Hypnosis - Frequently Asked Questions
World Hypnotism Day is celebrated on January 4th of every year and a day designated by the hypnosis community for demystifying hypnosis and celebrating the possible positive effects.
Hypnotechs celebrates this day each year by booking free “Introduction to Hypnosis” sessions all day.
You can read more here: Hypnotechs World Hypnotism Day
Not even close. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
This misconception comes from what people see happening during hypnosis stage shows. It looks for all the world like the subjects are doing whatever the hypnotist tells them, no matter how ridiculous. If you look closely, however, you might notice that with almost every skit, there’s at least one person who ignores the hypnotist and just sits there. That person has chosen not to participate for some reason. Usually, it’s because they can’t picture or imagine what the hypnotist is describing, they think it’s too silly or it conflicts with something they believe so they just choose to sit that one out.
The rest of the people are having a great time using their imaginations in the world the hypnotist is describing for them. They are having a great time playing along because, let’s face it, playing is fun and using your imagination feels good, especially as an adult when you have practically forgotten what it’s like.
In hypnosis, you are hyper-focused. There are no “hypnozombies”. If you are given a suggestion you don’t like, you will ignore it or even bring yourself fully awake. As hypnotists, we have to tread very lightly to avoid that by keeping our words congruent with what the subject expects otherwise they come right out of trance. That makes “mind control” impossible.
Memories are funny things. Sometimes they stick around forever, and other times they are gossamer and fade away quickly, seemingly without reason as to why one or the other happens. It’s further complicated by the fact that every time you open a memory and examine it, then put it away, you get your fingerprints all over it, changing it slightly. Studies have shown that the more you revisit a memory, the more it drifts from the original.
Hypnosis can help you remember the password for your Bitcoin wallet or find your lost car keys if the conditions are right and it often works great! But if the memory has been corrupted, it’s possible that it’s gone forever.
If the information is still there and it’s just buried, hypnosis is often your best bet for retrieving it.
Medical doctors and mental health professionals may indicate that hypnosis is contraindicated for a number of conditions, including:
- Schizophrenia and other mental health disorders.
- Developmental disabilities.
- Use of certain drugs.
- Ongoing psychiatric treatment.
Although hypnosis has seen some amazing results over a wide spectrum of conditions, hypnotherapy is generally an adjunct therapy and is not a substitute for medical or psychiatric care.
A deep state of hypnosis, where the client may respond with amnesia, anesthesia, negative and positive hallucinations, and complete control of the senses. It is characterized by the eyes rolling up underneath the eyelids.
A person capable of reaching a profound state of hypnotic trance or “somnambulism”.
A somnambulist who is capable of reaching that level of hypnotic trance known and “somnambulism” without training or practice, generally during their first experience with hypnosis. In Kappasinian terms, this is most likely with a person who responds equally well to all suggestions, both direct and indirect, affecting both the body and emotions. This person would have a near 50/50 Suggestibility (50% Physical Suggestible and 50% Emotional Suggestible).
In many sessions, the client doesn’t even speak. In those where the client speaks, they won’t tell me anything they wouldn’t have told me before the session.
The military actually invested a ton of money to see if hypnosis could be used in interrogation. As it turns out, it’s useless. The “client” can come out of it any time they want and they won’t reveal anything. Not a single thing.
You family secrets, the skeletons in the closet and the access code for your debit card will remain in your head, safely out of reach.
This is one of the most common misconceptions about hypnosis and it’s not too surprising, considering the way hypnosis is presented in movies and on stage.
Maybe you have seen a stage show where one person just didn’t respond to a particular skit. In many cases, that is because that skit wasn’t “congruent” with who they are. That is, they didn’t like the idea, couldn’t visualize it or even found that it conflicted with some value they hold. When you are hypnotized, every word the hypnotist says still gets analyzed. If it sets off any alarm bells, you will either disregard it like that person on stage or even come out of “state” and “awaken”.
You might choose to imagine yourself as an ex-smoker, because you don’t object to that, but with certainty, you are not going to tell me the P.I.N. for your debit card or do anything you would object to.
Anyone who wants to be. If you can pay attention and follow instructions, you are going to go under. The “depth” of the trance may vary with the natural ability and experience of the subject, but hypnotic trance is natural and we all slip in and out of it daily even without a hypnotist being present.
Hypnosis is a focus and imagination. Usually, relaxation is part of the clinical experience, but it’s really a secondary benefit.
The Scottish surgeon James Braid coined the term “hypnotism”, then later he sought to change the name to “monoideism”, but the name had already caught on. He changed his mind on the name because as he researched it, he found that “hypnosis” had a lot less to do with “hypno” (Greek for “sleep”) than it did with focus.
In a hypnotic trance, the noise in your mind stops and you are able to focus with crystalline clarity on the voice of the hypnotist and the suggestions being made.
“Induction” just means an “entry point”. Dictionary.com defines it as: “the process or action of bringing about or giving rise to something”.
A hypnotic induction is just a technique to transition a subject into a hypnotic trance. There are hundreds of techniques.
