There are many myths about hypnosis. Hypnotherapy is the second-oldest professional known to mankind and, yet, myths about it abound galore.
Hypnosis is a trance-induced state in which the therapist offers suggestions to the client in the form of imagery and storytelling. In turn, the client takes in the suggestions willingly and enters into a trance.
In my 15-plus years of work as a clinical hypnotherapist, I had to bust many hypnosis myths, especially those regarding therapeutic hypnosis, and put the curious at ease when they came asking.
When I told a dear friend that I was back in school and studying to be a hypnotherapist, his eyes widened and he grabbed his head dramatically as if to protect it.
His words, "You know all my secrets and now you will learn of all those that even I do not know."
Another friend said, "Do you want to be a better mind reader?”
"Hypnotherapists are mind readers" is one of the common myths. But, I did not go to school to be one.
Another myth is that you can use hypnosis to manipulate people.
I've been asked, "Can you teach me how to hypnotize a girl and get her to bed?" Or, "Can people use hypnosis to give you their money?" Another is, "Do the police use hypnosis to get suspects to confess to crimes they did not commit?"
The most common myth about therapeutic hypnosis is the simplest of all: "Is hypnotism real?"
People think that hypnosis is like brainwashing and that they need to stay away from hypnotists.
Some religious gurus and preachers even take it to the extreme and call hypnosis "the devil’s work."
And others believe that since they're practical and believe in science, they cannot believe in hypnosis.
Here are 12 common hypnosis myths you need to stop believing.
1. Weak people get hypnotized and the strong don’t.
It's not about strength or weakness — it's about willingness.
Anyone who can think or imagine goes through hypnosis every day.
2. Hypnosis is mind control.
Besides your conscious and your subconscious mind, you also have a critical mind whose sole purpose is to keep you safe.
A hypnotherapist could never do anything to morally or physically hurt you. Your critical mind will never allow you to violate your moral principles.
You're always in control of your experience and yourself during the session.
3. Hypnosis will make you cluck like a chicken and quack like a duck.
Performing in a show is just that — it’s a show where hypnotic suggestions are used only for putting up a show.
Entertainment is never the intention of the hypnotherapist or the client.
4. Hypnosis causes brain damage.
Hypnosis cannot hurt anyone. Your brain cannot be hurt by suggestions you either give yourself or receive from another. Sleep is a great way to reset your mind.
Also, when you undergo therapeutic hypnosis, you can stay in the trance-induced state for as long as you choose to.
Though a comfortable place to be in, like any medicine, the effects wear out soon.
5. Hypnosis is sleep.
No, your eyes may be closed but you're never asleep.
In actuality, when you're under hypnosis, your eyes are closed, and your hearing is heightened. You're listening with both your conscious and your subconscious mind.
When you're asleep, you don't hear what’s going on around you. Hypnosis isn’t sleeping.
6. Hypnosis is the "dark arts" or "black magic."
Hypnosis used by the military, terrorist groups, and extreme religious organizations is not what occurs when you're working with a hypnotherapist.
A hypnotherapist is trained to be professional, ethical, moral, and obey the laws of the land where they offer their services.
When you enter into hypnosis as guided by your therapist, you still are the same person with your values, morals, ethics, and intelligence.
7. Hypnosis can find things you lost.
Maybe it can, but maybe not.
You don't need a trained hypnotherapist to find lost objects.
8. Hypnosis can help you in one session.
No, it can’t. A hypnotherapist, like any other alternative medicine practitioner, will use time and space to help you heal.
You cannot rush art, life, healing, or therapy. And one session in hypnosis will never help you get to the root cause of your situation and make it all go away.
9. Hypnotists are strange or show-offs.
Maybe they are, maybe they're not. One can never tell anything about anyone they don't understand.
Besides, being called "strange" is someone’s opinion and a mass generalization. Anyone can be a show-off.
A hypnotherapist doesn't receive training to be strange or a show-off.
10. Under hypnosis, people cannot lie.
If a person can say something looking into your eyes, they can say the same thing with their eyes closed.
11. "I have never been hypnotized."
Yes, you go through hypnosis many times in a day. You have to go through hypnosis while falling asleep and waking up.
If you ever fell in love or had a crush, that’s situational hypnosis.
If you laugh or cry while watching a movie, that’s environmental hypnosis.
The way you feel when you meet your family, or visit your old neighborhood, or think of your favorite teacher from elementary school is conditional hypnosis.
When you look at an advertisement and decide to purchase something you had no intention of purchasing before watching the ad, that is circumstantial hypnosis.
If you ever missed an exit or a turn while driving, that's highway hypnosis.
If you ever daydream, visualize, or fantasize anything, that's self-hypnosis.
12. You could get stuck in hypnosis.
No, the state of hypnosis begins to fade as soon as you move away from the space and time when you went under hypnosis.
When you enter deep sleep, your brain waves alter to a different frequency than when you were under hypnosis. So, sleep will take you out of any hypnosis each time.
Therapeutic hypnosis is just a way of telling stories that help you move away from what you no longer desire and get closer to what you want to create for yourself.
Keya Murthy, M.S., works as a Spiritual Life Coach and Clinical Hypnotherapist at the Ventura Healing Center. She is passionate about helping her clients move through their circumstances, find their purpose and authentic happiness.
For weekly tips on how to work through your circumstances, find your purpose, and authentic happiness you can subscribe to her newsletter.