Hypnosis and its Popular Misconceptions


Define hypnosis and discuss the popular misconceptions about it. Name
one appropriate use for hypnosis.

Definition of Hypnosis

Hypnosis is a state of trance characterized by high imagination, relaxation and extreme suggestibility (Valente, 2003). It is a situation in which the subject is lost in a certain event e.g. reading a book or watching a movie, comparable to the state of daydreaming.

The person seems to be in sleep, but he is actually alert throughout. In this state, all stimuli is around are often tuned out and the person excludes all other thoughts and only focus on the subject at hand. For a person under hypnosis, an imaginary world seems real. The subject being focused always engages all the emotions of the person. Intentional relaxation and exercises often leads to the focus on a trance. This leads to deep hypnosis compared to a relaxed state of the mind between sleep and wakefulness.

In this mental state a person feels relaxed and uninhibited because hypnosis tunes out their worries and doubts that often put their actions in constant check (Valente, 2003). For instance, when a hypnotic focuses on a movie, he or she engrosses all his thoughts on the plot of the movie and forgets all worries about job, family, injury, etc. The condition of being suggestible occurs during hypnosis. In this case, one does everything that the hypnotic tells him or her to do.

Misconceptions of Hypnosis

One of the misconceptions of hypnosis is that it leads people to reveal their secrets. In reality, a person who is in hypnosis will not reveal what he or she does not want others to know because he or she is always in control of his thoughts (Valente, 2003).

Secondly, there is a general misconception that hypnosis is a form of amnesia. This means that people will forget everything that they experienced during hypnosis due to being unconscious. In reality, a person does not become unconscious during hypnosis.

Thirdly, some people argue that only weaklings can be hypnotized. In this case, it is assumed that smart people cannot be ordered around to do things that they do not want to do. Another misconception is that one can get stuck in synopsis. However, nobody has ever gotten stuck in synopsis. Some people only feel fantastic to be focused and relaxed, so they seem stuck (Valente, 2003).

There is also a general misconception that hypnosis controls one’s mind. In reality, a hypnotist cannot tell someone to do what he or she does not want to do. Every person has the power to make their own decisions without being controlled.

Uses of Hypnosis

One of the appropriate uses of hypnosis is hypnotherapy. Hypnosis is used by licensed psychologists and physicians to treat certain conditions such as eating disorders, anxiety and depression. Certified hypnotherapists may use it to treat smoking addiction and weight management (Kirsch, 1996). Hypnotherapy has additive effects on patients with psychological disorders. Harvard psychologist Deirdre Barrett suggested that hypnotherapy enables patients to rehearse new ways and lay the groundwork for future changes in their behaviours – e.g. quitting or reducing levels of smoking.

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