Maybe you’re paralyzed by fear. Or maybe you just want to lose weight. Hypnosis might just be the answer. Nevertheless, this process is incredibly misunderstood, leaving many people hesitant to use it or not getting the results they expected. To make sure it’s right for you, you need to know what it’s really about and what it can do, separating myth from reality.
1. You’re Always In Control
Media often portrays people under hypnosis doing absurdly wild things, such as clucking like a chicken. They put across the idea that the hypnotist is a “master” who can “control” the person under hypnosis. In truth, the hypnotist simply lowers your inhibitions, quieting your conscious mind so the creative and more impulsive subconscious mind can come to the front. He can make suggestions to you, but he cannot force you to do anything you’re not open to on some level.
2. You’re Never “Asleep.”
Hypnosis does not make you sleep. Rather, it is simply a state where your subconscious mind becomes dominant. Your awareness is often heightened, and you’re alert the entire time, having the ability to hear and even converse with your hypnotist. You generally remember everything that happens in the session, as well. Experts explain this state as being somewhat like daydreaming. You focus on the main subject or just a few key pieces of information, blocking out most other stimuli. Some people in a state of hypnosis look like they are sleeping because they are so relaxed and physically still, but researchers have used brain scans to show that neurological activity is still high.
3. Professional (Non-Entertainment) Hypnotists Are Held To High Standards By Major Organizations
There is no central regulating body for hypnotists, nor is there a single certification process. Subsequently, some individuals can call themselves certified for attending a short conference or even taking an online course. That said, professionals such as doctors, social workers and therapists abide by strict standards set by groups like the National Guild of Hypnotists, American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association. These well-regulated bodies expect hypnotists to use hypnotism techniques in accordance with their training and current law, and the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis says that only licensed clinicians should perform hypnotism for medical or psychological purposes.
4. You Don’t Need Someone Else To Hypnotize You
Although a professional can guide you into a hypnotic state, it’s also possible to do self-hypnosis. Simple techniques, such as concentrating on your breaths and listening to music–really, anything that will help you relax–can be effective for this purpose. Additionally, according to clinical hypnotherapist Debbie Catz, most people naturally reach the level of relaxation and brain activity associated with hypnosis right before they drift off into and wake up from sleep. With practice, you can self-hypnotize any time you want.
5. Hypnotism Isn’t Just About Recalling Memories
One of the most popularized reasons for hypnotism is to help patients examine the past. Even so, the bulk of scientific evidence actually doesn’t support the use of hypnosis for purposes such as reliving earlier events. In fact, the majority of courts don’t accept testimony derived from hypnosis as evidence. Hypnotism has been more practically applied as a behavior modification therapy, such as to help a person stopping smoking. It is an alternative physical pain management technique, too, with professionals applying it in cases ranging from irritable bowel syndrome to dentistry and cancer. For this reason, you needn’t associate hypnosis with the past.
6. Hypnosis Isn’t Necessarily Free Of Side Effects
In general, hypnosis is a safe practice, with most individuals coming out of the hypnotic state feeling very refreshed and relaxed. But some people do experience side effects. Most commonly, people report being very drowsy, dizzy or having a headache. Psychologically, you might feel some anxiety, depending on what happened in the session. You also should be aware that less-than-ethical hypnotists can use your heightened level of suggestibility to make you “remember” things that never happened. These “memories” can be distressing and have a big influence over your everyday life.
In general, members of the public have significant misunderstandings about hypnotism, mainly because of entertainers that treat it as a show. If you go into it knowing the truth, however, it can be a very good tool that gives you excellent results and improves your life.