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The “Problems” With Hypnosis

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on December 28, 2010 | Comments (8)

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been formally studying and taking trainings in hypnosis for over a decade. I’m certified as a clinical hypnotherapist by several organizations and am also certified to teach hypnosis and hypnotherapy.

Hypnosis can be an incredibly powerful tool for change, and isn’t that the essence of magick? Hypnosis is not the only means of magick, nor is it necessary for magick, but it can be used as a magickal tool.

When doing hypnotherapy with people, one of the first things a good hypnotist will do is refute and break down the misunderstandings and myths a person may have about hypnosis. It’s time that could be better spent actually helping someone, but it is necessary due to the false beliefs about hypnosis so many people have. Such false beliefs can actually prevent, delay, or limit successful hypnotherapy. Year after year, the myths and misinformation about hypnosis are spread on TV, in novels and in movies.  Unfortunately, the spreading of these myths continues.

Recently, I saw the movie The Fourth Kind. The title comes from J. Allen Hyneck’s classifications dealing with UFOs. The first kind is sighting them. The second kind is finding evidence of them. The third kind is contacting them. This was expanded to a fourth kind, being abducted. And that gives you the focus of the movie. A psychologist in Nome, Alaska, using hypnosis, discovers that people are being abducted by aliens.

The film is cleverly made. Although fictional, it includes sections that purport to be actual videos of the real people (really just different actors) whom the main actors are supposedly portraying. The implication is that this is based on real events that took place in the year 2,000. Further, the implication is that hypnosis, as shown in the movie, was an example of what real hypnosis is like.

Problem One:
Due to the imitation documentary aspect of the movie, people who see this film will get the idea that it is showing real hypnosis. It’s not. The film shows people having violent reactions to hypnosis, ranging from screaming and levitating (!) to breaking the bones in their neck. While it is true that hypnosis can result in some unwanted reactions (technically called abreactions), this movie was way over the top. Further, while some psychologists and old-school hypnotists try to get abreactions—at a far lower level—for a supposed emotional release, modern hypnotists find them unneeded and avoid them. Meanwhile, the psychologist in the movie who is using hypnosis merely watches and rather ineffectually repeats, “I want you to wake up.”

When I give workshops on hypnosis, one of the things I say is that I often find people will go to movies with vampires or zombies, admit the movie was scary or fun, but say that those type of zombies and vampires aren’t real. But the same people will see a movie where the filmmakers misrepresent hypnosis and believe that’s the way hypnosis really is. Movies such as this misrepresent hypnosis to move the plot and do a disservice to hypnotherapists and to people who might otherwise effectively use hypnotherapy.

Problem Two:
I deeply appreciate and value the work that psychologists do. In many cases today, psychiatrists do little in the way of actual therapy; they just prescribe drugs. The challenge of working with people who need counseling primarily falls to psychologists. To become a licensed psychologists takes a couple of years of specialized study. In some cases it also requires gaining experience counseling while under the guidance of current professional. In any event, a licensed psychologist may help many, many people.

The problem is that once licensed, psychologists (or psychiatrists) can practice a wide range of techniques even if they have not taken extensive, specialized training in that area. This is not limited to psychological professionals. Some MDs began offering liposuction surgeries after taking a weekend course in the practice. But the point is, if a licensed psychologist believes that hypnosis will help a patient, they can legally use hypnosis even if they have not received extensive, specialized training in the field. I have received over a thousand hours of trainings and studied hundreds of books on hypnosis and hypnotherapy. Unless a psychologist can say the same, I would not want them to use hypnotherapy with me.

This is not meant as a criticism of any form of psychotherapy or any psychotherapists. All I am suggesting here is that before allowing yourself to participate in any sort of therapy, you should ask your prospective therapist their specific training in this area.

Problem Three:
Hypnosis is too easy. By that I mean it is easy to learn how to lead a person into hypnosis. The difficult part—the part that the schools and teachers rarely talk about in their advertisements—is what you’re supposed to do after you hypnotize someone.

