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Does Hypnosis Scare You? Should It?

Jun 29, 2008
Sometimes it's simple. A woman calls me about her smoking problem. The problem is her doctor says she needs to stop smoking, and she says she wants to quit, but she simply isn't quitting.

Cold turkey doesn't work and neither does the nicotine drug her doctor prescribed and she faithfully took. Now she's both taking the drug and smoking.

"I'm desperate," she says, "So I called you."

Long story short: she comes in and quits in one session. Longer story: some people are so afraid of a painless procedure called hypnosis that they'll try everything else first, including drugs with known and unknown side effects.

But what about the side effect of hypnosis? Is it dangerous?

The side effect of hypnosis is relaxation. The intended effect of hypnosis? That you get what you came to the session for. In the case of smoking cessation, that you stop poisoning yourself and making cigarette manufacturers rich.

There's only one problem with this kind of relaxation.

You have to make sure after your session ends that you are fully roused, alert and aware before crossing a street or turning the key in the ignition.

That's usually about it for negative side effects.

But that's not the end of the story or clients would have me working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help them quit smoking, attract love relationships, or excel effortlessly in their chosen career, which are my specialties.

Truthfully, I'm glad not to work seven days a week.

But I'm disappointed that we haven't fully set the record straight on hypnosis, particularly hypnosis for the purpose of self improvement rather than stage entertainment.

Here are the misconceptions causing most common fears--and the truths behind them:

-"I'll get stuck in hypnosis, forever."

You cannot get stuck. Even if your practitioner were to collapse in the middle of your session, and not end the session. Here's what would happen: after not getting any input for a few minutes, your subconscious mind would notice that and exit the hypnotic state. And you would naturally rouse yourself.

-"The hypnotist will make me tell my secrets..."

"...and that includes bank account numbers and the times I cheated," the client worries. No reputable hypnotist would do that but even if he tried, your powerful subconscious mind, whose main purpose is to protect you, would call a foul and keep quiet.

-"I'll become a robot under the control of the hypnotist."

This is similar to the above. Your subconscious mind, geared to protect you from danger and damage would simply not participate in a venture of this kind.

-"I read about a cult leader who used hypnosis."

Frankly the cult leaders who lure people into blind devotion are using more charm, charisma and persuasion tactics than hypnosis, but if they do something they call "hypnosis," it is useful mostly as an explanation for "why I fell for it." An excuse likely to be accepted because of zombie movies of the past.

If you want to feel even safer about hypnosis, look for documented cases where hypnotists were sued by their clients for unprofessional behavior. Now compare those to other mental health professionals, and doctors, and dentists too. The number of hypnotists wouldn't fill a hotel room.

-"I can't be hypnotized so I'd be wasting my money."

This includes I'm too smart to be hypnotized, too dumb to be hypnotized, too scared to be hypnotized, too antsy to be hypnotized, too unlike-everyone-else to be hypnotized, and more.

Here's the greater truth, with a heaping spoonful of honesty: "I don't want to be hypnotized" or "It makes me feel better about myself to believe I can't be hypnotized."

If you don't want to be hypnotized or won't follow instructions for going into hypnosis, you won't be hypnotized. If you're too distracted to concentrate, or exceedingly nervous about trying, it may take a little more doing than the average person, but it is do-able.

If you have an IQ of less than 70, you might have difficulties, but if you're reading and understanding this, you're good to go.

I have worked with clients on referral from psychotherapists for help with ADD/ADHD. With patience and intention, they even learned to hypnotize themselves.

If you think you'll feel uncomfortable with the hypnotist (which can often be discovered during your first phone call with the practitioner), or you're just not in the mood, or you need some questions answered first, it's okay to get those covered before you embark on the session.

It's okay to be a little scared about being hypnotized. Fear holds within it two things:
A respect for something that may be powerful and life changing. And a desire to keep yourself safe.

Both are worthwhile thoughts.

If the fear gets in your way of experiencing something that may change your life for the better, don't let it. Get educated about hypnosis. Then find a hypnotist you feel comfortable with.

Or find several. Ask friends, doctors, therapists for referrals Vet each one, ask questions. Read their websites. Interview them by phone, but don't keep them on longer than 10-15 minutes. (You can talk more at your first appointment.) Then schedule a single session, and decide if you want more.

Once you try it, you'll know there was really little to worry about. But you still get to brag about your bravery and what a great hypnotic subject you are.2008 by Wendy Lapidus-Saltz. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Wendy Lapidus-Saltz is a mind coach and consulting hypnotist certified by the National Guild of Hypnotists. She works with people who want to eliminate unwanted habits and fears. And those who desire to move forward with their dreams. Phone hypnosis and office sessions available. Visit http://www.nonsmoker4life.com , http://www.hypno-attraction.com, or call 312-640-1584.
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