10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Hypnosis

Hypnosis has practically been around since the year dot. It’s popularity in modern times has spanned everything from Hollywood and TV, through to comics and, of course, Scooby Doo episodes. Unfortunately, this excess attention has amounted to people having a warped understanding of hypnosis which is based more on fiction than fact.

A typical example of this is stage hypnosis — meant only to entertain — which has inadvertently coloured public opinion of what clinical hypnosis is and most definitely isn’t.

Here are ten facts to get your mind set around hypnosis…

1. Hypnotic suggestibility

Hypnosis, for the most part, involves being lulled into a suggestible state where the person under hypnosis is takes in self-improvement suggestions by the hypnotist. Some individuals are more suggestible than others: Science has already confirmed that some people have higher hypnotic suggestibility, as well as the fact that they are also more likely to benefit from hypnosis than those who aren’t.

2. Stage hypnosis

Popular media has led to misconceptions about hypnosis, the most obvious involving the control of unsuspecting victims who are made to perform all manner of ridiculous acts in front of an audience. Stage hypnosis exists for entertainment purposes ONLY and often combines parlour tricks (including part-of-the-act stooges — like you didn’t suspect that!) and before-the-show screening to ensure the hypnotist picks out the most highly suggestible — and entertaining — volunteers from the crowd.

3. Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy involves willing clients undertaking treatment to change perceived negative behaviours, as well as addressing a multitude of psychological, emotional and physical symptoms. Hypnotherapy creates unconscious change in clients by putting them in a highly suggestible state. The word hypnosis goes back to the Greek hypnos, meaning sleep. While hypnotherapy is considered a legitimate practice all over the world, it’s still considered a new age alternative treatment to many.

4. Auto suggestion

Would you be surprised to know that you don’t need a hypnotist to be hypnotized? With auto suggestion, which is basically self-hypnosis (also known as meditation and visualization, among many others), you use your unconscious to influence your own behaviour in a way your conscious mind cannot.

5. Hypnotic induction

Hypnotic induction — whether directly spoken or via a recording — is the method used to hypnotize a person into trance state required for heightened suggestibility. Rapid induction is used in clinical situations — as well as on stage — to induce the subject into a hypnotic state at a much quicker rate.

6. Memory

You may expect that people forget much of what they experience while under hypnosis, and while there is some truth to this, it only applies if the hypnotized person wants to forget or when it’s explicitly suggested by the hypnotist. Studies have found that these memories are easy to retrieve when employing the correct cues, but that the suggestible person is, in fact, unconsciously blocking them. Hypnosis is also very effective in retrieving repressed memories.

7. Historical use

Hypnosis has gained popularity in recent years, but its clinical use can be traced back to the 1800s where it was used as a form of hypno-anaesthesia. Its real origins, however, take root as far back as 3000 years ago in ancient Egypt and ancient Greece.

8. Official recognition

In the 1950s, the American Medical Association held a mental health council where hypnosis was approved for use in medical and psychological applications. Unfortunately, the AMA inexplicably withdrew its approval in the 1980s, deciding that hypnosis was not a valid medical tool after all.

9. Self control

One of the greatest myths about hypnosis is that a hypnotist can make you do things. As mentioned previously, hypnosis is a suggestible state in which some are more so than others. A professionally-qualified and registered hypnotist — operating under and bound by a code of ethics and conduct — is merely a facilitator for their client’s change of mindset, a change that is willingly requested in advanced. Any decision made while under hypnosis will follow your existing morals or beliefs.

10. Consciousness

Although hypnosis is performed while under a trance state (or, as some believe, simply in a heightened state of suggestibility), you aren’t actually asleep. You are in complete control of your actions and awake the entire time. As trivial as it may sound, many of us have been hypnotized before. Consider the times you’ve driven along a routine route and, on arriving at your destination, cannot recall the actual journey. This happens because driving has become a subconsciously learned process (i.e., your mind drifts off) that no longer requires conscious attention to perform.

Andrea Luquesi Scott likes to make people content, in both senses of the word.

Part of the Australian and international marketing and publishing tribes for more than 20 years, she is particularly well-known for her abhorrence for the misuse of commas and apostrophes.

An advocate for the benefits of — and dispelling the myths about — clinical hypnosis, she continues to rage diligently against the machine that is social programming, and shine a little of her own light over those less inspired, a la Mary Poppins!

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