4 Myths About Hypnosis
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4 Myths About HypnosisLook Into My Eyes
I’d like to suggest that all hypnosis is fundamentally self-hypnosis. This idea isn’t original to me, for one of the real pioneers of modern hypnosis, Dr. Milton Erickson, made this statement many years ago. The fact is that hypnosis is based on suggestibility, and you must be willing to accept the suggestions, or there will be no so-called trance state. That’s not to say that gifted hypnotists aren’t able to disarm any defenses you might have, but the fact remains that you are the key to a successful hypnotic session. However, there are still a number of myths and misconceptions that are worth discussing.
Myth: I Can’t Be Hypnotized
There are some who believe they can’t be hypnotized, but this is incorrect. Everyone—or nearly everyone—can be. Hypnosis does require the ability to concentrate, so the only people who aren’t susceptible are the very young or those who are of well below average intelligence and have problems focusing.
Myth: I Will Lose Control
One of the most commonly held myths is the idea that a person will do things under hypnosis that he wouldn’t otherwise do. Anyone who has seen or heard about a stage hypnosis show will tell you that there were people barking like dogs and doing other things they wouldn’t normally do. The fact is that they might not ordinarily behave in this manner, but they would if they could hide behind some excuse.
Let me provide an example: There are people who would really like to be funny, to be entertainers, to be the center of attention, but who are afraid of rejection. What if they fail? What if they aren’t funny? What if they have stage fright? You get the picture. This personality type provides the perfect subject for the stage hypnotist. For while these folks hide behind the safety net of the hypnotist that “makes” them do things, they’re able to perform in ways they’ve always wanted to. Think about it this way: If the person volunteers to be a participant, isn’t he or she already predisposed to play the role?
Stage hypnotists are skillful at selecting their subjects among the volunteers. Further, they’re masters at detecting those subtle clues that predict the cooperation level of the volunteer. The truth is that you don’t need hypnosis to achieve the same behavior that you can observe on the stage. In fact, the best of the entertainers have dumped the word hypnosis in favor of other terms, such as suggestibility, that better define their activities.
However, the entire notion that someone else has control over you has no place in a self-hypnosis session, for you’re both the hypnotist and the subject.
Myth: Only the Weak-Minded Can Experience Hypnosis
Some believe that hypnosis is something only weak-minded people experience. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Hypnosis is a natural state that’s dictated by brain-wave activity. This is what you need to know:
- Normal consciousness is referred to in terms of brain-wave cycles as beta. This is a state equal to 15 cycles per second and up, typically 15 to 30 cycles per second.
- Below beta is alpha, a state typically thought of as represented by 8 to 14 cycles per second of brain-wave activity when measured by an EEG.
- Below alpha is theta, which is 4 to 7 cycles.
- Below that is delta.
Alpha and theta brain-wave patterns are those manifested when the subject is in hypnosis. These brain-wave cycles are also those present when sleeping, and perhaps this partially explains why so many hypnotists use the word sleep. Entering hypnosis is indeed similar in the sense that brain-wave activity follows the same pattern, and visualization while in hypnosis can be very much like the rapid eye movement (REM) experience during sleep.
Myth: Hypnosis Is Just Deep Sleep
Over the years, I’ve used hypnosis in a variety of applications, including forensic work. I’ve hypnotized subjects who were able, in that condition, to provide significant additional factual material relevant to criminal investigations. Many of these subjects later told me that they didn’t feel hypnotized. This shows the falsehood of the myth that hypnosis is a deep sleep. Indeed, you’ll find that should you need to open your eyes for some reason, you’ll do so and your mind will be clearer than if you’d been in the so-called normal state of consciousness, to say nothing of a deep sleep. In that sense, you’re more prepared to respond appropriately to your environment.
You Are Always in Control!
Although we’ve now dispelled the most common myths about hypnosis, you should also know right from the start that you’re always in control—you can always end a hypnosis session whenever you choose. Whether it’s a guided session by me on the CD that accompanies my book or an experience led by anyone else, including yourself, you can simply open your eyes and will the hypnosis session to be over.