What is Hypnosis?
There’s a lot of misinformation about hypnosis. Movies, plays, books, and television series (Get Out, On a Clear Day, Dracula and even Pokémon) commonly depict hypnosis subjects as zombie-like slaves to the Grand-master Hypnotist. It’s easy to think hypnosis isn’t real when it’s commonly marketed as a type of supernatural mind control.
This could not be further from the truth.
Hypnosis is not magic, it’s not vudu, and it’s certainly not mind control. So ignore everything you’ve seen on TV, and listen up:
In basic terms, Hypnosis is the method in which a Hypnotist brings a subject into trance state. That’s it. Simple, right? We’ll get to the hypnotic method in a minute. But first:
What is Trance State?
Contrary to the way it sounds, being in trance does not turn you into a zombie slave. Trance state is a natural, conscious state of mind where the subconscious becomes more active, in control, and accessible. It is a relaxed form of focused concentration, often on single concept or narrative.
In a state of waking consciousness, we are easily distracted. Our minds wander even while having a simple conversation with a friend: We get distracted by the ambulance driving by. Then we think about the work we have to get done later. Our stomach growls, we remember we’re hungry, and we think about what’s for dinner. Suddenly we get sucked back into the conversation and realize we haven’t been present for most of it.
Rapidly changing focus in our minds is common phenomenon, but waking consciousness is not necessarily as productive or helpful as being in trance state.
People often describe trance state as feeling distance from where you are; the passage of time gets distorted and subjects often feel a pleasant, sometimes euphoric state of peace. In waking consciousness, our minds try to focus on all surrounding stimuli. In trance state, we easily focus on one thing–drowning out the rest of whatever else is going on around us or inside of our heads.
Can I be Hypnotized?
Of course you can! Everyone, barring those with certain neurological disabilities, can be hypnotized.
People experience different levels of trance everyday, from very light trance to extremely deep.
An easy example of trance state: when you’re at home watching television. We all know what we’re watching isn’t real; It’s just a screen projecting light and color at our eyes to form certain images that, when put together, tell us a story.
Despite knowing what we’re watching is a lie, our critical faculty shuts down, we suspend our disbelief, and get sucked into the story; We laugh, we cry, we feel a whole range of emotions. Often, we forget about everything else that was on our minds.
That experience of being totally sucked into the story of a television screen is a basic state of trance. So if you can get lost in a movie, even for a moment, you can be hypnotized.
Can you Hypnotize me against my will?
You always have full control of whether or not you enter trance state. If you don’t want to be hypnotized, you won’t be.
Will I lose control?
Never. You are always in control.
Contrary to what you see in the movies, hypnosis can never affect your moral compass and decision making. You’re fully awake, alert, and aware of everything that’s happening to you, and can leave trance state at any time.
Imagine you’re watching a thriller or horror movie: Your heart races, you hold your breath, and at a certain point it becomes too scary to watch.
So what do you do?
You might close your eyes, or tell yourself it’s just a movie, or you just turn it off. That control you have while watching a movie is the same control you have with hypnosis.
If you don’t like what’s happening, you ultimately have full control of what you do and if you decide to leave trance state.
Is Hypnosis even real?
Of course it is.
Not only is hypnosis being used to successfully treat clients with addictions, anxieties, fears, and phobias, but it’s also used to help athletes improve their performance on the field, and gives creative people tools to ‘get out of their heads.’
Even the FBI uses hypnosis as a tool for investigative purposes with victims and witnesses.
Mind control isn’t real, but hypnosis is.
What happens if I don't wake up?
You always wake up.
You’re ultimately in control of choosing to leave trance or not. So if you don’t wake up, it’s your decision. Worst case scenario: you fall asleep, wake up ten minutes later, and return into a normal waking state of consciousness.
Can Hypnosis help me?
Hypnosis can help all of us, regardless of what we’re hoping to achieve.
Through hypnosis, we gain easy access to our subconscious mind. Why access the subconcious? Because that’s where our imagination, emotions, memory, and emotional/physical habits live. Through trance state and opening the subconscious mind, a hypnotist can change unhealthy habits and reprogram thought patterns; things you tell yourself everyday about who you are, what you’re capable of, and what you’re afraid of.
We’re victims of our subconscious everyday. Have you ever traveled to a destination you visit on a regular basis (like work or school), but forget parts of your journey there? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Thanks to our brain’s ability to form habits, we can cease consciously thinking about performing a routine action (like driving to work) and let our subconscious mind take over. Unfortunately, these habits usually take over without us wanting them to.
Approximately one-third of all car crashes occur between one and five miles of where the driver lives. That’s not a coincidence. When you’re controlled by habit, you’re less alert, aware, and feel like a helpless passenger to your body and mind. Without meaning to, our habits can cause us to hurt others and ourselves.
Whenever you say something, do something, or think something, it creates a new neuron pathway in your basal ganglia. As these actions repeat, that pathway thickens and eventually becomes a habit. While these habits may have served a purpose at one time, they often overstay their welcome. Through hypnosis, we can take back control of our brains and bodies. In trance state we can harness the powers of the subconscious mind and use them to help ourselves, rather than hurt ourselves.