Erotic hypnosis may just be the world's most misunderstood sexual fetish. Also called "hypno kink," or simply "hypnosis," erotic hypnosis is a kink that lets the hypnotized participant access parts of their brain that can lead to numerous different pleasurable experiences, from immersive sexual fantasies to a heightened Domination/submission power dynamic.
Skepticism runs rampant around hypnosis, particularly for hypno kinksters. Yet despite what naysayers believe, hypnosis is very real, and hypno kink fans have long sung its praises. Where does erotic hypnosis' appeal lie? Read on to learn.
What is erotic hypnosis, and is it real?
Like many other kink communities, the hypno kink world has its own lexicon with varying definitions. Hypno kink educator, podcaster, and author Sleepingirl stresses defining "hypnosis" is complicated in its own right.
"It refers to both the activity as a whole ('We are going to do some hypnosis') and the altered/trance state that can occur within ('I am going to put you into hypnosis')," she told the Daily Dot. "Especially within the kink community, we recognize that doing a 'hypnosis scene' does not necessarily include a trance state, and is more broadly referring to all sorts of mind-play techniques."
Meanwhile, clinical hypnosis describe the specific, medical experience of hypnosis as "an altered state of awareness, perception or consciousness that is used, by licensed and trained doctors or masters prepared individuals, for treating a psychological or physical problem," according to the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis.
Science backs up clinical hypnosis as a neurological phenomenon, too. In one study, hypnosis expert David Spiegel at the Stanford University School of Medicine observed a pre-determined "highly hypnotizable" group saw a drop in the brain's dorsal anterior cingulate activity during hypnosis, letting those focus deeply on the exercise at hand. Other parts of the brain also changed their behavior, essentially "inetensifying" the brain's connection to the clinically hypnotized party's body, Spiegel told Time magazine. The dorsolateral prefontal cortex, which is connected to self-reflection, also diminishes in activity during clinical hypnosis, explaining why hypnotized subjects may be more susceptible to suggestion.
In other words, hypnosis changes how the mind processes information and suggestions on a neurological level. It's a powerful tool, one that Spiegel thinks could be used as an alternative to addictive painkillers. He underwent self-hypnosis to recover from shoulder surgery.
"If opiates affect certain regions of the brain like the dorsal anterior cingulate and some other brain regions, there’s no reason why we can’t use a different approach to produce similar effects in the brain that are real effects that reduce pain and anxiety and help people stop smoking," Spiegel told Time. "It’s a real-deal treatment that should be given the same respect that a lot of other treatments we use that are sometimes less efficacious and more dangerous."
Sleepingirl argues hypnosis can look like many different things to many different kinds of people. Sleepingirl and fellow hypnofetish educator GleefulAbandon write in one zine that the term "hypnosis" tends to be used as a "wider umbrella than the clinical definition of hypnosis."
To the Daily Dot, Sleepingirl described the hypnosis trance state as "adjacent or connected to focus, expectation, attention, awareness, suggestibility, and rapport."
"Here’s the thing: hypnosis isn’t just one solid thing or state with one solid set of rules. Trance and brainfuckery are dynamic!" her zine notes. "Spoilers: Any line we make is subjective. Meditation, when you potentially put yourself in an altered state and change the way you focus pretty much fits under that umbrella, too."
Erotic hypnosis, Sleepingirl said, describes erotic hypnosis as "the catch-all term for using mind fuckery with intent to play within the bounds of an intimate, sexual, or fetishistic encounter."
"'Hypno kink' is the more modern term and has become more popular as the erotic hypnosis world has merged more with the general kink and BDSM communities," she said. "It can be used as a descriptor of interest ('I have a hypno kink') or as a way to talk about the activity ('Let’s do some hypno kink')."
Why do people like erotic hypnosis?
Like any other sexual interest, hypno kink has a broad appeal. Steven Strom, managing editor at Fanbyte, recently covered a hypno-coded VR game that promises to "[dissolve] your mind in a bath of ecstatic sensation." Strom told the Daily Dot that they have been interested in hypno kink from a young age and that the fetish is "actually super common and has been for a long, long time."
"I enjoy both sides of hypnosis, because on the one hand you have no choice but to enjoy yourself. On the other hand, you don't have to worry if you're good enough, pretty enough, femme or masc enough, etc. for the other person," Strom explained. "Of course, that's the case if someone cares about you or is enjoying your company anyway, but try telling your own anxious brain literally anything."
