It's funny how many people dismiss things as "just expectation" - as if expectation isn't freaking powerful. As if expectation isn't as good of a pain killer as intravenous opiods. Even as a witchdoctor voodoo ritual running purely off the expectation that the ritual will work, hypnosis is pretty damn cool. State the desired outcome, do the ritual, and obtain result! But there is a lot more going on there than "just expectation."
It doesn't matter what the subject believes - it matters what they expect.
Like I've mentioned before, there's a huge difference between verbally "believing" something and "expecting" something at the level that matters for this.
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking "hypnosis only works if you believe it will". You would hope that they would faithfully follow that error and interpret it as "if I believe it, it will work and if I don't believe it, it won't work...so I should believe it will work if and only if it will help me." Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. Instead, they will often make yet another error and say "hypnosis only works if you believe it will...therefore, I don't believe it!"
They can believe hypnosis is horseshit all they want. Once you get a crack in their defenses and make them wonder "what if it were real..." and make them feel that fear - you've got them. I was play fighting with my little cousin recently and pushed his foot up against the wall. "You feel it sticking to the wall. More and more." He replied "Nope! It's not gonna stick!" We'll see about that. "You're trying to convince me that it won't stick - you're trying to convince yourself that it won't stick. And that's because part of you knows that it is sticking. More and more...". And I let go of his foot. It was stuck. And of course, the next obvious step was "every time I punch you it just sticks harder!" :)
It doesn't matter what you tell yourself is going to happen - even if you're really adamant about it. It just doesn't work on that level. In fact, it's the very denial of the possibility that cracks the armor. So hypnotizing
skeptics cynics is fun.
You can take baby steps so that no single step goes against the subject's expectations.
Just look at the expectancy induction. When I do X, Y will happen. Test and verify. Then increment and try again. You don't have to rely on the subject to expect the whole thing to work if you can do it incrementally. How cool is that? They don't have to expect "hypnosis" will work. In fact, you don't need to mention "hypnosis" to them at all. I guess it's sorta like walking someone through a mathematical proof. From the beginning, the conclusion can seem crazy. But every step makes sense. And when you get there, the whole journey just seems uneventful
So the subject can show up not believing hypnosis will work. And not even expecting hypnosis to work... but through baby steps, they'll fine themselves unable to remember their name and quacking like a duck. It is much more powerful than witch doctoring at this point, since you don't have to sell the whole package at once.
But we can take it further. So far, I've just described a journey where each baby step fits their expectations because it's caused by them. That sorta implies that the results of hypnosis can never shock the subject - since they're merely products of their expectation. Confirmation bias run rampant. But what if we create a scenario where the expectations for what will happen don't match the situation that results from the expectations? Can that happen? Which expectations win?
Well, yes, it can. The lower level bits generally win. It's whatever the response is actually built out of - what they're focusing on at the time.
The sum of their expectations does not necessarily lead to an expected result.
My girlfriend was struggling with some limiting beliefs and not responding to direct suggestions that they'd be gone. Instead of struggling with every little limiting belief, I decided to go meta. In particular, I decided to make a point. To shake her out of her "I know what hypnosis can and can't do, and it can't do that" complacency. I guess that kind of complacency is expected if you don't do hard challenges where they really don't want it to work as a whole, or if you tend to take the natural roads to places. I guess I've just been too much of a nice guy. Oops.
Anyway, she had her hands up doing her hair, and I gave a suggestion that when I snapped my fingers, her arm would drop to her side. That's easy enough. It's better understood as an instruction than an anticipation, but it's the same mechanism. But then I kept talking until her hands were at her side and she kinda forgot about it. Now, if I had stopped to ask her if she expected her arm to do anything when I snapped my fingers, she would have said no. And if I then snapped my fingers, I don't think it would have done anything. The old response would have been overwritten.
But I didn't stop to ask. I just snapped my fingers mid-sentence and her arm shot up and dropped - just as suggested. Just as expected, right? Not quite. She didn't see that coming at all. Wide eyed, she looked first to her arm, then the other way. As if to ask "where the hell did that come from?!?". She had anticipations about the kinds of things that were going to happen. Stuff like "I'm in control of my arm". And her arm shooting up then down did not fit.
Yet it was created from her expectation at the time the suggestion was installed that the suggestion would work. She expected her arm to drop when I snapped my fingers (because she decided for it to), but later she didn't expect her arm to drop even if I snapped my fingers.. The morning star is the evening star, but "the morning star" is not "the evening star" So that shocked her a bit, but apparently not enough, since she was still telling me what she could and couldn't do as a subject. As if her predictions matter.
Okay, lets go further. I had just shown her that she could accept the suggestion of being unable to speak - for a few seconds. Any longer is just too crazy, right? I mean, reminders come up and stuff. Wait, what? If you can accept a suggestion for a second, you can accept it for a minute. If you can accept it for a minute, you can accept it forever (certain terms and conditions may apply). So for five seconds, you will not be able to speak. EYES OPEN WIDE AWAKE!
So what's this like? (two.. three..four...) SNAP! and it's reset... really try... go on, prove me wrong SNAP! reset.... it's been more than five seconds sweetheart.... I'm waiting... SNAP.... say something... anything... SNAP what am I sitting on? "mmmmhgh!"
Muahaha! Sometimes I just gotta stop and appreciate how absurd this all is. Being an evil hypnotist can be fun
There's no way she expected that it'd work for more than a few seconds. I know because I tried it repeatedly. If she expected it to work, it would have just worked. When I got what I was looking for, it violated her expectations of reality and generated shock and fear - she was genuinely freaked. Yet it ran on very low level expectations of how certain things would interact.
You can always get some sort of expectation. If you're clever enough, you can build a house of just about anything.