feet…

You are now ready to begin fractionation, by having him open and close his eyes on cue, going deeper each time his eyes close.

In a moment I’m going to ask you to open your eyes. I’ll immediately pass my hand in front of your eyes and you’ll close them and go twice as deeply relaxed. Eyes open now…

Keeping your hand close to his face, pass your hand downward and say:

Eyes closed…double your relaxation…

Fractionate the subject 6 times. You will see him sinking deeper into trance, provided you remember to watch and calibrate him.


Step 4: Test for Physical Relaxation

In a moment I’m going to lift your hand by the thumb, just a couple of inches, and drop it. I want you to let me do all the lifting, and keep your arm relaxed. When I drop your hand, it will fall like a wet dishcloth.

Lift the hand and drop it. If it splats down, you’re ready to continue. If you feel the subject lifting it, you need to go back to fractionating the subject a few more times while instructing deeper relaxation. Then continue:




Step 5: Mental Relaxation and Number Block

That’s physical relaxation, but there’s also mental relaxation. In a moment I’m going to ask you to begin counting backwards out loud from 100 like this:

100…deeper relaxed…99…deeper relaxed…doubling your mental relaxation with each number. After just a few numbers, you will have relaxed your mind so much, that there won’t be any more numbers left to say. You will have relaxed them right out of your mind. Begin now…

The subject will slowly begin counting backward from 100 and saying “Deeper relaxed…” with each number. Your task is to keep encouraging him by continuously pointing out that it’s his job to relax the numbers away. It could go like this:

100…deeper relaxed…

That’s right…banish the numbers…I can’t do it for you…

99…deeper relaxed…

Push them out of your mind…fade them away…wipe them out…

At some point (usually before 95) the subject will stop counting. You say:

All gone?

If you ask if the numbers are still there, you’ll bring them back. The subject must nod or answer Yes. When they do, you have somnambulism, the working state of hypnosis, and may proceed however you wish.


Easy Tips to Mastering the Dave Elman Induction:

  • The Elman Induction is extremely directive. You’re commanding your subject to follow and respond to your instructions. Don’t let the subject get ahead of you! You are the one in control with this powerful induction.


  • The whole process should flow naturally. There are natural, sensible steps that build on each other to create a robust trance. Don’t have awkward pauses between the steps.


  • The subject must pass each step before moving to the next step. For example, if you’re doing the hand drop to test for physical relaxation the subject’s hand MUST splat down like a wet rag. Don’t move on to mental relaxation until you get that response.


  • When you do the fractionation process (opening and closing the eyes), keep things moving quickly.  His eyes should be open for no more than one second each time you do it.
  • Sometimes, during the mental relaxation step, your subject might seem to be happy counting forever. If he’s down into the 80s something is wrong. He’s probably passively waiting for the numbers to vanish. You must coach your subject to banish the numbers himself. Put the responsibility on the subject to make things happen.


  • A simple way to get the numbers to disappear if counting goes on too long is to use a hand-drop like this:


In a moment I’m going to lift and drop your hand. When I do, the numbers will drop out of your mind.

You then pick up their hand by the thumb, wiggle it a bit and drop it.

All gone?