The information on this page is designed to address the 14 most common "MYTHS" surrounding hypnosis and the "hypnotic state". It is important to understand that the "Facts" about hypnosis and the hypnotic state are given as a "general rule of thumb". As with most things there are some exceptions to the rules which I will point out as we go along.
The information on this page is designed to address the 14 most common "MYTHS" surrounding hypnosis and the "hypnotic state". It is important to understand that the "Facts" about hypnosis and the hypnotic state are given as a "general rule of thumb". As with most things there are some exceptions to the rules which I will point out as we go along. Examples are also given, where appropriate, to clarify a point. Click on the "Myth" below to find the real facts.
Fact: Hypnosis is a naturally occurring mental and physiological process which happens periodically and spontaneously throughout the day, for virtually all of us, all by itself. So, it is often said that "All hypnosis is really self-hypnosis". The two most recognizable waking hypnotic states are commonly known as, "Day dreaming" and "Highway hypnosis". "The fact is that we've all experienced trance states in everyday lifeâ€"whether daydreaming, watching a movie, driving home on autopilot, or practicing meditation or other relaxation techniques." What distinguishes hypnotherapy is that it involves a deliberate choice to enter this state of consciousness for a goal beyond relaxation: to focus your concentration and use suggestion to promote healing." (Dr. Andrew Weil)
"People who are hypnotized for the first time are frequently disappointed to find that they experience nothing overwhelming. They feel mildly relaxed but they remain in touch with reality and in control of their thoughts." (Psychology Today)
Example #1: Remember back to your school days... It is a beautiful spring day. You are stuck in a classroom possibly gazing out of a window. Your teacher drones on and on. Suddenly, you find that the classroom, your teacher and all of your classmates have disappeared. Mentally you are no longer in that classroom. You are outside doing something wonderful and fun. At some point in time you come back to reality only to realize that you were "a million miles away". You were not asleep or unconscious, indeed, you were very much awake. What you have just experienced is a "daydream state" which is actually a hypnotic state.
Example #2: Thinking back now, you may recall a time when you were driving along on a route you regularly take to and from work. Suddenly you realize that you do not remember passing certain land marks or you missed your turn or you arrived at your destination and do not remember getting there. You have just experienced "highway hypnosis". This is a widely experienced hypnotic state.
Example #3: You are totally absorbed in reading a very good book. Your husband, wife or children call your name several times and you do not hear them even though they are quite close by. They walk up to you and ask you "Are you deaf? I've called you 10 times!" In this case your conscious mind has been so focused on what you are reading that you have slipped into a hypnotic state and may have actually found yourself "in the book" so to speak.
Fact: People experiencing a hypnotic state are not asleep nor are they unconscious, in a coma or just floating around somewhere "out there" in the ozone. A hypnotized person is fully awake and aware of what is going on around them and they are supposed to be! With few exceptions, the subconscious mind does not hear suggestions that are given to it while in the sleep state. Therefore a hypnotherapist may as well "talk to a wall" for all the good it does to talk to a sleeping person.
Exceptions: Light sleepers and mothers and fathers with young children. These people often do not go into deep stages of sleep so their minds can hear and absorb what is being said to them.
Fact: As explained above, you are not asleep or unconscious while in a hypnotic state. Therefore your conscious mind is awake and aware and able to monitor its surroundings and what is being said to it. If something is "suggested" to you while in a hypnotic state that you do not like or which goes against your moral and spiritual character then one of two things will happen. Your mind will either dismiss the suggestion the hypnotherapist has given you or you will open your eyes and come out of the trance. Remember, "All hypnosis is self-hypnosis" and you are fully awake and aware while in a hypnotic trance. To put it simply a person has to want what is being suggested to them or the suggestions fall on "fallow ground" or perhaps "fallow mind" would be a better way of putting it. "Parlor tricks and stage shows aside, a clinical hypnotherapist will not make you quack like a duck or sing like Elvis. The person in a hypnotic trance is always in control, just as someone who is daydreaming can decide to go on or stop at any time. While the practitioner serves as a teacher or guide, the only person who can hypnotize you is you, since trance is a latent potential of your own mind. Therefore, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis." (Dr. Andrew Weil)
"Contrary to what most people believe, a person under hypnosis need not fall asleep, or lose contact with his surroundings or relinquish his will." (Psychology Today)
Example #1: You decide to go to a hypnotherapist to quit smoking. You tell him or her that you really enjoy smoking but the doctor is adamant that you quit. Your spouse and children are also nagging you to give up the habit and besides, it has become very expensive and you know you will not be so short of breath if you stop smoking. Bottom line, all of the wonderfully positive reasons to quit smoking as just mentioned are moot because you do not really want to quit smoking. You still enjoy smoking therefore a successful hypnotic session for smoking cessation is unlikely. In a nutshell, you have to want the desired result or your mind will reject the suggestions no matter how important it is to your welfare. "Basically speaking, if part of you wants the desired result and part of you doesn't, the strongest part is going to win." (Janet Decker, C.Ht.)
