In order to dispel some of the misconceptions surrounding hypnosis, here is a run down of the top ten popular myths surrounding hypnosis.
1) A hypnotist might turn you into a chicken or pull some other embarrassing tricks on you.
A clinical hypnotherapist would not do this. This is confusing a stage hypnotist with a therapeutic or clinical hypnotherapist. A stage hypnotist will do this because that is what is expected of them. You agree to this by stepping on stage and joining the show. However you will easily return to your normal state at the end. In a clinical setting you only agree to the therapeutic goals for the session, so that is all that will occur.
The majority of clinical hypnotherpists (me included) would not know how to do these tricks even if they wanted to do them. Stage and clinical hypnosis are two very different disciplines.
2) You must be weak minded if you can be hypnotised
A hypnotherapist simply guides or helps a person into trance. He does not ‘make’ them go into a trance. A hypnotic trance is a normal and natural mental state that most of us slip into several times a day. It occurs when you are daydreaming, or so totally absorbed in a book or film that you forget what is happening around you.
It is actually a skill to go into a deeply relaxed trance when you want to. The hypnotherpist helps you, but ultimately it is how you use your mind that determines how deep into a trance you go.
People often find that the more experience they have of going into a trance, the easier and deeper they go. So ‘being hypnotised’ is actually a skill on the part of the subject, that can be improved over time.
3) You are asleep when in a hypnotic trance
Many years ago hypnotherapists did use suggestions of ‘sleep’ when guiding someone into a hypnotic trance. However this is rarely done now as most hypnotherapists agree that this can confuse the subject as to what state of mind they are aiming to achieve. Most now use suggestions of deep relaxation rather than sleep. However the media seem to still continue to portray a very outdated image of a hypnotist.
4) Hypnotherapists swing a watch in order to hypnotise a subject
Hypnotherapists rarely do this these days, although it is one technique that can be used out of thousands of others. I personally do not do this as I wish to distance myself from the stereotype of a stern and sinister hypnotist, with a thin black moustache, wearing a tall dark hat, and a manic stare in his eyes. However I am happy to swing a watch if a subject specifically asks for this.
5) People sometimes become ‘stuck’ in hypnosis
This is simply not true, despite what the tabloid press periodically claim. On rare occasions a subject may not come out of the trance straight away. This is usually because they are enjoying the relaxing state so much that they don’t want to come out. A few gentle prompts, such as threatening to charge double for a longer session, is always sufficient to wake them!
6) You will become stuck in hypnosis if something happens to the hypnotist
Again not true. A person will eventually become bored and will just get up when they feel like it. The hypnotist holds no special power over the subject whatsoever. A person can hypnotise themselves. This is called self hypnosis, and they can wake themselves whenever they choose.
7) Hypnosis is dangerous in the event of a fire or another disaster
A person in a hypnotic trance is just as aware, if not more so, of potential danger. If a fire broke out during a session, a person would easily come out of the trance and deal with the situation immediately, and in an appropriate way.
If you drive a car, then you might be able to understand what I am about to say. When driving we often slip into a trance, especially when we are driving routes that we often take, such as to and from work. We can slip into a trance and daydream, and barely remember the journey at all. Sometimes we may even wonder how we managed to get to our destination at all! Sound familiar? In the event of danger, we instantly snap out of this state and deal with the situation. In fact we probably deal with it quicker and more effectively as our minds do not have chance to ‘over think’ with the conscious mind and slow down the response
8) You are not hypnotised if you can hear the hypnotist
Each person has a unique experience of hypnosis. Some people consciously hear the hypnotist, whereas others do not. This has no bearing on the success of the session whatsoever. It is usually down to choice. You can choose to allow your mind to drift away, or you can choose to listen carefully to what the hypnotherapist is saying. Some people simply cannot resist allowing their minds to drift away, as they gain so much relaxation pleasure from it.
9) You can be made to reveal your deepest secrets when in a hypnotic trance
Since your mind is fully aware and awake during a hypnotic session, this is not possible. If you really do not want to talk about something then you are under no compulsion to do so. A person can easily lie and are more likely to be creative with the truth when in a hypnotic trance, which is why courts will not accept the testimony of witnesses who are in hypnosis.
10) Hypnotherapists have special powers
A hypnotherapist is a normal person who eats, sleeps, feels happy and sad, and looses their car keys. There is nothing special or magical about them at all. We have simply been trained, and have honed this training with experience, to help guide people into a hypnotic state.
A stage hypnotist may play on having ‘hypnotic powers’ in order to add excitement and drama to their shows, but they too will readily admit that they are simply using techniques that have been learnt and developed with practice and experience.
So there you go, hypnosis and hypnotherapy is not magical or mysterious when you know the true facts. It is simply a group of techniques for focusing the mind so that the unconscious can absorb pre agreed suggestions, in order to facilitate change. However the reality has been bent and distorted by sensationalism. This is a pity because this can, and probably does, prevent many people, who would greatly benefit from hypnotherapy, from daring to try it for the first time.
I urge you to make a commitment and try hypnosis even once. It is perfectly safe so you have nothing to lose. If it is not for you, then simply disregard it. If hypnotherapy is for you, then you will have unlocked a whole world of possibilities for personal growth, change and improvement. Many people’s lives have been turned around with hypnosis. Don’t let this potential opportunity slip you by.