What is Hypnosis – Frequently Asked Questions
Hypnosis often brings ups feelings of uncertainty, of being out of control and forced to do things you don’t want to do. We can thank Hollywood for this – villains using hypnotic suggestion for their evil deeds, and pranksters using hypnotic suggestion to make their subject “quack like a duck”. Nothing could be further from the truth. During hypnosis, you are hear everything and have complete control over what you will and will not do.
On this page Laura King, CHT, NLP, Life Coach will answer common questions about hypnosis, and debunk common myths about hypnosis. If we do not answer your question, please feel free to contact us at LauraKingHypnosis@gmail.com and we will respond to you as quickly as possible.
Laura King is the founder and director of Summit Wellness and Hypnosis Center and Summit Press. Laura is a highly sought after certified hypnotist and certified sports hypnotist, who works with Olympians, leading edge CEOs, professional athletes, prominent physicians, award-winning trainers, parents and children. Her popular and effective “self-hypnosis” CDs and MP3s have sold many thousands to individuals worldwide; and she has authored three books. If you would like more information about Laura, follow this link.
Commonly Asked Questions about Hypnosis
What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a normal state of mind that occurs naturally many times in our everyday life. If you have ever gotten lost in thought while you were driving and “snapped out of it” several miles down the road, you were in a state of “environmental hypnosis”. Daydreaming is a form of “environmental hypnosis” as well. As a hypnotherapist, I guide my clients into a deep state of relaxation through a process called induction. In this relaxed state of awareness known as hypnosis, hypnotic state or hypnotic trance, the subconscious mind becomes open and suggestible. In this hypnotic state we are able to guide the mind to release old patterns of thought and introduce new, more productive thoughts and behaviors.
I thought my Conscious Mind controlled things – what does the Subconscious Mind do?
Your conscious mind is the rational and analytical reasoning part of the brain. Our will power and working memory are also a part of the conscious mind. Many believe that the conscious mind is the largest part of the brain, but the truth is quite the opposite! The conscious mind uses only 12% of the brain. Considering that the brain is the most complex computer known to man, that is a very small percentage.
The subconscious mind and unconscious mind make up the remaining 88% of the brain. The subconscious mind is where all of our learned behaviors and habits (both good and bad), long-tem memory, emotions and even self-preservation reside; and the unconscious mind controls bodily functions and the immune system. In order to effectively change engrained habitual behavior and thoughts, I use hypnosis to bypass this Critical Factor of the conscious mind in order to work with the 88% of the brain that controls everyday thought patterns and actions.
The Critical Factor of the Conscious Mind is actually a function of the conscious mind that works to protect the powerful subconscious mind. When my client is in a state of hypnosis, I work directly with the subconscious mind to change old unwanted negative associations and patterns of behavior and replace them with positive beneficial ones. Change happens much more rapidly when working with the subconscious mind.
What is the difference in “Hypnosis” and “Self-Hypnosis”?
All hypnosis is actually self-hypnosis. I cannot force anyone to be hypnotized, nor can anyone else force you into a state of hypnosis. As a hypnotherapist, I merely act as a guide who gently leads and guides you into a hypnotic state. You must want to be hypnotized and willing to follow my guidance in order to be hypnotized. This can be done in person, over the phone, or by using any of our “self-hypnosis” CDs or MP3s. (link to product page)
Is there any difference in “Hypnosis” and “Hypnotherapy”?
Hypnosis is a natural state of mind that happens regularly, where your subconscious mind becomes very suggestible. New ideas are easily introduced while you are in this state, so be aware of what you are listening to while driving, because everyone slips in and out of hypnosis while driving. Hypnotherapy is the term used when a Certified Hypnotherapist (CHT) uses the process of hypnosis to help a person make positive, desired changes in their life. All of our “self-hypnosis” CDs and MP3s fall into the hypnotherapy category, because you are being guided by a professional (me) to make positive changes. This website and all of my work is dedicated to helping people make positive and lasting change in their lives, so in the context of this website, “hypnosis”, “self-hypnosis” and “hypnotherapy” are all used to describe the process of making positive changes to the subconscious mind through intentionally induced hypnosis.
Are you sure I can be hypnotized?
