Science of Hypnosis.
Truth or Myth?
Take this quiz to see how much you already know about hypnosis.
1) If you go easily into the hypnotic state, you are weak-willed.
2) You cannot get stuck in hypnosis.
3) Memories experienced in hypnosis are more accurate than other memories.
4) It’s harder to hypnotize a child than an adult.
5) You won’t remember what you did or said if you’re really hypnotized.
6) Entering hypnosis is a learned skill.
7) You can be hypnotized with your eyes open.
8) Hypnotists can make you do whatever they want.
9) Hypnosis is against my religion.
10) Hypnosis is like truth serum.
1) If you go easily into the hypnotic state, you are weak-willed. MYTH.
The people who go most quickly into hypnosis are bright, highly motivated, imaginative individuals. Some studies show that the best hypnotic subject is someone with a larger-than-average corpus collusum (the part of the brain that connects the left and right hemispheres).
2) You cannot get stuck in hypnosis. TRUTH.
If there were a warehouse stacked with hypnotized bodies, it would be as famous as Area 51. Occasionally a subject in a stage show or workshop might not come back to “room awareness” right away, but it’s usually because they’re so comfortable they don’t want to move. After a few minutes, the hypnotist simply suggests that if they don’t get up they’ll never relax this well again. That always works!
3) Memories experienced in hypnosis are more accurate than other memories. MYTH.
In fact, courts are suspicious of memories supposedly “recovered” in hypnosis, because it’s easy to suggest a detail simply by asking about it. All of our memories are a combination of sensory input and our thoughts about those inputs. With careful and neutral guidance, hypnosis can allow people to recall past experiences with amazing detail. Those details must be independently verified in forensic cases. For therapeutic purposes, accuracy is irrelevant. We can work with memories just as if they were dreams, focusing less on who did or said what and more on how we interpret the events.
4) It’s harder to hypnotize a child than an adult. MYTH.
Generally, it’s much easier since kids are suggestible already. That’s why it matters so much what you say about them. They take it not only as fact, but as imperative. A kid who overhears his parents saying, “That boy’s a great athlete”, has a different belief about himself than one who hears, “He’s a klutz just like you!”
5) You won’t remember what you did or said if you’re really hypnotized. MYTH.
Mostly. Sometimes people choose to forget, or will accept a suggestion to forget, but most of the time hypnotherapy does not get people into a deep enough state for automatic amnesia. If you’re going for surgical anesthesia, you may not remember everything, but that’s a good thing, no?
6) Entering hypnosis is a learned skill. TRUTH.
Some people seem to have the knack of distracting themselves and focusing on a single thought right away. Others may resist or simply be trying too hard. Almost everyone gets better with practice and, of course, with the help of a sensitive and skilled guide, like me.
7) You can be hypnotized with your eyes open. TRUTH.
“Hypnosis is not a state of eyelids”, one of my teachers was fond of saying. It’s easier to focus on guided thoughts without a lot of external sensory input, but we’re almost all in a dazed hypnotic trance when watching television and that’s eyes-open. So is Eyes-Open Childbirth Hypnosis, one of the hallmarks of the Hypnobabies® Childbirth Hypnosis course I teach. That allows moms to pace, squat, stretch and even push – all while in a deep trance with their bellies anesthetized. See www.HypnobabiesLA.com.
8) Hypnotists can make you do whatever they want. MYTH.
We would all be rich, rich, rich. Now, I have seen British television hypnotist Derren Brown persuade a cashier to pay off on a losing grey-hound racetrack ticket, but that’s television. Can we persuade people to do things they want to do? I certainly hope so – the whole point of hypnotherapy is getting clients to the point where it’s easier to make the change they want than to keep being miserable.
9) Hypnosis is against my religion. MYTH.
I’ve heard of some religious leaders who are suspicious of hypnosis but never of hypnosis being against a religion. Some aspects of hypnosis are similar to prayer or meditation, which also help develop inner focus. And there are some hypnosis practices that blend hypnotic techniques with shamanistic teachings. But any spiritual aspect of connecting with one’s inner self is completely individual.
10) Hypnosis is like truth serum. MYTH.
Your subconscious can lie, refuse to answer or pass if a session touches upon a secret you don’t want to reveal. One reason to find a hypnotherapist you trust is so you actually feel comfortable letting go of your burdens, but there are actually many techniques that allow you to work on an issue without ever disclosing it to the hypnotist. Just ask your hypnotherapist to work “Privacy Style.”