The world of hypnosis is a world of mystery for most people. The general public’s perceptions of hypnosis are often formed from stage shows and the imagination of Hollywood screen writers. In order to understand how hypnosis actually works, it’s best to know some things about how it doesn’t work.
MYTH: I will be asleep or unaware of what happens during hypnosis. Subjects are not asleep or unconscious during hypnosis. Hypnotists will often use the word “sleep” to guide someone into hypnosis because hypnosis occurs as the brain is on the way to sleep. The mind quickly and easily recognizes the word “sleep” and moves in that direction. A hypnotized subject remains aware of what is happening to them and around them. They just don’t resist it because the hypnotist has created the environment where the subject wants to experience the process.
MYTH: The hypnotist will make me do things I do not want to do. Someone can’t be made to do something they don’t want to do. A hypnotist can’t make a subject rob a bank or give up financial information. If hypnotists had that power they would retire young and everyone would want to be a hypnotist. A stage hypnotist can get a person to act silly and entertain the crowd but it isn’t done against the subjects will. In those shows, a hypnotized subject has been conditioned mentally to have a desire to be the center of attention and to do fun things to entertain the audience. The hypnotist does not have the power to make a subject do something against their will even in deep hypnosis. A subject’s subconscious mind always (in all ways) has protection as the primary duty, so a person can’t be made to do something that would be harmful or morally against the person’s core values.
MYTH: You forget what happened when you were hypnotized. People don’t forget what happened when they are hypnotized - unless they get that suggestion and accept it willingly. In stage shows hypnotists may suggest that people won’t remember the crazy things that the subject did during the show. This is a way for the person to avoid being embarrassed after the show. You can’t be embarrassed by what you don’t remember, right? But this inability to remember is not a result of just the hypnosis! It is a result of the accepted suggestion. The person accepts the suggestion because they know they won’t be embarrassed in the future. In this way, the hypnotist is merely offering a suggestion that benefits the stage show participant. Many people see that happen and believe that hypnosis makes you unaware of what is happening and unable to remember what happened. Can you imagine how bad it would be if a hypnosis client was unable to remember what happened in our offices? They all remember and you will too!
MYTH: You might get stuck in hypnosis. You can’t get “stuck” in hypnosis. It’s hard to tell where this idea came around because it is based on a really rare phenomenon. Some people may go into hypnosis and then not wish to easily come out of hypnosis. Others who are very suggestible may go so deep that they find a euphoric relaxation that lulls them into a deep sleep. When this occurs in a stage show, it appears that the person is “stuck” in the trance state. In fact, the hypnotist can merely allow the person to wake on their own or slowly rouse them back to a more alert state. If left alone a hypnotized subject will rise to an alert state on their own. Even a client who wishes to remain in hypnosis would eventually emerge on their own for food, water, or to use a restroom.
MYTH: Evil spirits or demons might enter my mind during hypnosis. Hypnotized subjects are not more open to negative spiritual forces. Some people have asked if demons or other spiritual forces can enter a person who is hypnotized. The answer is no. Hypnosis is a process that works on the emotional brain. Hypnosis is not a spiritual process, though you can reinforce your own spiritual beliefs through self hypnosis. In some societies a hypnotic-like state is used to create spontaneous healing or deepen ritual. Those participants are susceptible to the process because they are willing to engage in the process for their own benefit. If you are concerned that hypnosis will somehow violate a spiritual belief, talk to your hypnotist. They can explain their process in more detail.