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Hypnosis myths and misconceptions

Hypnosis myths

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There are many different hypnosis myths and misconceptions out there, and myths about hypnotherapy too! Some hypnosis myths are more outrageous than others. Whether you’re a layman, looking to learn more about hypnosis in general, or a hypnotherapist/hypnotist looking to brush up on your ‘pre-talk’, in this blog, we’ll look at some of the popular hypnosis myths and whether they’re true or false (and why).


Hypnosis myths – sleep and unconsciousness

The first and arguably, the most widely believed hypnosis myth is that “hypnosis is sleep” and also that “hypnosis makes you black out or lose consciousness”. Hypnosis is categorically not sleep, and is not a way of ‘creating sleep on demand’. However, hypnotherapy can help people get to sleep better, but that’s another thing entirely. Though, from outward appearances, it may look like people are ‘going to sleep’, the same can be said of any time when people close their eyes. The key thing here is the subjective experience of the subject (what’s happening in their head). Most people when hypnotised are highly focused and aware of what’s going on around them, they do not black out or lose consciousness. If they did, they wouldn’t be able to respond to the hypnotist or hypnotherapist’s suggestions. So, although they may look relaxed and they may have their eyes closed, they are still consciously present, and could open their eyes at any point if they wanted to, but usually, they feel so good that they’ll remain in the state of hypnosis until instructed otherwise!


Hypnosis myths – getting stuck in hypnosis

Another popular myth is not wanting to “get stuck in hypnosis”. Lucky for you, this is impossible, it has never happened and never will happen, which means hypnotists will never be able to charge a huge ransom for ‘waking people up’ (damn it, lol). So, if you’re hypnotised and the hypnotist stops talking for an extended period, and even if the hypnotist were to drop dead during the session like the hypnotist in the movie ‘Officespace’…


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…even if that happened, you would simply wake yourself up, all by yourself, because all hypnosis is self-hypnosis, it’s a state of ‘brainwaves’. Getting stuck in hypnosis is about as likely as getting stuck in meditation… It is not gonna happen!


Hypnosis myths – mind control

Did you ever think that “hypnotists control people’s minds”, “hypnosis requires total surrender of will” or maybe even that and that “you can be made to do things you don’t want to do”? Well, if you did, you’d be wrong. Sorry! These hypnosis myths are really common, mainly due to inaccurate media portrayals of hypnosis. You are always in control during hypnosis, whether for hypnotherapy or hypnotic entertainment. If a therapy session gets too much for you, you can choose to disengage or ‘wake up’ (…but it’s not sleep…). If a stage hypnotist asked you to do something against your morals, you would either open your eyes and refuse, or just do nothing. You won’t give out your bank details or any super deep, dark secrets, unless you want to that is! You are in control of your mind, a hypnotist or hypnotherapist is just a ‘facilitator’, someone who directs your thoughts in a certain way, but they are your thoughts.


Hypnosis myths – you need to be weak minded

“Only weak minded people can go into hypnosis” cry the people who, perhaps narcissistically, or perhaps hopefully, believe that they are above responding on a subconscious level to verbal hypnotic suggestions from a hypnotist or hypnotherapist. In actual fact, the reverse is true of this particular hypnosis myth; you actually need to be relatively intelligent in order to engage in the hypnosis process. If your IQ is too low, you will not be able to be hypnotised adequately.


Hypnosis myths and misconceptions


Sure, if you’re super smart and analytical, you may question or doubt the process, especially if you have no subjective experience of your own upon which to base your beliefs. This doubt does not help the process to progress, seeing as all hypnosis is self hypnosis, but by no means does this mean you can’t be hypnotised. You may be a fantastic hypnotic subject, but don’t know it yet. You might just need to lighten up a bit and try something new. You never know, you might like it!


Hypnosis myths – hypnosis is a magic power

The next hypnosis myth that’s worthy of a mention is “hypnosis is magic” or in more religious circles; “hypnosis is the work of the devil!” Some of the people who invoke the latter myth are equally condemning of meditation and visualisation too (make of that what you will), but all deities aside, hypnosis is a normal, natural state of mind. It’s a mental state that we all go through every day, when transitioning from awake to asleep, when daydreaming, imagining, drifting off, etc. The ability to use this state in order to help people make changes or to entertain crowds is certainly not a ‘God given’ talent, so to speak, and is something that is learned, studied and adapted over many years. Nobody is ‘born a hypnotist’, anybody could learn to do it, though some hypnotists and hypnotherapists are more naturally proficient at it than others – we’re all individuals after all!


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Hypnosis myths – hypnosis isn’t real

If you think “hypnosis isn’t real”, there is a short answer for this one: yes it is, don’t be silly. I would be out of a job if hypnosis wasn’t real!


Hypnosis myths – hypnotherapy is a miracle cure

A common hypnotherapy myth is that “hypnotherapy can cure anything in one session” and though sometimes hypnotherapy can help to resolve an issue in one session, it is not always the case. Unfortunately, some hypnotherapists are guilty of spreading this myth, fluffing their over-inflated egos with the distorted idea that they can ‘cure anything in less than an hour’. These therapists tend to assume success rather than, as in a normal therapeutic relationship, checking in with the client days or weeks after the session for updates. Those clients who are inevitably ‘failures’ after this seemingly magical single session, are relegated to the pile of clients who ‘just weren’t ready to change’.


Hypnosis myths and misconceptions


Some clients, issues or goals require a lot more than a single session, others don’t. That’s just the way it is. Also, on the specific wording of that myth; most advertising standards-respecting hypnotherapists don’t offer “cures”, and instead offer reduction of unwanted symptoms and modification of unhealthy beliefs!


Hypnosis myths – you will forget you were hypnotised

Another hypnosis myth is that “you will have no memory of a hypnosis or hypnotherapy session”, oooooh, scary right? So, the hypnotist will directly remove the last hour-or-so of your life? But wait, that sounds a bit farfetched, doesn’t it? Well, yes. That’s just because it is. People remember things in different ways, so some people would recall an entire hypnotherapy session in full detail, others may recall parts, and some would remember barely anything (although complete amnesia is less common). You wouldn’t remember every single detail of a movie if you were asked about it afterwards, would you? You’d probably be equally hard-pushed to remember every aspect of an hour-long conversation you had with a friend or colleague. So, why would hypnosis be any different? That said, some people do spontaneously generate ‘amnesia’ on themselves during a hypnosis session and some hypnotherapists actively give suggestions for the client to forget what was said in the session in order to stop them from trying to ‘unpick’ what was covered. Either way, we know that we, as humans, are able to forget things on purpose (think ‘repressed memories’), but some of us are better at it than others. So, even when amnesia is directly suggested, some people just won’t be able to do it, and so will remember most of the what happens during a hypnosis session.


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Hypnosis myths – the chicken

The final myth that we hear in the hypnosis world, and one that is surprisingly common, is: “You’re not going to make me cluck like a chicken, are you?” This hypnosis myth still comes up, whether at a comedy hypnosis show, or even in a hypnotherapy office. No, a hypnotherapist will not make you think you’re a chicken, because it’s not a very useful therapy tool, unless you want to quit smoking, because not many chickens smoke, right? Stage hypnotists are also unlikely to turn you into a chicken, simply because there are a lot of waaay funnier things that they could get you doing, things that are completely unrelated to any kind of clucking poultry. So, the chicken thing is over. Done to death…

It’s dead…


Bereft of life…

It’s shuffled off this mortal coil…

It is an ex-chicken…

…or is it…


Hypnosis myths and misconceptions


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Written by
Rory Z Fulcher
Rory Z Fulcher
RZHA Trainer and Founder
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