There is a lot of myth and misunderstanding that surrounds the practice of hypnotism and hypnotherapy. From fear of mind control to becoming lost in a trance, and of course the classic trope of being made to “cluck like a chicken” in front of an entire audience, it’s hard to sort fact from fiction for those new to the world of hypnosis.
For an outsider, the world of hypnotism sounds kind of scary! So we’re going to break it down for you, and explain what really happens when you are hypnotized.
In reality, hypnosis refers to a trance-like state into which a person can enter. Hypnotherapy is a calming, soothing practice that can reap a multitude of benefits to those who practice.
Hypnosis heightens the senses and focus of the individual. Often times this helps the patient get in touch with their subconscious mind. This aids in many things, including dealing with major physical and psychological struggles.
Frequently hypnotherapy is used by patients to cope with anxiety, pain, or to better control bad habits and sleeping disorders, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Usually the experience is guided by a trained hypnotherapist. The hypnotherapist will guide the subject into the trance and through the session using verbal cues, repetition, and mental imagery. It’s actually quite similar to meditation.
Then at the end of the session the patient is simply asked to awaken themselves from that state.
So here are a few common myths that are actually wrong, and instead what actually happens during hypnosis that prove it’s not so scary after all.
A person can be hypnotized against their will, or fall under “mind control” and do things they do not want to do.
According to the Hypnosis Help Center, this is simply not true. A person must be a willing participant in order to be hypnotized. Someone who has been hypnotized will not do something that they wouldn’t do while in a “waking state.”
So what happens during a hypnotism at a stage show, when a hypnotist make audience members do some really weird stuff?
While under hypnosis, a person may be more open to suggestion, but they always have control over their own behavior. A participant at a stage show may go along with “performance” commands—like clucking, or barking—but only if they are willing to do so.
Being hypnotized just means you fall asleep.
This is also not true, mostly. Entering into a state of hypnosis will make the subject more in touch with their subconscious. This heightens their senses. However someone who is already tired may fall asleep—like how someone might doze-off during meditation. At that point the person is no longer in hypnosis, simply a relaxed sleep.
You can get “stuck” in hypnosis.
Because you do not lose control of yourself when hypnotized, it is not possible to become stuck in a state of hypnosis.