John McGrail, C.Ht. (Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist) gives expert video advice on: Is hypnosis legitimate, or is it just something you see on TV or on stage?; Has hypnosis been tested in a clinical setting? and more...
What is "hypnosis"?
Hypnosis can be defined in many ways, but what it is for the normal average human being is the natural state of conciousness. The two operative words in that sentence being natural and conciousness. We are always awake, and we are always aware when we're in hypnosis,while it is considered sometimes an altered state of conciousness because we get very, very relaxed. For the average person, it is very relaxing and the mind focuses, almost hyper-focuses and in that state of concious awareness, the mind becomes very adaptable and amenable to taking on suggestions and of course suggestions in hypnotherapy, are suggestions for change. So, to state it succinctly, a natural state of conciousness that every normal human being experiences several times everyday such as watching a movie, reading a good book, driving down the freeway and sort of zoning out, which we all tend to do, are just daydreaming, are all examples of a natural hypnotic state. What we do in the office or in the hypnotherapy clinic is use that state of conciousness, intensify it, which helps people create change and transformations in their life.
Why might I want to undergo hypnosis?
Well, there are many reasons you might want to undergo hypnosis. It's important to understand that hypnosis is simply a state of consciousness. It can be used in many ways. We see, for instance, people in a stage show, and that's what most people think of when they think of hypnosis. They see a bunch of people acting like lunatics on a stage, and of course we say, well who in their right mind would do that? They must have lost their minds. You might not want to go through hypnosis for that purpose, unless you like being on a show (and in that case maybe you'd want to do it for that). You might want to experience it just to see what it feels like, and of course it may be underwhelming, because it doesn't feel very like much like anything except deeply relaxing. However, if there is some issue in your life; an unwanted or unhealthy habit, perhaps a behavioural pattern, perhaps a lack of self-confidence, a fear or phobia that's keeping you from living the kind of life you'd like to live, or even a medical or psychological condition that is keeping you from living the kind of life you want to live, then hypnosis can be a very powerful tool to help you overcome or manage that condition.
How is my consciousness different when I am under hypnosis?
The easiest way to describe how your consciousness is different under hypnosis is to think of how you feel when you watch a really, really good film. How is your consciousness different? It's not. You're there. You're aware but there's an awful lot in your environment that you're not paying attention to and I guess if you were to say hypnosis is an altered stated of consciousness, that's what it's like. You're aware of what's going on. You know that if you wished to you could instantly open your eyes and come out of the trance state, so your consciousness is altered in this way under hypnosis. You're extremely relaxed as a whole. You feel very, very focused and very, very calm and the brain quiets itself if you will. The conscious inner-critic, that part of our mind that says no, no, no, I can't do this, I'm not good enough, tall enough, smart enough, sexy enough, whatever enough, shuts off for a little while. It's delightfully relaxing and most people after a hypnotherapy session have a sense of well-being. I could almost say sometimes a euphoric feeling when they're finished. I often say it's like drugs without a hang over and it's not addictive.
Is hypnosis a therapy?
Hypnosis is not a therapy. Hypnosis is a state of consciousness. It is a tool that can be used therapeutically, but it is a state of consciousness. Hypnosis can be used to entertain people on a stage show. People in trance do very weird things because they want to, and this is all part of hypnosis. People who have issues in their life that are holding them back may want to do hypnotheraphy to help them change the issues. It is a catalyst if anything.
Is hypnosis the same as meditation?
Hypnosis and meditation have many similarities, particularly in terms of how we feel in the conscious state. They have sort of different aims, if you will; hypnosis is generally considered, or, let's put it this way, hypnotherapy is generally considered a short-term therapy used to effect some change. Meditation, which feels very much like hypnotic trance, is used for long-term and overall well-being. I find that hypnosis and meditation are excelleng compliments to one another; in fact, most of my clients in the course of hypnotherapy are given meditative exercises to do between sessions, and I highly recommend meditation as a long term tool to maintain well-being, particularly in the spiritual area.
Is hypnosis safe?
Hypnosis is as safe as watching a film or reading a book or driving down the freeway. Of course driving down the freeway and zoning out may not always be safe. Hypnosis is absolutely safe because it is a natural state of consciousness. Even people who can't be hypnotized actually do experience hypnosis several times a day.
Is hypnosis legitimate, or is it just something you see on TV or on stage?
Well, hypnosis is completely legitimate in that it's an natural state of consciousness. Everybody experiences hypnosis several times a day. What you see on a stage show are people who are naturally highly suggestible. Let me explain that. If you were to take the human population, about 25% of the human population at large would be considered highly hypnotizable, or highly suggestible. Of that 25%, there is an even smaller percentage that have the ability to go into hypnotic trance almost instantly. A stage hypnotist can see those people, can spot them in the audience; and if you ever watch a show, you'll see there's some testing that goes on. A bunch of people are called up on stage, some are sent back to their seats, and the hypnotist ends up with that half dozen or dozen people that he or she knows will instantly go into trance, because they are just that suggestible. Now once they are in trance, they do zany things. They do those things because they want to. They want to be part of the show. So is hypnosis legitimate? Yes, because its a natural state of consciousness. Is it a legitimate tool for therapy? Absolutely. It's been used for 7,000 years. If something lasts that long there has to be a good reason for it, and it does work.
Has hypnosis been tested in a clinical setting?
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