It is actually easy to learn how to hypnotize people. Books such as Hypnosis for Beginners and New Age Hypnosis can give you all sorts of techniques for this. In my opinion, however, it’s what you do after the hypnotic induction and before you emerge a person from hypnosis that is the most important part of hypnosis. Because most schools don’t focus on this in their advertising, students come in not realizing that this is so most important. They want to learn more inductions and faster inductions. This misunderstanding of the very nature of hypnosis leads to new students often not focusing on the parts they really need to learn.

Problem Four:
The most common hypnotic induction taught in books is known as the “progressive relaxation” induction, also known as the “progressive muscle relaxation” induction. The problem with this is that people may end up confusing relaxation and hypnosis. While it is true that hypnosis often is accompanied by relaxation, relaxation is not necessary for hypnosis. Nor is merely being relaxed hypnosis.

I am a moderator an internet forum dedicated to hypnosis. Often we get questions from people trying to learn hypnosis from books who say, “I felt relaxed, but the suggestions I gave myself didn’t hold.” That’s probably because they were only relaxed and not hypnotized.

This is the reason I am really happy to see the appearance of two new items. First is the book Self-Empowerment Through Self-Hypnosis by Weschcke and Slate. Second is the Self-empowerment Through Self-Hypnosis CD Companion by the same authors. Although the items work fine independently, together they make a great set. For most people it is initially easier to be hypnotized by someone else. The CD helps you experience hypnosis and learn self-hypnosis. The book adds to it with methods and techniques for suggestions that can help you make positive revolutionary changes in your life. You can break unwanted habits and visit past lives. Magickally, this corresponds to making talismans or working with your magickal memory.

If you’re interested in breaking through a wide variety of issues in your life and magickally using hypnosis, any of the products I’ve mentioned will be excellent resources. If you would like an actual, high-quality training in hypnosis leading to certification, I will be conducting a training in the Southern California area. You can learn more about it on my website (click HERE and scroll down) or contact the venue, The Green Man, 818-985-2010. Dates to be determined.

Reader Comments

Written By Melissa
on December 28th, 2010 @ 1:38 pm

I don’t think I have too many misconceptions about hypnotism, but no one has ever been able to hypnotize me. I’ve had professionals try, but they do the relaxation-based induction, and I just can’t relax. My heart rate goes up, and my thoughts jump into overdrive.

I’d love to try an induction for a deeper level of hypnosis such as the sudden inductions that were used before surgery in field hospitals during various wars. I’m fascinated by such “tricks” as touching a person with an eraser and telling them that it’s fire that doesn’t hurt — and having a mild burn at the site. As I understand it, though, that level of hypnotism isn’t particularly helpful for long-term behavior change like weight loss.

Written By Paul McCabe
on December 28th, 2010 @ 6:04 pm

Firstly, before you begin to learn that all hypnosis is self hypnosis, I’m curious if you can allow yourself to become hypnotised because one can give yourself permission to allow oneself to follow the hypnotists elegant utterances and soon you will find that you will be feeling wonderfully and deeply relaxed which means all you have to do to become deeper and much more relaxed as you do as the hypnotist asks you to do because this is what you want and why you are here…

Or how about this…..before you close your eyes and prove to yourself that it works easily first time, read the next few lines to understand what it is you have to do and dont actually try to make sure this works until you understand what it is i want you to do when you have read it simply take a long deep breath and normally and naturally close your eyes and imagine or pretend that your eyes are sealed shut,closed tight, tighter and tighter, your eyes are glued together, sealed with the worlds most powerful super glue and they just get tighter and tighter now and in a moment when you know they will stay closed, when you know you can keep them closed, try to open them and find that they just get tighter and tighter and when you test them and they will not open, then you can simply say to yourself, I am feeling fantastic about learning this and now i will be able to open my eyes easily….and then open your eyes easily you can do it..

