Q: What is hypnosis?
Believe it or not, there is nothing “magical” about hypnosis. Hypnosis is simply an altered state of consciousness, where the subconscious level of the mind is open to receiving suggestions. When you are in hypnosis, your mind is also very focused, as well. This focused, suggestible state of mind allows you to learn things much faster, and to also change your behaviors much faster.
Most people don’t realize this, but almost everyone experiences a hypnotic state at least twice a day; just before you fall asleep at night, and just as you wake up in the morning. In fact, you have probably been hypnotized during the day without even realizing it. For example, have you ever spaced out or daydreamed in a boring meeting or class? If so, then you have been in a light hypnotic state. Or, have you ever been driving down the highway, and then suddenly realized that you missed your exit and don’t remember driving the last 20 miles? That is called highway hypnosis.
Hypnosis can also be described as a natural trance state.
Q: What is self-hypnosis?
Self hypnosis is when you put yourself into hypnosis. This can be accomplished a variety of different ways.
Q: What is hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is when a hypnotist or hypnotherapist puts you into hypnosis for therapeutic uses. This can be accomplished a variety of different ways.
Q: What is stage hypnosis?
During a stage hypnosis show, a stage hypnotist hypnotizes volunteers on stage, and then has them do funny or amazing things while hypnotized. This is done mostly for entertainment purposes, but it can also be very educational, depending on the hypnotist.
Q: What are visualizations?
A visualization (also called creative visualization) is when you close your eyes and imagine something in your mind. Believe it or not, just by closing your eyes and imagining something, you can go into a light state of hypnosis (the alpha state).
Visualizations can be done by themselves, or you can put yourself into a deep state of hypnosis (using self-hypnosis) and then do the visualization.
Q: Can I get stuck in hypnosis?
No. Contrary to what you might see in the movies, it is impossible to get stuck in a hypnotic state. (Yes, impossible!) In over 200 years of recorded hypnosis history, there has never been a documented case of anyone getting stuck in hypnosis.
Hypnosis is very safe. Because it is is simply the brain state between waking and sleeping, the worst thing that can happen is that you would just fall asleep. You would either wake up on your own later on, or someone could come along and wake you up very easily, just by shaking you gently on the arm.
The only time hypnosis could possibly be dangerous is if you tried to listen to a hypnosis CD, in the car, while driving. because you could fall asleep at the wheel. (So never listen to hypnosis in the car.)
Q: How does hypnosis work?
When we go into hypnosis, the conscious mind quiets down, and stops blocking and filtering everything out. This puts us into a very suggestible state of mind, and allows hypnotic suggestions to enter the subconscious mind.
Q: What happens to your brain during hypnosis?
This is a very simplified answer, but there are four major brain states of the human brain: alpha, beta, theta, and delta. (There are also other less common types of brain waves, but for our purposes, we will just stick with the four major types.)
- beta – (12-38 Hz) When you are wide awake and very alert, your brainwaves are primarily in the beta state.
- alpha- (8-12 Hz) When you are relaxed and drowsy state, your brainwaves are primarily in the alpha state. You are also in this state when you are deeply absorbed in something, such as watching a movie, or reading a book.
- theta- (3-8 Hz) When you are asleep and dreaming, or deeply meditating, your brainwaves are primarily in the theta state.
- delta- (0.5- 3 Hz) And when you are in a deep, restorative sleep without dreaming, your brainwaves are primarily in the delta state.
Hypnosis primarily occurs in the alpha and theta states. When you are in a light state of hypnosis, you are in the alpha state. When you are in a deep state of hypnosis, you are in the theta state.
The more you do hypnosis, the deeper you will go, because your brain becomes used to going into the theta state. However, about 20% of the population are people who can reach the theta state rather quickly and easily. They are known as “natural somnambulists” and they are the people who make the best hypnosis stage show subjects, because they can go into a deep state of hypnosis very quickly and easily.
Q: How does a hypnotist help a person make changes?
Think of the body as a computer, and think of the brain as the central processing unit. Think of the subconscious mind as the brain’s computer program.
When there is a glitch in a computer program, this can cause problems. We could bang on the side of the computer and yell and curse at it, but that probably wouldn’t get us anywhere. (Although we’ve all tried, right?) Or, we could send in a computer programmer to fix the glitch in the computer program, by talking to the computer in a special computer language.
