There are so many myths about hypnosis that I felt it was time to see through the misconceptions and get to the heart of the matter…
People often ask: Is hypnosis a form of sleep? Can you get stuck in hypnosis? Can a hypnotist control your mind?
The thing is that over the years hypnosis has picked up all sorts of weird associations from stage hypnotists, the media, and superstition. Even professionals such as doctors and psychiatrists don’t really understand it and often dismiss it as ‘mumbo jumbo’.
This is a great shame because, in reality, hypnosis is your single most effective tool for change.
On this page, we’ll dispel the biggest myths about hypnosis so that you understand what it truly is and how it can be used therapeutically.
No time to read this now? Take the free hypnosis video course to learn more about how hypnosis works.
- Hypnosis Myth #1 – All hypnosis is the same
- Hypnosis Myth #2 – Subliminal messages work
- Hypnosis Myth #3 – Some people can’t be hypnotized
- Hypnosis Myth #4 – Hypnosis is something weird that other people do to you
- Hypnosis Myth #5 – You lose control in hypnosis
- Find out more about hypnosis with these free resources
This article has been kindly offered by one of my therapy trainers, Mark Tyrrell, of Uncommon Knowledge. Thank you Mark!
Hypnosis Myth #1 – All hypnosis is the same
As with anything, hypnosis can be good, bad or indifferent. The most common is old-style authoritarian hypnosis where the hypnotist would use words like, “You are getting sleepy…your eyelids are feeling heavy…”
Unsurprisingly, this use of hypnosis doesn’t work well with most people (unless you like being told what to do).
Good hypnosis uses more subtle psychological principles and advanced language patterns tailored to your specific needs.
It’s like the difference between a football coach who thinks you’ll perform best if he yells at you, compared with the more elegant style of a great leader who knows that to get the best from his team he needs to understand motivation, to cajole, encourage and reward.
Think Jurgen Klopp, who transformed Liverpool Football Club from underachievers for several years into champions of England, Europe, and the world.
TRUTH: There are different forms of hypnosis and different approaches to using hypnosis. In the past the style was more authoritarian (which is still used in stage hypnosis). Nowadays, most therapists use a more ‘permissive’ approach to hypnosis, so that clients retain a sense of being in control.
Hypnosis Myth #2 – Subliminal messages work
Subliminals messages are words or images embedded in audio or film that you can’t consciously hear or see.
The idea is that, even though your conscious mind misses them, your unconscious still detects subliminals and is influenced by them.
They became popular in the 1950s and 60s when advertisers started putting up split-second snippets of, for example, an ice-cold Coca Cola bottle when you were watching a movie in a hot and stuffy cinema.
You get the idea: one flash of that (even if you didn’t see it consciously) and you were queueing up to quench your thirst (along with several other movie-goers).
This is a hypnosis myth that has firmly established itself, but common sense says subliminals shouldn’t work.
TRUTH: There’s no conclusive research proving that subliminal messages work, as explained in this video…
Hypnosis Myth #3 – Some people can’t be hypnotized
The only reason you can’t be hypnotized is if you are incapable of paying attention due to extremely low IQ, brain damage or drunkenness.
That’s not to say that every hypnotist can hypnotize you, however. The more flexible the hypnotist, the more effective she or he will be with the largest number of people.
Truth is, everyone of normal brain functioning gets hypnotized every day by normal things. Whenever your attention begins to narrow down you start to enter an altered state.
You might notice your attention being drawn more intensely to this article, so that the rest of the world fades into the background.
Think about being absorbed in a good football match, playing computer games, or watching a movie. Being absorbed is one of the definitions of hypnosis. Sports people call it being ‘in the zone’.
TRUTH: if you have normal brain functioning you can be hypnotised – and you do it yourself every day!
Hypnosis Myth #4 – Hypnosis is something weird that other people do to you
We’ve all seen those crazy stage hypnosis shows where people follow the hypnotist’s suggestions, however bizarre they might be. Outlandish behaviours lead to uproar in the watching audience.
But those people on stage will have been carefully selected from the audience after a series of tests; only the most suggestible volunteers will be selected for the actual stage show.
The fact is that even those on stage need to co-operate with the hypnotist’s suggestions. (And having run the pre-show tests, the hypnotist knows that you’re very likely to do whatever he or she says).
But it’s still a two-way communication and you – as volunteer on stage – still have the choice about how to respond to the suggestions given to you.
What we’re talking about here – whether stage hypnosis or hypnotherapy – is the REM (rapid eye movement) state, the state we all enter when we dream at night.
Hypnosis is the deliberate utilization of the REM state whilst you are still awake. (We now know that we enter REM during waking hours. And this is why using hypnosis works so well, because the REM state is nature’s most powerful programming state where instincts are programmed and where emotional patterns can be re-programmed, such as changing traumatic memories in cases of PTSD).
TRUTH: So, rather than hypnosis being something that is done to you, it is a co-operative thing between yourself and the hypnotist. They will give you suggestions but you need to work with those suggestions for anything to happen.
Hypnosis Myth #5 – You lose control in hypnosis
This follows on from myth 4…
Crazy news stories, stage hypnotists, and social media misinformation have created the illusion that you lose control in hypnosis.
The myth is that you surrender complete control to the will of a Svengali-type figure!
But when you’re hypnotized, you are more focused – and able to choose to get up and walk away at any time if need be.
You choose to give your attention to the hypnotist – or not, as the case might be – and you can withdraw it at any time.
TRUTH: When hypnosis is used well (and you feel safe with your therapist) it actually enables you to regain control of your life. So, rather than losing control, hypnosis is a means of re-programming your mind to help you develop personal autonomy to make the changes that you desire.
Find out more about hypnosis with these free resources
If you have been scared of or reluctant to try hypnosis in the past, this article has hopefully cleared up some of the many misconceptions about the subject.
You can find out more about hypnosis and how I use it therapeutically in a Free Discovery Session with me or by downloading my free ebook where I disclose how hypnosis cured my 10-year problem in just two sessions.
Or you might prefer to take the free hypnosis video course…