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What is Hypnosis?


When the word "hypnosis" is mentioned in everyday conversation, it seems to stir varied reactions in people. These responses range from disbelief to terror or even laughter. On the other hand, some people believe that hypnosis can work miracles. All these reactions stem from ideas and information that are untrue.


There are many misconceptions about hypnosis. Many of these misconceptions are based on what you have seen on television or in the movies or have read in books. Other people may have seen a stage hypnotist perform, and think that all hypnosis is what they've seen on stage. This simply is not so.


A simple definition of hypnosis is that it is a state of increased suggestibility and concentration. Another definition is an altered state of focused awareness.

First of all, DO NOT EXPECT TO GO TO SLEEP or lose touch with reality. You are fully aware and will know everything that is going on around you. On coming out of hypnosis, some people may express disappointment with the experience. They insist that they have heard everything that was going on or that they were unaffected by the hypnotist. This arises out of misconceptions they entertain concerning the nature of hypnosis. The lack of consciousness and amnesia which they possibly anticipate is not experienced by the vast majority of people. Nevertheless, although the individual may consciously believe that their trance was extremely light or that they had not been hypnotically affected, the suggestions which have been given to them in most cases will exercise influence, unless the person deliberately sets out to prove that the suggestions will not work. In that case, there is no way that the person will go into trance.


Some people will, on waking, insist that they have not been hypnotized. This attitude may be maintained even though it may be demonstrated to the person that they cannot open their eyes or pull both hands apart, or whatever challenge is put to them. Even then, some people will insist that despite this evidence, they could have opened their eyes or pulled their hands apart, if they had wished to do so.


The majority of people who insist that they have only experienced a light trance or no trance at all should realize that it is perfectly normal to hear external noises and maintain rapport with the hypnotist and remember everything that occurred during the session. In other words, on awakening, you should feel no different than you did before being hypnotized, but the effects will be there. To quote the June 1977 issue of "Psychology Today":


People who are hypnotized for the first time are frequently disappointed to find that they experience nothing overwhelming. They feel mildly relaxed but they remain in touch with reality and in control of their thoughts. They may discover that the hypnotist's suggestions are quite resistible. Contrary to what most people believe, a person under hypnosis need not fall asleep, or lose contact with his surroundings, or relinquish his will. He is often able to recall everything that happened during the trance and will act perfectly normal.


As a result, when working with clients, I may use what are commonly called convincers in trance work. I might suggest that your arm is stiff, or that you cannot open your eyes, and request that you do so. If you were not in trance, you would be able to lower your arm or open your eyes immediately. A convincer may help the client understand that yes, they were indeed in hypnosis. For more information on what hypnosis is and is not, click here.


Physicians, Psychologists, and Hypnotherapists have used hypnosis as a valuable tool in solving problems such as sleep disturbance, concentration, and memory, fears and phobias, stuttering and control of pain and asthma. Hypnosis has also been helpful in treating smoking, overeating, alcoholism, bust development, skin conditions such as acne and warts, and so on.

Hypnosis is a relaxing and enjoyable experience. Remember, to achieve a successful hypnotic trance state, the hypnotherapist needs your cooperation, as all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. All the hypnotherapist does is guide you into it. Your cooperation is what makes hypnosis work. 

Find out how hypnosis can be used to better your life. 

Still have questions? Check the FAQ page!

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