Do you want to know about 3 Things Hypnosis Can Not Do? To start with, I must emphasize that hypnosis isn’t magic and it cannot do magic. Furthermore, by itself, it can achieve absolutely nothing at all other than a sense of calmness and relaxation – useful for a temporary relief from stress, but for precious little else.
However, that in itself is no bad thing, given the 100 kph world in which we now live, but it is what is actually done with someone once they are hypnotized that produces change that is important, and that is, of course, the therapy itself, administered under hypnosis.
Hypnosis A Tool
Hypnosis is a tool, like any other tool, say for woodworking, and it is only a tool. Its power, or usefulness, depends on who’s using it, again, just like a woodworking tool. If I have a saw, I can just about cut up some logs to put on the fire, which is useful, but not great, whereas my friend Luís can use his saw to construct a small shed. In other words, the saw is a powerful tool in his hands, but a waste of space in mine, and the same principle applies to hypnosis.
Hypnosis is a state of awareness dominated by the subconscious mind. OK, further explanation. The mind consists of the conscious and the subconscious, and you can think of them as a set of scales. During our waking hours, the conscious mind keeps us informed and aware of what is happening around us and is in the up position, while the subconscious mind is working in the background, so to speak, making sure that all our bodily functions such as breathing are carried out correctly, and is in the down position.
But, whenever we concentrate on something to the exclusion of all else, our conscious mind takes time off and the subconscious mind takes over as the dominant force. The conscious mind goes into the down position and the subconscious mind goes into the up position, and this is the altered state of awareness which we call hypnosis.
It’s a perfectly natural occurrence, experienced hundreds of times every day by everyone, without us even being aware of it. For example, you go through it every night just before you fall asleep, and again every morning just before you wake up. It’s also a common phenomenon that a motorist when driving a familiar route will arrive at his destination, yet have no conscious recall about parts of the journey. This is because the familiarity of the journey caused his conscious mind to ‘switch off’ and he was coasting along on auto-pilot.
So, you can see that hypnosis is just a ‘regular’ guy, like you and me – 100% natural and a good friend to have. And like most good friends, it enjoys nothing more than helping you by bringing you a sense of calmness and relaxation. Also, it doesn’t impose itself where it’s not wanted. However, it’s real strength comes when it joins with its partner ‘therapy’ to form that well known double act ‘hypnotherapy’, because together they can bring you a shed-load of good things, from a simple confidence boost for such things as a driving test, exam or best man’s speech at a wedding, through quitting habits such as smoking or nail-biting, to the development of healthy, enjoyable and nutritional eating habits, and improvements that can be brought about in personal motivation, getting fit, concentration, business skills, goal achievement, language skills, study skills, stress management, sporting performance, sexual performance, public speaking, memory enhancement, creativity in all fields, tenacity in fact, it can be used to improve or enhance almost all areas of human activity.
It is also extremely useful in the medical world. For example, it can be used to aid recovery from an illness and lower pain, and at the highest level, hypnosis can replace chemical anesthesia for operations. But I must emphasize, and I cannot say this strongly enough, that when you are suffering medical problems you should always see a medical doctor first, and then, and only then, armed with the proper diagnosis, and knowing it’s safe, should you consult your local hypnotherapist to assist you.
3 Things Hypnosis Can Not Do
Hypnosis can’t change anybody’s basic underlying personality.
- it can’t repair congenital damage or genetic problems.
- it can’t make anybody live forever (although it probably can help to extend useful and enjoyable life).
- it can’t help to achieve anything that is truly physically impossible, like growing body parts and it cannot do anything that the client resists happening.
I think that last point deserves being repeated, only louder. Hypnosis cannot do anything that a client resists happening.
In other words, you cannot be hypnotized against your will. Hypnosis is a two-way street. The hypnotist only facilitates the hypnosis in the client if the client wants it, or doesn’t resist it, and it only occurs when he or she is concentrating really hard on something to the exclusion of all else.
You are reading this article, and having got this far, presumably that means you are totally focused and interested in it to the exclusion of all else, which also means you are currently in a light state of hypnosis that has come about because you are concentrating on what you are reading.
Myths and Humbug
Well, I guess this is probably as good a time as any to explode the most common myths surrounding hypnosis. The moment of truth beckons:
- You cannot get stuck in hypnosis – this is quite impossible.
