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Triggers are, in essence, the mechanics of a trigger leading into an action. Everyday examples are your ringtone, the door bell, your name. We've trained ourselves to respond in a similar way to the trigger.

With hypnosis, we can set these triggers ourselves, though usually only for a limited time. Creating a lasting trigger would require multiple re-applications and conditioning.

Explicit triggers

The most common examples are explicit triggers. They are set up by direct phrasing, linking a cause to an effect.

You can use indirect language to set them up, but the principle remains the same.

Whenever X happens you will do Y.


As a general guideline, triggers work best when they clear and concise. The subject has to understand what is expected of them.

Implicit triggers

A much more subtle way of binding 2 actions together, is by letting 2 actions happen at the same time. Repeating this two or three times will allow the unconscious mind to link the two together.

On the hypnotist side, you might find this happening automatically for some of them.



There are a couple of things that affect the effectiveness or longevity of a trigger. As a general rule, simple is better. And this varies heavily per person.

One thing that helps a lot is to use existing reactions and make them stronger. Like how a belly-poke can evoke a giggle.

Using triggers

Triggers are a tool and not a solution by themselves. While they can be useful as a shortcut into trance or for other very intense effects, they truly shine in their flexibility. For example by setting up triggers that can be re-used in a lot of different ways.

The following example is based on the "Jedi mind-trick" idea from the Star Wars movies.

In a moment I will show you a very nice trick.
Every time I wave my hand in front of you, like this, and I say something, you will then repeat those words and act on them without thinking.

The beauty is that your unconscious will hear me perfectly and know if it is okay to follow the instructions. Repeating them will let me know that they are okay and you can simply forget that you even said the words afterwards.

When you've understood these instructions, simply nod.

Actions & Reactions

In its most basic form, a trigger is simply an action that leads into a reaction. From this simple principle, you can easily construct some example triggers.

Types of actions

Things that can trigger a reaction. For added fun; actions and reactions can be used interchangeably.

Types of reactions