5 Hypnosis Myths (and the real truth about them).

  • As a hypnotherapist, one tends to hear the same old myths regarding the hypnotic state.  I often go out giving presentations to various organisations about hypnosis and it’s beneficial effects and part of this presentation is to debunk these myths that have settled so easily into the collective consciousness of the general public.  Whenever seeing a new client, much of an initial consultation is taken up by addressing these myths and it’s an important part of that consultation, otherwise the focused state of relaxation we are after is a lot more difficult to attain.  The mind will wander easily to doubt and negative questioning if these myths are left un-addressed.

    So I thought it might be a good idea to post about the top five myths in my blog and debunk them right here and now.  At least that way, if a new client has read this post, I might get to waste a little less time in getting them comfortable with it.

    1.  You give/ lose control to the hypnotist/therapist.

    Think about it!  If this were true, why are there not a lot of very rich (and powerful) hypnotists around?  The truth is you do not lose control to the hypnotist!  Clearly this would appear to be at odds with what you might see on stage during a presentation of stage hypnosis.  But if you were to examine the dynamics of stage hypnosis a little more closely you would realise that you still don’t lose control to the hypnotist.  First of all there is a level of expectancy.  If you buy a ticket to see such a show, you expect to see hypnosis for entertainment.  If you volunteer at such a show, you expect to be hypnotised and to do some very silly things.  Secondly, the stage hypnotist will, through the skilled use of  various hypnotic tests, whittle down his group of willing volunteers to the ones that are the most suggestible, thus the easiest to work with in the stage setting.  These people tend to also be quite extrovert and would probably act the fool after a couple of pints on a Saturday night anyway!

    2.  Hypnosis is unnatural.

    This couldn’t be further from the truth if you tried!  We all dip in and out of hypnosis all the time.  It’s part of our natural biorhythm.  When you go to sleep, you transit hypnotic state from full waking state to fully asleep.  The same is true when waking up.  Daydreaming is another form of hypnosis.  A therapist just utilises this natural focused state of relaxation to facilitate therapeutic change.

    3.  You go under hypnosis.

    Okay, this is semantics really, but language in hypnosis is vitally important.  To believe you go under hypnosis is to suggest there is some unnatural outside force facilitating the hypnotic trance.  For example, you go under an anaesthetic.  Having this outside force gives credence to the notion that you are losing control whilst in hypnotic trance.  You go into hypnosis, not under hypnosis.

    4.  You reveal your deepest secrets in hypnosis.

    Again, this would suggest some element of a loss of control and many are profoundly uncomfortable by the thought they might reveal some sort of embarrassing information about themselves .  It suggests that the therapist has an all-encompassing power to rummage around in your mind and find out all sorts of stuff you’d really rather he or she didn’t know about you.  In reality, you offer no more information to the hypnotist than you are completely comfortable with.  A hypnotist cannot make you “tell-all”.  Obviously the more information you offer connected with the issue for which you are seeing the therapist the better and this information is always treated with the strictest confidentiality.  But if you don’t want to tell, you won’t!

    5.  Hypnosis is a magic wand!

    Clearly this myth is fuelled in the main by the stage hypnotist.  They suggest a thing or an action and the volunteers acts upon it.  It really does look like magic and there is a perception that you go to see a hypnotherapist and he or she will wave their magic wand and all will be well with the world.  Hypnosis does make it a whole lot easier to facilitate therapeutic change in an individual, but the work still comes from the individual!  As with any “talking therapy”, the answers, the desire to change and ultimately the will lays within you.  So if you must think of hypnosis as some sort of magic wand, imagine it’s in your hands, not the hands of the therapist!

    So that’s my top five myths.  I have no doubt that if you talked to a different therapist in this field they might come up with one or two more or even a different list entirely.  The one thing I hope for, however, is that in publishing the truth about the top five myths I am always asked about, it might go some way to addressing the fear that many of us have regarding this powerful therapy and get more of us using it!

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