Warning! This information here may not be what you want, or expect, to hear. Unfortunately, when most hypnotists attempt to inform the public ("the Truth about Hypnosis", etc.), they're usually just repeating "feel good" myths that have little or no basis in reality.
Sometimes that is done with good intentions, simply because of ignorance or lack of experience, but sometimes it's a deliberate attempt to mislead. But as we like to say: an educated consumer is the best hypnotic client.
FREE HYPNO-CONSUMER REPORTS
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"Hypnosis is a state of deep relaxation, similar to 'zoning out' when you're driving on the highway" ---
NO, IT ISN'T. Although hypnosis is an excellent method of achieving a very unusual (for most people) state of deeply restorative relaxation, you can also experience fear, anger, sadness, and just about anything else in hypnosis.
This is why it can be useful in training your brain to change its habitual and automatic responses that involve those states, because just learning how to deeply relax, by itself, does not help your brain learn how to get "from here to there".
"You won't do anything immoral, harmful, or unethical in hypnosis" ---
THIS STATEMENT IS FALSE. Of course you can. After all, people can be led into immoral, unethical and harmful behavior without being hypnotized, right? Hypnosis does not create a magical force-field which protects you from bad influences or stupid decisions.
Still, you cannot be "forced" into doing something you don't want to do, but you can be misled into doing it, just like you can be misled without hypnosis being involved. Use common sense: trust your gut and use your brain, and just avoid working with anyone who gives you "the creeps".
"Don't worry, you remain in total control when you get hypnotized" ---
NO, THIS IS NOT TRUE. By definition, a hypnotist can exert a high degree of control over what you pay attention to, your emotional state and your perceptions of reality, and therefore your behavior within that context. If you are in total control of your experience, you are NOT hypnotized.
"You remain awake and aware while in hypnosis, and you'll remember everything that happens during the session" ---
NO, THIS IS TOTALLY INCORRECT. You are NOT asleep, but at the same time you are not necessarily aware of everything during the experience. It is also common to forget portions of the experience, just like waking up from an intense dream and forgetting exactly what happened in that dream.
"You can't be hypnotized against your will" ---
THIS DEPENDS on what you mean by "against your will". If someone chooses to resist being hypnotized, or is simply uninterested in it, then they will not be. Hypnosis is easy to resist: simply refuse to pay attention and don't follow instructions. In that sense going into trance is a voluntary process. However, people CAN be hypnotized without their knowledge or consent. Hypnosis is about unconscious effects, so willpower is mostly irrelevant anyway.
"All you need is the desire and expectation that you will be hypnotized and you will be!" ---
NO, THIS ISN'T CORRECT. Desire and expectation are nice, but there are other factors that can be more important. It's also the case that if people try too hard to be hypnotized, desperately wanting it to work, then they may have a harder time! So this "fact", emphasizing desire and expectation, is not accurate... and in reality, being too eager or helpful can interfere with the process.
"You have to 'really want to change' in order for the hypnosis to work" ---
THIS IS NOT TRUE. The main point of doing hypnosis is to adjust automatic, unconscious processes towards a positive change. By definition, hypnosis operates at a non-voluntary level, so it has little to do with willpower or motivation.
In fact, when a person feels a need to insist that they "really want it to work", that can be a bad sign! However, for most consistent results in the long run, it's obviously better to work with people who are self-motivated and have other factors in addition to hypnosis which are driving desired changes.
(hint: emphasizing the client's motivation and desire to get hypnotized, is sometimes used as an easy excuse for ineffective attempts at hypnotizing them.. the old "It would've worked if they really wanted it to!" excuse)
"You can depend on your hypnotist being well-trained and competent, as long as they are certified" ---
WRONG. As a certified hypnotist myself, I can tell you that certifications are VERY unreliable indicators of competence, skill or experience. Much of the hypnosis industry revolves around selling training courses and certifications to "seminar junkies"; these certificates are generally not worth the paper they're printed on.
There are relatively few active hypnotists who work with individual clients on a regular basis. When you see someone promoting themselves as a hypnosis trainer, it usually means they're mainly in the business of selling weekend workshops to other would-be hypnotists, because they have an unrelated day-job.
"A hypnotist cannot get you to do things you would not normally do" ---
IF THIS WERE TRUE, WHAT WOULD BE THE POINT OF GOING TO A HYPNOTIST??? After all, people want to get hypnotized in order to experience a change in an undesired or unhealthy part of their normal routine.
But this isn't "making" someone do something they don't want to do. It's about the skillful adjustment of subconscious perceptions and focused attention that leads to desired change.
This can be a deep and lasting change if it's in a form that is satisfying to the hypnotee. Otherwise, it's just an interesting and unusual experience during the duration of the hypnotic state.
"Don’t worry, hypnosis is totally safe!" ---
THIS STATEMENT IS FALSE. Hypnosis is neither safe nor unsafe. Consider that it's a form of intensified focus, attention and imagination, enabling a powerful form of subconscious learning. It's meaningless to claim that focus and imagination and learning are “safe”. It depends on what you focus on, and it depends on what you imagine to be true!
These myths are often repeated with good intentions by well-meaning people who just want to make you feel comfortable. I used to believe some of them too!
Either that, or they're just pulling your leg to get you in the door.
When it comes to the hypnosis field, I encourage you to be skeptical. You don't have to believe. Be like Agent Scully; we always liked her better anyway.
(note: true skepticism is not the same thing as the whiny cynical attitude displayed by those who are constantly disappointed by life because of their naive expectations)
Too often members of the public are eager to believe things they've seen on YouTube or read on the internet, believing that they understand what's involved, and thinking:
"I know that I really have to want it to work (WRONG)...
I'll remain in full control during hypnosis (WRONG)...
it's about programming my mind with positive affirmations (WRONG)...
I already know all that, I totally get it! (WRONG)"
This is an important part of the pre-screening process because we want to ensure that we only work with people who have correct expectations about the process.. having NO expectations is OK too.
fake promises can be harmful!
magic pill or not?
how will I know if hypnosis will "work"?
the weak "wait and see" attitude isn't going to cut it