Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy Frequently Asked Questions
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- Can anybody be hypnotised?
- How do you hypnotise somebody?
- Can people be made to forget things, like suggestions or the session itself?
- Is it good for performance enhancement?
- Is there anybody who should not be hypnotised?
- How does it work?
- What is hypnosis anyway?
- What does it feel like to be hypnotised?
- Can you make anybody do things they don't want to?
- Can it be used to control people?
- Can you get 'stuck' in hypnosis?
- Is it dangerous in any way?
- How does hypnotherapy differ from stage hypnosis?
- What's the difference between hypnotherapy and psychotherapy?
- How long does a cure produced by hypnosis actually last?
- What is 'direct suggestion' therapy?
- Is it successful with real phobias?
- Does it always work?
- How long does it take to produce a result?
- Do you really go into a trance? If so, how deep? Are you in any way unconscious?
- Can somebody's mind be too strong?
- What is an 'induction', and what is a 'deepener'?
- Can you hypnotise someone without them knowing it?
- What ethical, legal and moral issues are involved in the use of hypnosis?
- Can hypnosis be used to create/trigger dreams?
Frequently Asked Questions
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Pretty much. The exceptions are: those who are educationally subnormal or suffering from senility, very young children, hard drug addicts, anybody under the influence of large amounts of alcohol.
How do you hypnotise somebody?Top of Page
Usually by a voice induction, though there are various other methods such as strobe lights, rotating spirals and so on. Usually the voice is used as well, though. There is no special way of speaking, no 'incantations' or magical words, and the accent is quite often on producing a very relaxed state of mind. Mostly, a slow and soothing approach is taken but there are many therapists who use their normal speed of speech and may even step it up a bit or use a fairly 'crisp' delivery if they prefer the 'command' method of induction. Sometimes, too, they will employ - with permission - the use of touch in various different ways, commonly of the subjects hands or forehead. Mostly, the client will close their eyes fairly soon in the induction, but an individual can quite easily be hypnotised with their eyes open. After hypnosis is induced (usually in a matter of a few minutes) a deepener routine might be used to deepen the state. Many therapists work from scripts, especially when they are new to the profession, but most soon build up a store of suitable scripts and stories in memory to recall as needed.
Can people be made to forget things, like suggestions or the session itself?Top of Page
You cannot actually 'make' anybody do anything in hypnosis. Hypnosis gives nobody any power over the person who is hypnotised. Theoretically, you could suggest to a hypnotised person that they would forget the content of the session. But it is not reliable, by any means, and it is most unlikely that you could create a lasting and total amnesia, and certainly not of the session itself.
Is it good for performance enhancement?Top of Page
Hypnosis, with the right sort of adjunct work, EXCELS at performance enhancement of all types! Here are just a few of the things with which it can make profound improvement:
- Sporting performance
- Career matters
- Memory and Concentration
- Stage performance
- Exams and tests
- Presentation/speaking skills
Is there anybody who should not be hypnotised?Top of Page
To a large extent, it depends on the sort of therapy being employed. Some say that anybody suffering from epilepsy should never be hypnotised, but I have never heard of an epileptic fit being triggered by hypnosis. Where psychotic individuals are concerned, care needs to be exercised and regression/analytical therapy should most definitley not be employed. (See the paper about psychosis elsewhere on this site - click here to go there now) This type of therapy is also best avoided with pregnant women. I also will not use regression or analysis with heart attack/stroke victims.
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Although there has been much speculation and theory over the years, all that is truly known about the phenomenon of hypnosis is that it allows the conscious critical faculty to be bypassed, allowing a 'gateway' to the subconscious mind.
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The answer is very similar to the above question. Some people believe it is nothing more than 'social compliance' (doing what you believe you should be doing) while others insist that it is a state of altered consciousness. There is no scientifically measurable change in brain wave patterns during hypnosis, as compared with normal consciousness. An individual in the hypnotised state usually feels very relaxed, but this is not necessarily the case. They will often feel as they are half asleep and at the moment they open their eyes at the end of a session there is sometimes an awareness, for a split second, that 'something' had been different.
What does it feel like to be hypnotised?Top of Page
Actually, it doesn't. For the vast majority of people there is actually no such thing as a 'hypnotised feeling' - the vast majority of people would insist afterwards that they had not 'gone under'. After a few sessions, though, most people start to become aware of how the state feels to them. It may be that they feel excessively heavy or light. Their arms and legs may feel rigid, as if they have been moved into a different position, or even absent. They can sometimes feel other strange phenomena, too - sensations of floating, whirling and/or spinning are not unusual, or of some part of the body being distorted in some way (I always refer to this as Hypno-morphing) or as if they have become very small/big. I always feel as if my hands are encased in concrete gloves - my signal that I am in self hypnosis. Most people suffer some form of time distortion, usually in the ratio of around 2.5:1, so that after the session there is a feeling that it was much shorter than it actually was. Typically, a 50 minute session would feel like 20 minutes.
Can you make anybody do things they don't want to?Top of Page
In my opinion, definitely not, but there is considerable conjecture about this. It is often said that hypnosis cannot breach the moral code, though there are therapists and hypnotists who claim otherwise - but of course, we cannot truly know what another person's moral code/values consists of. People will frequently do things they would not normally do, though this does not mean it is something they do not want to do; hypnosis lowers inhibition, so it could be just something that that individual was too inhibited to do in the normal way, even though he/she was not averse to it. See my essay elsewhere on this site on Hypnotic Effects - click here to go there now.
