The way stage hypnosis is presented along with the use of hypnosis for entertainment in the movies and on television have contributed to a misunderstanding of the facts about hypnosis and hypnotherapy. In order for hypnotherapy to be successful, it is important that there is a level of trust between the client and the therapist, as well as an understanding of what hypnosis is and what it isn’t. I’d like to provide you with information to help you understand the true nature of hypnosis, while also laying to rest many of the common myths, mysteries and misconceptions about hypnosis.
When in a hypnotic state, the person is asleep or unconscious.
This is one of the most common misconceptions about hypnosis. Actually the complete opposite is true. A person will never lose their full sense of awareness while in hypnosis. That said if the client is tired, they may fall asleep during the hypnosis session, since one of the characteristics of hypnosis is a deep state of relaxation. All the different levels of hypnosis are characterized by an increase of attention, a sense of heightened concentration which tends to create an increase in the receptivity to suggestion.
James Braid, coined the term “hypnosis” after the Greek word “hypnos” which means sleep. Later he attempted to change that to “monoideism” to express the idea that hypnosis as a state of concentrated focus on one idea, but the term “hypnosis” was already establish to the point that he was unable to change the name.
Although we may speak of the feeling of hypnosis, it’s important to understand that everyone experiences hypnosis in their own way, it is different for everyone. With that in mind, it is common for most people to enjoy a feeling of deep calmness and relaxation.
You will not remember anything that happens during your hypnosis experience.
Again, this is another common misconception and another one that is important to understand in order to have a successful hypnosis session. I make sure to explain this to my clients in my Hypnosis Office in Dallas, Texas. The client will be aware of everything while hypnotized and afterward, unless amnesia is suggested for a therapeutic purpose. It is possible for some to experience a dreamy feeling, or feel as though they may be drifting between a state of sleep and being awake during the hypnosis session. It is normal for the mind to move to other thoughts as the hypnotist speaks, though it tends to return to focus on the breath or the sound of the hypnotist’s voice. After hypnosis some people find they have a fading memory of their session, much like emerging from a deep daydream or waking up at the end of a dream.
People can be hypnotized against their will. Once the have been hypnotized they are no longer able to resist hypnosis.
Well, some people enjoy hypnosis so much, especially the deep relaxation associate with the state, that they are excited about the possibility of experiencing hypnosis again. However that does not mean that they cannot resist hypnosis. Professional stage hypnotists are very good at creating the illusion that they have a mysterious, almost magical power over other their hypnosis subjects. The fact is there is no control at all.
Since entering into hypnosis requires consent and cooperation by the client, it is impossible to hypnotize someone against their will. Anytime I am challenged by someone who states that I could never hypnotize them, I admit that they are correct. All hypnosis is self hypnosis, I act more as a guide to help my client enter into the hypnotic state. Control remains with the client, they are always in complete control. At any time the client is perfectly capable of getting up and walking out of the room. I never expect that to happen or do anything that would encourage this behavior, but it is possible to end the state of physical relaxation and mental concentration at any time. That said most people realize that to do so they would have to let go of the extreme state of relaxation they are experiencing and decide to stay where they are.
When entering into the hypnotic state, the client surrenders their will, and can be made to do things they would not normally do.
At all times, the client is capable of making normal decisions during the hypnosis experience. People will not do anything that goes against their morals or values while in hypnosis. Consider how you would react in a conscious waking state if someone were to ask you to go rob and bank and give them the money. Unless you are a bank robber, you would never go rob a bank because someone asked you to do so. By the same token, if someone were to hypnotize you and provide suggestions that you go rob a bank and give them all the money, you would not do so. If they were in my office, even in a deep state of hypnosis, this suggestion would likely prompt the client to open their eyes, get up and walk out of the office. Now for part 3 of the bank robbing story. What if I had a bank robber in hypnosis and I provided the same suggestions, go rob the bank and give me all the money. Well, think about that one for a moment. The bank robber would not have a problem robbing the bank, that’s what they do. However, the suggestion to just give me all the money would not be accepted and like the other client, they would likely open their eyes, get up and walk out of the office.
Some people cannot be hypnotized
When people say they do not think they can be hypnotized, I tell them there is only one requirement to be able to go into hypnosis. So I ask them, “do you want to be hypnotized?”. When they say yes, I let them know that is the only requirement to be successful with entering into a state of hypnosis. The fact is that it’s not a matter of whether a person can be hypnotized or not. The real question is will they allow themselves to be guided into hypnosis. The majority of people go into hypnosis quite easily once they understand that they will remain conscious and will not surrender their will.
