The Most Frequently Asked Questions about Hypnosis

“In [hypnosis], you can attain significant psycho-physiologic changes.”  Dr. Daniel Handel, National Institute of Health, New York Times, June 2002

Because most people have a limited exposure to hypnosis they also have a limited understanding about how hypnosis works.

Over the years I have helped hundreds of people using hypnosis and NLP make quick and lasting shifts in behavior in my San Diego office. During that same time I have kept track of the most commonly asked questions I get about both hypnosis and NLP.

In this article I’ll explore the most frequently asked questions I get about hypnosis.

The 7 most frequently asked questions I get about hypnosis: 

Question 1: I tried to be hypnotized at a hypnosis show and it didn’t work. What if you can’t hypnotize me?

Almost every normal person in the word is hypnotizable.

As long as you have at least an IQ of 70 and no severe mental disorders this should include you. In all my hypnosis sessions in my San Diego office and my travels around the country, every person I have attempted to hypnotize has been hypnotized. That being said all of these people wanted to be hypnotized. The same goes for those people in a hypnosis “show”.

They were hypnotized because they wanted to be. I have never hypnotized nor seen anyone hypnotized who didn’t want to be hypnotized.

Statistical note: People have a wide variety of hypnotic susceptibility and, like most things the ability to be hypnotized is normally distributed. In layperson’s terms this means about seventy percent of all people are moderately susceptible and five to ten percent are either highly susceptible or not susceptible at all.

Question 2: What does it feel like when I am hypnotized? How will I know that I have been hypnotized?

I know, this is actually two questions but it really covers the same thing.

The fact is most people can’t tell the difference between being in the state of hypnosis and a normal waking state. While experiencing a hypnotic state you do not get ‘knocked out” or “fall asleep”.  If hypnosis “feels” like anything it feels more like daydreaming or that not quite asleep, not quite awake state you feel right before you wake up or fall asleep. While ‘in hypnosis’ you are at all times conscious and aware and in control of what is happening to you.

Some people report feeling relaxed and lethargic, while others report feeling light. There is no one way that people experience a hypnotic state. One thing most people have in common is a seemingly explicable positive change in their behaviors.

Question 3: Is hypnosis really safe?

According to an August 2004 article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “Hypnosis and guided imagery have no adverse side effects”.

While movies and television shows continue to spread the myth that hypnosis can be harmful, there is no evidence that hypnosis has ever harmed anyone. The reason for this is while you are in a hypnotic sate you are not under anyone’s control but your own (see below).

The bottom line is this; hypnosis is a safe, relaxing and enjoyable experience.

Question 4: What is the science behind hypnosis? How does hypnosis work?

According to Dr. David Spiegel, psychiatry professor and medical director of the Complementary Medicine Clinic atStanfordUniversity, hypnosis works “because the patients are in an altered state, solely focused on the message, soaking it up, rather than in a psychological mode in which they can trivialize or ignore it.”

You mind works on two levels, the conscious and the subconscious.

You make decisions, think, and act with your conscious mind.

Your subconscious mind controls your habits, the things you do automatically every day, like brushing your teeth or putting on your clothes. Usually the subconscious learns over a period of time, through repetition.

Hypnosis relaxes your conscious mind. In this relaxed state you can communicate directly with your subconscious.  This is why you can use hypnosis to make quick and easy shifts in lifelong behaviors.

Question 5:  What kind of things can hypnosis help me do?

In a February 2004 article, Better Homes and Gardens reported, “Today, hypnosis–or hypnotherapy–is becoming a respected alternative for an array of conditions. It has long been used to help people quit smoking and overcome fears, such as the fear of public speaking, but now the practice is branching out into new areas.”

How can hypnosis do this?

It’s because all your habits are controlled by your subconscious mind. Since both hypnosis and NLP work directly with your subconscious mind they can help you make behavioral shifts more quickly and easily that just about any other method.

Question 6: Can the hypnotherapist control me?

While in a hypnotic state you are aware of yourself and everything around you.  You are completely in control. You can terminate the session at any time.

Hypnosis is not sleep, nor can you get stuck in a state of hypnosis.

If you are in a hypnotic trance and the hypnotist dropped dead after inducing the trance you would either come out of hypnosis by yourself or drift off to sleep and then wake up later.  You can’t be made to do something against your will!

People who are hypnotized are not mindless robots that can be totally manipulated by the hypnotist. You maintain control over your behavior and can refuse to comply with any suggestions given to you that are in direct moral conflict with them.

 Question 7: Why do some people think that you go to sleep in hypnosis?

Hypnosis has been confused for sleep because of its superficial features. It has been shown in laboratory a brain wave pattern studies that, in reality, hypnosis does not resemble sleep.

In an April 2004 article, Dr. L. Dean Hoover, a psychiatrist said, “The word hypnosis comes from the Greek word for sleep, but actually, you are not asleep, you are focused and have more self-control. Researchers have done EEGs of persons in trances that showed their brains were highly alert and focused.”

A person in a hypnotic state is usually quite relaxed but is also quite alert, and focused.

There you have it; the answers to the most commonly asked questions I get about hypnosis. If you have other questions just put your comments on this page.

Related Articles:

Common Misconceptions about hypnosis

History of hypnosis 

Hypnotherapy what is it and how does it work? 

What are the benefits of hypnosis and NLP?

About the author

After studying about hypnosis while attending the University of San Diego,Wil Dieck became very interested in its benefits not only for himself but also for his martial arts students. He found that using techniques from hypnosis and NLP he could help his students achieve faster and at higher levels. He is the found of  Total Mind Therapy, a system that fuses hypnosis and NLP and is the author of “Discover the Secrets of Your Subconscious Mind”. If you would like a complimentary copy of this $29.97 report follow this link…