What Is Hypnosis?
Let me start this post by saying this about hypnosis:
Hypnosis is trance and trance is a very common state and you drift in and out of it many times per day.
Are you shocked?
Did you imagine hypnotic states were something associated with men in black capes waving pocket watches around, whilst telling their clients they were under their spell and to stop smoking immediately, or risk being made to cluck like a chicken for the rest of their life?
Have you ever driven for a period of time and suddenly realized you can’t remember passing through the previous town or even how you got to be where you were?
What about being so engrossed in an activity that you lost all track of time? I don’t mean you think you have been doing whatever it is for twenty minutes and it turns out to be thirty, but you ‘lose’ two or even three hours?
Ask a kid that plays video games if they have ever done that? I can guarantee the answer will be yes.
That is hypnosis, or the trance state as it is also called.
People often talk about trance being an altered state of consciousness, and in many respects it is. However, meditating alters your state of consciousness as does being sleep deprived and drinking vast quantities of alcohol.
Therefore, I’m not sure how useful expressions like ‘altered state of consciousness’ are when they have some people imagining grinning hippies in loin cloths, dancing in slow motion to Jethro Tull at the Burning Man Festival.
I am going to ask you a few questions and see if you know the answers. Don’t peek down below and spoil the fun, see how much you know about hypnosis or whether you are wrapped up in some of the myths. I will then answer each one in turn
- There is a danger that if a fire broke out or a real emergency whilst hypnotized, the subject would be unable to respond
- Hypnotherapists can get you to tell them intimate details about yourself and do things against your will
- Hypnosis has been used to preform major surgery without anesthesia
- People have stayed stuck in hypnosis for long periods of time
- Really intelligent people can’t be hypnotized
- Good hypnotherapists can hypnotize anybody
- Good hypnotherapists can hypnotize some people against their will
- You have only been in a deep trance if you can’t remember what happened
- Hypnotherapy can make quit smoking overnight
- Brownson has used hypnotic language patterns in this post and I now feel compelled to hire him, or at least send him a large sack of cash.
1. There is a danger that if a fire broke out or a genuine emergency whilst hypnotized, the subject would be unable to respond:
Think about those occasions when you slipped into a trance whilst you were driving. Can you remember a time when you had to break hard or swerve for some reason?
My guess is, if you can, you were somewhat shaken up and a bit confused about what happened, but you still dealt with it perfectly adequately even if you didn’t know how.
Even when you have shifted into a state where you conscious mind is not quite where you think it is, your unconscious mind is still very much on the case. If somebody were to shout ‘Fire!” whilst you were in a trance you would immediately return to a fully alert waking state.
2. Hypnotherapists can get you to tell them intimate details about yourself and do things against your will:
It’s an interesting concept and one that I’m sure would have produced some fascinating books from unscrupulous types, but it’s simply not true.
People will often back up this belief by pointing to stage hypnotists. The people that volunteer to go up on stage at such events are the kind of people that can’t wait to strip naked and jump into the local fountain after half a dozen tequilas. They are extroverts waiting to happen.
3. Hypnosis has been used to preform major surgery without anesthesia:
This is actually true. During World War One when anesthesia was often unavailable, numerous surgeries including amputations were undertaken using hypnosis.
Nobody is quite sure if the patient doesn’t feel the pain, or whether the pain isn’t actually created in the first place. Either way, it is a better alternative than half a bottle of scotch and a piece of wood to bite on.
On a lesser scale, I have a friend that had four impacted wisdom teeth removed using hypnosis (they probably used some pliers too, but you know what I mean). Not only did he not feel pain, he also hardly bled.
4. People have stayed stuck in hypnosis for long periods of time:
There is only one recorded case of a person getting ‘stuck’ in hypnosis and it is this guy.
5. Hypnotherapy can make you quit smoking overnight:
It cannot make you do anything. If the will is there, hypnosis can be a very useful tool in helping smoking cessation. However, the desire and belief of the client is necessary.
Also, it may work in one session for one client and take ten or more for another, depending on their abilities as a hypnotic subject.
6. Good hypnotherapists can hypnotize anybody
That is only true is the subject wants to be hypnotized or is completely unaware they are being hypnotozed. If somebody fights the process then it doesn’t matter how good the therapist is, it simply won’t work.
7. Good hypnotherapists can hypnotize some people against their will:
This is true. Bwahahahaha. Ok that’s a bit of a fib, it’s not totally true. Indeed some people can be influenced by unethical practitioners of hypnotic language and NLP, but it is doubtful they can be sent into a deep trance without wanting to. Doubtful, but probably not impossible under extreme conditions.
Again there is probably about a third of the population that can be influenced like this and it has to be said the practitioner has to be exceptionally good. The person coming off the seven day training course is much more likely to make a jackass of themselves stumbling over the words.
8. You have only been in a deep trance if you can’t remember what happened:
This is untrue. Having said that, it is very common for people to develop hypnosis amnesia. The work in (good) hypnotherapy is done with the unconscious mind and therefore the conscious mind is often busy doing other stuff and may not be noticing what is going on.
Note: I use the term unconscious and conscious to make the point although there are multiple levels of both so it’s very simplistic.
9. Really intelligent people can’t be hypnotized:
The ability to be hypnotized has nothing to do with intelligence. Really intelligent people are as susceptible to trance as anybody else. A
bout a third of people are naturally very good at entering a trance state, but for those that aren’t, it can be taught.
Probably the greatest hypnotherapist of all time, Milton H Erickson, spent as long as 400 hours teaching some people how to enter deep trance and subsequently got some astounding results.
10. Brownson has used hypnotic language patterns in this post and I now feel compelled to hire him or at least send him a large sack of cash:
This is true. You can e-mail me the cash or hire me by clicking here. I am full through early July, but you don’t mind that at all because you just want the best and you are prepared to wait as long as it takes.
Great hypnotherapists like my friend Michael Watson are brilliant story tellers and experts at getting to the unconscious mind and eliciting change with metaphors and advanced language.
Unfortunately there are a lot of people running around waving three day certification certificates and claiming to be hypnotherapists. They’re not.
Hypnotherapy is a really cool tool and can help a lot of people.
Like NLP, it’s not a cure all and it can’t do everything, but under certain situations (smoking, weight loss, changing habits, pain control etc) it is the most sensible route for many people.
And best of all, it carries zero danger if you get an experienced and ethical hypnotherapist and I would throughly recommend you try it out even if it’s only for the experience.
So no fibbing, how many did you get right?
If you have any other questions about hypnotherapy, drop them in the comment area and I’ll do my best to answer.