Anyone of normal intelligence can be hypnotized if they choose to be; and you can only be hypnotized if you want to be and you willingly follow the hypnotist’s instructions. Since you are reading this page, you are most likely interested in the possibility of making positive life changes using hypnosis or “self-hypnosis”. Being hypnotized requires your participation. You must be able to follow my instructions to relax, breath, concentrate on my words and focus your thoughts and finally, to use your imagination. Most importantly, you must be willing to be hypnotized. As I mentioned before, no one can force you into hypnosis. The Critical Factor of the conscious mind will not allow it!
How can I tell when I am hypnotized – how does it feel?
Many people believe at first that they were not hypnotized at all, and don’t recognize it until they see the changes they are seeking start to happen in their life! Others relax easily into hypnotic trance, and the feeling has been described many ways. You may experience a feeling of being very light or floating, very heavy or sinking into the chair. Some people have tingling sensations or dry mouth. For most, it is just a very pleasant state of total relaxation.
Is hypnosis like being asleep, or will I know what is going on around me?
To the observer you might look like you are sleeping, but you are just in a state of deep physical relaxation. You are completely aware of your surroundings, you hear everything. If an emergency situation were to arise, you would immediately come out of hypnosis and react appropriately for the situation. Even if the hypnotherapist left the room while you are hypnotized, you might be so relaxed that you fall asleep for few minutes, but then you would naturally bring yourself out of hypnosis and get up.
How far “under” will I go when I am hypnotized?
Let’s clear up the misconception of going “under” during hypnosis. You don’t “go” anywhere! Again, hypnosis is a simply relaxed state of mind that you allow to happen. How deeply you relax depends on how willing you are to enter into the hypnotic state, and what level we are targeting during hypnosis. The chart below shows the four basic levels brain wave activity.
|Beta (14-100 Hz)||Concentration, arousal, alertness, cognition
Higher levels are associated with anxiety, fight or flight, etc.
|Alpha (8-13.9 Hz)||Relaxation, relaxed focus, light trance
Pre-sleep or pre-awakening drowsiness
Meditation, beginning to access subconscious mind
|Theta (4-7.9 Hz)||Dreaming sleep (REM), trance, deep meditation
Hypnotic trance for access to subconscious mind
|Delta (.1-3.9 Hz)||Dreamless sleep
Deep, trance-like, loss of body awareness, full access to subconscious and unconscious mind in the hypnotic state called somnambulistic state
The initial relaxation process referred to as “induction” takes you from Beta into Alpha, where suggestions are then made for you to relax even more into Theta. Theta is where most hypnotherapy work is done. In certain cases, a deeper state known as Delta is needed for reaching the unconscious mind for improving the body’s immune system. Some people automatically enter into this deepest hypnotic state, and others only allow themselves to go into the higher levels of Theta. Each individual is different. All levels are safe, and you are in control 100% when you are hypnotized.
Will I be able to remember anything, or will I forget everything I heard, like in the movies?
Most people are fully aware of what is being said throughout the entire hypnosis session and they will remember everything as well. Those individuals who automatically go into Delta may forget part of the session, and at other times, if something comes out that is particularly painful, the hypnotist may suggest that they will forget that part of the session. And then there are those who believe that they will forget everything and because of that belief, actually have no memory of the session.
How long is the typical hypnosis session?
I usually book one hour sessions with my clients. This allows for time to talk about goals. The actual hypnosis session is usually about 30 minutes. Our self-hypnosis CDs run from 20-30 minutes. Time often feels like it warped during hypnosis, however, and a 30 minute hypnotherapy session may feel like it was only 10 minutes!
What kinds of problems can you address with hypnosis?
I work with people from all walks of life, at all stages of wellness, distress and success. Aside from the erroneous information doled out in the movies, hypnosis has gained a good reputation for helping people stop smoking and lose weight. I have helped many people with those problems, and we still do at our Wellness Center and with our Self-Hypnosis Stop Smoking Series and Self-Hypnosis Weight Loss Series.
My personal practice is more focused on professional athletes (and aspirants), Olympians, award-winning trainers, leading edge CEOs, prominent physicians, parents and children. I spend at least one day per week at the Sari Center in West Palm Beach working with cancer patients. I have developed and recorded a wide range of self-hypnosis products that are as effective as in-person session, provided they are used daily until you are happy with the results. We recommend at least 21 days listening.
How well does hypnotherapy work?
