Questions You May Have About Hypnosis
1. EXACTLY WHAT IS HYPNOSIS ?
Hypnosis is a state of altered consciousness that occurs normally in every person just before he/she enters into the sleep state. In therapeutic hypnosis we prolong this brief interlude so that we can work within its bounds.
2. CAN EVERYBODY BE HYPNOTISED ?
Yes, because it is a normal state that everybody passes through before going to sleep. However, it is possible to resist hypnosis, like it is possible to resist going to sleep. But even if one resists hypnosis, with practice the resistance can be overcome.
3. WHAT IS THE VALUE OF HYPNOSIS ?
There is no magic in hypnosis. There are some conditions in which it is useful and others in which no great benefit is derived. It is employed in medicine to reduce tension and pain which accompany various physical problems, and to aid certain rehabilitative procedures. In psychiatric practice it is helpful in short-term therapy, and also in some cases, in long term treatment where obstinate resistances have been encountered.
4. WHO CAN DO HYPNOSIS ?
Only a qualified professional person should decide whether one needs hypnosis or could benefit from it. The professional person requires special training in the techniques and uses of hypnosis before he can be considered qualified and certified.
5. WHY DO SOME PEOPLE HAVE DOUBTS ABOUT HYPNOSIS ?
Hypnosis is a much misunderstood phenomenon. For centuries it has been affiliated with spiritualism, witchcraft, and various kinds of mumbo jumbo. The exaggerated claims made for it by undisciplined persons have turned some people against it. Some doctors and psychiatrists too doubt the value of hypnosis, because Freud gave it up 60 years ago, and because they themselves have not had too much experience with its modern uses.
6. CAN’T HYPNOSIS BE DANGEROUS ?
The hypnotic state is no more dangerous than is the sleep state. But un-skilled operators may give subjects foolish suggestions, such as can be witnessed in stage hypnosis, where the trance is exploited for entertainment purposes. A delicately balanced and sensitive person exposed to unwise and humiliating suggestions may respond with anxiety. On the whole, there are no dangers in hypnosis when practiced by ethical and qualified practitioners.
7. I’M AFRAID THAT I CAN’T BE HYPNOTISED ?
All people go through a state similar to hypnosis before falling asleep. There is no reason why you should not be able to enter a hypnotic state.
8. WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO BE HYPNOTISED ?
The answer to this is extremely important because it may determine whether or not you can benefit from hypnosis. Most people give up on hypnosis after a few sessions because they are disappointed in their reactions, believing that they are not suitable subjects. The average person has the idea that he will go through something different, new and spectacular in the hypnotic state. Often he equates being hypnotised with being anaesthetized or being asleep, or being unconscious. When in hypnosis he finds that his mind is active; that he can hear every sound in the room; that he can resist suggestions if he so desires; that his attention keeps wandering, his thoughts racing around; that he has not fallen asleep; and that he remembers everything that has happened when he opens his eyes. He believes himself to have failed. He imagines then that he is a poor subject, and he is apt to abandon hypnotic treatments. The experience of being hypnotised is no different from the experience of relaxing and starting to go to sleep. Because this experience is so familiar to you, and because you may expect something startingly different in hypnosis, you may get discouraged when a trance is not induced. Remember, you are not anaesthetised, you are not unconscious, you are not asleep. Your mind is active, your thoughts are under your control, you perceive all stimuli, and you are in complete communication with the operator. The only unique thing you may experience is a feeling of heaviness in your arms, and tingliness in your hands and fingers. If you are habitually a deep sleeper, you may doze momentarily; if you are a light sleeper, you may have a feeling you are completely awake.
9. HOW DEEP DO I HAVE TO GO TO GET BENEFITS FROM HYPNOSIS ?
If you can conceive of hypnosis as a spectrum of awareness that stretches from waking to sleep, you will realise that some aspects are close to the waking state, and share the phenomena of waking; and some aspects are close to sleep, and participate in the phenomena of light sleep. But over the entire spectrum, suggestibility is increased; and this is what makes hypnosis potentially beneficial, provided we put the suggestibility to a constructive use. The depth of hypnosis does not always correlate with the degree of suggestibility. In other words, even if you go no deeper than the lightest stages of hypnosis and are merely mildly relaxed, you will still be able to benefit from its therapeutic effects. It so happens that with practice you should be able to go deeper, but this really is not too important in the great majority of cases.
10. HOW DOES HYPNOSIS WORK ?
The human mind is extremely suggestible and is being bombarded constantly with suggestive stimuli from the outside, and suggestive thoughts and ideas from the inside. A good deal of suffering is the consequence of “negative” thoughts and impulses invading one’s mind from subconscious recesses. Unfortunately, past experiences, guilt feelings, and repudiated impulses and desires are incessantly pushing themselves into awareness, directly or in disguised forms, sabotaging one’s happiness, health and efficiency. By the time one has reached adulthood, he has built up “negative” modes of thinking, feeling and acting which persist like bad habits. And like any habits they are hard to break. In hypnosis, we attempt to replace these “negative” attitudes with “positive” ones. But it takes time to disintegrate old habit patterns; so do not be discouraged if there is no immediate effect. If you continue to practice the principles taught you by your therapist, you will eventually notice change. Even though there may be no apparent alterations on the surface, a restructuring is going on underneath. An analogy may make this clear. If you hold a bunch of white notepads above the level of the eyes so that you see the bottom notepad, and if you dribble drops of ink onto the top notepad, you will observe nothing different for a while until sufficient ink has been poured to soak through the entire thickness. Eventually the ink will come down. During this period while nothing seemingly was happening, penetrations were occurring. Had the process been stopped
before enough ink had been poured, we would be tempted to consider the process a failure. Suggestions in hypnosis are like ink poured on layers of resistance; one must keep repeating them before they come through to influence old, destructive patterns.
11. HOW CAN I HELP IN THE TREATMENT PROCESS ?
It is important to mention to your therapist your reactions to treatment and to him, no matter how unfounded, unfair or ridiculous these reactions may seem. If for any reason you believe you should interrupt therapy, mention your desire to do so to your doctor. Important clues may be derived from your reactions, dreams and resistances that will provide an understanding of your inner conflicts, and help in your treatment.
12. WHAT ABOUT SELF-HYPNOSIS ?
“Relaxing exercises”, “Self-Hypnosis” and “Auto-Hypnosis” are interchangeable terms for a reinforcing process that may be valuable in helping your therapist help you. If this adjunct is necessary, it will be employed. The technique is simple and safe.