Most people associate the word hypnosis with a therapist trying to mesmerise a gullible patient using a pendulum. Or a hypnotist taking control of the person’s mind and making him do undesirable acts. Honestly, I too held similar beliefs about hypnosis [blame the movies!] until I studied the subject seriously and learned how wrong I was.
There are many other misconceptions surrounding hypnosis. Let’s look at some of the common ones:
Myth 1: Once hypnotised, you might reveal all your secrets
Fact: No one can control your mind. Hypnosis is simply a focussed state of mind in which the therapist only helps you to focus your thoughts on issues you choose. Contrary to popular belief, a therapist cannot put anything in your mind against your will. So you can decide what you want to reveal and what you don’t. In fact, under a hypnotic trance people can become quite creative with the truth, implying that you are in full control of your thoughts. That is why courts do not accept the testimony of a person under hypnosis.
Myth 2: You could be made to do undesirable things such as bark like a dog, kill someone, rob a bank etc.
Fact: During hypnosis, your conscious mind is always awake. If you hear a suggestion that you don’t agree with or don’t understand, you can simply reject it. Remember, stage hypnosis and clinical hypnosis are two different disciplines and this misconception may be stemming from the performance of stage hypnotists. In fact, no one else can hypnotise you; it’s something that you do to yourself with the help of a therapist. The therapist can only guide you to your aware state of mind with the help of suggestions.
Myth 3: What if I stay in the hypnotized state forever?
Fact: Nobody stays stuck in a hypnotic state. Think of hypnosis as guided meditation: the moment you open your eyes, you are out of it. Often, because it’s very calming, people drift off to sleep. And they wake up in a while, feeling refreshed.
Myth 4: Hypnosis is a special state of mind
Fact: Hypnosis is just a trance state of mind. Everybody experiences it at least twice daily: once, before we just fall asleep and the other when we wake up from sleep, just before stepping out of your bed. We often even go into a trance when we are deeply involved in watching TV or while engrossed with work.
Myth 5: I am too strong-headed to be hypnotized
Fact: Hypnosis has nothing to do with a weak or strong mind; willingness of the person is all that matters. However, I have observed that one must be relatively intelligent in order to engage in the hypnosis process. Using Dr John Kappas’s Suggestibility Test, we can determine the suggestibility of a person and then appropriate techniques are used for hypnosis. Because the person has an intention to be hypnotised, he can use the guidance and reach the hypnotic state. Remember, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. If you really want it to work, and you co-operate, it will work for you. So just loosen up and let go.
Myth 6: Hypnotherapy gets you instant results
Fact: Hypnotherapy works on your subconscious mind, which takes time to change. It’s is not a miracle cure and many issues often require more than one session. You will notice subtle changes in the beginning such as you will feel calmer and clearer. As your perception changes, everything around you also begins to change. Of course, everyone makes progress at his or her own pace. The experience can be different for different people; it can even vary from one session to another for the same person.
The many uses of hypnotherapy
Hypnosis is commonly used for improving immunity, decreasing stress, relieving pain, treating insomnia, recalling forgotten experiences, reducing anxieties, fears and phobias. It is also used as a tool in supporting weight loss and changing undesirable behaviours such as smoking, alcohol dependency, bed wetting, nail biting and teeth grinding.
Myth 7: The sub-conscious mind records everything like a video
Fact: Your mind stores a particular event based on how you perceived it. That may or may not be the complete and unbiased picture. We store information based on how we interpret it, rather than simply recording the actual events.
Myth 8: Hypnosis is akin to black magic or voodoo
Fact: Far from being voodoo, hypnosis is a natural state, as established by several scientific studies. Many stalwart psychologists such as Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and Milton Erickson carried out significant amout of clinical research on the subject. A variety of medical and scientific organisations such as the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, British Medical Association and British Psychological Society have independently endorsed hypnotherapy as a valid form of treatment.
Myth 9: You are unconscious or asleep when in hypnosis
Fact: While in hypnosis, your conscious mind is awake such that you are constantly aware of what is going on around you. But yes, each individual experiences it differently. How we remember things is unique for each of us. For example, not everyone can recollect all the details of a movie after watching it.
It’s true that you may drift off to sleep during your session. But if the therapist feels that you need to be woken up, she will do so during the course of your session.
Myth 10: You are not hypnotised, if you can hear the hypnotist
Fact: Each person is different. Some people consciously hear the therapist, whereas others don’t. A few individuals simply cannot resist allowing their minds to drift away, as they gain so much relaxation from it. But this has no effects on the success of the session.
When you are armed with the facts, hypnotherapy doesn’t seem magical or mysterious. It’s is a scientific process of using techniques to help your mind focus, to facilitate the unconscious mind to absorb pre-agreed suggestions, to bring about change. I urge you to try hypnosis once. If you don’t find it useful, you can simply discard it. But if it helps, it can open a whole new world of possibilities for your personal growth.
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