Strom compares hypno kink to "fantasy lubricant" because it lets participants play with power dynamics and desires that are "inescapable" while under hypnosis. Other hypno kinksters feel the same way. Rotten Tiamat enjoys hypno kink for many reasons; one of which is how a hypnosis trance leaves the subject "in a hyper-suggestable state," where the hypnotist can tell their submissive what they're feeling or sensing.
"Hypnosis aligns well with a lot of other kinks, especially transformation. Once you have someone in trance, it's easy to 'suggest' the sensation of their body changing—becoming larger or smaller, curvier, or growing a tail," she told the Daily Dot. "It can be used for 'mental' transformations as well—you can 'transform' someone into a puppy who forgets how to talk and can only bark, or a silly, slutty, bimbo ('bimbofication' is a really popular variety of hypnokink)."
Tiamat added that bimbofication, which is a kink where a subject transforms to become hypersexualized, is a "really popular" variety of hypno kink.
Other niche kinks intersect with the erotic hypnosis world, as well, such as forced feminization, gender transformation, and pet play. One popular hypno kink-themed fetish, dronification, involves a technological process in which subjects are turned into "brainwashed, obedient tools" part of a much larger drone hive. The kink has boomed in recent years thanks to cyberpunk kink project HexCorp, which is particularly popular among queer trans women.
"[Dronification is] centered on something that I consider a key element of my sexuality: depersonalization without degradation. The transformation into an objet d'art, the latex doll figure," one anonymous drone kinkster told the Daily Dot. "Sissy/bimbo hypnosis, I participated despite a lot of fear... even though I wasn't interested at all in the ideal scenario listed. It was simply being able to escape."
How does erotic hypnosis work?
Hypnosis can be carried out in many different ways, sleepingirl says, including in-person, online with phone or video calls, through hypnosis audio recordings, or even through instant messaging. While there are many beginner guides to learning hypnosis techniques, she warns these guides are often structured to a fault. Instead, one working model sleepingirl has come up with to a successful hypnosis session is: 1) Negotiation, 2) Suggestions and responses, and 3) Cleaning up and aftercare.
"Hypnosis functions on the responsiveness of both parties—both how the subject responds to suggestion and how the hypnotist responds to the subject. A 'trance state' is common and often a goal, but not necessary (especially the formal induction of the state to 'start things off'), and does not always take the form of a slumped over, closed-eyes subject," she told the Daily Dot. "Attention, intimacy, and quality of focus are all very 'hypnotic' and can create the kind of space where partners can have amazing experiences of all kinds and have their capability for responding to suggestions and changing cognition expanded. "
Mistress Alicia is a sex worker who specializes in hypnodominatrix sessions. Approximately 80% of her clients seek out her hypnosis services, and over the past two years, she's created a system that works best for her: Take a call with a client over Discord, ask clients to write down any personal information to reference should they experience temporary amnesia, and warn them that she's not someone who can "make long-term changes to improve their lives."
"A lot of people get the idea that hypnosis is fake, or magic, when really it's just a weird technique to mess with your brain," she told the Daily Dot. "There's also a lot of confusion around how it works due to how media tends to portray it. Hypnosis is surprisingly easy but a lot of TV shows don't actually go into much realism of how it works or how to put someone under."
Preconceived misconceptions from outsiders commonly haunt the hypno kink community. Some believe hypnosis is fundamentally dangerous. In many cases, online services have censored adult content involving erotic hypnosis. Patreon outright bans any form of consensual nonconsent in hypnosis, deeming it "sexual violence," and ManyVids forces performers to label their hypno-themed content as "mindfuck" instead. Others think hypnosis can cause people to do heinous, violent things they otherwise wouldn't want to do.
But proper erotic hypnosis sessions mirror other forms of BDSM, in that participants communicate their wants, needs, and boundaries before play. Additionally, a hypnotist cannot force their subject to do things that the subject does not want to do. Fictional pornography may play around with nonconsensual hypnosis through brainwashing, mesmerizing, or bodily possession, but these premises are nothing more than a blank canvas to explore different sexual interests in a safe, fictional setting.
"I originally got into it for work related reasons, to be able to advertise it and all, but I quickly discovered its 'power' for lack of better word," Mistress Alicia said. "It's really fun, you can create as many scenarios to experience as you and your client's minds can facilitate. Even if they can't have their perception altered it can be fun making them compelled to perform lewd tasks or just cute things like getting stuck meowing."
So don't judge hypno kink before you give it a shot. It might just put you in a trance.