Example #2: You go to a hypnotherapist because you are having trouble sleeping. The hypnotherapist puts you into trance but instead of giving you suggestions to help you sleep better the hypnotherapist hands you a gun. He or she proceeds to tell you to go down to the corner and rob the local convenience store and bring the money back to him or her. Now keep in mind that this is an extremely unlikely scenario however, I give it to make a point. If you are of the moral character to do such a thing then perhaps that suggestion will work, with one exception, you are likely to keep the money for yourself J Case in point: If hypnotherapists had the power to make people do things against their will... we could start empting the prisons!
Fact: Just as in the previous myth, a hypnotherapist cannot make you do or say anything that is against your nature. You will not tell a hypnotherapist anything you don't really want them to know. And yes, it is possible to lie while hypnotized. Remember, you know what you are doing when you are hypnotized. You also know what you are saying. Actually, if you are given to telling untruths you may find you are even better at it while in a hypnotic state. The hypnotic state allows you to better access your "creative genius" thereby enabling you to fabricate and/or embellish any story more fully and colorfully than when in a waking state.
Fact: Quite the opposite. Most mentally challenged individuals cannot be hypnotized, while those people with IQ's registering normal and above can be. In order to enter the hypnotic state a person must be able to hold their focus or attention on something, be it an object such as a crystal pendulum (and yes, even a swinging watch J), or someone's voice, a good book or a movie for a given amount of time in order to slip into the hypnotic state. Typically the mentally challenged individual's attention span is far too short to allow them to hold their focus long enough to enter the hypnotic state.
So, other than the mentally challenged who cannot be hypnotized?
Also, Some medications can interfere with inducing a trance state.
And, Some medical conditions can interfere with inducing a trance state.
Several reasons why people may unconsciously resist being hypnotized are:
Remember, if you ever daydream, get lost in a good book, or have experienced highway hypnosis, then you know you can be hypnotized.
Fact: The opposite is again true. When one utilizes the hypnotic state for self-improvement and/or healing they actually gain control over virtually every aspect of their being. Besides, I reiterate, hypnosis is a totally natural mental and physiological phenomena which happens spontaneously to most everyone on a regular, and usually daily, basis.
Fact: If hypnosis were dangerous most of us would be doomed to the possibility of death or injury almost daily. Remember, a daydream is a hypnotic state as is highway hypnosis.
Fact: Nothing could be further from the truth. Even if the hypnotherapist were to put you into trance and leave the room you would eventually open your eyes and wonder where he or she has gone. Or you would fall asleep, have a nice nap and awaken normally. To never emerge from a hypnotic state is as impossible as never emerging from a daydream. The honest truth is that being hypnotized feels wonderful. So wonderful in fact that you may not want to emerge from it but alas, this is not to be.
Fact: The desired goal must be within the person's physical, mental, spiritual and emotional capabilities.
Example: It is ridicules to think that you could make a 5'5" fully grown adult grow 5 more inches to become a 5'10" adult. Nor is it likely that you could make him or her jump 10 feet high, give them x-ray vision or enable them to breathe under water.