When a person has trouble going into hypnosis, it is usually because the hypnotist failed to explain the misconceptions about hypnosis and did not visit with them long enough before the session to create rapport and a sense of trust between the client and the hypnotist. The main reason a person may be unable to enter into hypnosis is the fear of loss of control, which is merely a myth. This is the primary reason that some people will not allow themselves to be hypnotized. When a person is comfortable with the hypnotic process and the hypnotist, understands the misconceptions about hypnosis and is aware of what to expect, it’s surprisingly easy to enter into the hypnotic state.
The truth is that anyone who is breathing has the ability to be hypnotized, since hypnosis is a natural, normal state that each of us passes through at least twice each day as we wake up and fall asleep. Daydreaming, meditation, highway hypnosis (driving on automatic pilot and arriving at our destination without recalling the entire journey), watching movie or reading a book are all times when people experience the hypnotic trance state. A hypnotist is able to help you enter this receptive state, and then can impress suggestions and imagery into your subconscious mind in order to facilitate the desired changes that brought you to their office.
Although some people seem to be able to achieve extremely deep states of hypnosis, the truth is that everyone can be hypnotized to an appropriate trance depth to allow them to accomplish their therapeutic goals. Experiencing hypnosis multiple times can help the client to learn to go into a deeper state of hypnosis each time, but this does not necessarily make you more suggestible.
Only weak-minded and gullible people can be hypnotized.
Being a very suggestible person is not related to gullibility, weak-mindedness, or submissiveness. On the contrary, studies suggest that people with above average intelligence who are able to concentrate, are creative and possess a vivid imagination make some of the best subjects. Suggestibility is the capacity for impressions to imprint themselves upon the subconscious mind, and can be accomplished by anyone that has a desire to accomplish their own individual goals.
Deep relaxation is required to be in a state of hypnosis.
Deep relaxation is a typical characteristic of hypnosis, and by following the suggestions and guidance of a hypnotist, most people are able to achieve some level of relaxation. However this is not a requirement, it is merely something that many clients do experience. The level of physical relaxation is not related to the effectiveness of suggestions provided during the session. There are a variety of hypnotic techniques that don’t even require physical relaxation to be successful. Most of my clients who were concerned about their ability to physically relax during their hypnosis session have been pleasantly surprised by their ability to relax and let go.
Hypnosis is a truth serum and the client might reveal their deep, dark secrets.
Since you are in control you can decide what you say and what you do not say while in hypnosis and you will never reveal personal secrets while in the hypnosis state, unless you want to do so. I thought this was the case before I learned hypnosis. My father was a hypnotist and when I got old enough to do things that he might not like, I would not allow him to hypnotize me. I thought he might ask me what I was doing when I went out at night. I didn’t realize I would not have to tell him if I didn’t want to do so.
What if I get stuck and cannot come back out of hypnosis?
This is impossible. No one has ever been stuck in a hypnotic trance, except in the movies. Hypnosis is a natural state and there is no danger involved with hypnosis, including the possibility of being stuck in hypnosis. That said, sometimes when I am working with a client in my Dallas Hypnosis office and I am ready to emerge them from the hypnotic state, and I count from one to five and ask them to open their eyes, they remain closed. Does this mean they are stuck? No, it means they either fell asleep and IO did not notice or they are exercising control and have decided that they are not ready to come back yet. It is not uncommon for me to do this when someone else hypnotizes me. I use self hypnosis quite often, and when someone else is driving, I am usually not ready to come back when they ask me to open my eyes. I am merely exercising control, and decide to remain in a trance state a little longer.
Hypnosis is contrary to religion and religious beliefs
The only major religious groups objecting to hypnosis are the Christian Scientists and the Seventh-Day Adventists. The fact is that Christian Science actually uses hypnotic techniques, so perhaps they object to hypnosis to hide this fact. Most if not all of the religious objections are based on the outdated view of hypnosis that it deprives humans of freedom of the will and freedom of choice. This is left over from a time when people were still in their early stages of understanding hypnosis and hypnotic phenomena. The fact is that hypnosis does not involve surrender of the will in any way.