What is Hypnosis? Fact vs Fiction

What is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is a trance-like state where you experience increased attention, concentration and suggestibility. It may seem like you’re sleeping but in reality, you’re in a state of hyper-awareness.

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding hypnosis. Most of them were perpetuated by popular media. But hypnosis is a proven scientific therapeutic tool that has a lot of benefits. It can help you gain control over undesired behaviors such as smoking. It can help cope with pain, stress and anxiety.

Types of Hypnosis

There are three (3) types of hypnosis depending on how they are delivered:

  • Guided Hypnosis uses online sites and mobile apps to deliver a set of tools (usually recorded instructions and music to induce a hypnotic state).
  • Self Hypnosis happens when a person self-induces into a hypnotic state as a self-help tool to control pain or manage stress.
  • Hypnotheraphy is the use of hypnosis in psychotherapy. This is practiced by licensed physicians and psychologists to treat depression, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), eating disorders, anxiety and the like.

What are the benefits of hypnosis?

Research has proven that hypnotherapy works in a lot of conditions. It’s been proven to be particularly effective for reducing stress & anxiety before medical procedures like a biopsy.

Apart from this, hypnosis has been proven to be effective for:

  • pain control and reduction during childbirth and dental procedures;
  • treatment of chronic pain due to rheumatoid arthritis;
  • side effects (like vomiting and nausea) due to chemotherapy or radiation treatment;
  • alleviation of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms ;
  • reduction of hot flashes associated with menopause;
  • management of certain ADHD symptoms
  • behavior change to treat insomnia, bed-wetting, overeating and smoking
  • mental health conditions such as phobias, anxiety and post-traumatic stress

Hypnotherapy has become popular in helping people make certain behavior changes like losing weight, sleeping more and quitting smoking.

Are there any RISKS to hypnosis?

As long as hypnosis is conducted by a licensed therapist, it is a safe & a great alternative medical treatment.

Individuals experience hypnosis differently.

Some feel detached or extremely relaxed during their sessions. They may even mistake that their actions are happening outside their conscious will. Others report being fully aware during the entire session. They can even carry on conversations while under hypnosis.

Although rare, the following are some adverse reactions to hypnosis:

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • anxiety or distress
  • creation of false memories

How to get started?

If you’re considering hypnosis as a solution to your dilemma, follow these steps:

  • Choose a reputable hypnotherapist. Look for someone who is licensed and certified to perform hypnosis. Check out their credentials and read the reviews of other patients. Make comparisons of the different hypnotherapists you’re considering.
  • During your session, wear comfortable clothing and get plenty of sleep the day before. Since hypnosis will put you in a very relaxed state of mind, you don’t want to eventually drift to sleep due to exhaustion.
  • Approach the experience with an open mind. Hypnosis will never happen without your consent. It requires your active participation and free will to be successful.

What to expect during your hypnotherapy sessions?

During the first session, your hypnotherapist will talk to you and determine your goals for hypnosis. Sometimes, you may not undergo hypnosis on the first session.

During a hypnosis session, you’ll be asked to relax in a comfortable setting. Using repetitive verbal cues, you’ll be guided to a trance-like state.

During this state, your therapist will give suggestions to help achieve your goals. Since you are in a heightened state of focus, your mind is more open to suggestions that you’d otherwise brush off. Also, during hypnosis, your mind is not in its usual “cluttered state”. This makes you able to absorb suggestions and guidance more.

Hypnotherapy places seeds of different thoughts in your mind that soon takes root and prosper.

Sometimes, one session is enough. But most therapies will suggest four to five sessions to solidify the changes you desire. In some cases, regular maintenance sessions might also be needed.

Debunking Myths About Hypnosis

Myth: I can’t remember what happened during hypnosis.

Fact: People generally remember everything that occurs during a hypnosis session. In rare cases, amnesia may occur but this is the exception and not the rule. During hypnosis, you are fully aware of what’s happening and will remember everything afterwards.

Myth: I can do things outside my will while hypnotized.

Fact: To enter a hypnotized state, your consent is needed. During hypnosis, you are still in control of your actions. A hypnotist cannot tell you to do something against your will. You also retain your free will and moral judgment under hypnosis. Even if someone asks a sensitive question, they can’t force you to divulge secrets or share anything you don’t want to.

Myth: I can be stronger because of hypnosis.

Fact: Hypnosis can enhance performance but it can’t make you stronger or more athletic than your existing physical capabilities.

Myth: I can’t be hypnotized.

Fact: While there are some people who cannot by hypnotized, research shows that a large number of people are hypnotizable than they believe. About 10-15% of the population are very responsible to hypnosis while only 10% of adults are considered difficult or impossible to hypnotize. Children are also more susceptible to hypnosis together with people who are easily absorbed in fantasies.

History of Hypnosis

Hypnotic-like trance states have been used for thousands of years but it was only in the late 18th-century that Franz Mesmer, a physician used it for therapy. Due to Mesmer’s mystical views, the practice was viewed negatively but it eventually shifted to use a scientific approach.

The term hypnosis comes from a Greek word which means “put to sleep”. It was popularized by James Braid, a Scottish surgeon and father of modern hypnosis. He defined hypnotism as a state of mental concentration that leads to a form of progressive relaxation. However, after several years, he conceded that hypnosis was a misleading term since it refers to “nervous sleep”. He substituted the term “monoideism” which describes the concentration on a single idea.

However, the term didn’t take off.

Throughout the years, there were many different research and theories to explain how hypnosis works. The most popular is Ernest Hilgard’s theory on neo-dissociation. According to Hilgard, subjects under hypnosis voluntarily divide their consciousness. One part responds to the hypnotist suggestions while the other retains awareness of reality.


Hypnosis is a valid therapeutic tool that can be used as an alternative medical treatment for several conditions. It can help cure insomnia, manage depression, alleviate pain and change certain behaviors.

Do not let the misconceptions about hypnosis stop you from trying the treatment. Look for a certified hypnotist who can be vouched by reviews and if possible, personal recommendations. A qualified and trusted hypnotherapist can create a structured plan and help you achieve your goals.

Ready to try hypnosis? Click here for a free strategy session where we explore if hypnosis is right for you.

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