Saturday, February 27, 2010

Does Hypnosis Scare You? Should It?

Sometimes the story starts out the same. A man or woman calls me about a smoking problem. The problem is that his or her doctor says they need to stop smoking and they are truly ready to quit but nothing seems to be working.

Cold turkey seems to have failed along with those magic pills or nicotine drugs that their doctor has prescribed and they have been faithfully taking. So now, he or she is not only taking pills but is also continuing to smoke at the same time. Since they are now even more desperate, they figured they would call me to help them out.

So, he or she visits our office and in a session or two, successfully kicks the habit. Now, at this part of the story most folks would agree that the ending results of this person quitting in one or two sessions is amazing. And while we would totally agree with this, there is also a sad part to this story. The sad part is that some people are so afraid of hypnosis that they will try everything else first, including drugs with known and unknown side effects.

Now some may argue that EVERYTHING including hypnosis has some sort of side effects. So if this is true what exactly are the side effects of hypnosis? Is it dangerous?

The truth is that hypnosis does have a side effect and it is called relaxation. Now, there is really only one problem with the kind of relaxation which hypnoses causes. You have to make sure after your session ends that you are fully awake, alert and aware before leaving your session, crossing a street or driving home. So if you consider relaxation a negative side effect, then there you have it.

But that is not the end of the story...

I am disappointed that we have not fully set the record straight on hypnosis, particularly hypnosis for the purpose of self improvement. Not to point fingers or act like a stick in the mud, but I think that much of the misunderstanding about hypnosis comes from stage hypnosis which has been used for entertainment.

A few years back while I was telling people about my hypnosis company, I noticed I got a mixed reaction from many of my friends and family members. Some acted a little afraid while others seemed interested in trying it out. But one thing still stands out to this day.

My sister showed an interest in wanted to undergo hypnosis and one of her friends said "I would love to watch you hypnotize her." I remember that when she made this comment, although it was innocent, the reality set in. Many times when I tell people that I perform hypnosis they act as if I am a magician who was going to make them bark like a dog, cluck like a chicken, make them disappear or saw them in half.

The truth is that I do not perform magic or illusion tricks. I perform therapy treatment for people. With that said, I often find that there are a lot of misconceptions about hypnosis and even some that can cause common fears. So I figured I would list a few of them below.

"I will get stuck in hypnosis forever."

If you have ever seen the movie Officespace, you may remember the part when the hypnotist dies during the session and the main character gets stuck in the hypnotic state. Although it is a funny movie, this is false. You cannot get stuck in hypnosis even if your practitioner were to collapse in the middle of your session, and not end the session. Instead, what would happen is that after not getting any input for a few minutes, your subconscious mind would take notice and then would exit the hypnotic state. And you would naturally wake yourself.

"The hypnotist will make me tell my secrets. "

Again maybe another entertaining plot for a movie but not true. Secrets such as bank account numbers or other personal life topics are safe. To begin with, no reputable hypnotist would try and obtain this information but even if he or she did, your powerful subconscious mind, whose main purpose is to protect you, would call a foul and keep quiet.

"I will become a robot under the control of the hypnotist."

Think about it for a moment, if this were true, I would rule the world. This is similar to the above. Your subconscious mind is geared and designed to protect you from danger and damage and therefore, would simply not participate in a venture of this kind.

"I read about a cult leader who used hypnosis."

Frankly the cult leaders who lure people into blind devotion are using charm, charisma and persuasion tactics and not hypnosis. Sometimes people might describe the feeling of being hypnotized as an explanation for "why they fell for it." They may even use it as an excuse because they do not want to appear foolish or weak minded for believing in something. But again this does not mean that the cult leader actually performed hypnosis on them.

"I can not be hypnotized so I would be wasting my money."

Many people think that they are too smart to be hypnotized, too antsy to be hypnotized, too unlike-everyone-else to be hypnotized, and more. Here is the truth, with a heaping spoonful of honesty. If you do not want to be hypnotized or can not follow instructions for going into hypnosis, then it may not work for you. If you are too distracted to concentrate, or exceedingly nervous about trying, it may take a little more effort than the average person, but it is do-able. If you have an IQ of less than 70, you might have difficulties, but if you are reading and understanding this blog, you are good to go.

A little more about this: I have worked with clients on referral from psychotherapists for help with ADD/ADHD. With patience and intention, they even learned to hypnotize themselves.
If you think you will feel uncomfortable with the hypnotist, just not in the mood, or you need some questions answered first, it is okay to get those covered before your session. It is also okay to be a little scared about being hypnotized. Fear holds within it two things - A respect for something that may be powerful and life changing and a desire to keep yourself safe. Both are worthwhile thoughts.

In closing, people should get educated about any life changing decisions that they make including hypnosis. For example, if you want to feel even safer about hypnosis, look for documented cases where hypnotists were sued by their clients for unprofessional behavior. Now compare those to other mental health professionals, and doctors, and dentists too. The number of hypnotists would not fill a hotel room.

So you see, the more you know and understand, the more powerful you become.

Change Your Life With Hypnosis

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