- You do not become in any way unconscious or semi-conscious.
- You cannot, at any time, be made to do things you do not want to do.
- You are totally aware of yourself and your surroundings at all times.
- You do not go to sleep.
- You are not in anyone’s power, and nobody can take control of you.
- You can leave the hypnotic state whenever you want.
- You cannot lose your mind.
- Hypnosis cannot permanently remove memories or thoughts from your mind.
- You will not suddenly blurt out your ‘dark’ secrets.
- Hypnosis cannot bestow psychic abilities or supernatural powers.
- Hypnosis cannot make you act against, or abandon, your moral code.
- There is no such thing as a ‘hypnotized feeling’.
- You do not say or do ‘funny things’ unless you want to.
- Hypnosis is a truly natural state of mind and body and is therefore perfectly safe.
We’ve all seen hypnotists portrayed in movies, as they swing gold pocket watches and whisper, “You’re getting sleepy. Very sleepy.” But did you know hypnosis is used in therapy? When it’s utilized by trained hypnotherapists, patients can use hypnosis to recover from trauma, move past addictions, and just generally improve their lives.
Despite the fact it can seem a bit scary, or like some form of magic, the way hypnosis works is actually quite scientific. “People are induced into a relaxation state, or alpha brain wave activity,” Edie Raether, MS, CSP, a hypnotherapist and behavioral psychology expert, tells Bustle. “It is a meditative state where the client is more open and receptive due to being relaxed.”
Once in the relaxed state, the hypnotherapist can begin to work with their patient on whatever it is they’d like to improve. “There are two types of hypnosis: suggestive and exploratory, which is very effective for PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder),” Raether says. “Unconscious and buried experiences rise to the surface and are expelled, allowing people to experience immediate healing.”
It works because the underlying issues are identified, and then addressed. As Raether says, “In the right hands, with a reputable, experienced therapist, it truly is the most economical and effective way to change any behavior, including academic and sports performance.” Here are a few more interesting things that can happen during a hypnotherapy session, according to experts.
1 – Your Consciousness Will Be Altered
Hypnosis can make it seem like someone is “out of it” or asleep, when in reality their consciousness is simply altered the same way it might be if they were zoning out or daydreaming.
“Hypnosis is a dissociative process; an altered state of consciousness,” hypnotherapist Darlene Corbett tells Bustle. “What happens in the brain occurs as it does during a daydream.”
Once a person enters this relaxed, dreamy state, the hypnotherapist can begin to address their underlying concerns. “Hypnosis is focused attention,” Corbett says. “Because of its ability to focus, one can tap into so many areas of empowerment they do not realize they have.”
2 – You Technically Hypnotize Yourself
Even though it may seem like the hypnotherapist is doing all the work or “making” someone become hypnotized, it’s actually the individual who is allowing themselves to relax.
In reality, “all hypnosis is ‘self hypnosis,'” Anthony Gitch, RHT, of Excel Hypnosis, tells Bustle. “It is not something that is done to you. It is a balanced dance with the therapist following where the subconscious mind leads, and then leading the subconscious mind towards profound internal insights.” Pretty cool, right?
3 – You Might Feel Really Heavy Or Really Light
There is no one “right” way to feel during hypnosis. Either “hypnosis doesn’t feel like anything, or you may feel really heavy, or you may feel really light,” says Gitch. “It really doesn’t matter, because it is your experience and you will experience exactly what you need to experience.”
4 – You’re Not Being “Mind Controlled”
One thing that might come as a relief to people who want to try hypnosis is that it may be a strange experience, but it’s definitely not mind control. As Gitch says, “A hypnotist cannot make someone do something against their will.” You’re still you, and thus in complete control of your faculties.
5 – You Might Experience Changes In Just One Session
Despite popular belief, you can’t get stuck in hypnosis, or remain slightly hypnotized after leaving your session. “Although you may wish you could once you experience it,” Gitch says, since many people find the experience relaxing and soothing.
You can, however, experience visible changes once you leave. As Raether says, “85 percent of the people I see for smoking quit after one session.” But that level of success only works for people who allow it to work.
“If people are just hanging in there and need to hold onto their defenses to cope and function, then it is not wise” to try hypnotherapy, Raether says. “If people are emotionally fragile, I would not do exploratory hypnosis and bring more up, which may be more than they can deal with.” Instead, Raether says she would help a client build up their confidence and resilience, before trying to hypnosis. That way, they’ll be better able to handle whatever it dredges up.