You can learn all hypnosis is self hypnosis and the second paragraph is a simple exercise in self hypnosis and when you know that you simply cannot open your eyes that means you have hypnotised yourself….all a hypnotist does is help you to focus your thinking on an agreeable postive suggestion while you bypass the little part of your mind that says “dont work, this is too easy to work”….get the idea!

The first paragraph is a simple play of conversational hypnosis and my point for putting it in here is so you can experience the subtle spacey effect of language that easily allows our conscious mind to start to tune out and our learning to be processed by your subconscious mind…

I’m a hypnotist, an effective and creative one 🙂 And to really drive home the point about you not being “hypnotisable” as you say you aren’t, I’m curious if you participate in religious ceremonies of any sort or day dream anytime because that means you are hypnotising yourself easily. Think about it 🙂

Goodluck, Paul, Ireland.

Written By mariahs
on December 29th, 2010 @ 7:50 pm

Thanks for this article, I like what you said about people not understanding hypnosis. It is also true that you need a really good therapist once the person is in the trance to know what to do to help the person. Thanks, I’ll check out the books. Mariah

Written By John Roberts
on January 3rd, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

Hi: For almost 30 years I have been a licensed acupuncturist, for 20 years I have been a practicing hypnotist (trained by Gil Boyne), and lastly, for over 10 years I have been a professional tarot reader. This gives me a unique perspective on the subject of your article. First, just because a psychologist has convinced someone (or validated their previous belief) about being abducted by aliens, it does not mean that an abduction actually happened. A client can, make up all sorts of things while in a state of hypnosis, they can even lie (and frequently do). Second, most people practicing “hypnotherapy” are just trying to be psychologists without the degree. Old school hypnotism (which I practice) involves direct suggestion only. The client is placed in a state of hypnosis, tested, suggestion for change delivered, acceptance verified, and state terminated. This is what is necessary for change, not regressions, induced ad reactions, parts therapy, or any other such “therapeutic” techniques. Third, progressive relaxation as an induction (practiced by most psychologists trying to do hypnosis, and most hypnotherapists), is not an induction, because the state of hypnosis is never reached. As Gil Boyne once said, “hypnosis is not relaxation.” A state of hypnosis can only be verified if it is tested by the hypnotist (eye lid stick, hand stuck to chair, forgetting their name, etc.). I hope my response brings a little light to the subject. Best wishes to all.

Written By Laurie
on February 9th, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

John, You seem to lack the most vital aspect of hypnotherapy. I Compassion! Your emotional intelect must be balanced with your perspicacity. F.Y.I most people do not lie during a session and some people actualy have been abducted by aliens. As far as the card reading is concerned, the same balance is required for clean unbiased reading. You seem to understand the mechanics of the above mentioned therapys, however there is a wisdom available when you open your heart for greater clarification. Your comment is judgemental and your own beliefs are tainting your ability.

Thanks, I hope this helps.

Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on February 10th, 2013 @ 4:08 am

Thank you for your comments, Laurie.
I think it’s unfair to accuse John of lacking compassion just from his comments. There really isn’t enough to judge.
One of the problems you ignore is confabulation, the desire of the hypnotized person to please the hypnotist. While as John says, some people do like while hypnotized, in my experience it’s much more common for people to fill in what they don’t know or embellish it even though they think it is still the truth.
And of course, merely because someone tells their personal or subjective truth and doesn’t lie, that doesn’t mean what they said is objectively true.

Written By Tracey
on May 2nd, 2014 @ 5:38 pm

I have tried hypnotherapy and at first I would have recommended it to everyone but 6 months later I am experiencing so much emotional hurt and pain that I would warn others not to let anyone into your mind, they can do so much harm, even if they don’t mean to. Please stop this, the mind is too vulnerable to mess with. Hypnotherapy is not as harmless as hypnotherapists tell you.

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