More about hypnosis
Hypnosis is widely used in medicine, therapy, psychology and psychiatry.
Hypnosis is a bit like sleep. If someone comes into the room and looks at you, they may say you are asleep. But you are not. You are aware.Hypnosis is just a trance state guided by someone else. We all go into trance states or altered states every day. You will be in a light trance about every twenty minutes out of ninety. You may be engrossed in a work or a hobby, daydreaming, engaged by the TV. and so on. That is a state that you know about. In addition hypnotists use processes of the unconscious mind, such as your early childhood ability to totally be in pretence, and your ability to dream.
A common altered state used in therapy is the "learning trance" or a related "peripheral vision awareness". This latter is used in advance driving, speed-reading, flying, etc, and work with learning difficulties, to name a few.
There are other altered states - deeper levels of hypnosis, that you will have heard of or experienced. They can be used for instance in childbirth, or pain control.
Some people have worries about hypnosis because of the antics of people "under the control" of stage Hypnotists, or because they believe that hypnotists can make them reveal secrets or do something bad.
1] Stage Hypnosis.
If you have been at a stage show or watched TV where there was a hypnotist you will have observed:
People volunteer to go onto the stage knowing what is coming to have fun, so they are already prepared to show off on stage.
The hypnotist carries out suggestibility tests looking for
[b] people who will be good performers on stage for the audience.
From the many that offer he selects eight to a dozen.
2] Your secrets.
You won't tell the hypnotist anything you don't want him to know. In long term therapy you will come to trust the hypnotherapist, as you would any therapist, and reveal details of your past that may help your therapy.
Note that statements revealed under hypnosis are not evidence, they are indications of your beliefs. And they are confidential.
All of us have gaps in memory. Under hypnosis and unconsciously we "fill in the gaps" and invent material to make a memory cohesive. Any police hypnotist will bear this out!
The most notorious examples are so called "recovered memories" of sexual abuse. There have been cases of people who were distressed and under hypnosis with a therapist looking for causes of their depression, who have put together a number of childhood memories and feelings, and decided that they were abused.
Now they might have been, so every statement needs to be taken seriously. But the unconscious may have put together two and two and made eleven! The therapist should take the clients statements and treat them as material for therapy. If the matter is reported to police, they have to look for evidence - sometimes circumstantial, because the recovered memories are statements about the clients feelings and not evidence.
While talking about police, and having said all that, we often can remember more under hypnosis and access parts of our memory that our conscious and sub-conscious mind have pushed out of awareness because they seemed unimportant. So people can sometimes remember car number plates and other material under hypnosis - again, these become working clues, not evidence.
3] Can I be made to do something bad?
The short answer is no, the longer answer is - by whose standards? If you are a normal citizen, I can't hypnotise you into robbing a bank. On the other hand, if you like robbing banks, I probably could.
If I and other hypnotists could just persuade other people to give us all their money, some of us no doubt would, and become very rich. But, as far as I know, this hasn't happened. And people who are highly suggestible and gullible are cleaned up by ordinary cons - there's no need for hypnosis!
4] Can I be made to forget things?
Yes, at three levels.
First, we often use temporary "forgetting" in hypnotising. It helps people to relax deeply and lasts minutes.
Second, people can he given instruction to forget something for a while [amnesia]. This lasts for a fairly short period set by the hypnotist. In therapy it is mostly used for deepening trance.
Third, people can be set up to forget something permanently. This forgetting only happens after repeated sessions of hypnosis and might relate to, say, the trauma of repeated abuse. Forgetting in everyday life is normal - and I am fairly good at it!
As far as we know, you can't be made to permanently forget something that troubles you and that you want to remember. Back to our bank example, if I hypnotised you and ordered you to give me all your money and forget that you had done that, at some stage you would remember and pay me a visit!
If you have concerns about hypnosis, talk to your therapist when you meet him or her.
You make sure that you are comfortable with your therapist. If you are not, go to someone else. Your therapy will work better!