- Hypnosis is a natural state of mind. It is not an unnatural or sacrilegious phenomena. Animals go into trance naturally in the wild to protect themselves against predators (a fear trigger) (click here for more) while we as humans day dream on a regular basis...that is the mind slipping into trance state. Have you ever been driving your car and lost 5 minutes on a regular route, maybe pulling into your street forgetting the journey? That is just the subconscious taking control.
- Hypnosis is not the same as sleep. Some people do fall asleep during hypnosis because it is so relaxing, but generally speaking people in hypnosis are not asleep but instead awake and conscious the whole time only in an altered state of mind. Brainwave testing has showed this to be true, and highlights the different 'depths' of hypnotherapy that bridges the gap between waking state and deep sleep.
- Hypnosis cannot be used to control you against your will. Despite the stories even the world's greatest hypnotherapist could not induce you into trance state without your mental consent. If you refused to comply with him there would be no hypnotic effect, a hypnotist has no 'special powers' above anyone else. Legally any hypnotherapist would require your consent anyway before proceeding with their work. Hypnotherapists do their job by facilitating the natural process of hypnosis in their client, not creating it. However, there is an argument that TV commercials control our buying attitudes without our say so...so if you are worried about that it might be best to keep your TV switched off!
- You will not experience complete amnesia during hypnosis. You may not remember certain aspects of the hypnosis experience but amnesia on the whole is quite rare. Distorted time experience is common though; perhaps you will think the session lasted 30 minutes when indeed it was 1 hour. Post-hypnotic amnesia is something that can be suggested during a session, where a client would then not remember the certain aspects suggested afterwards, but it would be nothing like complete amnesia and the effects would be minimal. Usually this technique is employed to keep various pieces of information in the subconscious mind so they will not be consciously considered and pulled apart, which can help in changing long held negative attitudes.
- Hypnosis cannot make you remember every last detail of your life in crystal clear vision. I have watched many Sci-Fi TV shows and films where a character is taken back into their past memories as though they were relieving them exactly as they happened, most recently in the crime drama Fringe. Hypnosis can boost memory and has been used in criminal cases successfully to bring about clues that were otherwise forgotten, such as what colour the car was that drove past or a more detailed description of what an intruder looked like, but hypnosis cannot take anyone back in time to relive things over again - the memory is subjective and therefore not a true reflection of reality anyway. Although it does make for a good story!
- A Hypnotherapist will not make you 'cluck like a chicken'. Unless you want to of course... stage hypnotists are one of the big reasons why people are unsure of hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy uses the relaxing state of mind of hypnosis to open the subconscious mind and improve its way of thinking about things for example stopping a bad habit, while stage hypnotists uses the state of hypnosis to give highly extroverted people the chance to become centre stage! The audience effect can make hypnosis stronger but you can rest assured if a person really did not want to do that Elvis impression they would not do it.
- During hypnosis you will not give away personal secrets or reveal embarrassing stories about yourself. Similar to what is written above, you can't be made to say anything that you do not agree with. If there are things you are guarded about and want to keep strictly personal then hypnosis will not affect that attitude. You will always remain in control of your actions and decisions.
- Hypnosis can work on any regularly functioning adult. I've heard many times the phrase 'hypnosis does not work on everyone so I doubt it will work on me'. It is true that some people are more receptive to hypnosis and naturally go deeper faster than others but that is not to say hypnosis cannot be used on just about anyone. Very young children do not have the attention span or focus to become hypnotised, while mentally impaired persons often have the same problem and generally are not treated. In the opposite way people with a strong focus and a creative imagination find the hypnotic state easier to reach.
- Hypnosis is not dangerous. If you have a session with a certified hypnotherapist the chances of dangers are very remote. Someone practising hypnosis without training could possibly cause problems for their client but they would still need to have learnt the art of hypnosis induction. But apart from a poorly trained or maverick hypnotherapist, hypnosis is a natural state of mind that feels relaxing both during and afterwards and has many benefits similar to meditation, decreased stress being a main one. There are no known side effects of hypnosis, it is perhaps the individual administering it that could be the dangerous one like in many therapeutic profession. Massage isn't dangerous until you experience giant clumsy Jim who damages you back because he does not know what he is doing.
- You cannot get stuck in hypnosis. Another Hollywood style myth. If you were placed into hypnosis then left alone, depending how comfortable you were in the state you would come around in your own time just like waking up from sleep, even in the deepest form of hypnosis named 'somnambulism' this would be the case. The body also has a great warning system, so if there was any danger around you such as a fire you would be quick to snap out of hypnosis.
- You wont become dependant on hypnosis or the hypnotherapist. Typically hypnotherapy solves a problem in a handful of sessions and the client goes away never to return, unless they have another problem they want resolved or have a recurrence for any reason years later. Hypnotherapy is a very rapid therapy compared to something like psychotherapy where the client would have scheduled meetings for sometimes years. Self-hypnosis is something that people often take up after having a treatment because of its relaxing, stress relieving properties rather than a dependency of any kind.
- Hypnotherapy is not a 'new age' concept. Hypnotherapy has existed since before the written record. In ancient Egypt and Greece 'sleep temples' existed where patients would be placed into deep trance in order to heal mental and physical conditions. Hypnotherapy has come in and out of fashion over the centuries but it has stood the test of time because of its success. Read more about the history of hypnosis here.
- Hypnosis will not give you special powers! Hypnosis can be used to enhance physical performance through focus, motivation and confidence etc, but in no way can it make you stronger, faster or more intelligent. Hypnosis can make you train and perform better, study harder and longer with more concentration to make grades/work results improve - but it does not alter your genetics or your innate abilities.
- And last but not least... the chances are you will NOT see your hypnotherapist use a pocket watch as part of their induction! That's not to say it could not be used effectively, there is just no need for it. Long ago hypnosis was linked to eye fixation, the idea being that if you focus your eyes on an object that in itself will bring you into trance. In these olden times what object was handy to everyone? Modern hypnosis has found that eye fixation is not necessary for hypnosis to work but it can help with induction so many hypnotherapists simply use their hand as the object or a mark on the wall/ceiling.
Thursday, 24 November 2011
One of the major problems that faces Hypnotherapy as a profession is the stigma attached to it's name. Hypnosis in the past has been associated with mind control; making people do things they are unconsciously aware of and have no control over. There are various novels where the villain is portrayed as a hypnotist maniac who leaves a trail of crime conducted using his super-human ability to control people against their will. Often in my daily practice I come across people who have completely incorrect ideas in their head about hypnosis, some expecting a pocket watch to be swing across their eyes before they fall asleep in the same instant. So this article is about dispelling at least some of the myths that surround hypnosis... let me know if I have missed any!!
Do you know a hypnosis myth I have not included in the list? Or maybe there is a facet of hypnotherapy you are not sure of... leave a comment or contact me.