Some inductions happen slowly, relying on relaxation to ease the subject into a trance. Others use the “startle reflex” to surprise the client into moving into a trance. Still, others use a monotonous action, like a pocket-watch swinging to bring about a trance.
The best induction is the one that works for you. Some people react better to one method than another and it’s my job to figure that out before we start.
At any time, you can simply open your eyes and be done. Simply tell me that you don’t think hypnosis is for you and I will count you out of it to make sure you are fully awake. That is your call and I won’t be offended.
You can also say to yourself, out loud or in your head “One, Two, Three, Four, Five! Eyes Open! Wide Awake!” and you will end the session. I can do nothing to keep you hypnotized if you don’t want to be and I wouldn’t anyway. If you are done, I will help you wake up.
Subtitled: “I won’t have an accident, will I?”
Okay, don’t laugh. It’s a common question and face it, when you gotta go, you gotta go.
Most importantly, no, you will NOT have an “accident”. Unless you are prone to accidents already either while you are awake or when you are sleeping, in which case PLEASE mention that to your hypnotist in advance, all the normal warning systems remain in effect. You will feel all the normal symptoms and you won’t ignore them to the point of an accident.
If you feel it coming and it’s to the point or even beyond the point where it’s distracting or is interfering with your ability to stay focused, simply tell your hypnotist you need a break, using whatever words you are most comfortable using. Your hypnotist will bring you up so that you can take care of the problem. When you return, you will go back under quickly and in all likelihood, even deeper than you were.
Relax, it happens and it’s not a big deal.
Okay, let’s unravel this before we jump to any conclusions. There are lots of reasons your friend might have had a less than ideal experience.
What were the credentials of the hypnotist? Maybe it was some guy who once read a book and was trying an induction for the first time.
Maybe your friend wasn’t in the right frame a mind.
Was there alcohol involved?
Most people are unclear about whether they were hypnotized after the first time because it wasn’t what they expected.
Did the hypnosis not work or are you saying the suggestions didn’t stick afterward? Either way, I am betting the hypnotist was inexperienced.
I hear this question frequently and I cannot answer for you. It depends on your own beliefs and the teachings of the church you belong to. My best advice is for you to talk it over with your spiritual advisor.
I know of no prohibition against hypnosis in the Bible. Deuteronomy is commonly cited, but it refers to sorcery, witchcraft, and spells, none of which have anything to do with hypnosis. I do know that there are many examples of trances being described in the Bible and they always seem to involve greater spiritual awareness.
Here’s a version of the Deuteronomy passage:
“When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God”
I will state with no ambiguity that there are no dark forces at work in anything I do. Hypnosis is a force for good. Hypnosis has no burnt offerings, is not divination, fortune telling, interpretation of omens, sorcery or charming. Hypnotists are not psychic and don’t commune with or raise the dead.
This passage seems to encourage exploring your mind:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
The best summary I have found, by someone far, far, more qualified to speak on this subject is from Dr. Roger Barrier of “Preach It, Teach It” fame. It is quoted below and you can find the article in its entirety HERE.
Is it Okay for a Christian to be Hypnotized? by Dr. Roger Barrier – Preach It, Teach It
In many ways hypnosis is simply deeply-focused meditation where good things can take place. The Bible is filled with injunctions for Christians to meditate upon the word of God. Twice Peter entered into meditative states and the Bible approved his “trances” both times. Isaiah, Daniel, Paul and Jeremiah all experienced times of hypnotic trance and heightened awareness inspired by God to give them deep insights into his person and character.
Is there any passage in the Bible that forbids hypnosis?
No. Opponents of hypnosis turn to Deuteronomy 18:9-13. As the Israelites are entering into the Promised Land God gives them a warning not to enter into the practices in the pagan lands ahead. God said: “let there be found no wanted sacrifices his child in the fire; stay away from those who practice divination and sorcery, engaging witchcraft; cast spells…
Opponents focus on the Hebrew term “cast spells” as being the same as hypnosis. Their interpretation is really a stretch.
What Christian groups approve the use of hypnosis? Are there any Christians groups that expressly forbid it?
Roman Catholics, the Anglican Church and Lutherans actively support and utilize hypnosis in helping people. On the other hand, the Church of Christ, the Seventh-day Adventists, the evangelical church, fundamentalists and charismatics tend to preach and teach against it. Most churches and groups are in the middle where hypnosis is really not an issue.
What are the benefits of hypnosis?
Since hypnosis is all about intense focus which removes peripheral distractions, we may use it as a tool for Christian meditation which is helpful in allowing us to experience the person and character of Christ. I suppose that this state is best produced through the process of self-hypnosis as opposed to the other kinds.
Let me recommend to you the book “Experiencing The Depths Of Jesus Christ,” by a 15th century, fourteen-year-old French girl named Madam Guyon. Catholic Leaders of her time demanded that she recant the teachings of the book because her basic premise was that anyone, at any time, could come into contact with the living God– without having to go through a Catholic priest. She teaches us how to quiet our minds and move into deep meditation focusing on a Bible story, event, person, verse or phrase. What she’s really doing is teaching us how we can experience Christ through the art of deep meditation, or what might be described as self-hypnosis.
