Many people unfamiliar
with the growing possibilities of Hypnosis or Hypno-Therapy have grown up in
a culture that identifies with the misconceptions about a practice that has
been long misunderstood.
This hit home clearly to me when my
daughter-in-law asked, "Can you make me squawk like a chicken?" I
only responded with, "Do you want to squawk like a chicken?"
That is the crux of most of such questions. If
you want to squawk like a chicken, you may. If, however, you do not want to
squawk like a chicken, there is nothing I, nor any other Hypnotherapist, can
do short of threatening your life that will probably make you squawk like a
chicken. The television and movie portrayals of hypnosis have been grossly
Perhaps I can dispel some of the common
misconceptions about hypnosis:
"Caused by the Power of the hypnotist"
Not so, Hypnosis involves concentrating on some stimulus and entering a
trance which is always a personal choice.
"Only certain kinds of people can be
In theory anyone can be hypnotized either directly or indirectly. In
practice, however, it is true that some persons are more responsive to
trance than others. It has also been my experience that once the
"response" factor is determined and dealt with, trance is
available and useful to anyone. The response factors are usually related to
fear of loosing control, outside stimuli, negative past experiences, etc.
Once we have uncovered the "response" factor, we can proceed with
useful and meaningful trance work. It is my responsibility to discover what
style of communication and comfort factors make trance possible for my
"Anyone who can be hypnotized must be weak
This misconception is based on a belief that the hypnotist is in CONTROL,
and quite the contrary is true. This refers to the powerful Svengali scare
stories that abound. This is typically a result of someone who has give over
their "will" to another. This is neither the intent nor the
practice of an ethical clinician. It can become present during a session
that one is often finding themselves in the "victim" role and,
therefore, are at the mercy of others. This is not a product of hypnosis.
Rather, it is a condition of being human that often requires discovery in
which hypnotherapy can provide assistance.
"Once one has been hypnotized, one can no
longer resist it"
Again, we are discussing a dynamic of Free Will and choice based on many
factors, none of which have to do with trance states. The hypnotic process
is an interaction based on mutual power shared in order to attain some
desirable therapeutic outcome. If a person chooses not to go into a trance
state for whatever reason, they will not. Again, it is the nature of Hypnotherapy
to discover the "response" factor that prohibits the process.
However, the client is ALWAYS in control of whether or not to enter trance.
"One can be hypnotized to say or do
something against their will"
This is the squawking like a chicken paradigm. The capacity to influence
people to do things against their will does exist. However, the conditions
necessary to effect such powerful influence do not correspond to the typical
therapeutic process. Controlling another person is possible under certain
conditions, but those conditions are not in and of themselves hypnosis and
are quite far removed from the process of trance work.
"Being hypnotized can be hazardous to your
Hypnosis, itself, is not harmful to the body, the mind, or the emotional
body. Rather, the concern should be WHO you are doing hypnosis with.
Typically, the body is lethargic during the trance process. Such physical
response is healthy, reducing stress and discomfort. Hypnosis often gives
the client access to memories and feelings long outside of conscious
awareness. The content of such memories may be distressing as they often are
in therapy. However, it is the responsibility of the clinician to stay
closely connected to the process and to hold a space of safety for the
client. In the therapeutic process of moving through such memories and
discomforts is designed and managed to bring the client to the other side
and leave the client feeling more control in their lives, thus, leaving the
feeling of greater health, energy, and life experience.
"One can become Stuck in a trance"
Trance is a state of focused attention, either inwardly or outwardly
directed. It is controlled by the client, who can initiate or terminate
trance as they choose. Again, the client is in complete control.
These are just a few of the common
misconceptions about the work of trance and therapeutic hypnosis. If you
have another question, concern, or story, please
me and I will respond to your questions.
Trance state is a gentle, yet extremely powerful
process of moving stored memories, decreasing stress and discomfort, even
pain. You are always in control and will experience rejuvenation and
Next month we will explore some other
perceptions, and begin to discuss Self-Hypnosis to control stress and pain.
Take care and continue growing.