By Shelley Stockwell-Nicholas, PhD
Can Anyone Be Hypnotized? How Does Hypnosis Feel? Why Do Some People Have Doubts About Hypnosis? Who Can Perform Hypnosis? Can Hypnosis Be Dangerous? Answers
- Can Anyone Be Hypnotized? A. Yes, of course! Everyone goes in and out of trance, the basic hypnotic state, throughout the day. You, dear reader, have been in trance several times today. You just may not have called it hypnosis. Daydreaming, runners high, before sleep, upon awakening, reading, watching TV, video game playing, a boring meeting, or a freeway drive, all naturally entrance you. Anytime you move from an outward perception to an inner awareness you enter trance. Words you use induce trance too; “wonder,” “amaze,” “puzzle,” understand,” “curious,” “mesmerize,” and “hypnotize,” cause you to go inside to make them make sense. Hypnosis techniques put you in charge of your natural ability to enter trance. Hypnosis is a skill, like reading or writing that anyone can easily learn.
- Who Can Perform Hypnosis? A. Anyone who has the mind to, and even those who don’t, can and do, do hypnosis. If you can concentrate for a few moments you can easily learn the steps it takes to induce a self-hypnotic trance. You practice hypnotism every day with the things you say to yourself and others. You hypnotize yourself with repetitive actions and thoughts. This is called autosuggestion. Mothers and fathers are master hypnotists and their verbal and nonverbal conditioning often stick for life. Advertisers use hypnosis in all their work and so do religions. Professional hypnotists receive special training in the technique and use of hypnosis before they achieve certification. To choose a professional hypnotist, find out what training and experience they have and if they belong to a hypnosis organization. Professional groups, like the National Guild of Hypnotists, offer training and opportunities to keep skills updated.
Some psychotherapists may have only attended a lecture or a one-day class in hypnosis and then present themselves as hypnotists. If you want psychotherapy, go to a psychotherapist. But if you want hypnosis, go to a professional hypnotist. Hypnosis is the hypnotists main focus and training.
- How Does Hypnosis Feel? A. Familiar! The by-product of all hypnosis is relaxation where muscles, nerves and mind relax. Some describe it as feeling passive, placid and mellow, others as filled with light or surprised by new perception: “I saw strange pictures for the first time, felt new feelings, thought new thoughts and understood things I never could before. It is difficult to find the words to describe the hypnotic experience.” When in hypnosis there is often a distinct experience of automatic, spontaneous or involuntary thought or action as compared to the feeling you get with conscious choice. Returning to regular “room awareness” makes everything more peaceful. One friend says that after a hypnosis session, “My heart went around grinning all day.
“Hypnosis is definitely a common and varied experience. Each hypnotic trance may be different from what you expect, or from the last one you experienced. This makes sense considering you are not the same person you were the last time! Your experience of trance will differ from another’s.
Sometimes part of us can be hypnotized while another part is not. For instance, if you are driving a car and having an animated conversation with your passenger, the part of you driving may be unaware and hypnotized and the part of you talking, fully conscious. Hypnosis looks different than it feels. From the observer’s point of view, the subject might appear caved in or passed out and, therefore, we might presume that the subject is unconscious. Actually, subjects are super-conscious and keenly aware of everything going on around them. This keen focus may leave the subject feeling like they aren’t doing anything particularly unusual.
- Why Do Some People Have Doubts About Hypnosis? A. Since hypnosis looks different than it feels, it is often misunderstood. Once you feel it, the apprehension goes away. The Media cliche “Look into my eyes you are in my power” and the stage performance” and the stage performance “Cluck like a chicken” have sometimes misrepresented the value of hypnosis. Some doubt the value of hypnosis because they themselves have not experienced its benefits. And there is a tendency for the conscious mind to judge new unfamiliar ideas harshly. Once they experience hypnosis for themselves, they know how safe and rewarding it is.
Some folks fear the unknown. Others are afraid of being vulnerable. Some have a notion that hypnosis will force them to “go out of control” and then they will reveal some buried truth that they’re “not supposed to.” Or that they lose control. Or, even worse, look foolish.
While in trance your inner wisdom is your guide and that wise part of yourself will tell you the truth. Such truthful insights are a tremendous relief. And, you need not worry; your subconscious mind will only reveals what you choose to reveal. In a trance, any suggestion that violates morals or self preservation is greeted with a natural “cancel, cancel.”
- Can Hypnosis Be Dangerous? A. Hypnosis is no more dangerous than natural slumber. Practiced by you or a qualified hypnotist, hypnosis is safe, satisfying and self-empowering. Hypnotized” by parents, teachers, mates or your own self-talk to believe you are less than, incompetent or a failure, that harms you too.
Self-hypnosis lets you decide which suggestions to embrace or discard. It puts you in the drivers seat of your behaviors and emotions. When you learn to choose which suggestions you receive or act upon, you take back control of your life. If you don’t control your subconscious mind, it will definitely control you.