Hypnosis has been used to help people with everything from smoking cessation to weight loss to phobias to shyness. Still, there are a few fallacies about hypnosis that have been perpetuated by the movies and television. Let us dispel a few of these.
What is hypnosis? Everyone has been hypnotized at some point or another. Everyone daydreams, and when you daydream you are under a form of self hypnosis. Perhaps you have even had people wave their hands in front of your face at one time or another to break you out of the “Trance”.
We have all been to a movie or have read a very scary book that has caused our heart rate to rise. We know that a book is composed of nothing but marks on paper, and a movie is nothing but a set of images on the screen, portrayed by actors and enhanced by computerized special effects. Still, the story draws us in. It is almost irresistible.
This is very similar to hypnosis. When you make suggestions to yourself, you do not have to consciously believe in them in order for them to be accepted by the deeper level of your mind known as the subconscious.
Unfortunately, a lot of misconceptions exist about hypnosis. Lets dispel a few of them.
1) It is not true that the hypnotist can make you do anything against your will. This stands to reason. If such a thing were possible, there are a lot of unscrupulous people out there who would use it to gain control over others. The best subject is a person who has a definite reason or motivation for wanting to be hypnotized.
You may have seen a stage hypnotist who makes people do silly things, but remember that when a volunteer steps on the stage, he is in effect agreeing to take on the role of a performer, and he acts as a performer.
2) A person in the hypnotic state is not easily awakened, and may remain in that state for a long time if not properly brought out. This is also false. All hypnosis is really self hypnosis. I mentioned the example of daydreaming. Hypnosis is not something that is done to you, it is a state that you enter into voluntarily yourself. The hypnotist merely guides you or facilitates the process.
3) Hypnosis is a form of sleep. No, although hypnotists may use the term of sleep as a metaphor, in reality hypnosis is a form of increased concentration. It is similar to becoming completely absorbed in a book or movie.
Some people are surprised when the state of hypnosis isn’t as dramatic as they expect. They think that they couldn’t have been hypnotized because they were aware of everything that was happening. Actually, the state of hypnosis is more like a pleasant feeling of tranquillity. It’s a state of listlessness, of lethargy. You could move if you wanted to, but somehow it just seems to be too much trouble.
4) Hypnosis is a cure effected in only one or two sessions. This is another fallacy perpetuated by television. In most cases, you need a number of sessions before you start to see results.
5) Not everybody can be hypnotized. Only partially true. A good estimate is that 90% of all people can go into some level of Hypnosis. Some people say that everybody can. Or to put it another way, anybody who is not neurologically or mentally impaired can benefit by self hypnosis.
Not everybody can go into the same depth of hypnosis, and this leads us to another important point. It is not necessary to go into a deep state of Hypnosis in order to be helped. Many excellent results can be obtained from a light stage of induction. Of course, you want to deepen the hypnotic state as much as possible, and a competent hypnotist can help you do that.
Another question is what the state of hypnosis actually is, and whether it is generally accepted by the academic community. Although there might be some disagreement over what the exact state of hypnosis is, there can be no question that when somebody is operated on without the use of anesthetics, something very powerful is happening.