Suzanne Norman

Enlightened Living Articles

The Myth and Mystery of Hypnosis

Friday, December 20, 2019


"I heard everything you said, so I don't think I was hypnotized" A new client recently told me this after his first session.

This is not an uncommon reaction and it's one of many myths surrounding the therapeutic process of hypnotherapy.

I suspect one of the reasons many people feel apprehensive about trying hypnosis is due to their misunderstanding of what hypnosis is and isn't.

Let me bust a few myths.

1. Hypnosis is not sleep. When you are in a hypnotic state, you are fully aware of your surroundings, but another part of your mind is focused elsewhere. This is why you feel surprised when you pull into your driveway and say "Wow, I hardly remember how I got here, I was so zoned out on the drive home."

In this case, you got in your car and your subconscious mind knew just how to drive the car and how to navigate the way home. Your subconscious mind knows this familiar process because it was trained a long time ago and now it's basically a habit. But on this day your conscious mind was preoccupied with a problem to solve or on some other subject so it was busy working that out and all the while, your subconscious mind was in the driver's seat.

That's why you hardly remember the drive home, your conscious mind was busy working out the problem (or talking on the phone), so your subconscious mind takes over a job it has been trained to do. You may have not been fully aware of the drive home, but you certainly weren't asleep.

Hypnosis is a state of mind you go in and out of many times per day. A trance state is simply a shift in the brain wave activity, and your brain fluctuates between Beta, Alpha, and Theta wavelength throughout the day. Alpha and Theta waves are registered when you are daydreaming, meditating, relaxing, or zoning out (we call that trance).

During hypnosis, you are deeply relaxed and your mind may wander and not really be paying attention. You sometimes feel a 'far away' feeling, but it is not sleep.

2. Hypnosis is not mind control.   This is a big misconception, thanks to Hollywood. Stage hypnosis shows may also give the impression that the hypnotist is controlling the mind of the volunteers.  In the case of the stage hypnosis shows, the participants up on stage are willing participants and have agreed to put their beliefs on hold for entertainment. If they are doing crazy things on stage while in a hypnotic trance, they may appear to be under the control of the hypnotist, but the truth is, they would willingly behave like that in public even if they weren't in a stage hypnosis show, they have that type of personality.

For someone like me, who doesn't feel comfortable with that kind of extroverted behavior or being the center of attention, that would never work with me.   I can be hypnotized, but not in a situation like that.

Hypnosis is 100% voluntary, in fact, we say that all hypnosis is self- hypnosis. No one can hypnotize you. A hypnotherapist guides you into a natural, deeper state of mind for the purpose of helping you change some problematic behavior, habit, or belief that is getting in your way or limiting your life in some way. But you willingly choose to have the experience. Once you suspend your belief and allow your imagination to open, hypnosis comes easy.

3. You cannot get stuck in hypnosis.  Again, hypnosis is a natural state of mind, an experience you have many times per day. Just as you can easily pull yourself away from a day-dream, you can just as easily pull yourself up from a hypnotic trance.  Although, when experiencing hypnosis in a formal setting, it is such a deeply relaxing experience, many people don't want to leave that wonderful state of relaxation. But they always do :)

4.  "I can't be hypnotized", or "I tried it and it didn't work."  I hear these often.  Again, hypnosis is a natural state and each of us experiences hypnosis throughout the day.  When you are waking in the morning or falling asleep at night, your brain moves through a Theta brainwave level, that state of suspension where your half in dream world and half in awake world, you know that feeling!  When someone tells me that can't be hypnotized I ask them if they never sleep and then tell them that if they sleep, they've experienced hypnosis on the way.

However, in order to experience hypnosis in a formal setting, there must be a relationship of trust between the therapist and you.  A therapist should be skilled at making your comfortable with the process and with them.  They should answer all of your questions and explain the process as well as clear up any misconceptions and concerns.  If that doesn't happen and you have any of the above beliefs, it is possible that you may not allow hypnosis to happen, but you are most certainly hypnotizable.

I have found that the first session for many people is a very light experience.  They may be very critical thinkers, or what we call 'analyzers', those with strong minds, and they are not fully relaxing.  These people may enter a light state of hypnosis or simply relaxing deeply but not entering the subconscious mind.  In these instances, deep change work is likely not going to happen. However,  after one or two sessions when they are comfortable with the process, they are able to go very deep into hypnosis and the changes they are looking for can happen.   


I would encourage anyone who has never tried hypnosis or has had only a brief experience with it, to continue exploring this powerful therapy.  I have found nothing more effective, permanent, or powerful than hypnosis.  It is gentle, comfortable and has zero negative side effects.

I have specialized in using hypnosis for trauma and chronic illness, but I see clients for everything from depression/anxiety to weight reduction, habit elimination to sports improvement, and hypnosis is far and above the best stress reduction technique available.

If you are curious, I encourage you to treat yourself to a hypnosis session...your future self with thank you!

As I mentioned in my previous email, I am offering a holiday half price hypnosis promotion for a limited time!  

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