Fact: All hypnotherapists should be knowledgeable about their chosen profession. They should have a reasonable amount of training (no less than 200 hours just for the basics) and have obtained a certain level of expertise in the art/science of hypnosis and suggestion. They should sport a neat, professional appearance. Their manor should be pleasant, kind, caring and compassionate. They should show sincere interest in their clients and desire the best for them. It is not necessary for the hypnotherapist to be anything other than this. Nor in my opinion, should they be less.
Fact: A hypnotherapist cannot guarantee the outcome of a hypnosis session anymore than a doctor can guarantee the outcome of a surgery or his or her ability to make you well should you become ill. Remember, hypnosis is not brain washing or mind control. The hypnotherapist has no power over you what so ever. The hypnotherapist only has the power, with your permission and cooperation, to guide you into trance and give you the necessary suggestions to achieve the result you desire. Your mind will either accept the suggestions or it will not. If the suggestions the hypnotherapist has given you are sensible, logical, reasonable, and within your ability to achieve and if your mind both likes and accepts the suggestions, then it is reasonable to assume a favorable outcome is in order.
It then becomes your responsibility to:
A) Follow the guidance of your subconscious mind.
Example: One of the suggestions the hypnotherapist gives you during a weight loss session is, "You have totally lost all taste for chocolate". After the session is over it is best if you do not deliberately eat chocolate just to see what happens. Doing this confuses the subconscious mind and the newly given suggestion succumbs to old programming.
B) Do the follow up work and reinforcement as outlined by the hypnotherapist in order to make the changes **permanent.
Although a hypnotherapist cannot guarantee the outcome of your hypnosis session, he or she should be able to guarantee their best effort on your behalf. Beyond that there can be no guarantees.
** Permanent results are not always possible although this is the goal.
Fact: On the contrary. You are likely to remember quite a bit of it. Perhaps you will not remember every word that was spoken but you will remember a lot, especially the first time or two that you are hypnotized. Remember, you do not completely lose touch with reality and you are fully aware of what is being said and done while in a hypnotic trance.
Exception #1: Once you have become completely comfortable with the hypnotherapist you are more likely to really "let go" and allow yourself to relax into a deeper state of hypnosis. This deeper state of hypnosis is sometimes defined as the "amnesia state". People who reach this deeper state of hypnosis often do not remember much of what went on during the session.
Exception #2: There is a small percentage of the population who easily reach the "amnesia state" of hypnosis from the very first time they are hypnotized. It is not uncommon for people who sleepwalk to go into these deep states of hypnosis with ease and if told they will not remember anything when they wake up they indeed do not remember anything when they wake up. Even still, in both exception's 1 and 2, your subconscious mind must agree with what is being suggested to you or it is highly unlikely that it will accept the suggestion. "People who are hypnotized for the first time are frequently disappointed to find that they experience nothing overwhelming. They feel mildly relaxed but they remain in touch with reality and in control of their thoughts. They may discover that the hypnotist's suggestions are quite resistible. Contrary to what most people believe, a person under hypnosis need not fall asleep, or lose contact with his surroundings or relinquish his will. He is often able to recall everything that happened during trance and will act perfectly normally." (Psychology Today)
Fact: It is not uncommon for one to see great improvement in only one hypnotic session and sometimes a problem is completely corrected or "cured" with only one session however, this is not something that can be predicted nor can we ever be sure the success a person has achieved will be **permanent. It has been my experience that all too often things which seem "cured" in one session end up returning and often become more stubborn. In my opinion the true key to a permanent result is reinforcement. ** Permanent results are not always possible although that is the goal.
