Media and popular entertainment have given rise to many myths over the years. Let’s face it, fiction is usually much more fun and interesting than fact. However this has also led to may fears and misconceptions and it’s important to be aware of the truth in order to relax with and benefit from hypnotherapy.
Fiction: Using hypnosis you can be forced to do things you don’t want to
Fact: The hypnotherapist is only a guide. It is only the client that can choose to follow or rather take themselves into the trance state. A hypnotist cannot force you to do anything against your will. During the session, clients are generally aware of everything that takes place. Suggestions which go against what you want or are comfortable with, will simply snap you out of trance.
Certainly you can be hypnotised to do things you wouldn’t normally do. That’s sort of the point, whether it’s speaking to a large audience with confidence or taking up an extreme sport, or saying no to a cigarette. However none of these can happen against the client’s will.
At Stanfordin 1977, Hilgard identified the principle of “The Hidden Observer” indicating there is part of the client which continues to observe the hypnotic process and will safe guard them from any behaviour or suggestion that goes against their moral or ethical code.
Fiction: Stage hypnosis demonstrates a typical response to hypnosis
Fact: Stage hypnosis creates a misleading impression of what hypnosis can do. A good performing stage hypnotist can create the impression that they can instantly make anyone do or perform in any way (even against their will) no matter how foolish.
However what is not usually obvious is that the participants are very carefully selected and only a few from a large audience are appropriate. The hypnotist uses skill and experience to identify ideal candidates who are not only highly responsive to hypnosis but more importantly are extrovert and eager to play up in front of an audience. Their trance state may be very real but the point is they are naturally confortable with the acts they perform and more than willing.
Fiction: Only weak minded or stupid people can be hypnotised
Fact: The reverse appears to be true. Studies have indicated that more intelligent and creative people are better able to concentrate and generate vivid visualisation which contribute to the effectiveness of hypnosis.
Fiction: I will forget everything the hypnotist says
Fact: We all experience hypnosis differently at different times ... for many it’s a state of intense focus particularly on the words of the hypnotherapist, for others it’s like day dreaming as attention wonders from thought to thought, as we drift in and out of awareness ... sometimes paying little attention to what’s said on a conscious level. Some people experience hypnosis in different ways at different times. Because it’s the subconscious mind which hypnosis affects, it all works perfectly well whether or not specific words or suggestions are remembered.
Fiction: Under hypnosis you will reveal personal secrets even if you don’t want to and you won’t be able to lie
Fact: It’s as easy to lie or hold back truth in hypnosis as it is when fully conscious. You are in complete control what you share and what you hold back.
Fiction: It’s possible to get stuck in trance
Fact: This has never happened to anyone. Even if the hypnotist were to leave the client in trance, they return to full alertness by themselves just as they wake up every day. Depending on someone’s need for rest, they may drift on into sleep or simply wake within minutes.
Fiction: Hypnosis is the same as sleep or being unconscious
Fact: While it’s possible to drift into sleep from hypnosis, the 2 states are very different. Hypnosis may be a relaxed state however one is generally alert to external stimuli, or at least the subconscious mind is, even if the conscious mind is drifting in an out of present awareness. It is, however, possible to induce an anaesthetic level of unconsciousness for medical purposes where appropriate.