People come to hypnotists with all kinds of ideas from popular media and stage shows. Here are some of the popular myths about hypnotism and some factual responses to consider if you are interested in this potentially very powerful intervention.
By the way one of the reasons these myths abound is the true nature of hypnotic phenomena in which people under hypnosis can:
- have visual or auditory hallucinations,
- move their bodies without intending to,
- and feel less pain
- accelerate personal changes such as quitting smoking
But much of what many people believe about hypnosis is nonsense. Here are 8 example of the “myths” that surround my profession:
#1: Only the mentally weak-willed can be hypnotized
Nope. The opposite. The smarter you are and the stronger your self-control, the more easily you are hypnotized.
That’s because entering a hypnotic trance is all about concentrating, so people with mental health problems can find it difficult.
However finding it hard to enter a hypnotic state doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. People naturally vary in how susceptible they are to hypnosis. Studies have shown that around 30% of people are relatively resistant to being hypnotised. Although, with effort, the state can usually be achieved eventually.
#2: The hypnotized are helpless – you lose power under hypnosis – become a robot
Could’t be further from the truth – you are always in control under hypnosis. It’s difficult to get people to do things under hypnosis that they wouldn’t normally do. While hypnotized you are still in touch with you morals and normal standards of behavior.
You literally can’t be made to do anything against your will.
That said, though, it is possible to reduce people’s inhibitions under hypnosis and they will more readily accept suggestions.
Stage hypnotists use this heightened suggestibility, along with picking the types who, let’s say, don’t mind a little attention to put on a good show. That’s how they get people to quack like ducks and the rest.
But if you look carefully you will see some people on stage refuse to do certain things – a skilled stage hypnotist makes a joke of it and seamlessly glides onto the next volunteer.
#3: Hypnosis is sleep
People may look like asleep when they’re hypnotized because their eyes are closed and they seem peaceful. They may even snore because their vocal cords are loosened. But they’re not asleep. The brain waves of a person who is hypnotized are nothing like those of a person who is asleep.
In fact the hypnotic trance is a heightened state of concentration. A high level of alpha waves on an EEG show and other brain wave characteristics recently identified show that a hypnotized person is awake, alert and very responsive – simply in another mental state
#4: Hypnotism always works in a single session like magic
I never want to preclude one session miracles. They happen. But neither you or I should count on them.
The truth is that almost no one is “cured” in a single session.
My smoking cessation program, for example, is a three session PROGRAM.
#5: Hypnotists have a special power
Skill? Yes. Talent? I hope so. Experience? Definitely. A commitment to my client’s success? Absolutely. Those are my super powers if I dare claim them. But they are learned and earned not magical.
#6: Hypnosis can be used to retrieve long forgotten memories
Sorry. It far from as reliable as you would see on TV and there is always the possibility of false memory syndrome.
#7: You can’t lie under hypnosis
Once every couple of years someone brings someone to me to use hypnotism as a lie detector. I decline. There is not magical truth serum in hypnosis: on the contrary you may actually life more convincingly under hypnosis.
#8: Not everyone can be hypnotized
True and false.
Most everyone can but there are degrees of – if you will – hypnotizability. Two classes of people are generally unable to achieve a hypnotic state: paranoid schizophrenics and those with IQ below 70.
#9: I should not remember anything during hypnosis
Nope. You may remember part of what happens – maybe even all – remember that hypnosis is a state of consciousness. You are alert and when you are alert you recall what happens.
#10: Hypnotists must using shinny objects or swirling discs
Again nope – most of us just use – as we say – “the sound of our voice.”