For many, the art of hypnosis and hypnotherapy has an element of mystique to it. This has been fueled over the years with the rise and spread of stage hypnotist shows which, in the process of entertaining crowds, have inadvertently reinforced the belief that hypnotists possess some kind of magical mind control abilities.
As much as every practicing hypnotist and hypnotherapist would love, on some level, to be perceived as almighty and powerful, and have this reputation widely believed and accepted, any such perception is unwarranted.
Think, for a moment, what the world would be like if this wasn’t the case – if hypnotists had some kind of special powers unique to members of their trade. Certainly, such skills would be incredibly coveted and presumable only acquired after an intense and prolonged period of rigorous training, undertaken by a very special breed of talented individuals. Furthermore, such individuals would have to be very closely monitored and regulated to ensure they did not abuse their unique ‘powers’ of mind control. After all, you cannot have some nefarious rogue hypnotist preying on the community and forcing hapless men, women and children to wander the streets while clucking like a chicken…or worse.
A Mind Control Expert Gone Bad?
So, no, a hypnotist is not all-powerful.
Which leads us to the biggest ‘secret’ of hypnosis of all… (drum roll):
The power of hypnosis is not in the hypnotist…it is in the client. This is because ALL hypnosis is self-hypnosis.
Yes. Sad, but true. There is no mind control. There is no magic. I wish there was. I’d create my own personal army of servants to do my every bidding. Imagine how much simpler life could be! But no such luck.
In general, you have to WANT to be hypnotized in order to be hypnotized. Whether you are on stage during a stage hypnotist show, or in a hypnotherapist’s office, the same principle applies. When you make the choice to follow the hypnotist’s instructions, without resisting, then you can enjoy the power of trance and the potential benefits that go with it. If, however, at any point, you resist – either from the onset or during a session – then your session with the hypnotist is over. He/she can only work with you if you are willing.
So what do you need a hypnotherapist for if ALL hypnosis is self-hypnosis? Why not just stay at home, save your money, and do it yourself? Well, to be honest, there is much you CAN do by yourself. The technique of self-hypnosis – where you learn to put yourself into a trance and then provide yourself helpful and empowering suggestions – is not that difficult, and can be quite helpful. So much so, that self-hypnosis is a skill that we regularly teach our clients. However, self-hypnosis has its limitations. A hypnotherapist can help you get much more out of your trance state by guiding you with a variety of tools and techniques which cannot be ‘self-applied’ at home.
Now, I said in general you have to WANT to be hypnotized. This needs to be elaborated on somewhat. Certainly, when it comes to stage hypnotist shows and hypnotherapy sessions, this is the case. However, there are also times when you can be hypnotized without consciously deciding to be. In fact, this happens routinely to all of us throughout the day. When you ‘zone out’ in front of the television, or while driving, or reading a book, or any time you fade off into a daydream, you are slipping into a state of hypnosis. These moments are not necessarily voluntarily, right? You don’t necessarily consciously decide to start daydreaming or blocking out the world around you, it just happens.
During these moments, you are still very aware of your surroundings, but your conscious mind has checked out briefly. You are in a mild state of trance and considerably more receptive to suggestions. This is great news for advertisers on TV. The TV is the most common hypnotist on the planet, and advertisers use it to subtly plant their messages in your subconscious mind. You zone out, and the messages come in…whether you want them to or not. Did you choose to remember the jingle or slogan or tagline of the latest and greatest toilet bowl cleaner? No. But chances are they might quietly reverberate in the recesses of your mind next time you see the product on the shelf in the store.
Finally, it has to be mentioned that it is also possible for someone to subtly but directly plant suggestions into your mind, without your awareness, which can influence your decisions and behavior. However, this takes a considerable amount of skill and precision using a conversational hypnosis technique, often mixed in with elements of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). While it seems like mind control when this happens, it is simply made possible by the skilled use of subtle suggestion.
One of the most renowned practitioners of these kinds of skills is the UK’s Derren Brown – a psychological illusionist and mentalist. Watching him in action is quite fascinating, and can be informative as well as he sometimes explains how he does what he does. Rest assured, however, that even someone as skilled as Derren Brown has no control over your mind at the end of the day (despite the fact that his TV show itself is dubbed Mind Control!). On his website he sheds light on some of the various tools he uses, including hypnosis, magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship in order to seemingly predict and control human behavior.
All of this should reinforce what you are hopefully coming to fully understand – that the power of your mind is absolutely amazing, and that YOU have the ability to tap into and use it to shape and change your life. Hypnosis is the key to accessing this power, and you have it in your hand. You just have to make the choice to use it.
Nichols Clinical Hypnotherapy in White Rock
Derren Brown Video #1 -Making up your mind for you.