Hypnotherapy works extremely well for a broad range of behavioral and even physical issues. But don’t just take my word for it:
A comparison study by American Health Magazine cited:
Psychoanalysis: 38% recovery after 600 sessions
Behavior Therapy: 72% recovery after 22 sessions
Hypnotherapy: 93% recovery after 6 sessions
Time Magazine covered that story in 2006 that explains how hypnosis is used in European hospitals regularly as an alternative, or as a complement to anesthesia before medical procedures. (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1174707,00.html)
The Harvard Gazette reports on a team of Harvard Medical School and Union Institute (Cincinnati) researchers who studied the effectiveness of hypnosis in speeding up wound healing and recovery. Carol Ginandes, the head of Harvard’s team, is quoted, “Hypnosis has been used in Western medicine for more than 150 years to treat everything from anxiety to pain, from easing the nausea of cancer chemotherapy to enhancing sports performance”. A list of applications she provides includes treatment of phobias, panic, low self-esteem, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, stress, smoking, colitis, warts, headaches, and high blood pressure.
“All these functional uses may help a person feel better,” Ginandes continues. “I am also interested in using hypnosis to help people get better physically. That means using the mind to make structural changes in the body, to accelerate healing at the tissue level.”
One study, carried out by “Ginandes and Daniel Rosenthal, professor of radiology at the Harvard Medical School, published a report on their study of hypnosis to speed up the mending of broken bones.” The results were monitored by someone who was unaware of who was being hypnotized, and they were truly amazing results! Those who were hypnotized showed the equivalent of eight and a half weeks of healing at 6 weeks! The results from the main study reported in this article were equally astounding. (http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/2003/05.08/01-hypnosis.html)
From my own practice, I can tell you that I have seen firsthand how hypnotherapy changes people’s lives. It actually saved my life when I was a troubled young woman. My mother found Dorothy Gates, whose hypnosis work was far ahead of her times, became my mentor. It is because of Dorothy Gates that I do what I do today. Hypnosis works where other traditional therapy and behavioral treatments fall short; and I have seen where it enhances results of other therapies when used in combination with other alternative and traditional medical treatments. Hypnosis, however, is not meant to be a replacement for seeing your doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist.
How does hypnosis differ from traditional therapy?
Traditional “talk” therapy works only with the conscious mind. All learned behaviors, habits, attitudes and beliefs reside in your subconscious mind. Traditional therapy can work, but it takes much longer. Hypnosis works directly with the subconscious mind, allowing change to happen much more rapidly.
Is it ok to be hypnotized if I am on medications?
I work with people who are on doctor prescribed medications all the time. Depending on the nature of the problem and the reason why you are taking medication, you may be able to reduce the need for medication – of course, I recommend that you consult your physician before making any changes in dosage.
How does hypnosis differ from meditation or Yoga?
Meditation is defined many different ways, but it is an inward focusing of the mind and energies. Meditation may involve invoking or cultivating a feeling or internal state, such as compassion, or attending to a specific focal point. Other activities like Yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong are is a practice of aligning breath, movement, and awareness for exercise, healing, and as a form of meditation. These practices may take you into the hypnotic state, but the purpose for each discipline is different.
Hypnosis, or hypnotherapy, is goal oriented. The state of hypnosis is induced by the hypnotherapist for the purpose of making positive, long term change.
It sounds like hypnosis is really just a form of “creative visualization”. Can’t I just do that myself?
Hypnosis is really a form of guided creative visualization. Everyone uses what you are calling “creative visualization” every day, and their lives are an exact reflection of their subconscious thoughts. So, if you are perfectly happy exactly where you are today, then the answer is yes, just keep doing what you are doing. If you would like to make changes, small or profound, then the answer is no. You will need to see a trained specialist, like me, or simply use our Self-Hypnosis CD or MP3 sessions.
How long has hypnosis been around?
Hypnosis has been around as long as the human mind has been around. Daydreaming or staring into a campfire and letting thoughts drift are both forms of hypnosis. Hypnosis was not named “hypnosis” until the mid-1800’s when the Scottish surgeon James Braid coined the term “neuro-hypnotism”. Braid based his work on the practice of Franz Mesmer called “mesmerism” and his followers, particularly that of Abbé Faria who introduced oriental hypnotism to the European community in the early 19th century. Abbé Faria, or Abbot José Custódio de Faria, was a Goan Catholic monk who was one of the pioneers of the scientific study of hypnotism. He departed from Franz Mesmer’s work that was based on “animal magnetism”. Faria recognized the results of the method to be the power of suggestion.