Can it be used to control people?Top of Page
See above answer.
Can you get 'stuck' in hypnosis?Top of Page
No, you definitely cannot! If you were hypnotised and the hypnotist just walked away and left you, you would simply bring yourself out of the state whenever you wanted to.
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Not at all, in the hands of a properly trained individual. There are some circumstances that would be undesirable with a non-trained or poorly-trained operator, but nothing serious could happen, in any case.
How does hypnotherapy differ from stage hypnosis?Top of Page
The hypnosis is the same, though many believe it is not. But it is the 'therapy' part that is different - the stage hypnotist is out to entertain others. The hypnotherapist is out to make somebody's life more enjoyable to live. See my essay Hypnotic Effects for more information. Click here to go there now.
What's the difference between hypnotherapy and psychotherapy?Top of Page
Usually, psychotherapy makes changes to the subconscious by using the understanding and imagery of the conscious mind. Hypnotherapy attempts to bypass the conscious mind to a large extent, working directly with the subconscious. For this reason, hypnotherapy is often quicker than psychotherapy. But it's 'horses for courses' - there are some clients who will respond better to psychotherapy and for them, this would probably be a better form of treatment. Usually, these individuals are very analytical and guarded.
How long does a cure produced by hypnosis actually last?Top of Page
It depends on how much subconscious change was brought about in the first place. If a change has been made to a flawed fundamental belief system, then the cure will be permanent and last for a life-time. If only superficial changes have been made, then it might be only a few days or weeks. This is why direct suggestion therapy sometimes fails miserably. The best therapy is where the/an underlying cause has been resolved before any suggestion work is carried out at all.
What is 'direct suggestion' therapy?Top of Page
The therapist simply tells the client, in the state of hypnosis, that whatever it is they want to do they will now be able to. Or whatever it is that they want to stop doing, they now can. It can be effective with simple problems like smoking, nail-biting, confidence for an exam/test, etc. But generally, it is best to tackle the underlying cause of the difficulty first.
Is it successful with real phobias?Top of Page
Usually immensely so, if the right sort of therapy is employed.
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No, no more than any other form of medicine, complimentary OR orthodox does. A responsible therapist will soon detect when it is not going to and discharge that client so that they may seek the help they need elsewhere. Another hypnotherapist might produce the desired result where the first one could not, because of the different client/therapist 'mix'.
How long does it take to produce a result?Top of Page
It depends on far too many factors to make a bald statement about this. It can be as few as one session for a simple problem, to as many as... well, that depends on the ethics and skills of the therapist involved. A responsible, properly trained, therapist will not keep a client in therapy longer than necessary.
Do you really go into a trance? If so, how deep? Are you in any way unconscious?Top of Page
I don't actually like the word 'trance', because it is easily misunderstood; it is in common use, however, and a hypnotised individual is, technically, in a trance. But you are not aware of this trance state, any more than you are aware of it when you intently watch something on TV or immerse yourself in a book or newspaper to the point where you don't hear someone calling you.
These are both trance states in which you are aware of the object of interest only, and it is almost identical to the hypnotic 'trance'. It is MOST DEFINITELY NOT the trance you see on films and TV sometimes where somebody is staring glassy-eyed with no idea of where they are or what they are doing. The depth of trance varies from one individual to another and it is often considered to be relatively unimportant from a therapy point of view. You are not unconscious in any way - unless you go to sleep, which is not unknown! Then, you would simply awake when asked to by the therapist.
Can somebody's mind be too strong?Top of Page
No. The stronger the mind the better the ability to focus and concentrate, which makes the hypnotised state easier to achieve. The statement 'My mind is too strong to be hypnotised' is usually based on fear and the individuals who say this are often the best subjects of all! It is not difficult to resist being hypnotised and needs no specific strength of mind at all. It is getting into hypnosis that takes the mental work!
What is an 'induction', and what is a 'deepener'?Top of Page
An induction is just a passage of text spoken to the client. Most of the time, a slow soothing tone will be used, but there are other occasions when a more dynamic style may be more suitable. A deepener is more like a story designed to focus the hypnotised individual's attention to get him/her into a deeper state of hypnosis. Hence the name.
Can you hypnotise someone without them knowing it?Top of Page
You can, if you have the skills to do so. The use of 'hypnotic language patterns' and pacing and leading body language will do it. But you still could not get that person to do anything with hypnosis that they would not do without it. Hypnosis merely overcomes inhibition and the 'conscious critical faculty' - the part of our thought processes which tends to limit our behaviour or belief system.
What ethical, legal and moral issues are involved in the use of hypnosis?Top of Page
From a professional point of view, hypnosis should be used ONLY for the benefit of patients and clients - and not for any other reason at all. That pretty much sums up the basis of most Codes of Ethics. From a personal viewpoint, though, it is only your own moral code that you would have to follow; so you could use hypnosis to enhance your sexual experiences, as long as you did not feel your were cheating in some way. You would be unlikely to persuade somebody to have sex with you if they were not already willing to do so, though. The legal position is less clear, since it varies from Country to Country and State to State.
Can hypnosis be used to create/trigger dreams?
Sometimes, though this tends to be somewhat unreliable. There has been much experiment with the use of hypnosis to create 'lucid dream states' (in which the dreamer KNOWS s/he is dreaming) but there has been no conclusive evidence that it works.