Hypnosis Myths

Hypnosis MythsMyth 1. When you are hypnotised you are asleep or unconscious.

You do not go to sleep and you are not unconscious. You will remain aware throughout the session, no matter how deep the trance. Some people find that their senses seem to be heightened and that they are even more aware.


Myth 2. The hypnotist takes control of you – like on television or stage shows

There is no question of losing control or being made to do anything against your will by using hypnosis. You are in control throughout the session. This has been tested experimentally and no evidence exists to indicate that hypnosis increases the control of the hypnotist, or exerts any unique form of control, over and beyond that already present prior to the hypnotic induction. The unwanted or noxious suggestion usually causes the person to wake up from the hypnotic state and is always rejected.
 
Television and stage shows are easily explained. The hypnotist is skilled at knowing which people want to take part and are highly suggestible subjects. He can tell this by observing the behaviour of people in the crowd and/or doing certain tests. Many people enjoy the excuse to have fun and show off. Although subject-volunteers feel compelled to act upon the suggestions given, the hypnotist does not suggest they do anything that they might really object to. Together with rapid induction techniques (which require moderate skill and a lot of confidence), this creates the illusion of control. People who don’t want to play the part do not get called and people who are especially unwilling don’t attend. If a difficult participant does make it onto the stage he will be given a more ordinary role to perform, like fetching a chair or being the recipient of someone else's behaviour.
 
You should also bear in mind that stage hypnotists are skilled illusionists. They employ a number of tricks to fool both audience and volunteers that have nothing to do with hypnosis.
 

Myth 3. "But I didn't feel hypnotised/I didn't go under."

There is no such thing as a ‘hypnotised feeling’ as such, and a lighter trance might not feel very different from normal. Individuals vary in how deeply they go into trance, yet a light trance is all that is needed for many types of therapeutic work. The therapist has a number of ways to tell when a suitable level of hypnosis has been achieved to begin treatment


Myth 4. After the session everything that took place in the session will be forgotten

Myth Fact This is generally untrue. Most of the time you will remember generally what the therapist said. It is very rare that the therapist will attempt to make you forget what happened, because ordinarily there is no benefit to this and the suggestion usually wears off anyway in time.
 
However, if you enter a deep trance you might find that you’ve forgotten most of the details of what the therapist said. You may realise when you wake up that you missed certain parts altogether, and wonder whether you fell asleep. If you responded to suggestions to wake up at the end of the session, it is unlikely that you fell asleep. In a deep trance the conscious mind more or less switches off and stops creating conscious memory. This gives the sense that you were ‘out’ for that time, or asleep, when really you were still aware.
 

Myth 5. You can just be hypnotised and your problem will go away

This is usually not true. Hypnosis is only a tool to go along with the real work of psychotherapy. It is not an instant fix for most problems and you may find that you have to participate in joint effort with your therapist over a number of weeks or months to get better. This is in common with other psychotherapies. Hypnosis is a powerful therapeutic aid and it can usually speed things up, but it is not magic.


Myth 6. "I can’t be hypnotised."

This is almost the opposite of the last myth, in that it unduly predicts failure.
 
Although the level of trance achieved varies from person to person, almost everyone can be hypnotised to a level deep enough to begin some kind of therapeutic work. This is good news; it means that by far the majority can benefit from hypnotherapy. The few exceptions include people who are intoxicated with alcohol or drugs, people who have a learning disability or dementia, and one or two uncommon mental and neurological conditions. All told these probably amount to no more than 1% of the population. If you are capable of reading and understanding this text and forming an opinion about it, then you almost certainly can be hypnotised to some degree!
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