Frequently Asked questions
Everyone is hypnotizable, if they want to be. Some folks are more suggestible than others. Imagination, sensitivity and other factors enter into the picture. Fear will be deterrent, too, since many people just believe some of the fiction they hear about hypnosis.
Firstly, you must put aside all preconceived notions about hypnosis and keep an "open mind." Also, it would be good to ignore well meanings friends who-because of misconceptions and ignorance about hypnotism – might tend to deride a decision to utilize hypnosis. Half-truths and ill-founded gossip contribute to misunderstandings.
Willingness is paramount and you must have complete faith in your practitioner, without fear or apprehension. You must not be analytical but should accept – with faith and confidence – your hypnotist’s suggestions. Remember that hypnosis is a heightened sense of suggestibility and, although everyone is suggestible to a certain degree, some folks are more so than others.
Everyone is suggestible to some degree and everyone, therefore, is hypnotizable. When we say "everyone," we refer to normal persons with an IQ of at least 70. If there is resistance, it is for some reason and usually it is fear. We need willingness, confidence, and freedom from fear and, given these ingredients, everyone is hypnotizable. Actually, for most cases, all that is required is a light state. Of course, if a person is being conditioned for surgery, a deeper state is required.
In order to properly understand the phenomena of suggestion, it is necessary to realize we have two parts of the mind: The conscious and the subconscious. The subconscious mind registers, even without our knowledge, the smallest events, the least important acts. Unfortunately, it is quite credulous and accepts whatever it is told. Thus, if a person believes a certain organ is not functioning well, or that a fear exists, that is exactly what will happen. The subconscious mind controls all functions and actions, whatever they are. What it really amounts to is "imagination." Contrary to popular opinion, imagination is much stronger than "will power" and when there is conflict between the two, imagination always wins. This is the basis of Emile Coué’s well-known adage, "every day, in every way, I am getting better and better."
There are untold powers in the human brain which are not realized, for various reasons. Probably the principal reason is that most people have not trained to use this important resource. All thinking is the result of suggestion, spoken or otherwise, and suggestion can either inhibit or stimulate the thought processes. Unless the brain is cultivated to utilize its potential, we lose approximately 90% of our ability, according to authorities. Hypnosis can be a valuable tool, when properly understood, and through self-hypnosis training we can further self-improvement in practically all levels of life.
One does not have to be in the so-called "trance state" to be in a state of hypnosis. Hypnosis is only a word which, truthfully, does not mean what it is supposed to mean. It derives from the Greek "hypnos", meaning sleep, and this is not true. An earlier column explored this myth. Whenever we react to suggestion, and that happens every day-in some sense-we could consider ourselves to be "hypnotized." Some folks are just more susceptible than others.
This term "trance" derives from the French word "transe" meaning "great anxiety and fear". Also the Latin "transire," meaning " to die. When the word was first used in English, it applied to a morbid, death-like state, and quite obviously, this "state" came to be feared.
Today, its use falls into several categories. In spiritualism, it refers to a medium, losing consciousness (supposedly, anyhow!), passing into control of some other force and communicating with the dead. Let us concern ourselves with its connotation as it relates to hypnosis. In this respect, a trance is a state resembling sleep, a state in which consciousness remains although voluntary movement may be lost.
In the "hypnotic trance," the subject is not unconscious, as he would be if he were to be in a coma. This is one of the biggest misconceptions surrounding hypnosis, incidentally, and one which is a barrier to many folks in their desire to undergo hypnosis. They expect to be "zapped out", and when they realize they "heard everything", they are disappointed to the point of saying, " I don’t think I was hypnotized!"
To sum up; "Hypnotic trance" is a state of consciousness, rather than a state of unconsciousness. It is a state of altered awareness and perception. Hypnosis is a natural condition that people go into and out of, spontaneously, every day of their lives without being aware of it. No tests have ever proven that any physiological change takes place, either chemically, electrically or any nervous deviation. Hypnosis is merely an increased susceptibility to suggestion and this can be auditory or visual…..
When you are in the hypnotic state, you are perfectly aware of what is happening at all times. As we have stated before, contrary to popular misconception, you are not asleep or unconscious and can "awaken" yourself at any time. There have been times when a subject feels so good about this wonderful, relaxed state that he would like to stay that way, even after the hypnotist is ready to end the session; however, this is not problem as long as you are working with a qualified practitioner.
I would say the most prevalent is the idea that hypnosis is "sleep" and that a hypnotized person is unconscious and unaware of what is going on. This is FALSE. There is never loss of consciousness in hypnosis, and even in the deepest stages, a subject is always completely aware of everything. He knows what he is saying and doing, contrary to popular myth which is perpetuated by stage entertainment.
Another false idea is the thought that a hypnotized person must carry out all suggestions. UNTRUE. You do not lose control of yourself, at any time, in hypnosis and will certainly not carry out a command unless it is acceptable to you. Nor would you say anything to reveal any secrets.
Many people believe they cannot be hypnotized, when the truth is that everyone can be, if desired. In fact, the truth is that everyone has been hypnotized probably hundreds of times! When you daydream, or become engrossed in a good book, a movie, etc., these are forms of hypnosis. How about when we drive to a destination, arrive and not remember getting there? Not remember passing certain landmarks? Hypnosis! Hypnosis is only a word, which does not mean what it is cracked up to mean.
Of course! In fact, you will probably be alert to a great extent than prior to the hypnosis, particularly if your practitioner gives you suggestions in that direction. Please rid yourself of the fiction-inspired conceptions of a person walking around like some sort of a zombie. Hypnosis, per se, is nothing more than a means of communication with the subconscious mind. Forget the "Svengali" stories, please!
If a person has been hypnotized previously, he can easily hypnotized via the telephone by his hypnotist. Highly suggestible persons can be hypnotized "cold", if they so desire, without benefit of prior induction. Needless to say, this would not be a method to play with, indiscriminately. We have had occasions where, due to certain circumstances, almost emergency situations – hypnosis over the telephone had to be accomplished.
Yes! Let us explore this a bit further by emphasizing that hypnosis is not a sleep state; not true sleep, that is. When one is truly sleeping he is "unconscious," and unable to hear, or speak (we’re not including the phenomenon of "talking" in one’s sleep). Hypnosis has all the outward appearances of natural sleep and, in fact, this is why the word was coined from the Greek world "hypnos," meaning sleep. However the subject remains alert to everything the hypnotist says. Other sounds although heard, are not significant to the subject. Of course, some folks do attain a deeper state; however, one is never oblivious to what is going on. Emerging from a deep state, the subject may not remember what took place.
This question has evoked considerable controversy over the years, and, although some investigators believe it is possible, the consensus is to the contrary. Most of the experiments which show an affirmative answer have not really been carefully structured, since experimental situations suffer form a "pseudo-reality" situation. To properly evaluate data that anti-social behavior can occur under hypnosis, we must consider many factors; motivation, role playing, exhibitionism, etc. Usually, the subject involved in experiments is aware that the situation is just that, an experiment! Of course, if a person already has latent criminal tendencies, hypnosis may remove inhibitions; however, the simple truth is that such a person can probably be persuaded without hypnosis to act accordingly, and it would be rather difficult to isolate hypnosis as a factor. Dr. Milton Erickson, one of the country’s foremost authorities, reported on 35 cases, with no success in inducing subjects to commit anti-social, or injurious, suggestions.
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