What is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is simply a state of relaxed focus. It is a natural state. In fact, each of us enters such a state - sometimes called a trance state - at least twice a day: once when we are falling asleep, and once when we are waking up. That kind of fuzzy, timeless state between dreaming and awake is a trance state. When a nine-minute snooze-button seems to give you enough time to have an-hour long dream, that's a trance state.

There are many other times that people enter a natural state of trance. Driving, watching TV, listening to music, working on a favorite hobby or activity in the "flow" state. These are all "altered states of consciousness," and all are various levels of trance. Trance is normal, natural and common.

Some people leave their first hypnosis event saying, "I wasn't hypnotized - I knew what was going on the whole time!" Well of course you did! Hypnosis is not a state of amnesia or of no awareness. Just the opposite true, in fact: hypnosis is a state of very heightened awareness and focus.

Hollywood has perpetrated many myths about hypnosis, and not remembering anything from the hypnosis session is one of those myths. Only under special circumstances would a person forget everything from a session.

Much more can be accomplished when the person undergoing hypnosis remembers everything.

Will I bark like a dog or cluck like a chicken?

Let me guess: you've seen a stage show where the comedy stage hypnotists made people do all these crazy things. Or, perhaps you have ideas from Hollywood's movies and TV. The stage hypnotist carefully selects his subjects (watch how many volunteers he has sit down), and he chooses people he knows WILL bark like a dog. They will because somewhere inside them is a part that loves to entertain. And they will do it because, deep down inside, they don't believe there is anything wrong with barking like a dog.

Hypnosis can not make you do something that is against your morals or ethics. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis, in truth, and no hypnotist can make you do something that you really don't want to do. If they could they probably would have them give them all of their money and then the hypnotists wouldn't have to work again. That's why some people can be hypnotized to stop smoking and yet they still smoke. You have to want the change, agree with the change, and then hypnosis is an instrument for helping make that change better, faster, and permanent.

Will I lose control?

This is another Hollywood myth. You always have control, and you can always hear what's going on. Hypnosis is nothing but a state of relaxed deep focus. It is a natural state that you enter at least twice a day (while waking up and while falling asleep!), and probably much more often than that. If at any time you are in trance and you wish to be fully awake, you can just count to yourself "1 - 2- 3" and open your eyes.

My friend tried hypnosis to quit smoking and it didn't work.

There is more to changing a serious habit like smoking than just a few hypnotic suggestions, I'm afraid. In the simplest terms, the person must want the change, and they must have a replacement for smoking. Smoking is one of the hardest things to quit because it is not only mental but also physical with a chemical change taking place inside your body. Hypnosis can be used to find a healthy, effective replacement, and then it can be used to help flip the subconscious over to the new, healthy habits.

While sitting in a room with 50 other people in a seminar, or listening to a stop-smoking CD can work, it is usually much more effective to have a personalized session with a hypnotherapist, who can customize the approach, language and replacement suggestions to match your lifestyle and circumstances.

Isn't Hypnosis dangerous?

Myths about hypnosis, perpetuated by Hollywood movies, urban legends and fiction books lead people to think all kinds of things about hypnosis, including that it is somehow dangerous. Some people have heard that you can go into trance and not wake up. Or that the hypnotist can make you do things you don't want to do. These things are simply untrue and absurd. You are always in control, always able to "come back" to full waking state at anytime if you wanted or needed to. The number one job of the subconscious mind is to protect you, and it is always on the job.

Of course, you will want to choose a hypnotist that has been well trained and that is trustworthy. Select one that gives you confidence. Hypnosis is a safe and beneficial process when facilitated by an ethical and trained professional.

Do always keep in mind that hypnosis is not a treatment or cure for mental illness, and people suffering from psychosis, suicidal depression, or that are on medications for psychological stability should only be hypnotized by their doctors or psychiatrists or by an experienced hypnotherapist with the client's doctor or psychiatrist present.

What does hypnosis feel like?

Usually when in a trance you feel more mentally and physically relaxed. It is a very pleasant experience, and you can tell that you are still in control. You can still hear exactly what is going on around you, unless you choose to drift your attention away. You become aware that you can easily stand up, talk, or move whenever you want. A lot of people (me included) when they first experience a hypnotic trance move their fingers or hands in order to test whether they can move at will. It is comforting to know that you can!

Sometimes a subject can be a little difficult to wake up. This is not a sinister thing as it has been portrayed. No one has ever been stuck in trance. It is more a case that a patient just “can’t be bothered” to wake up as it feels so pleasant. However they soon become bored and will wake up pretty quickly. One trick the old hypnosis pro’s use is to tell the patient that they are charging for the time. It’s amazing how quickly they then wake up!

In a show, some people were dismissed from the stage. Doesn't everyone "go under"?

Most people are susceptible to hypnosis and power of suggestion. However, in a stage presentation, for the sake of the show, volunteers that prove to be the best subjects in the shortest time are selected to remain on stage and participate in the routines. The hypnotist is on a time schedule and has to choose their best subjects quickly.

Is there a difference between stage hypnotism and clinical hypnosis?

Stage hypnosis is a fun thing, staged by the hypnotist and acted out with willing participants. Sure the participants are relaxed, but they are always in control. When they "quack like a duck and bark like a dog", it is because they want to do that to be a part of the show and to entertain the audience. Some participants claim that "the hypnotist made me do it" as an excuse for their own behavior. The hypnotist does not control people in their actions the participant is always in control. Clinical hypnosis is that type of hypnosis that is practiced one-on-one in a clinical setting which may be in an office, a hospital, a clinic or in an individual's home. It a serious science practiced by clinical psychotherapist whereby the enhancement of the quality of a person's life is the goal.

I am very strong-willed. Can I be hypnotized?

Approximately 97% of the public can be hypnotized. The 3% that cannot be hypnotized usually fall into two categories of mental disorder. It really has nothing to do with will, for persons who are strong willed can just set their will to relaxing and having an excellent hypnotic session. We have found that if a person is a willing subject, the experience is rewarding. We have learned over the years that willpower is never enough to overcome certain types of issues or problems. If you really do not want to overcome a problem, if you really do not want to be helped, you won't be. It is as simple as that. If you want to improve, hypnosis can accomplish that, but with your permission and cooperation.

Has any hypnotized person been unable to wake up?

This is a myth that must be dispelled immediately. In all of the annals of the history of hypnosis, no subject ever failed to be aroused from the hypnotic state. Hypnosis is not sleep. It is similar to sleep but you are aware of everything that is going on. To address the absolute worst scenario: If the Hypnotist were to die while you were in a state of hypnosis, all that would happen is that you would wake up, or drift into a regular sleep and wake up in due time, just as if your were taking a nap.

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