What is hypnosis?
Misconceptions about hypnosis abound. Many of these fallacies can be traced back to the unfortunate early use of not-always-ethical demonstrations of hypnosis as a form of entertainment on stage and television.
Leaving aside that rather specialized form of hypnosis, the best way to view hypnosis is as a state of intense relaxation and concentration, in which the mind becomes remote and detached from everyday cares and concerns. In this relaxed state the subconscious part of the mind is best able to respond creatively to suggestion and imagery. It can focus on the things you wish to change and on the ways you can best do so, free from analytical or anxious thoughts.
You are, however, not asleep nor are you unconscious. You are in an altered or alternative state of consciousness in which you ‘let things happen’ through your subconscious mind rather than trying to make them happen with your conscious mind. Because you are deeply relaxed, the suggestions given to you by the hypnotist will be acted upon more easily by the subconscious. Posthypnotic suggestions are those that will be carried out by you when you come out of the hypnotic state.
Hypnosis is a normal state of the nervous system that everyone has experienced many times without being aware of it.
Is being hypnotized something like being asleep?
No, hypnosis is not sleep. A hypnotized person is at no time unconscious. He is at all times aware of what he is doing and what is being asked of him. His senses (although restricted) are more acute than in the waking state.
Can being hypnotized “weaken” the mind?
No, at the present time there is a research project in hypnosis being conducted at Stanford University . Many of the students participating in this study have been hypnotized over 400 times with no adverse effects. The hypnotic state has been found to be very beneficial. The body becomes entirely self-regulating in the hypnotic state and functions with maximum efficiency. Some physiological and psychological disorders seem to correct themselves in the hypnotic state, even though no suggestions are given to that effect..
Will the hypnotized subject carry out all suggestions that are given to him by the hypnotist?
No. The subject will not do anything that is against his own code of ethics. If asked to do something that violates his moral code the subject will either refuse to carry out the suggestion or spontaneously awaken.
Will a subject, after awakening from the hypnotic state, remember what occurred during hypnosis?
In the lighter stages of hypnosis, yes. In the deepest stages of hypnosis the subject has complete amnesia of the events which have taken place, unless it has been suggested to him that he will be able to recall everything.
What is a post hypnotic suggestion?
It is a suggestion given to a subject in the hypnotic state that is to be carried out minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, even years later in the waking state. The purpose of the post hypnotic suggestion is to help the subject change his habits and attitudes. For example, if a subject has an irrational fear of entering an elevator, he could be given a post hypnotic suggestion that the next time he has to use an elevator, he can enter it and experience the same pleasant sensation he is aware of upon entering his home.
How long does it take to hypnotize a person?
This will vary with the person. Some persons have a greater ability to enter the hypnotic state than others. A good subject will enter the hypnotic state in a matter of seconds, while a resistant subject may take minutes to hours.
What prevents a person from entering hypnosis easily?
The greatest enemy to hypnosis is fear. This will vary with the subject’s past experiences. What does he associate with hypnosis? Has he seen a stage hypnotist make a fool of someone for the amusement of an audience? Was it something he saw in the movies or television? Listed below are other reasons why a subject is likely to resist hypnosis:
A . Curiosity on the part of the subject with no intent on entering the hypnotic state.
B . Extreme tension may prevent the subject from relaxing sufficiently to go into the hypnotic state the first time.
C . Fear of losing control.
D . Fear that something is going to be done to him.
E . Fear that the hypnotist will make him do something against his will.
F . Trying to do two things at the same time — concentrate and analyze.
How does it feel to be hypnotized?
Each subject will describe the hypnotic state differently. It is such a pleasant feeling that the subject is usually willing and anxious to enter it again. All subjects feel very relaxed. Some describe it as a heavy feeling, others as a light feeling, some feel as though they were floating on “cloud nine.” Others describe it as a state of complete physical and mental relaxation. When asked what he or she is thinking about, ninety-nine times out of a hundred the subject will reply, “nothing.”
Who has a need for hypnosis?
Hypnosis is not only for the emotionally disturbed person, but for the normal person who merely needs to regain or increase his self-confidence and his zest for living. We do not know of any field where it cannot be used beneficially. For example, it is well known that people cannot do their best when under stress, full of fear, or with “butterflies in their stomach.” With hypnosis you can learn to relax, stimulate your desire for achievement, get rid of those butterflies, and increase your courage and confidence. You can use hypnosis to break a bad habit, to remove fear, to relax during a physical or mental examination, to wear a smaller dress size, to look more attractive, to remove apprehension, to relieve pre-operative tension and post-operative discomfort, to curb excessive drinking, to alleviate pain, etc.
If hypnosis is so good, why is it not used more often?
This is probably due to the mores and taboos of our culture. Hypnosis was pushed underground by some medical leaders of the last century. Now with the approval of the AMA and the blessing of the late Pope Pius XII, it is having a rebirth. Although more doctors are using it each year, it will take many more years to educate the public and the medical profession to the real value of hypnosis. It is encouraging to note that each year there is an increasing number of medical schools adding hypnosis to their curriculum