The Truth About Hypnosis: 10 Myths & Misconceptions Answered

For many years, I have taught seminars for both health care professionals and for the public on what hypnosis is, what it isn’t, and how it works. A lot of people have ideas about hypnosis that may or may not be true. Below, I address some of those stories and give you the straight scoop!

• MYTH: Being hypnotized requires the use of a pendulum or other device.

• TRUTH: Hypnosis is a form of attentional focus but a pendulum or other device is not required and is not generally used.

• MYTH: Hypnosis is similar to brainwashing. The hypnotist will have control over the subject and can make the subject do whatever the hypnotist wants. The subject will lose control or be forced to do something against his or her will.

• TRUTH: The subject always has the choice of how to direct, or allow the hypnotist to direct, his or her perceptions and attention. The hypnotist can not force the subject to do something against his or her will.

When people do funny things or act in out-of-character ways under hypnosis, that is because they are open to having those experiences. Even the most highly hypnotically susceptible persons will not have those kinds of experiences if they are not open to them. Moreover, attempting to try to make someone do so is completely unethical and is part of what sets apart those in the health care professions from stage hypnotists:

Health care hypnotists do not operate for the sake of entertainment and are trained to always consider the context of the client and the client’s life and his or her best interests. What’s more, state licensing boards regulate health care professionals to act in this ethical regard!

Further, those of us in the health care fields are trained to work with any discomfort or issues that are being dealt with or that might arise. Always look for a hypnotherapist who is also licensed as a health care worker (for ex., psychotherapist, physician, social worker, etc.).

• MYTH: People who can be hypnotized are weak-minded or gullible.

• TRUTH: In fact, under hypnosis, the subject exhibits strength in terms of sensitivity, focus, creativity, and ability to be attentive. High hypnotizable people have remarkable abilities to “power through” and keep focused on what is important to them.

• MYTH: Not everyone can be hypnotized.
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