It is true that hypnosis can achieve all sorts of fascinating effects. While using hypnosis some people may:
- have visual or auditory hallucinations
- move their bodies without intending to
- feel less pain
But much of what many people believe about hypnosis is total and utter rubbish.
Here are 8 very common myths:
Myth 1: Only the weak minded can be hypnotised
This simply isn’t true, and it may well have been nurtured by the #Starwars ‘Jedi mind tricks’ – which only work on the weak-minded. Myths. Whereas, in the real world, quite the reverse is probably more true. The higher your intelligence and the stronger your self-control, the more easily you can enter a state of hypnosis.
Entering a hypnotic trance is all about focussed concentrating, so people with mental health problems can find it difficult.
However, finding it hard to enter a hypnotic state doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. People naturally vary in how susceptible they are to hypnosis.
Some studies have shown that around 30% of people are relatively resistant to being hypnotised. Although, with effort, hypnosis can usually be achieved.
Myth 2: The hypnotised are helpless
Also false. It’s difficult to get people to do things under hypnosis that they wouldn’t normally do. While hypnotised people are still in touch with their morals and normal standards of behaviour. Myths again.
That said, though, it is possible to reduce people’s inhibitions under hypnosis and they will more readily accept suggestions.
Stage hypnotists rely on this heightened suggestibility, along with picking the types who don’t mind a little attention. That’s how they get people to quack like ducks. Don’t we all know someone who would quack like a duck if it meant everyone would look at them?
People look like they’re asleep when they’re hypnotised because their eyes are closed and they’re peaceful, but they’re not asleep. The brain waves of a person who is hypnotised are different to those of a person who is asleep.
In fact, the hypnotic trance is a heightened state of concentration. A high level of alpha waves on an EEG show that a hypnotised person is awake, alert and very responsive.
Myth 4: A hypnotist cured me in one session!
Some of the most outrageous claims are made about hypnotism (although usually not by hypnotherapists themselves). I believe that these claims have their origins in stage hypnotism.
Of course people regularly repeat claims that they were cured in only one session of hypnotherapy because it’s such a good story. Who wants to hear about how it took you a decade, three divorces and 19,423 nicotine patches to give up smoking?
The truth is that very few people are ‘cured’ in one session through hypnosis. Reputable hypnotherapists will usually advice patients to commit to multiple sessions, I’d usually tell my clients between 2 and 6 sessions. This isn’t naked profiteering, change takes time.
Even then, hypnotherapy (a complementary therapy) is often used alongside some other kind of treatment, rather than as the main method. Most often hypnotherapy is seen as a ‘last resort – I’ve tried everything else’ treatment.
Myth 5: Hypnotists must be flamboyant or weird
Well… I’m not! That’s just TV and stage personalities, who have to be flamboyant and weird.
Imagine how distracting it would be if the person trying to hypnotise you had swirling eyes, kept talking about black magic and wore very loud ties. Your average hypnotherapist is much more likely to wear a grey suit or smart casual clothing.
Nowadays a variety of research has shown that the hypnotic trance isn’t entirely reliable for accurately retrieving memories. Worse, hypnotists can inadvertently implant false memories, because people in a hypnotic trance are easily suggestible.
That being said… I have personally helped someone from the armed forces retrieve map co-ordinates by having them revisit the time and place they initially read the co-ordinates. The client went into a very deep trance state and the co-ordinates sprang back into his mind. This was later confirmed to be accurate and I did have to sign a (secondary to my own) non-disclosure agreement.
Myth 7: You can’t lie under hypnosis
Oh yes you can! Hypnosis is not some kind of magical state in which you can only speak the truth. This is a natural result of the fact that you are not helpless when hypnotised and your usual moral (and immoral) faculties are still active.
I personally read the body language and various cues that are unconsciously given by clients throughout the pre-hypnosis question and history-gathering stage to ascertain a baseline of truth.
Many people think they’ve never been hypnotised since they’ve never been to a hypnotherapist. In reality, most of us have experienced a state of mild hypnosis.
For example, when you drive a vehicle and your mind starts to wander onto other thoughts, that’s a mild state of hypnosis. Your subconscious is taking care of all the mechanical aspects of driving while your conscious mind is free to float around and process thoughts.
If you’ve ever meditated then you’ve, in essence, hypnotised yourself. Meditation is a process of guiding the mind into a relaxed, often detached state, while the body relaxes.
So, there you have it. 8 Myths successfully explained. I hope this alleviates any misconceptions you may have had.
If you have any other questions, send me an email.
Clinical Hypnotherapist / Psychotherapist