Many people get their ideas about hypnosis from television, books, movies, or even comic books. Though using hypnosis as a plot device might be entertaining and make for good stories, they are often inaccurate. Here are a few of the more common hypnosis myths & misconceptions.
A person under hypnosis is asleep or unconscious.
The most common hypnosis myth is that the subject is asleep. In reality, subjects do not loose their sense of awareness or fall asleep. Actually, many subjects report feeling either more awake or thoroughly relaxed. In fact, research shows that hypnosis is characterized by increased or heightened attention. It is this concentration that increases your receptivity to suggestion.
This problem comes from the use of the word sleep. However, that appears to be the most effective term we have to use. James Braid termed another word after coining hypnosis for what we do. He thought it would be better named monoideism. The idea that the state of hypnosis is a concentrated focus on one (mono) idea (ideism). Despite the idea that hypnosis feels a certain way, the experience is different for everyone. Most likley you will feel a deep calm or relaxed feeling. Some people are concerned the first time that they didn’t even go into trance. Only to later realize how much change occurred with only one session.
No One Remember What Happens to Them In Trance.
Truth is that like I stated above, you will be aware of everything while hypnotized and after unless otherwise specified. In some instances, depending on the symptoms being treated Amnesia may be suggested. However, any hypnotist worth their salt would have a conversation with you about it and should they not, that is ethically questionable in the very least. In my sessions I often use a technique called the golden box in which I will leave it up to the individuals through my wording as to whether or not they choose to remember what I say directly to their unconscious mind. Because I believe that it is important that the client make that choice, not me.
Ultimately, however, you are unlikely to forget anything that you do not already wish to forget. That is not how hypnosis works. A suggestion will not take if it is not one that you are not okay with enacting. This is why a hypnotist selects those on stage thew want the individuals most willing to comply with their requests and wacky suggestions. While those people are highly suggestible the same is true of those who are less suggestible. If you would generally be unwilling to comply with the given request, amnesia or otherwise, you won’t.
You Can Be Hypnotized Against Your Will/A Hypnotized Person Cannot Resist Suggestions.
A stage hypnotist creates the illusion of mystical powers over other people. However, there is no special power that a hypnotist holds over anyone. The hypnotist and the subject work together in cooperation to make the process work. The only control they have is the control you allow them. It does not require much cooperation to allow someone to guide you into a relaxed state and then suggest thoughts and imagery to guide you through your personal struggles. Throughout the process you can choose to stop the process.
We see this on occasion when a client struggles with a strong emotion they cannot handle. They pull themselves out of trance. We allow them a moment to process the feelings and then ask them if they wish to continue. Rarely is the answer no.
You Are Under My Control In Trance
I feel that we have covered this mostly above. Just as in any other situation you remain capable of making normal decisions at all times under hypnosis. In fact, during the interventions the hypnotist will often ask you to come up with alternative behaviors or to address questions that may arise during the process. Again, you cannot be made to do anything you would find objectionable under normal circumstances.
Some People Cannot Be Hypnotized
Let me dispel this from the get go. Everyone can be hypnotized. Some people are more difficult to get into trance. There are many reasons this may be. However, if you are comfortable with the process, your hypnotist, and know what to expect, its surprisingly easy.
- Not unconsciously allow yourself to go into trance.
- Your hypnotist may not have developed enough rapport (or trust).
- Fear loss of control causing resistance.
- Among other reasons.
In fact, trance is a normal state we enter at least twice a day. We enter a similar state when we daydream, get engrossed in a good book or show, or when you find yourself acting automatically. Such as when you are driving in a car only to find you have arrived without noticing the drive. We enter this state on accident all the time when we get engrossed in an activity or conversation where the time seems to fly. A hypnotist just helps you enter this state purposefully and then leverages that state to help you make changes.
Ultimately, everyone can go into trance. But just like any other skill you may require practice to get good at being suggestible. We are unsure what characteristics create suggestibility, but I have a strong suspicion that a good deal of it is trust in yourself, in your hypnotist, and an understanding that we are only a guide to your personal journey. You are always in control.
