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Hypnosis is a system or collection of methods that enable the mind and body to share information more effectively. One of those methods is called a trance—a conscious state of focused attention and absorption in one’s ideas, thoughts, and images with a narrowing awareness of other stimuli, which enhances the acceptance of suggestion and response by the conscious mind. Since 1958, hypnosis has been accepted as a valid therapeutic modality by both the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association. Studies show that hypnosis is an effective tool for accessing the mind-body connection. Clinical and medical applications of hypnosis are plentiful:
- Heal irritable bowel syndrome
- Provide relief for allergies
- Provide relief for asthma
- Suppress or enhance the immune system
- Change habits and behaviors such as smoking, nail biting, and hair pulling
- Treat anxiety disorders or phobias, such as the fear of flying or heights
Losing consciousness: Many people think that if you do hypnosis, you will lose consciousness. This is false. You are always conscious because hypnosis is a waking state phenomenon. When you are doing hypnosis, when you are in a trance, you are every bit awake as when you are not in trance. You will be more at ease, more relaxed, and in more control of what you are choosing to respond to while you are in a trance.
Surrendering your will: This misconception is that you will lose control or surrender your will to another. This is absolutely false. At any time that you are experiencing a trance or hypnosis, you will be aware of where you are and what you are doing, and you will be able to make choices in accordance with your best interests, morals, ethics, and values. Then how do we explain the stage hypnotist who gets people to quack like ducks or do other foolish and embarrassing things? Most of that is illusion and a “show.” Everyone who volunteers to go on stage is very willing to participate in the show, and stage hypnotists are usually excellent at being able to tease out those individuals in the audience. In medical or clinical hypnosis, you are fully in control. It is like driving a car. The hypnotherapist may be the one holding the map and giving directions, but the client is the one still driving the car.
Revealing secrets: Some fear that when they are in trance they might reveal secrets about themselves that could be embarrassing. This too is false. Again, when you are doing hypnosis, you are in control. In fact, it is a higher form of self-control.
Being weak-minded and gullible: Another misconception is that to be hypnotizable or to experience hypnosis, you have to be gullible or weak-minded. However, the truth is that the higher the intelligence, usually the better the individual is at doing hypnosis.
Inability to come out of trance—inability to de-hypnotize. This misconception is that there can be an inability to come out of trance, that you can go into trance but that you will not be able to come out again. The truth is the people respond readily to suggestions to come out of trance. The most that could ever happen is someone drifts off to sleep.
Myths aside, the facts are that hypnosis is safe, natural, and effective. It has been recognized within the conventional medical community for over 50 years.