John McGrail, C.Ht. (Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist) gives expert video advice on: Is it true that my hypnotherapist has control of me when I am under hypnosis?; Is it true that only weak-minded people can be hypnotized?; Is it true that I can be put under hypnosis without my consent? and more...
Is it true that I lose my free will when I am under hypnosis?
You do not lose your free will when you are under hypnosis. I cannot make you, nor can any other therapist make anybody do, say, or feel anything they do not want to. I often tell clients who are worried about it that if I could make people do what I want them to do this would be a vastly different world, and we would not be having this conversation. So no, you cannot lose your free will. You are always awake, you are always aware, you are always in control. In fact, one of the paradoxes is that by letting yourself go and enter this wonderful state of relaxation and focus, you actually gain more control. Hypnotherapy is about giving people more control over their lives, not less.
Is it true that my hypnotherapist has control of me when I am under hypnosis?
Hypnotherapists cannot control you. You cannot lose control of your mind. The role of a hypnotherapist, if you will, is a facilitator. One of the most famous hypnotherapists of all time was Milton Erickson. And one of his tenets, his basic tenets, was that everybody already has within them the resources required to produce the change they wish to produce. A good hypnotherapist is a facilitator and perhaps a coach and a teacher but never a controller. We cannot control anybody else's mind. We cannot make anybody do anything or think anything or feel anything they do not wish to. If I was to be stupid enough to suggest something to a client in the deepest of trances that was in any way antithetical to their desires, goals, or desired outcomes, they'd instantly open their eyes and say, " What's wrong with you?"
Is it true that if I remember hearing the hypnotist, I was not really hypnotized?
When you're in hypnosis, even the deepest of trances, you're very likely to remember every single word you heard. About five percent of the time, a person in deep hypnosis will enter a state called spontaneous amnesia whereby when they come back to full conscious awareness, they may not remember anything. In fact, we sometimes use amnesia on purpose. We'll say, "Don't remember a thing I said, but allow your subconscious mind to take it on". Now, if that's the case, were I to suggest something antithetical to the client's goals, they'd remember it because they'd wake up instantly.
Is it true that only weak-minded people can be hypnotized?
Actually, the theory that only weak-minded people can be hypnotized is exactly the opposite of the truth. The very best subjects for hypnosis are people who are obviously open to experiencing the state. Brighter people and more creatively-minded people tend to do even better. In fact, weak-minded people might be the hardest subjects to hypnotize, because it's harder to get them to concentrate.
Is it true that I lose consciousness during hypnosis?
You never lose consciousness during hypnosis. If you were to lose consciousness, you'd be asleep. Deep hypnosis is the next step away from sleep. As far as the brain activity is concerned, deep hypnosis would be considered theta, which is a very slow and very rhythmic brain wave, with delta meaning full sleep. If you were to lose consciousness, you'd fall asleep. If you fall asleep, you can't hear what I'm saying. And if you can't hear what I'm saying, the suggestions are not going to have much effect. So I never let my clients fall asleep for more than a few seconds.
If my hypnotist becomes incapacitated, will I awaken?
If, God forbid, a hypnotherapist were to become incapacitated during a session, the worst thing that could possibly happen is that you might fall asleep and take a nap for a few minutes. Eventually, you'd wake up, just like you wake up when you take a nap. I would hope, that if I were to become incapacitated, my client would hear my troubles and instantly come back to full conscious awareness, which is the more likely result, and I always teach them how to get 911 on my phone.
Is it true that I can be put under hypnosis without my consent?
No one can be hypnotized without their consent. It is impossible, as far as I know, to make anybody enter any state of consciousness they do not wish to. In order to experience hypnosis, you have to consent to it and want to. Now, when you experience natural hypnosis, i.e. during a daydream or when you're reading a book or a film, it happens without your conscious awareness. But you can't make that happen. I can't make it happen.
Is it true that I can get permanently "stuck" in a hypnotic trance?
People actually, if they are traumatized enough, enter a state that is very similar to hypnosis. The most obvious example of people getting "stuck" in a hypnotic trance would be someone that goes through something like a war zone, a battle fatigue. When the conscious mind is so overwhelmed by something so traumatic that it literally shuts off, they enter what is sort of a catatonic trance-like state. However, in terms of practicality with hypnotherapy in a clinical setting, it is impossible to get "stuck" in a hypnotic trance. I sometimes have clients who come in, who have been in hypnosis for a long time, and what we do is de-hypnotize them because you can become hyper suggestible through a environmental effects like a traumatic experience, but it's very rare to get stuck in a hypnotic state.
What is "dehypnosis"?
First of all, in each and every session, we enter hypnosis and then we come out of hypnosis back to full conscious awareness which would be called dehypnotizing. Sometimes people come in that have been dealing with an issue or, I don't want to say necessarily a crisis, but something in their lives which has made them enter a hyper-suggestible state. They actually come in already in a state of hypnosis. It's important to remember that we can do anything in hypnosis that we can do in full conscious awareness. From time to time, although not very often (it's very rare), I will have clients that come in that I believe are actually already in hypnosis. Part of their treatment is to take them to a deeper level so that we can dehypnotize them and help them overcome this state of hyper-suggestibility.