Misconceptions about hypnosis
Only gullible, uneducated, or less intelligent people can be hypnotized.
False: There is no relation between the capacity to be hypnotized and gullibility, education, or intelligence. To be hypnotized, people must be willing and active participants.
Hypnosis is a state of unconsciousness or sleep.
False: Hypnosis is a state of altered consciousness, much like any activity in which the awake person’s concentration is narrowly focused. Clients are aware of sounds, smells, and other sensory stimuli, as well as where they are.
You can be forced into hypnosis, act against your will or contrary to your morals, or may reveal private information.
False: Hypnosis is not a form of mind control or brainwashing. Clients are in full control throughout hypnosis and will not be receptive to suggestions that contradict their values.
You may not “wake up” from a hypnotic trance.
False: Everyone, without fail, comes out of a hypnotic state. If a person were to refuse to emerge, he or she would eventually fall asleep and upon waking would no longer be hypnotized.
Hypnosis weakens the mind.
False: There is no evidence to suggest that hypnosis weakens the mind or makes a person more susceptible to suggestions, advertisements, or trances. Hypnosis can allow people to strengthen their minds by replacing negative thought patterns with thought patterns.
Childhood events are resurrected.
False: There is no precise connection between the hypnotic state and accurate memories of past experiences; in fact imagined memories can occur. Therefore, in cases where clients seek to uncover childhood or traumatic events, most hypnotists recommend that clients seek the services of a licensed mental health provider.
Hypnosis can cure.
False: Hypnosis is not a cure. Instead, it is a technique used to facilitate a specific short-term change or outcome. That said, stress can lower immune function and delay healing. Hypnosis can help improve the immune function by reducing the influence of stress. It is appropriate for many self-improvement goals but is not appropriate for all conditions.
Only a hypnotist can induce hypnosis.
False: Hypnosis is a skill that is learned, enhanced, and developed with time and experience. Anyone can learn this skill. A client can be trained by a hypnotist to hypnotize him- or herself. This is called self-hypnosis and is a recognized form of hypnosis. Hypnotists who maintain certification with professional organizations agree to adhere to the organization’s ethical standards such as those established by the National Guild of Hypnotists. (Insert link to NGH website/ethics document.)
There is only one correct way to enter a hypnotic state.
False: Each person experiences hypnosis differently because each person’s mind processes information uniquely. People experience time and physical sensations differently. Some hear and remember every word from the session, while others remember only parts of what the hypnotist said. Some people report having very vivid images, others have vague images. Some people experience nothing unusual at all.
Hypnosis is meditation.
False: Meditation is a type of passive relaxation in which individuals empty their minds of other thoughts and then focus on a particular image or idea. Hypnosis is an active mental process using relaxation to enhance suggestibility and to induce a hypnotic state in order to achieve a goal.