A hypnotist is like a computer programmer for the mind. Just like a computer programmer knows how to talk to a computer in a special language, a hypnotist knows how to talk to the subconscious mind in a special language using “hypnotic suggestions.”
Q: Tell me more about the conscious mind and the subconscious mind, and how it relates to human behavior.
The subconscious, conscious, and unconscious are terms that were first developed by Sigmund Freud. Believe it or not, Freud studied hypnosis before he developed the field of psychoanalysis. He originally used the term “subconscious”- although later on, he changed the term to unconscious.
He also used the “iceberg model” when describing the conscious and subconscious mind. This is because the conscious mind controls only 10% of our human behaviors (this is the tip of the iceberg), and the subconscious/unconscious mind controls the other 90% of our behaviors.
The conscious mind – Your conscious mind is the critical and analytical part of our mind, responsible for reasoning and thinking. It’s always blocking things, filtering things, and analyzing everything you hear, see and experience. It even analyzes our own thoughts. And yet, it controls less than 10% of our behaviors!
The subconscious mind – The subconscious mind is the part of your mind that is responsible for memory, intuition, imagination and creativity. About 90% of our body’s activities are governed by our subconscious mind. After all, if we had to stop to think to digest our food, or to blink, or to breathe, etc.. we would never get anything done! So, our brain leaves those automatic functions up to the subconscious mind.
Our subconscious minds also control those behaviors that we do by habit, or things we do on “auto-pilot.” For example, remember when you first learned to drive? Remember how nervous you were when you had to change lanes, or drive on the highway, because you had to think of every tiny little thing you did? (turn on the car, put it in reverse, put on the blinker, change lanes, etc…) But then, after a while, after a while it became automatic, and you didn’t even have to think about it anymore, and you just did it? And then not only could you drive without thinking, but you could also talk on the phone, eat, and yell at the driver who cut you off in the next lane? That is because once your brain learns something so well, it allows the subconscious mind to take over the process.
Once we learn a behavior so well that it gets filed into our subconscious and becomes a habit, it can be difficult to change that habit unless we bypass the conscious mind, and go directly to the subconscious mind. Hypnosis and self-hypnosis can help us do that.
Q: Where, exactly, in the brain does hypnosis work?
Before the age of modern technology, we really didn’t know how, where, or why hypnosis worked. But now, thanks to fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imagine), we have a much better idea.
In a study published in the July 28, 2016 issue of Cerebral Cortex, researchers at Stanford University said that by using fMRI, identified three distinct areas of the brain that are changed during hypnosis.
- First, they saw a decrease in activity in an area called the dorsal anterior cingulate, part of the brain’s salience network.
- Second, they saw an increase in connections between two other areas of the brain — the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the insula.
- And finally, the team also observed reduced connections between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the default mode network, which includes the medial prefrontal and the posterior cingulate cortex.
Q: Is it true that hypnosis only works on the weak-minded?
No….that is not true at all. In fact, the opposite is true. People with high intelligence and wonderful imaginations do exceptionally well with hypnosis.
In fact, did you know that Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison regularly used self-hypnosis for problem solving? I don’t think anybody could ever accuse Thomas Edison or Albert Einstein of having a weak mind!
There is a big difference between being suggestible, and being gullible. Everyone on Earth is suggestible. If we weren’t suggestible, we wouldn’t be able to learn. Therefore, if you can learn, you are suggestible, and the better you can learn, the more suggestible you are.
Q: Can I be hypnotized against my will?
No. Most people don’t realize this, but hypnosis is a completely voluntary state of mind. Nobody can hypnotize you against your will, and once you are hypnotized, nobody can make you do anything against your will.
This is why I always tell people that if they are coming in for hypnosis to quit smoking because a loved one is pushing them to, they shouldn’t waste their money. It won’t work, because hypnosis cannot force you to do something you don’t want to do. Save your money and wait until you’re truly ready to quit.
Q: Will I lose control over what I do when I am hypnotized?
No. When you are in hypnosis, you are always in control. You can’t ever be made to do anything that you don’t want to do. Your “morals” would take over.
Q: Will I lose control over what I say while hypnotized?
You cannot be made to reveal any secrets while under hypnosis. Believe it or not, people actually liars when they’re in hypnosis. (Think of people in hypnosis stage shows!)
If you want to get to the root of something, you may discover something surprising from your past, but if you don’t want to talk about what you discover, you don’t have to.
Q; Is it safe for kids be hypnotized?