Only Weak Willed Or Gullible People can Be Hypnotized
Suggestibility has nothing to do with gullibility or weak-mindedness. In fact, the opposite appear to be true according to the research. Data indicates that people of above average and able to concentrate usually make the best subjects. My own personal experience corroborates this concept.
Deep Relaxation Is Required For Hypnosis
Your level of relaxation does not necessarily impact the effectiveness of suggestions. Often the inductions I use in session do not even rely on physical relaxation for inducing trance only deepening it, if necessary to reach a therapeutic “depth”. Many people who come in concerned about their ability to relax are pleasantly surprised to discover their own capabilities after a single session.
Hypnosis is Like Truth Serum
Hypnosis will not cause you to lose control or reveal personal information unless you wish to. During my own sessions with clients I make a point of only knowing what I need to know to complete the session. In many instances I do not need to even know what your personal experience is within trance. So long as you follow the directions and let me know when you’ve completed each activity, I have no need to ask for much information beyond what is required to determine the appropriate interventions.
Hypnosis Can Be Used To Enhance Memory
This is a tricky question. It is both true and false. Hypnosis can be effective for capturing lost memories, but you are still capable of lying under hypnosis. Using Hypnosis for memories is tricky and you should always be sure your hypnotist is certified and capable of doing the job. In the past there have been issues with untrained hypnotist causing false memories due to poor wording or misuse of the interventions related to this subject.
A Person can Get Stuck In Trance
This is not possible. No one has ever been stuck in a hypnotic state. I can personally attest to this. If you are left in trance eventually your conscious mind will take back over and wake you up. Remember, this is a state we enter and exit at least twice a day. Naturally. There are no known dangers with hypnosis when working with a normal client. This is also why we ask you questions about your mental and physical health during the pre-session paperwork.
#5 – Hypnosis can be bad for your health Wrong! It is quite the opposite. My guess would be that all medical practitioners would agree on the health benefits of deep relaxation. Relaxation helps to bring about a homeostatic balance – a balance within the system, of mind, body and soul, emotionally and physically. The problem is that a lot of doctors say to people “you need to learn to relax”, but they never really give them the tools for knowing “how to relax.” As far as I am concerned, self hypnosis can never be bad for your health. Hypnosis is a naturally occurring state, so if you want to feel in balance within yourself and the world around you, it is the best state to be in.
Hypnosis Is Bad For Your Health
Wrong! I would say it is the opposite. My guess would be that all medical practitioners would agree that relaxation is good for your health. As is stress reduction and reduction of any other symptoms you may be facing. Relaxation brings our mind and body into homeostatic balance. Emotionally and physically.
A lot of doctors tell their patients they need to learn to relax. Very few give them any tools on how to do so. As far as I am concerned, relaxation, hypnosis, or even self hypnosis is extremely unlikely to cause you any health problems. I would argue that the opposite is true. That hypnosis is one of the best ways to find balance within yourself and with the world around you.
You Will Become Dependent On Your Hypnotist
In all honesty this one depends on your hypnotist. If you have an ethically acting hypnotist you will be fine. Otherwise, if you should find yourself with an unethical hypnotist, run away. Be sure when choosing your hypnotist that you check out their credentials. Have a talk with them about any concerns you have. Make sure that they feel like the right person for you to work with.
If a hypnotist asked you to do anything you were uncomfortable with you would say no or pull yourself out of trance spontaneously. Our goal is to work with our clients in the most ethical manner possible. We would never do anything that does not empower you.
Hypnosis Is The Devil’s Work
I have never personally encountered this myth but apparently is has been said. Not only does this demonstrate an ignorance of the subject, but there is a lot of irony in this as well. The action of prayer could easily be described as a hypnotic state as it is a naturally occurring, beneficial, positive state, where no one can be made to do anything do not wish to do.
For the theologically minded there is more on this in this Christian article.
A Quick Word On Stage Hypnotism
After reading this you may wonder what a stage hypnotist does. Or maybe that they do something different. After all, everyone has seen those people on the stage who seem to have no clue what they are doing right? Well…wrong, actually. The stage hypnotist relies on a mix of showmanship, audience belief, and an expectation set before the show by advertisements and the hypnotist themselves. Plus, there is the fact that the participants want to be in the show. They know what is expected of them and are whittled down until only the most extreme cases of suggestibility are left.