Hypnosis is a completely natural and common state of mind. In fact, we go into a hypnotic trance many times during a typical day.
If you’ve ever been absorbed in a good book or movie, then you’ve experienced a light state of hypnosis. It’s relaxing and feels great. Most likely, you’ll emerge from hypnosis feeling like you’ve had a good night’s rest.
If you are able & willing to follow instruction, you can be hypnotized. It’s true that some people can initially tap into that state more quickly or deeply than others, but as it is a natural brain frequency state you’ve experienced before, you can reach it again.
Fear or apprehension about hypnosis is the only thing that will keep you from being guided into that state. There is an aspect of surrendering to the experience that is needed and that can only be accomplished if you trust your hypnotist and truly believe that their intentions are in your very best interest.
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In a highly suggestible state, bad suggestions can have just as much effect as positive suggestions. The state itself is harmless–you cannot get “stuck” in hypnosis or be “mind-controlled”, but poorly performed hypnosis can mask symptoms and create false memories.
Instead of pretending there are no risks involved, I believe in practicing risk-aware hypnosis.
There are many factors at work during a stage show. The subjects that end up on stage at a hypnosis show are the most responsive individuals in the entire audience.
That’s because the hypnotist first asks for volunteers–effectively selecting only those who want to entertain the audience–and then performs a suggestibility test to narrow down the selection.
Also, the context of the stage show enables people to act in ways they normally wouldn’t. Not only can they place the responsibility of their actions on the hypnotist, but they also feel a tremendous pressure to perform. The powerful responses you see on stage (e.g. positive and negative hallucinations) are hypnotic skills demonstrated by the subject. If the power were in the hypnotist rather than the subject, the selection process would not be necessary.
In a battle of ‘wills’ between the hypnotist and the subject, the subject will always win.
That being said, hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness where your inhibitions are lowered & you are open to suggestion. You might say, do, feel, accept or think things you don’t normally believe. That’s the defining quality of hypnosis–it’s the reason people seek hypnotists when they aren’t able to change on their own
The fact that hypnosis works and is an incredible, painless and fast way to change behavior has been proven over and over again because its impact on the brain can be measured scientifically.
There is scientific evidence that something happens in the brain when people are hypnotized that does not happen when they are not hypnotized. Hypnotherapy has a genuine effect on the functioning of the mind, as well as the body.
Hypnosis is mentioned in the bible and was used in ancient times in Egypt to cure women of infertility. The word hypnosis originates from Hypnos the Greek God of sleep. Hypnosis was practiced as ‘animal magnetism’ 200 years ago in Vienna then France by Dr Franz Anton Mesmer, which is where the word mesmerized comes from.
In the 1950s medical hypnosis began to gain credibility as more reliable measures of hypnotizability were developed and the research into the many benefits of hypnosis gained validity. Stanford University was the first to establish a reliable “yardstick” of susceptibility called the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scales. The Stanford scale showed that almost everyone can be hypnotized.
Today, it is understood and accepted that hypnosis can be an important part of treatment for many conditions including medical conditions, which is why it is used in many leading hospitals including Great Ormond St, Addenbrooks and UCLA. Recent medical research using modern brain imaging techniques shows that the connections in the brain are different during hypnosis.