Yes. Believe it or not, kids actually make great hypnosis subjects because they are so imaginative.
Q: Does hypnosis really work?
Yes! There are over 3,000 scientific studies showing that hypnosis is both safe and effective.
Most people don’t know this, but hypnosis was certified by the British Medical Association (BMA) in 1957, and the American Medical Association (AMA) in 1958. This is primarily because of how much it helped veterans with PTSD after WWII.
Hypnosis has also been endorsed by the National Institute of Health (NIH).
Q: Can you let go of bad habits with hypnosis?
It can be very frustrating when we think that we are consciously making all our decisions, and we don’t realize that our subconscious minds are driving most of our behaviors. Ever tell yourself over and over again to stop doing something, but you can’t seem to stop? That is because you’re talking to your conscious mind. If you really want to make changes, you have to talk to the part of the brain that is responsible for the behaviors – the subconscious mind. We can use hypnosis and self-hypnosis to talk to the subconscious.
Q: Is it really true that you can learn things much faster with hypnosis?
Have you ever wondered why kids learn so much faster than adults, such as with foreign languages? That is partly because up until the age of 8, children’s brains are mostly in an alpha state. This allows them to learn things much faster and absorb everything like a sponge.
Adults can also learn much faster by putting themselves into the alpha state (a light state of hypnosis) before they start to study something new.
Q: What is regression hypnosis, and what do you use it for?
Because the subconscious mind remembers everything that has ever happened to us, we can use hypnosis to access old events we may not even consciously remember anymore.
Regression hypnosis is when a hypnotist puts a person into a state of hypnosis, and tells the person to go back to an event that happened at an earlier time. This can be useful for many things, such as finding lost objects, remembering things they forgot, or remembering things more clearly. Forensic hypnotists who work in the court system use regression hypnosis to help witnesses remember things for testifying in court cases.
Regression hypnosis can also be helpful to help a person resolve past traumatic events.
And, regression hypnosis can help a person to become consciously aware of how past events are influencing their present behavior. After the hypnotist helps the person access those past events, the hypnotherapist will then use techniques such as hypno-analysis, reframing, and other tools to help the person change their behavior, or change the way they react to certain triggers in the future.
Q: Why does hypnosis work so much quickly compared to other methods of behavior modification?
Because when you are in hypnosis, you now have access to your subconscious mind. At that point, we can:
- Discover why we do the things we do
- Program in new behaviors
That way, we can make changes very quickly, because we are bypassing the conscious mind, and going directly to the subconscious.
Q: What the heck is happening in this picture?
This is a phenomenon called “hypnotic catalepsy.” When you are deeply hypnotized, the body can become stiff and rigid, like a board. In the old days, stage hypnotists would use dramatic displays of hypnotic catalepsy during stage shows, to show the power of hypnosis.
Did you ever play a game when you were a kid called “Light as a feather, stiff as a board,” where you and a bunch of friends would raise another friend up to the top of the ceiling with just your fingertips? If so, that was also an example of hypnotic catalepsy.
Q: Does self-hypnosis really work?
A: Yes. Did you know what all these famous people below have in common? They all used hypnosis to help them achieve goals.
- Albert Einstein – used self-hypnosis every day to solve problems. His theory of relativity came to him one day while in a trance state.
- Thomas Edison – regularly used self- hypnosis to solve problems
- Sir Winston Churchill – used post-hypnotic suggestions to stay awake all night during WWII
- Mozart – composed a famous opera while “mesmerized.” (Mesmerism is a form of hypnosis.) Interesting fact – Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer, the founder of “mesmerism,” was also a patron of the arts, and he was the one who gave Mozart his first big break in music!
- Rachmoninov – used hypnosis
- Chopin – a famous composer, also took classes in hypnosis at University of Strasbourg
- Henry Ford – was a regular user of hypnosis
- Cary Grant – used hypnosis
- Johnny Mathis – used hypnosis to overcome stage fright
- Tony Curtis – removed his fear of flying with hypnosis
- Alfred Lord Tennyson – (poet) used hypnosis
Many other famous people living now have also used hypnosis, but in the interest of protecting their privacy, I will not reveal their names here.
Q: Do you do private hypnotherapy sessions via Skype?
Sorry, I don’t do hypnotherapy sessions via Skype, because too many things can go wrong with the internet connection.
Q: Will you make me cluck like a chicken?
Only if you want me to!