Example: A client comes to see me with the desire to stop eating chocolate. After spending some time getting the history and details of his/her problem with eating chocolate we begin the hypnotic session. I make a tape of the session which I then give to my client along with instructions to listen to it everyday, if possible, for a week to 10 days. I then see the individual for a follow up session 7 to 10 days after our first visit. We discuss what result the client has experienced, if any. If there was very little change or no change in their desire to eat chocolate then I change tactics and do something different than I did in the first session. (All good hypnotherapists have several different methods or techniques that they can use for stubborn issues/problems in their repertoire' of healing skills) If he or she tells me they have totally lost all their taste for chocolate and couldn't care less if they ever see chocolate again let alone eat it, then this is an excellent result! I then proceed to hypnotize the person again and "anchor" this excellent result with the intention of making the result **permanent. A tape is made of our 2nd session and given to the client. I have them listen to the tape at home everyday, flipping back and forth between the two tapes, for another 10 days to 2 weeks. I ask the client to call me at the end of the 10 day to 2 week period (sooner if the problem has returned, in which case they will need to come in to see me immediately) and let me know how they are doing. If they are doing well they do not need to return again for that particular problem. I do however encourage the client to continue listening to the tapes I made for them 1 to 3 times a week for several more weeks. This may sound like overkill however it is my belief that you cannot hear these suggestions for "change" too often but you can hear them to little. Especially with a problem that has been around for years and years.
Should you have a remarkable healing or self-improvement change in just one session this is terrific, just be sure to both reinforce and anchor the changes. Remember, a successful result may only be temporary and it can't hurt to do one or two follow up sessions to make sure the successful result you have achieved is **permanent.
** Permanent results are not always possible although that is the goal.
Fact: If this were true it would indeed be wonderful! Unfortunately, in my experience, it is far too easy to overwhelm the subconscious mind with too many suggestions/instructions. If you overwhelm the subconscious mind with too many instructions basically it shuts down and nothing happens. Perhaps it is easiest to think of the subconscious mind as having the same ability to follow directions as the mind of a 4 year old.
Example: If you were to tell a 4 year old to; let the dog in and put the cat out, drink their juice, put their cup in the sink, throw the paper napkin in the trash, bring you the telephone book, pick up the toys in their room and tell their older brother or sister that dinner is ready, all in one breath, obviously the child would become overwhelmed and at best 1 or maybe 2 of those instructions would actually be accomplished. The subconscious mind tends to be like that of a 4 year old child. It can be easily overwhelmed by too many directions/suggestions. And so it is best to work on 1, or at most 2, problems at a time and only if they tend to be interconnected.
Example: A person comes to my office because they are not sleeping well. He or she proceeds to tell me that while they are here they would also like to improve their memory and their golf game and they want to stop smoking, lose weight and exercise on a regular basis. The first step is to prioritize the list of things they wish to accomplish because this is far too many things to work on all at the same time. (Remember the example of the 4 year old child I gave earlier) The client tells me they really want, and need to sleep better. This of course should be a priority. Lack of good sleep on a regular basis definitely makes life very hard. So we make this the focus of our fist hypnosis session. In talking further to the client I discover that he or she has yet another problem not previously mentioned. They tell me they are having great difficultly at work and that the stress of it is tremendous. I also discover that the onset of their sleep disturbances were simultaneous with the problems that had erupted on the job. Now, in looking at this we can see that the primary problem is not sleep at all but rather the primary problem is stress. Since these two areas are connected they can be worked on together with the focus being on staying calm, relaxed and mentally clear so as to make good, sound, sensible decisions regarding work. And as a result of being calm, relaxed and mentally clear he or she will now sleep much more deeply, soundly and restfully which in turn will allow them to be more calm, relaxed and mentally clear all day long. Once this problem has been sufficiently dealt with and the client feels calm and in control and is sleeping better then he or she can move on to the other areas in their life they wish to improve.
If you truly want what it is you have come to the hypnotherapist for...If you are comfortable with your hypnotherapist...If you are mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically comfortable in the atmosphere of the hypnotherapist office... If you can allow yourself to relax deeply into trance...If you do not fall asleep... If the suggestions given are properly worded and within your capabilities... If your mind accepts the suggestions given and... If you do the follow up work and reinforcement necessary to achieve the changes you are looking for... then all the elements necessary for your mind to accept the suggestions given are in place and it is likely you will achieve your desired result. Also, with all the necessary elements in place the result you desire can be much more easily obtained.
This may seem like a long list of "IF'S" but honestly it isn't. Most hypnotherapy sessions flow along quite wonderfully. The key is not trying to make hypnosis happen but rather just allowing hypnosis to happen. Hypnosis is very safe, soothing, relaxing, enjoyable and most all, natural.