Hypnotism has gained a great deal of credibility in the western medical community in recent years. According to the most recent Wikipedia.org description (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypnosis#cite_note-5), “contemporary research suggests that hypnotic subjects are fully awake and are focusing attention, with a corresponding decrease in their peripheral awareness.” A quick Internet search of “hypnosis” will return close to 45 million results, and delving into the more credible medical community studies, such as those reported on in Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Gazette, will show that hypnosis is an effective method for making positive changes both mentally and physically.
Let’s Throw Light on the Common Myths about Hypnosis!
Do you have special powers over me while I am hypnotized?
Absolutely not! I am just a normal person who is specially trained to speak to the subconscious mind in a way it will comprehend and grasp. All competent hypnotherapists are educated in the nature, history and practical use of hypnosis. They are taught how to safely and effectively guide a person into hypnosis and use methods to affect positive change in that person’s life. There is no magic wand that comes with the license to practice hypnotherapy. It would be nice, though!
I don’t want to lose control – will the hypnotist be in control of me totally?
Hypnosis is perfectly safe, and actually helps you to become more in control of your life! Even while you are in the induced hypnotic trance, you are fully aware of your surroundings and everything that is being said. Your subconscious only takes in the suggestions that are in line with who you are. Your mind has natural defenses against harmful suggestions and it will always protect itself! You can pull yourself out of the hypnotic trance at any time you choose.
Can you make me do things against my will, like in the movies?
In the movies, the evil hypnotist picks up the phone and calls to give the order for an innocent person to rob a bank or to kill someone. That is 100% fantasy! No matter what the movies have portrayed and no matter how silly people act prancing around onstage during a hypnosis comedy act, no one can make you do anything you don’t want to do. So when you see those live acts, recognize that the people who are onstage want to be in the spotlight and they want to please the audience, so they are highly suggestible.
What if I get stuck and can’t wake up once I am hypnotized?
You cannot get “stuck” in hypnosis. Remember, you are the one in control and you can choose to leave hypnosis at any time. Even if your hypnotherapist left the room while you were in a deep hypnotic trance, you would be aware that the session had stopped and you would naturally come out of hypnosis. If you were in a deep trance, you might eventually fall asleep for a few minutes, but you would wake up naturally. Always in the case of a fire or other emergency, you would recognize the urgency of the situation and return to full awareness.
I heard that you can’t move while you are hypnotized, that you are helpless.
Hypnosis is simply a form of guided deep relaxation entered for the purpose of making positive changes in your life. You are aware of your surroundings, you can hear noises like phones ringing, and if you need to scratch you nose you can. If at any point you feel uncomfortable, you can open your eyes and leave the trance. And in the case of a fire or other emergency, you would recognize the urgency of the situation and return to full awareness immediately.
I heard only gullible, stupid and weak-minded people can be hypnotized.
Quite the opposite is true. Hypnosis requires the capability to concentrate, so intelligence is a must. If hypnosis is to work, it requires that you cooperate with the hypnotherapist, and the more motivated you are, the better the results. The reality is that those of above average intelligence and creativity make the fastest progress.
I am pretty smart… will hypnosis make me dumb or weak-minded?
Hypnosis actually improves your ability to concentrate and learn. We have incredible success with our Learn Self-Hypnosis Series, which is used by students of all ages.
I won’t remember anything that happened while I was hypnotized.
Most people remember everything that happens during a hypnosis session. You might get so relaxed that you feel like you drift off to sleep, but you are really just in the Delta state of hypnosis. If that happens you might forget some of the session. Now, if you are listening to one of our Self-Hypnosis Sessions when you lie down for bed at night, which thousands of my clients do, I will make the suggestion while you are listening that you will sleep deeply and soundly for the rest of the night. I also suggest that you will wake naturally that the correct time in the morning. We even have a Sleep Self-Hypnosis CD that really helps those with insomnia!
I was told that hypnosis is a dangerous – a form of “mind control”.
First, hypnosis is very safe. It is a natural state of mind that you go in and out of throughout your daily life. Daydreaming is a form of self-hypnosis. Really, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis because you are aware of what is going on and hypnosis only works if you follow and concentrate on what the hypnotherapist is saying. The hypnotist cannot make you do or say anything that you would not do on your own, or that goes against your moral code. Is it “mind control”? Well, it does help you gain better control over your mind and your thoughts!