10 Frequently Asked Hypnosis Questions
Perhaps you’ve often wondered about hypnotism - what it really is, how it works, how it feels.
If you’re curious about it, here are 10 frequently asked hypnosis questions, which may clear up some of the mystery
1. What is hypnotism? How does it differ from
Hypnotism is defined by Merriam-Webster Online as “the study or act of inducing hypnosis” –
which, in turn, is “a trancelike state that resembles sleep but is induced by a person whose suggestions are
readily accepted by the subject.” The person being hypnotized (“the subject”) is asked to focus full attention on
the hypnotist, who then creates the sleeplike state by a series of suggestions. While the subject remains in the
trance, he or she is very receptive to further suggestions made by the hypnotist, and may, in fact, be influenced
Self-hypnosis resembles hypnosis in that both exhibit a total focus of the mind, as well as a
gradual fading of the normal orientation to general reality. While hypnosis by another person requires
concentrating on an outside source (the hypnotist) and being receptive to stimuli coming from that source,
self-hypnosis requires “expansive, free-floating attention and ego receptivity to stimuli coming from within.”*
*Fromm, Erika, et al. “The phenomena and characteristics of self-hypnosis.” International
Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, July 1981, 29:3, pp. 189-246.
2. Does a hypnotist have some kind of special
psychic power? Will the hypnotist control my mind?
No “psychic power” or other mystery is involved in hypnotism. Many hypnotists are people who are
especially observant of others. A hypnotist is able to “induce hypnotic trance” simply because he or she knows how
to create an environment conducive to total relaxation on the part of the subject. When you are completely relaxed,
the hypnotist encourages your subconscious mind to come forward, so to speak, and take over some of the functions
normally performed by the conscious mind. Usually, the conscious mind – which comprises only about 10% of the mind,
while the subconscious makes up about 90% -- is “in charge.” The conscious does the thinking, the planning, the
directing, and the acting; and all the time, the subconscious is taking care of business, actually running the
show. It is the subconscious that’s addressed by the hypnotist, when the conscious is set aside for the time
It has often been asserted that all hypnotism is ultimately self-hypnosis.
Only if you agree to allow a hypnotist to assist you into the trance state, only if your subconscious mind is
willing to respond to the suggestions given in hypnotism, will it be successful. You are the one who is always in
control of the situation. Hypnotism is a cooperative situation between you and the hypnotist.
3. How does it feel to be hypnotized? Will I be
It feels wonderful! You’re super-relaxed and comfortable – much like those few moments just
before you fall asleep at night. Although your eyes may close while you are in the hypnotic trance, you won’t be
sleeping. In fact, you will be very relaxed, attentive, and closely focused on the subject at hand. If you were
asleep, how could you have a dialogue with your hypnotist? You’ll be fully conscious, but tuning out most of what
is going on around you. This state feels more like daydreaming than sleep-dreaming. Think of how you feel when you
are engrossed in reading a book, or watching a good movie. That’s the feeling of being hypnotized.
4. Is hypnotism safe? Will I be able to “come out of
it” without harm?
The truth is that hypnosis resembles nothing so much as daydreaming. How difficult is it for you
to “come out of” a waking daydream, when you recall yourself to your ordinary reality? Hypnosis is a state that is
natural and normal to human beings. We are “in hypnosis” many times every day, as we become absorbed in reading,
writing, listening to music, or watching a movie on television. We change our focus easily and naturally if we are
interrupted, if the phone rings or someone speaks to us. The possibility of “getting stuck” in hypnosis is no
greater than the possibility of not being able to “come out of” reading your book.
If you were hypnotized by someone who suffered a heart attack in the middle of the process, what
would happen to you? Well, most likely is that you would subconsciously realize that the hypnotist’s voice was no
longer speaking to you, and you would simply open your eyes and wake up naturally, feeling relaxed and refreshed.
If you had gone into a deeper trance, you would drift off into natural sleep for a few minutes – and then wake up
5. Who can be hypnotized? Is anyone susceptible, or
only people with certain characteristics?
It’s estimated that 95% of people can be hypnotized. Anyone who wants to be hypnotized and is
willing and cooperative, can be. Exceptions are young children, people who are psychotic or neurologically
impaired, people taking certain medications, people with extremely low IQs, or people who really don’t want to be
6. I’ve heard that hypnotism is sometimes used in
modern medicine. Is this the truth? If so, how is it used, and why?
Some psychiatrists use hypnotism in treating their patients. Most of these have special training
as hypnotherapists, and many are members of the National Guild of Hypnotherapists, Inc. (NGH). Although these certifications are not required by law,
hypnotists can work toward certification from the International Association of Counselors and Therapists
(IACT) or the American Board of Hypnotherapy. Some of the best
hospitals in the United States have Departments of Integrative (or Alternative) Medicine, and in most of these,
hypnosis and self-hypnosis play a significant part. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) are mandated by the
American government to investigate the efficacy of various alternative and complementary therapies. Hypnotherapy
is among the therapies being studied.
Hypnotism is viewed by many as a complementary adjunct for obstetrics, dentistry, and various
kinds of surgery. It has been used successfully with many cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy or
radiation therapy, to alleviate the pain and general discomfort associated with these procedures. Before
and after surgery, hypnosis can be very useful in reducing anxiety and moderating pain. Hypnotism is totally
non-invasive, and has no dangerous side effects as do many pain-relieving drugs. This is why it is often the method
of choice for pain relief, cessation of smoking, weight-loss management, stress relief, and other medical
situations. As stated by Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a publication of the National Cancer Institute:
"Hypnosis puts you in a deeply-relaxed state that can help reduce discomfort and anxiety.”
7. What about hypnotism shows on stage? Are they
Yes, they are real. The people on stage are volunteers who agree to be deeply hypnotized. If
they are responding to hypnotic suggestions to do silly things, like barking or clucking, then they’re
subconsciously willing to do those things. If they found any of the suggestions objectionable, they would come out
of the trance spontaneously. Hypnotism cannot make you do anything against your own moral or belief system,
anything that your subconscious really doesn’t want to do.
8. What other uses are there for hypnotism, besides
the entertainment value of stage hypnotism shows?
Hypnosis can be beneficially used in medicine. It is also useful for helping you to change old
patterns of behavior that no longer serve you well. For example, if you’ve been an overeater all your life, and are
now much heavier than you want to be and than you ought to be, hypnotism can help you change the messages your
subconscious sends to your conscious mind. In this way, you can change your attitudes about food and eating in
general. Hypnotism has been very successful in helping thousands of people worldwide stop smoking, as another
9. Can hypnotism make me tell secrets, or reveal
No. Remember, you are the person who is in control. You won’t say anything you do not wish to
say while you are hypnotized. In fact, if you want to, you can even lie when you are in a hypnotic trance. If you
are engaged in hypnotherapy, though, be aware that deliberately lying may interfere with the hypnotherapist’s work
of helping you reach your goals. Be aware, too, that a certified hypnotist or hypnotherapist is bound by a code of
ethics set up by the certifying organization, and that anything said during therapy will be kept in confidence.
10. Is there any guarantee that hypnotism will be
successful in helping me quit smoking (or whatever the problem may be)?
Yes and no. Remember that hypnotism cannot make you do something you don’t want to do. If you
subconsciously really do not want to quit smoking, then you won’t quit.
However, when you are ready to quit, hypnosis will make it easier for you to make the transition
between being a smoker and being a
non-smoker. Your chance of success in accomplishing a goal like stopping smoking or losing weight
is definitely increased with hypnotism.
We hope that these hypnosis questions have been helpful to you. If you still have more hypnosis
FAQs that need answers, please write to
us for more information.