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What is hypnosis?


Hypnosis, also referred to as hypnotherapy or hypnotic suggestion, is a trance-like state in which you have heightened focus and concentration. Hypnosis is usually done with the help of a therapist using verbal repetition and mental images. When you're under hypnosis, you usually feel calm and relaxed, and are more open to suggestions.

Hypnosis can be used to help you gain control over undesired behaviors or to help you cope better with anxiety or pain. It's important to know that although you're more open to suggestion during hypnosis, you don't lose control over your behavior.

Will I be helpless when I'm hypnotised?


Because you are still 'awake' during hypnosis, you can still make decisions in the usual way, but just with more flexibility because you are less under the control of your automatic reactions. If you hear a fire alarm go off when hypnotized, you will still think "that's a fire alarm, it's probably best if I get out of here!" The process will be less jarring than waking up from sleep to an alarm because you are already conscious.

Can only some people be hypnotized?


Most people can use hypnosis effectively. There are a small group of people who may not respond to hypnosis due to their inability to perceive context and implication, which can be an aspect of Asperger's syndrome. Once you experience the state of hypnosis you will understand why this is the case - hypnosis is simply an engaging and deepening of the brain's natural ability to focus and imagine.

Are people who can be hypnotized somehow mentally weak?



Hypnosis is most accurately described as a state of mental focus, which is not the sort of capability traditionally associated with 'mental weakness' (whatever that may be!) Also, sportspeople at the top of their game often use self-hypnosis to improve their focus and achieve the ideal mental state. These people most certainly cannot be described as, 'mentally weak'?

Is hypnosis the same as being asleep?


No, although some studies do suggest that the hypnotic state is similar to the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep state. You need to be awake for hypnosis to work because you need your brain to be processing the words (or in other words, you need to be listening).

When you're hypnotized, you have an experience in parallel with your conscious awareness. You are fully aware of where you are and what is happening, but at the same time you have an internally-focused awareness.

Can hypnosis be used to retrieve memories?


Most definitely not. In fact, because the imagination is so engaged during hypnosis, some studies have show memories 'retrieved' during hypnosis to be less reliable than normal recall.


How tried and tested is hypnosis? Is it safe?


Hypnosis has been used for thousands of years to help overcome difficulties, boost optimism and positive attitude and even to help physical ailments such as high blood pressure, warts, verrucas and pain. Hypnosis works because the capacity to go into trance and change state is an essential human faculty (although we also know that trance behaviour can be observed in animals too).

Because hypnosis is a naturally occurring human experience (unlike medication, with its side-effects) it can be entirely good for a person and, used well, is entirely safe.

What if I can't be hypnotised?


Contrary to popular belief, everybody can be hypnotized. The belief that only certain people can stems from decades-old research where researchers tried to hypnotize people under laboratory conditions using poor standardized hypnotic approaches. It is no surprise that under these conditions, only a small proportion of people were able to manifest a hypnotic response.

The truth is that if you couldn't be hypnotized, you'd never have learned anything. To really absorb new information, we have to 'narrow our focus' of attention right down and temporarily exclude other factors - that is, enter hypnosis. This is how all 'learning' works.

If you couldn't be hypnotized, you'd never have dreamed at night - dreaming has many parallels with day time hypnosis. You can relax about hypnosis - it's all taken care of for you.

Can you get stuck in hypnosis?


I'm pleased to be able to tell you it's not at all possible to get stuck in hypnosis. And here's why:


Nature needs us to be in different states of consciousness over a 24-hour cycle, from day-dreaming states, to focus at work, to the high-energy state of cheering on a sports team or dancing wildly at a party. We all need to change psychological and physical states often.

So, people can always awaken from trance although sometimes they do so reluctantly because they are having such a wonderful inner time.

There is sometimes a kind of relaxing 'heaviness' in the hypnotic trance experience. What's more, this natural heaviness, or catalepsy, also occurs during dreaming (Rapid Eye Movement) although, because of the unconsciousness of sleep, we don't tend to recognise dream-time physical heaviness. Nature provides us with catalepsy when we dream as a safety mechanism to stop us physically acting out our dreams. Nature tends to be pretty sensible which is why you don't get stuck in hypnosis.

Hypnosis is similar to the dream (REM) state


Because of the similarity of hypnosis to the dream state, catalepsy can sometimes occur spontaneously, or it can be induced by suggestion. This natural catalepsy is one of the reasons why hypnosis is so good for pain control.

But central to each person is a strong survival mechanism. Even though you might be dreaming at night and deeply cataleptic if someone yells "fire” a few times you will wake up and all the heaviness will vanish.  And that's from a state of sleep.

How do stage hypnotists make people do all those weird things?

It can be difficult to understand how you can retain all your normal moral codes and standards of behaviour in hypnosis when people do such strange things on stage. So let's look at this...

Firstly, the stage hypnotist has several tools to identify those who, let's say, don't mind a bit of attention. These are the people who perhaps are happy to act the fool. 

Add to that the fact that hypnosis is good for reducing inhibition, in the same way alcohol can. The way hypnosis does this is to help you remain relaxed. Inhibition is essentially just anxiety about behaving in a particular way. If you are able to stay relaxed, you are less inhibited.

So these two factors, plus the expectations of the audience and the excitement of the occasion, make for a heady mix that the most outgoing people can happily take advantage of.

If You Have Any Other Questions - you can contact us directly.

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