There has been a lot of misunderstanding and controversy around hypnosis over the years. Many people believe that it is nothing less than a suspicious strategy for making a person or people do weird things as depicted in stage hypnosis performances.
However, hypnosis is actually a reliable therapeutic tool that is used in helping people overcome various health conditions. Our beginner’s guide to hypnosis shares the real truth about it and what studies and research have said about it.
Within this post, we aim to burst the most common hypnosis myths and misconceptions that millions of people have held for long about it.
Myths and Misconceptions of Hypnosis
1. You don’t have any control when you’re hypnotized – People have been made to believe that when they get into the hypnotic state they lose control over themselves and can be made to do whatever the hypnotist pleases. This is completely false. Yes, you do become more open to suggestions when you get hypnotized but you will not do anything you don’t want to do while in the trance state. You still have the awareness of yourself and of what you are being asked to do. And you won’t do what you actually don’t want to do.
2. You can’t lie when you are hypnotized – It is also purported that you have to tell the truth when you get hypnotized. It is believed that you can never tell a single lie during the hypnotic period, which is so untrue. Just like being in control of what you do when you enter the state, you still have control over what you say. The hypnotist cannot make you tell the truth when you don’t want to. This is because you get to keep your moral judgment and free will even during the period of hypnosis.
3. You can be able to bring back all your lost memories through hypnosis – There are some hypnotherapists who provide a therapy that helps the patient retrieve lost memories and be able to address and recover from them. This method of approach has raised a lot of concerns and skepticism among researchers and experts. It is believed that while hypnosis can help you bring back old memories, there is a high probability that you, as the patient, might create false memories. Hypnosis that is based on memory retrieval has been received with doubts and requires more study (1).
4. Hypnosis and sleep are similar experiences – On the outside, the state of sleeping somewhat resembles the state of trance. The rate of breathing is usually more toned down than when you are awake, the muscles become more relaxed and the eyes may be closed. However, on the inside, very different experiences are happening when you compare the two states. In hypnosis, you are not in a sleeping state but rather in a very deep state of relaxation. You are open to suggestions when hypnotized which is not easy when you are asleep. You barely hear anything when you are deep asleep.
5. Anyone out there can be hypnotized – It is believed that anyone can be easily hypnotized, which is quite the contrary. There are people who can be easily hypnotized and there are those who are less likely to be hypnotized. About 10% of the population can get into the state of hypnosis without any hassles. The group includes those people who are easily absorbed by a really interesting novel, those who daydream a lot, and those who get lost in thought when undertaking a task they are used to. The others are not able to be hypnotized that easily (2).
6. Expert hypnotists or hypnotherapists have superpowers – After attending a good number of hypnosis sessions where people are continuously hypnotized, it is easy to conclude that the experts who are inducing the states of hypnotic trance on people have special gifts of mind-controlling or mystical powers of controlling others. This is far from the truth. Hypnotherapists and hypnotists are well-trained individuals in the science of hypnosis. They have been specially trained in guiding someone into the hypnotic state and helping them make a personal transformation. The real power lies in the mind of the person being hypnotized, especially their subconscious mind that is involved during hypnosis or hypnotherapy.
7. Hypnosis is a fake practice that has no effects – There are certain beliefs that hypnosis is not a real practice but is simply something that is made up, whose results are mostly due to placebo. The placebo effect is known to be a powerful phenomenon that makes someone believe something is able to change them and thus feel the effects.
However, research has shown that there are actual changes that happen in the brain when someone is hypnotized. Stanford School of Medicine carried out a study which revealed 3 areas of the brain that are affected during hypnosis. These regions of the brain include the area that is associated with self-consciousness, the area that is known to identify and separate thoughts from feelings, and the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex that is associated with the assessment of the state of affairs (3).
8. To be treated of any condition that hypnosis is able to treat, it only takes one session and you are good to go – We are all made differently with different brain and body chemistry. Also, when we are affected by various health conditions, we suffer differently and are also overwhelmed by them in varying degrees. That being the case, we cannot fully recover from them in the same way and at the same time and with the same number of sessions. There are those who are able to get better with just a single session and others after a couple of them. For the most part, it takes about 5 sessions to see substantial change. This always varies with the individual undergoing hypnotherapy.
9. Hypnotherapy is not good for religious or spiritual people – Some people view hypnosis as a practice that is rooted in mysticism, black magic, or other practices that seem suspicious, meaning, it should not be used at all by those who believe in religion or spirituality. See, hypnosis is not affiliated with any belief system, group, or sect. It is only used as a tool in various therapies such as psychotherapy to help people improve their health conditions. Therefore, hypnotherapy can be taken by anyone who desires to feel better without feeling like they are losing grip of their religious or spiritual beliefs.
10. You can get into a state of hypnosis and fail to come out of it – The state of hypnosis is like any other state of mind such as sleeping and awareness, to name a few. Therefore, you shouldn’t worry that you are being taken into a completely strange state of mind since this state is also often experienced a number of times throughout the day. When you daydream or get soaked into a really interesting novel or when doing your spiritual practices such as meditating or praying, you might get into this state. And you also get out of it naturally.
That is why you should not be afraid or worried that you can remain in a permanent hypnotic state. On the far extreme, you can only fall asleep during a hypnosis session. It might be a bit inconvenient for the hypnotherapist who is working with you but it is natural.
11. You can be cured of anything through hypnosis – There are marketers who have promoted hypnosis as a cure for any disease under the sun. Some people have been made to believe that it can cure baldness, partial blindness, stammering, asthma, and other health issues. But all this is a lie. Studies have shown hypnosis to be a good tool for therapies that deal with health conditions such as depression, anxiety, pain, and eating disorders. It can help overcome some of the problems but not all (4)(5)(6)(7)(8).
12. You can only be hypnotized if you are weak-minded – It is a common perception that hypnosis only works for those who are weak mentally. That is, if you are intelligent, you can never be hypnotized. That is wrong since it has been found out that most bright people have better abilities to maintain high levels of concentration that makes it easy to enter the hypnotic state.
In summary, hypnosis is more than just a form of entertainment used by comedians who use hypnosis to seemingly control the participants and most perceptions about it are wrong.
It goes beyond the comedy stage and to health centers for helping people improve their health status and overcome various issues that weigh them down.
With this new light, we believe that you will be more interested in knowing how hypnosis can be of benefit to you, your family and friends and make good use of it in the coming years.