It isn’t unusual for people to come to me with their own ideas about what hypnosis is or ought to feel like. Sometimes those ideas are close to the mark, but often they are way off. That’s understandable, of course, since popular culture is fascinated by things like “mind control”, unconscious actions, and undetectable coercion. That couldn’t be further from what hypnosis actually is, but actual hypnosis wouldn’t make an interesting Hollywood plot device, so we can’t expect movies and stage shows to give accurate information.
One of the first conversations I have with people interested in hypnosis is what hypnosis really is, and isn’t.
First, hypnosis is safe and natural. It happens all the time - literally many times a day. It is there when we learn, when we daydream, when we are entertained, when we are moved to tears, when we vividly remember. Hypnosis is, simply, openness to suggestion. When you hear a song on the radio from your childhood and instantly you remember exactly where you...
Basically, there are two types of hypnosis. (Really, there are as many “types” of hypnosis as there are hypnotists. But I’m generalizing styles and techniques into two broad categories.)
The first is “Direct Suggestion.” This is when we get you into a trance and I simply tell you good things about yourself. “You are confident. You are a non-smoker. You eat only healthy foods and only when it is healthy to eat them. You are comfortable and pain-free.” And so on.
Direct Suggestion is a legitimate and effective hypnotic technique. As far as it goes. The main problem with Direct Suggestion is that it often doesn’t last. Generally, when considered successful, Direct Suggestion lasts about a week, maybe two at most. And then it “wears off.” That is because the underlying issue, the “root cause”, remains unaffected. Typically an individual relying on direct suggestion must continually reinforce it with either frequent visits to the hypnotist or listening to a recording.