"We have much

to do together.

Let us do it in wisdom,

and love, and joy.

Let us make this the

 human experience."

Gary Zukav

Myths about Hypnosis

A person can become "stuck" in hypnosis (trance)

It is impossible to become stuck in trance. Hypnosis is associated with a state of heightened awareness of internal thoughts, and external stimuli. The client can terminate this at any time, just as we can put down agood book, or walk out of a film that we have been completely engrossed in. It is impossible to remain stuck in such a situation, any more than you can imagine reading or watching a film indefinitely. The natural outcome of a trance state is to return to full awareness of surroundings fairly rapidly.

Hypnosis is simply sleep, or relaxation.

Hypnosis is not sleep despite the origins of the term from the Greek word "Hypnos" meaning sleep, which is also the name for the Greek God of Sleep. Even in the deepest of trances there is always an element of presrrved awareness of what is going on externally. There is, therefore, a degree of preserved consciousness, which remains under the client's control at all times. The deep relaxation of the body is only a stepping stone to a much more complex state of hypnotic trance. In this state, heightened awareness of the mind permits the client to experience altered sensations and perceptions that would not occur in ordinary deep relaxation. For example,clients may undergo painless dental extractions under hypnosis, which would be impossible under simple relaxation.

Hypnosis enables "total recall"

Hypnosis is no more reliable a method of recovering lost events than any other form of therapy. Indeed "memory" is never an exact record of waht actually happened. Remembered events are often inaccurate and are further modified by subsequent circumstances and emotions. However, within a therapeutic context what the client believes to have happened is often more important than what actually happened, so the success or otherwise of therapy rarely depends upon the accuracy of the recall.

Hypnosis might cause me to lose my memory

Clients are pleasantly surprised that they usually remember the vast majority of a therapy session. Like watching a film, however, it is impossible to remember every word, and often the best bits are the things that get remembered longest and most vividly. We all have different views of what are 'best', but it is often the most meaningful 'light-bulb' moments, or words that have special significance to the client.

Only "weak" people can be hypnotised

It is not possible to predict the ease with which a person enters into an hypnotic trance by their personality characteristics. Resistance to hypnosis may occur even when people are feeling particularly vulnerable. Only people willing to be hypnotised can be hypnotised, and the willingness with which they enter into a trance when undergoing hypnotherapy is principally determined by the quality of the relationship between therapist and client.

Under Hypnosis a person can be made to act in a way that he/she would not normally act

because of stage hypnotism many people fear that once in trance they could be made to act in such a way that later cause them embarrassment. This is never the case. Stage hypnotists cleverly select subjects who are more than willing to join in the spirit of the show by displaying the extrovert side of their natiure. It would be quite impossible for a stage hypnotist to make a person do what they really didn't want to do. Similarly the clinical hypnotherapist can only facilitate the client to do what they really want to do, both in, and after, the therapy session. This is invariably to make changes for the better.

Once hypnotised the client remains dependent on the therapist, and under his/her control

Good hypnotherapists make clients aware very early in the therapeutic relationship that the aim of therapy is to develop self-reliance and independence from the need for therapy at the earliest possible stage. Many therapists teach clients self-hypnosis and give them 'homework' to foster this. Whilst dependency can occur in any therapeutic relationship hypnotherapy more than most forms of therapy is intent on brief solution focused approaches which set the scene for independence from the outset. Dependence is therefore practically unlikely. Similarly it is not possible to be under the control of another person unless you wish to be, and therapists cannot make you do things you do not wish to do.

Once hypnotised you lose resistance to hypnosis

Once a client has experienced a pleasant hypnotic trance they may wish to engage in further hypnosis, and may enter trance more willingly and quickly. However, all hypnosis is dictated by the context of the experience. If a client does not wish to enter trance, even when provided with all the right 'cues', they will not enter trance, even if they have been succesfully hypnotised many times before.

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Trancework: an introduction to the Practice of Clinical Hypnosis (3rd Ed)   Chapter 2. The myths about Hypnosis and a dose of reality.   Michael D Yapko.     Brunner-Routledge.       New York and Hove 2003