The Truth about Hypnotism - Part 1

March 27, 2019

This may shock some people, but TV and the movies have it all wrong! The stereotypes surrounding hypnotism are at best laughable and at worst down right scary. Hypnotism can help so many people with so many different problems, yet thanks to its often outlandish on-screen and on-stage portrayal, many people miss out on an amazing opportunity because of fear, mistrust, or ignorance of the subject.  

 

Be honest. When you think of hypnosis, what first comes to mind? If you are like most people whose only exposure to hypnosis has been through TV, movies, or stage shows, you probably have an image in your head of some poor soul with a blank stare being compelled to do things ranging from having sex or committing crimes in the movies to clucking like a chicken or barking like a dog on a stage.

 

Thanks to the media, hypnosis and anything related to hypnotism has become synonymous with mind-control. Whether an espionage spy-thriller, a comedy, or horror movie, the premise remains the same - some unsuspecting or weak-minded sap becomes the pawn of a person or persons with often malicious intent who are able to control the victim's every thought and action. Given that every single day each and everyone of us enters into a hypnotic state at various times, that idea could not be further from the truth.  So, let's lay some of these 'myth'perceptions to bed:

 

I don't want to be made to give up control of my mind to someone else.

 

Reality: Hypnotism is not mind-control and you are in control the whole time. ​Hypnosis is merely a heightened state of suggestibility. Simply put, that means allowing a hypnotist to help you bypass your conscious mind so that you can gain control over the part of your mind that you need to be able to access in order to change thoughts, feelings, and perceptions.

 

The key here is "you". ​You can feel perfectly safe. There is a protective part of your mind that will be monitoring things the whole time, so if there is anything you are uncomfortable with saying or doing, you ARE in full control, capable of making decisions, and you have the ability to choose which suggestions you accept and which you reject. 

 

I don't want to be made to do things against my will.

 

Reality: You cannot be hypnotized against your will if you really do not want to be. Hypnosis is a consensual state so you need to want to be hypnotized.

 

​​Once hypnotized, you also cannot be made to do anything that is inconsistent with your values, morals, and beliefs. You are in full control and if, at any time, you are not comfortable with what is going on you have the ability to bring yourself out of hypnosis. All you have to do is stop following the hypnotist's instructions and you will emerge naturally on your own, or you can ask the hypnotist to stop. 

 

​You might be thinking, "but what about those people on stage made to do crazy and sometimes sexual things? They wouldn't do that normally in public if they weren't made to!!" Keep in mind those people on stage are 'volunteers'. They knew they were going to be made to do embarrassing things, yet they actively participated by following the hypnotist's instructions and allowing themselves to go into a hypnotic state. They consented to being hypnotized and going on stage. Ultimately everyone on stage has a part of them that likes the attention and wanted to be part of the show. If they were terrified of being on stage or firmly believed that what they would be made to do would go against their beliefs, they would not have been hypnotized in the first place or would have brought themselves out of the hypnotized state.

 

 

I don't want to be forced to reveal my darkest secrets.

 

Reality: You cannot be made to share any secret you would not want to reveal in a waking state. If there is something you are not comfortable sharing, don't share it!

 

However, keep in mind that you are visiting a certified hypnotist or hypnotherapist because you are seeking help with overcoming some sort of obstacle in your life, and part of therapy is sharing details of yourself so an effective treatment approach can be developed. If you hide important information it may make your sessions less effective.

 

That is why it is important to work with a hypnotist or therapist you are comfortable with, so you can feel safe sharing information and can trust that anything you choose to share will remain strictly confidential. That is also why it is important to ensure your hypnotist belongs to a trusted organization such as the National Guild of Hypnotists. All certified practitioners must adhere to the highest standards of ethics, and that includes protecting private and personal information that is revealed during a session.

 

I am going to be made to do things then won't remember anything.


Reality: This one is actually a two-sided myth. One group is those who believe they won't remember anything from their session, and the other is those who think they will be able to remember everything that has ever happened to them.

A hypnotherapist can use regression techniques to help you try to recall events from the past that are influencing current thoughts and behaviours. However, hypnosis isn't a key that unlocks a door and all of a sudden everything that has ever happened comes flooding back. When regression is used, it is for trying to re-frame an initial sensitizing event. Unless the issue you need help with stems from something in the past, your hypnotist will not even use regression techniques. This is particularly true if you are simply using hypnosis for relaxation, pain, or stress-relief.  

 

As for remembering, you will generally remember everything from your session, even if the memory has a dream-like quality to it. In most situations, you are not asleep or unconscious; you are alert and aware of everything being said. That said, it is not uncommon for a person's mind to wander or even for someone to get so relaxed they fall asleep, so there may be some things you don't hear your hypnotist say to you even though your subconscious is still listening.  

 

There is also something called hypnotic amnesia or post-hypnotic amnesia, which is when suggestions are given during hypnosis to forget certain things from before or during hypnosis. This is not generally used to treat most issues, though there is a therapeutic purpose for it in some specific situations, such as having the client forget unhealthy thoughts or memories that are causing significant anxiety or emotional pain. 

 

 

The Truth about Hypnosis - Part 2 Click Here

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