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“You’re getting sleepy, very sleepy.” Or not. Here are six myths about hypnosis.

Braid's upwards and inwards squint induction hypnosis method

A person swinging a pocket watch and saying “You’re getting sleepy, very sleepy” does not actually hypnotize someone, even though that’s how it’s shown in movies and TV. Myths regarding hypnosis is widespread. According to a new paper titled “Reconciling myths and misconceptions about hypnosis with scientific evidence”, here are a few of the myths that many people believe:

Hypnotized people can’t resist suggestions

A person who is deeply hypnotized is thought to follow any suggestion made by the hypnotist without thinking. However, people don’t lose control of their actions during hypnosis, even though many media sources suggest that hypnosis can be used to control someone. In reality, people can resist and oppose hypnotic suggestions. How much control they feel they have during hypnosis depends on what they intend to do and what they expect to happen.

Hypnosis is a “special state”

Hypnosis is often misunderstood as a “special state” where we become more relaxed and open to suggestions, but we can actually respond to hypnosis even while exercising. The term “conscious unconsciousness” is inaccurate, because during hypnosis, we remain fully aware of our surroundings. Instead of thinking about hypnosis as a “special state,” it’s more accurate to view it as a set of procedures that use verbal suggestions to change our awareness, perception, and thinking.

People are either hypnotizable or they are not

Some people respond well to hypnosis and this doesn’t usually change over time. However, it’s not true that people can be simply labeled as “hypnotizable” or “not hypnotizable”. Different people react differently to hypnotic suggestions. Nevertheless, most people can benefit from hypnotherapy.

Responsiveness to suggestions reflects nothing more than compliance or faking

During hypnosis, suggested behaviors may seem very different from everyday experiences, which can raise questions about whether the responses to hypnosis are real. However, studies using imaging technology show that the effects of hypnotic suggestions activate brain regions (for example, those that process visual information) that are consistent with the suggested events (such as seeing an object that is not really there). These findings provide strong evidence that the effects of hypnosis are related to the ways that the brain works, which supports what people say they experience during hypnosis.

Hypnotic methods require great skill to administer

Many people think that hypnotists, like magicians, have special powers to control people’s minds and can hypnotize anyone. But this is not true. In fact, hypnosis does not require any special skills or abilities beyond basic social skills and knowledge of how to use it in experiments or therapy.

Hypnotic age regression can retrieve accurate memories from the distant past

TV shows and movies often show people remembering very accurate details from a past life while under hypnosis. However, research has found that this is not usually true. When researchers check the accuracy of memories of people who are “age regressed” to an earlier time (like the 10th century) against factual information from that period, they find that the information is almost always wrong. What people remember is mostly what experimenters tell them about their supposed past life, like their experiences and identity (such as a different race, culture, or sex). These findings suggest that “remembering” reflects people’s expectations, fantasies, and beliefs about what happened in the past.

How to hypnotize someone

Regardless of the myths, hypnosis is real. However, hypnotizing someone is a complex process that requires a great deal of skill and knowledge. Here are the steps a hypnotist will follow.

  1. Gain the person’s trust: Before you even begin the process of hypnotizing someone, it is important to establish a sense of trust between you and the person you are trying to hypnotize. This will help them to feel more comfortable and open to the process.
  2. Induce relaxation: Once you have gained their trust, you need to induce a state of relaxation in the person. This can be achieved through techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualization.
  3. Use hypnotic language: During the induction process, it is important to use hypnotic language that encourages a state of trance. This may include suggestions such as “focus on the sound of my voice” or “allow yourself to drift into a deeper state of relaxation.”
  4. Give suggestions: Once the person is in a state of trance, you can begin to give them suggestions. These suggestions should be positive and specific, and focused on the outcome that you want to achieve.
  5. Bring them out of trance: When you are finished giving suggestions, it is important to bring the person out of trance slowly and gently. This can be achieved through techniques such as counting backwards or simply giving them instructions to open their eyes and come back to the present moment.

Image Credits

In-Article Image Credits

Braid's upwards and inwards squint induction hypnosis method via How to Hypnotise by James Coates with usage type - Public Domain. 1904

Featured Image Credit

Braid's upwards and inwards squint induction hypnosis method via How to Hypnotise by James Coates with usage type - Public Domain. 1904


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