6 – You Might Relive A Traumatic Experience
Depending on what you’re seeing a hypnotherapist for, you might want to brace yourself for an onslaught of unpleasant memories and emotions. As Gitch says, “Some hypnotherapists are trained to illicit abreactions, which are the expression and consequent release of a previously repressed emotion, achieved through reliving the experience that caused it.”
Let’s say, during hypnosis, you want to forgive someone who hurt you int the past. “During forgiveness work, clients are instructed ‘to be’ the offender,” Gitch says. “This can be unnerving when the clients face and change as they become the person who hurt them.” It can be upsetting at first, but it’s all part of the process.
7 – You Might Feel Triggered
“Many of our bad habits, phobias, or negative preconceptions are triggered by our automatic, unconscious thoughts,” hypnotherapist Grace Smith tells Bustle. “A smoker experiences automatic cravings, which trigger the conscious mind to reach for a cigarette.”
All of that can come up in therapy. But it’s a good thing. As Smith says, “Through hypnosis, the smoker can reframe these unconscious urges. First, [they] would examine why these automatic thoughts were there to begin with. And then, the smoker could begin to delete, update, or replace them with more positive associations. In other words, the positive thoughts get pushed to the front of the unconscious and they drown out the old way of the thinking. That’s why hypnosis works. It helps you get to the root cause of your habit or fixation.”
8 – You Can Reprogram Yourself
As clinical hypnotherapist Traci Blank, FIBH, CMS-CHt, CPC says, there are three parts of the mind: the conscious, subconscious, and superconscious. And in between the subconscious and the superconscious is the “critical factor.”
“During hypnosis, we open the critical factor to access the subconscious,” Blank says. “So hypnotherapy is really just the process through which we access the subconscious mind to uncover the beliefs that exist there and alter the programming to better match your goals. I always tell my clients it’s knowing how the mind works then using that knowledge to make the mind work for you.”
9 – You Have To Want It To Work
Again, no one can be hypnotized against their will. These suggestions and moments of reprogramming only work if someone wants it to. “Everyone has the ability to go into hypnosis but three things have to be in place to make it happen: desire, you have to want to go into hypnosis; belief, you have to believe you can go into hypnosis; and safety, you have to feel safe in the environment you are in and with the person leading you,” Blank says. “When all these things are in place hypnosis can happen.”
If hypnotherapy is something you want to try, it may be well worth your time. While no one should expect to be “cured” in one session, going in with an open mind certainly can help.
Some Important Questions and Answers
What can go wrong with hypnosis?
Hypnosis conducted by a trained therapist or health care professional is considered a safe, complementary and alternative medical treatment. However, hypnosis may not be appropriate in people with severe mental illness. Adverse reactions to hypnosis are rare, but may include: Headache
What is one criticism regarding hypnosis?
Critics suggest hypnosis is no different from the placebo effect. They both use the power of suggestion to get the mind to heal the body; both are no substitute for medicine. That skepticism has driven Spiegel and other researchers to take a hard look at what happens in the brain during hypnosis
How is hypnosis done and what are its limitations?
We know more than most just how effective hypnosis can be, but there are limitations to its power. Hypnosis cannot repair congenital damage or genetic problems. Hypnosis cannot prevent the ageing process, or make you live forever. Hypnosis cannot help you achieve anything that is truly physically impossible.
Can hypnosis make you do things?
Again you’re going back through hypnosis, and coming back up, to the waking state. So again it’s a willingness, it’s all self hypnosis, so nobody can make you do anything you don’t want to do. Because the subconscious mind won’t allow it to happen unless you want it to.
Is Hypnosis bad for your brain?
A serious science. For some people, hypnosis is associated with loss of control or stage tricks. But doctors like Spiegel know it to be a serious science, revealing the brain’s ability to heal medical and psychiatric conditions.
Can everyone be Hypnotised?
Not everyone is able to be hypnotized, and new research from the Stanford University School of Medicine shows how the brains of such people differ from those who can easily be.
What does hypnosis feel like?
The way people typically describe the feeling of being hypnotized during hypnotherapy is to be in a calm, physically, and mentally relaxed state. In this state, they are able to focus deeply on what they are thinking about.
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