Each and every person who wishes to be hypnotized can be hypnotized. It is a fallacy that only certain people can be hypnotized, or that strong minded people cannot be hypnotized. In fact, strong minded people often have some of the greatest success.
Hypnosis is considered a Rapid Change modality. It is well known for its success with everything from weight loss and smoking cessation to phobia relief and childbirth. Hypnosis is desirable particularly because of its effectiveness even after all else has failed. Thousands of studies on various hypnotic applications have been done over the years, and continue to be done regularly. Thanks to PET and fMRI technology we are able to see and document the effects of hypnosis on the brain.
Hypnosis is a natural state that people move in and out of every day; accessing it for therapeutic purposes is a learned skill. Some of us are better at it initially, but anyone can improve with a little practice. The mind does not have to be quiet or still during the hypnotic state, which often makes hypnosis preferable to meditation for some people. Hypnotherapy is a participatory process: the hypnotherapist works with you to create the most powerful session for you based on the information you provide, and the goals you desire to achieve.
A skilled hypnotherapist can help you to resolve most issues. In fact, a skilled hypnotherapist can help you to accomplish more in just a few sessions than people are often able to accomplish throughout their entire lifetimes. The ability to utilize self-hypnosis is a new tool that remains with you following your hypnotherapy; this can be beneficial in a number of areas of your life.
A few misconceptions about hypnosis include:
I could get stuck in hypnosis! This is not so. Even if the hypnotherapist were to leave the building and forget the client, the client would do only one of two things: drift into a natural sleep for a few minutes or simply open their eyes and emerge. (The client might not be very happy to have been forgotten, but that would be the worst of it!)
My secrets will be revealed! Hypnosis is not a truth serum. You are always aware of the process and in control of what is said or not said at any time during the session. (Contrary to movies and television, hypnosis is not the way to find out if your spouse is cheating on you.)
I don’t want anyone to control my mind! Hypnosis is a state of heightened awareness, a tool in which you can tap into the power of your own mind and create positive changes in your life. You are always in control. Also, the protective critical faculty of your mind ensures that your morals, values, and beliefs remain intact, and allows only positive suggestions into the subconscious.
I don’t think I can be hypnotized! What if I can’t go under? “Go under” is a poor choice of words to describe the hypnotic state. During hypnosis one is not asleep or unconscious (such as when under anesthesia) and, in fact, experiences a state of heightened awareness. Relaxation goes along nicely with hypnosis but is not a requirement. (We like to think of relaxation as a pleasant side-effect of the hypnotic process.) Hypnosis can occur when standing, sitting, and with eyes open or closed. There simply needs to be a willingness on your part to participate and by following the instructions of the hypnotherapist you will be able to benefit from hypnosis.
What if I fall asleep?! It makes no difference whether you “remain awake” or “fall asleep” during a hypnosis session. This is only the opinion of your conscious mind which really has no way to gauge the hypnotic state and therefore may “think” you have fallen asleep when you are simply benefiting from a relaxed state. You may hear every single word the hypnotherapist is saying, you may feel as though you “zoned out for a bit,” you may notice you seem to fade in and out . . . Hypnosis is different for everyone and different sometimes even from one time to another for any given person. That is the beauty of hypnosis—you cannot do anything wrong and whatever experience you have is exactly the right one for you at that moment. (Even if you were to “fall asleep” that is only your conscious mind. Your conscious mind is not needed for the hypnotic process and your subconscious mind is always paying attention.)
Will you make me cluck like a chicken? We like to respond to that question with: “Only if you think it is therapeutically necessary!” That question (or its variations of bark like a dog or quack like a duck) is often asked of us half-jokingly and it certainly works well as an ice-breaker! It is a myth that people can be made to do things against their will; you will not do something during the hypnotic state that you would not do otherwise. Hypnosis simply affords you deliberate access to the more powerful part of your mind, the subconscious mind, where you can make changes that will benefit you. You are always in control.
My mind is too sharp to be hypnotized; only weak-minded individuals can be hypnotized. This is simply not true. A sharp mind is an asset in accessing and benefiting from the state of hypnosis. Different induction methods will benefit different learning styles or information processing abilities. A skilled hypnotherapist will help you utilize your individual style and intelligence level to benefit from hypnosis.
I’m a control freak and control freaks can’t be hypnotized! Again, this is simply not true. In fact, control freaks are very successful with hypnosis because they are very good at making sure things go well in any situation. This is why a skilled hypnotherapist is essential—there are specific techniques that benefit all types of personalities; we are there to help you succeed, not to control you.
It is important to understand what hypnosis is and what it is not. This article was written to convey just that. Please feel free to call or e-mail us if you have any questions.
The abstract of a study (designed to further explain/define hypnosis) by John H. Gruzelier of the Department of Cognitive Neuroscience and Behaviour, Imperial College Medical School, London follows:
An integration between neurobiological and sociocognitive perspectives is advocated to advance and overhaul the concept of hypnosis and its humanistic applications. The thesis is presented that hypnosis is an altered state of brain functional organization involving interrelations between brain regions initiated by the intervention of the hypnotist – that is, an atypical alteration of brain systems through an interpersonal and cultural context. Experimental evidence shows that the hypnotic process produces a brain state that is different from everyday neurophysiology, as shown by evidence of differential effects of attention and relaxation, and by evidence of cognitive and neurophysiological dissociation, which are central features of hypnosis. The hypnotic induction has a neurophysiological logic involving a temporal process that becomes conditioned to facilitate future induction and self-hypnosis. Our integrative perspective of brain systems in a social context includes a neuropsychological translation of the hypnotic induction and draws out the implications of orbital-frontal suppression for subjects being oblivious to embarrassment and being able to endure stage hypnosis. Wasteful pursuits in the field of hypnosis include the search for a single marker, premature closure of neurophysiological investigation, attributions and inferences such as ‘suggestion’ and goal-directed striving without validation and without consideration of process and mechanism, and the use of dichotomies such as ‘waking’ versus ‘sleeping’. Recommendations include considerations of multidimensionality regarding trance and levels of susceptibility; the modifiability of susceptibility; formal assessment of social conceptions about hypnosis; concurrent validation of susceptibility during experimental procedures; consideration of both objective and subjective measures of susceptibility together with cross-checking for inconsistencies; the feasibility of control conditions; assessment of processes underpinning suggestibility; distinguishing the social impact of experimental, clinical and stage hypnosis; and assessment of after-effects.