Some Common Misconceptions
- Hypnosis Can Cure Anything. Hypnosis is not a magic cure. It can help to create certain behaviours, but it is only a tool. Like any tool, it must be used properly to achieve the desired result. Having said that, it is perhaps one of the most under utilized and powerful such tools readily available to almost anyone.
- Hypnosis is Mysterious. Hypnosis seems mysterious, but it is actually a series of established psychological techniques that anybody can learn. For the sake of show, many hypnotists claim to have special powers. There is in fact there is nothing supernatural or magic about it. Anyone can learn to do it. Some people will be better than others. Like anything, it takes practice.
- People who are hypnotised can be made to act against their will. The subject of “will” and hypnotism might better be understood by comparing it to alcohol. Many people are self-conscious and shy until loosened up with alcohol. If you want to do something but are inhibited, alcohol can help. Hypnotism is quite similar. Laboratory experiments have shown that a subject will comply only with suggestions that conform to their moral and value systems. While it is true highly hypnotizable individuals may under rare circumstances be programmed to commit actions ‘against one’s will’, this applies to a small population (around 5% to 10% of the general population) and would still require a very skilled but unethical practitioner while the subject’s will power has been compromised due to strenuous conditions such as starvation or sleep deprivation. In a word, the chance of such a thing even being possible is remote in the extreme, and you should feel comfortable in the control and participation you will have throughout the entire process.
- A subject can enter a hypnotic trance and not wake up. Definitely not true. There is no danger of never waking up from a hypnotic trance. A subject can wake up whenever they want to. The subject is aware that they are being hypnotized at all times. Even in a deep trance the subject is still aware and would respond in the event of an emergency.
- Hypnosis is dangerous! Only specially trained doctors should ever be allowed to hypnotise anyone. I have heard of no one ever dying because of hypnosis. While it is advisable to seek an experienced hypnotherapist, especially if the hypnosis is being used primarily to treat deep rooted emotional problems, it is quite safe to use hypnosis on yourself or others.
- Hypnosis will cause you to reveal hidden secrets. Hypnosis is not a truth serum; one can lie just as easily in a trance as in a normal state. While under hypnosis you know perfectly well what you are doing and saying.
- Only 30 per cent of the population can be hypnotised. One group of hypnotists devised the idea of hypnotisability scales. They used the same method of induction for all tested and the result was that 30% were hypnotized based on a rigid criteria of ‘trance behaviour’. Given the narrowness of the study both in its method as well as in its definition, it seems to me that such a statistic is very misleading.
- Only simple-minded people can be hypnotized. While the precise mechanisms behind why hypnosis works is as yet unknown and its definition may still be a matter of debate among specialists, the essence of hypnosis can be characterized as an intense concentration on one small thing to the exclusion of everything else. The capacity to become hypnotized is called hypnotisability and varies from person to person. There is no established link between hypnotisability and intelligence, and there is no foundation to the cliché that ‘weak minds’ are more susceptible to hypnosis than ‘strong minds’ (whatever this means). In fact, if anything, the contrary is more likely to be the case. Subjects with heightened abilities to focus or who possess single-mindedness are more likely to profit from hypnosis than less concentrated subjects. This is because, contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of hypnosis is initiated on the behest and enthusiastic participation of the subject to accomplish goals defined by the subject for reasons of self-improvement. Thus, his or her powers of concentration contribute positively to the outcome of hypnotic sessions. This being said, the aptitude for hypnotic states exists in and of itself and means nothing more than this.