Can hypnosis open the door of my mind to a satanic attack?
In spiritual warfare it’s important to remember that every area of our lives not under the direct care and influence of the Holy Spirit is open to control by a demonic spirit. Notice the difference between control and influence. God intends for us to be free to make our own decisions. He will never take control of our minds. However he influences us by the Spirit who lives within us.
On the other hand, Satan desires to take control of our minds. That’s why Paul warns us to take every thought captive: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Paul says that we must be careful to guard what goes into our minds lest we open up an unprotected area where Satan can gain control.
So the question is, “Can hypnosis open my mind in any way that might allow Satan to get control of my thinking?”
Unexpectedly for many of us, the truth is that during hypnosis, we often have more control over our minds than ever before. Just because we may be more susceptible to suggestions in no way means that we lose control of our minds and do things that we never intended to do.
— Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care.
In 1847, the Roman Catholic Church recognized hypnosis as a natural part of our own ability, and NOT the work of the devil! The decree from the Sacred Congregation of The Holy Office states;
“Having removed all misconceptions, foretelling of the future, explicit or implicit invocation of the devil, the use hypnosis is indeed merely an act of making use of physical media that are otherwise licit and hence it is not morally forbidden provided it does not tend toward an illicit end or toward anything depraved.”
Hypnotists commonly use the word “sleep” to induce hypnosis and during hypnosis to deepen the state, but hypnosis is not like sleep or unconsciousness.
In hypnosis, you are aware of what is going on around you, you are responsive to outside stimuli and you can control how things proceed. If you have ever looked into “lucid dreaming“, some people describe it as being a similar state.
First, let’s define “pseudoscience”. According to Wikipedia it is:
Pseudoscience consists of statements, beliefs, or practices that are claimed to be scientific and factual, in the absence of evidence gathered and constrained by appropriate scientific methods.
Pseudoscience is often characterized by the following: contradictory, exaggerated or unfalsifiable claims; reliance on confirmation bias rather than rigorous attempts at refutation; lack of openness to evaluation by other experts; and absence of systematic practices when developing theories.
The term pseudoscience is often considered pejorative because it suggests something is being presented as science inaccurately or even deceptively. Those described as practicing or advocating pseudoscience often dispute the characterization.
With that in mind, hypnosis is most certainly NOT pseudoscience. There is plenty of scientific, non-anecdotal evidence, that points to the legitimacy of hypnosis. We link to some articles of that nature in the “Resources” section of this site, but there are many, many more articles to be found.
Of course, Wikipedia maintains a “List of topics characterized as pseudoscience“. Note that hypnosis is conspicuously not on that list.
Too smart, focused, intelligent, imaginative, in control, skeptical and so on…
We ALL think that. Trust me, it wasn’t true for me, it hasn’t been true in any of the hundreds of times I’ve heard it and it’s not true for you either.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. The more intelligent and imaginative you are, the better subject you are likely to make.
Nope. You cannot get stuck. In 4000 years of recorded hypnosis history, the only one who has ever gotten stuck is that guy in the movie “Office Space” and to be fair, he kind of needed it. In that movie, the hypnotist dies of a heart-attack while his client is hypnotized and for the rest of the movie, the client is still in trance and ultra-relaxed.
In reality, what would happen is that the client would come out of trance and try to help the dying hypnotist or he would fall into a deep, relaxing sleep and awake naturally, then try to help the already dead hypnotist. There is no ‘stuck’.
I’ll let you in on a secret. If people could get stuck, we hypnotists would create armies of “hypnozombies” to do our bidding for us, while we lived lives of luxury and pleasure. Muahhahahahahha! Just kidding. (Or am I?) Nope. No stuck. Instead, we try to help people.
In general, no. Hypnosis requires your participation and consent to work.
There are “shock” inductions that can be performed that startle the subject into hypnosis, but without participation and consent, the subject will pop right back out again in less than a second.
A very skilled hypnotist can make involuntary hypnosis last longer, but you would NEVER find that in a therapy environment where trust means everything.
Yes! Please do!
Get comfortable, clear your throat, scratch, sneeze, do what you need to do to get it out of your system and relax completely.
Each thing you do to be more comfortable will let you go deeper and there’s a rule of thumb in hypnosis:
“The deeper you go, the better you feel. The better you feel, the deeper you go.”
There is a natural ability inherent in hypnosis, but willingness goes a long way toward overriding that.
I would rather work with a willing participant who is low on the hypnotizability scale than someone with a ton of natural ability who won’t do the work.
There are people who are naturally gifted at hypnosis. They are known as “somnambulists” or “sleepwalkers”. While somnambulists have a natural ability to experience hypnotic trance, it is a skill that can be learned and improved by anyone who is so inclined. Practice, practice, practice.
Ah… you have seen those shows too?
No, not unless you want to. In general, acting like an animal is not part of a hypnotherapy session, unless you have specifically asked for that as part of your goals.
It’s funny to see imagination run amok on stage, but most hypnotherapy clients would not find it the least bit amusing.