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FAQ About Hypnosis

Frequently asked questions about Hypnosis...

Say the word "hypnosis," and many people immediately think of stage shows and of people doing unusual things. Other people think of pocket watches, or spirals twirling. But it is now much more common for hypnotists simply to ask a subject to stare at a small, stationary object, such as a colored thumbtack on the wall, during the "induction patter," which usually consists of soothing words about relaxation and suggestions to focus and concentrate.

Whenever the subject of hypnosis is brought up, questions seem to arise with it. The following questions are asked repeatedly, by clients, of prospective clients, and of those who are simply curious. With answers to these questions, fears are put to rest, myths dispelled, and more people are able to allow themselves to experience the wonderful benefits of hypnosis to enhance their lives.

Is hypnosis real? If so, how does it work?

Yes, it's real. Exactly how it works is still under investigation. Over the past few years, researchers have found that when someone is hypnotized, they actively respond to suggestions, even though they sometimes might perceive the dramatic changes in thought and behavior they experience as happening "by themselves." During hypnosis, it is as if the brain temporarily suspends its efforts to validate incoming sensory information, allowing new behaviors and thoughts to occur. And, some people are more hypnotizable than others, although scientists still don't know why.

Is hypnosis medically approved?

Hypnosis was first officially recognized as a viable therapeutic tool by the British Government through the Hypnotism Act in 1952. Then, in 1958 both the British and the American Medical Associations (AMA) sanctioned the official use of hypnosis by physicians. In 1958, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) also approved hypnotherapy for use by professionally responsible individuals.

Prestigious hospitals in the U.S. now use and teach hypnosis, such as Stanford University School of Medicine in San Francisco, the Beth Israel Medical Center in Boston, and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Since the AMA sanctioned the use of hypnosis, many insurance companies cover hypnosis for medical and dental uses, including major surgeries. Now, more and more people are choosing hypnosis over anesthesia for surgery. Some choose hypnosis simply because they fear not waking up from anesthesia. The fear-factor aside, however, there are definite medical advantages offered by hypnosis; less bleeding, faster recovery time, and the need for fewer post-operative medications.

Does hypnosis really stop pain during surgery?

Patients who have used it say yes. During operations, they report that they can hear and see everything that is going on, but they feel no discomfort.

How is hypnosis thought of today, generally?

Myths still abound regarding hypnosis, although it is becoming more widely accepted and trusted. Hypnosis cannot be used to control someone else's mind, or their actions. By using hypnosis, people gain greater control over their own minds and their own actions.

What is hypnosis like?

Hypnosis is not a state of deep sleep but one of altered consciousness. There is a feeling of well-being, an ability to recall past events and the acceptance of new ideas that are not in conflict with personal values. There is also a higher threshold to pain. The hypnotic state is like meditation, where the body is relaxed but the mind has heightened awareness. The ability to vocalize is limited, and the limbs feel leaden or light, tingly or somewhat numb. The perception of time is also distorted where an hour might seem like just a few minutes.

Who can be hypnotized?

Most people can be hypnotized, and different people go into hypnosis in different ways. Part of the hypnotist's job is to identify what approach will work best for which subject. Those who have trouble trusting the hypnotist or the process, may take more time to go into a hypnotic state, and may not enjoy as many benefits.

There is a common idea that those with 'a strong will' cannot be hypnotized. It has been shown that intelligent people can be hypnotized faster because they have greater access to their imagination, and can follow instructions. In fact, those with an extremely low intelligence cannot be hypnotized at all. The biggest prerequisite to someone being able to be hypnotized is their willingness.

What about stage shows?

Sometimes hypnosis is feared, because often the view of the subject surrendering their 'will' is reinforced by stage hypnotism. It is helpful to remember that stage hypnotists design their shows for entertainment purposes, which include participants doing strange things. What people don't realize is that the stage hypnotist chooses only those who are highly suggestible, and may have a desire to have a "different" or less inhibited experience of themselves. In a hypnotic state, people can give themselves permission to do many things that they may not otherwise be able to do.

In getting more comfortable with the subject of hypnosis, it is often helpful to know what hypnosis is NOT, to know better what it IS, and can do. Solid research findings can help dispel even the most popular of myths.

Points of Interest:

With what can hypnosis help?

Hypnosis helps change attitudes, which is the key to changing behavior. With hypnosis, a person is empowered, and made independent enough to solve his/her own problems. With hypnosis a person can change behaviors that would otherwise seem difficult, if not impossible, to change.

Hypnosis can also improve your essential experience of life, in all its circumstances. Only within the past 40 years have scientists become equipped with instruments, techniques and methods for accurately separating the facts of hypnosis from exaggerated claims. The study of hypnotic phenomena is now properly held within the domain of normal cognitive science, with papers on hypnosis published in many major scientific and medical journals. Newest clinical research findings reveal, however, that hypnosis and hypnotic suggestion, when used properly, can powerfully alter cognitive processes as diverse as memory and pain perception.

Hypnosis is not talk therapy, and does not include advising, diagnosing or prescribing. That would be the domain of other professionals, usually licensed to counsel. The primary aim of hypnosis itself is self-healing, and self change. The hypnotist's job is to assist the subject to achieve those natural states of mind where healing and change best happen. Used correctly, hypnosis is especially useful for tapping into that awesome power of the human mind.

If you can think it, and believe it, hypnosis can help make it so.

Do I have to believe in hypnosis for it to work?

No. The degree of hypnotizability seems to be completely unrelated to the degree of belief in it. Some amazing results from hypnotic suggestion have been demonstrated by people who adamantly claimed they were not hypnotized and who were convinced that nothing had happened. Willingness, though, is another matter. If you don't want to be hypnotized (and you are aware that that is what is going on), then you won't be.

Are meditation and hypnosis different?

Yes. Meditative states may be similar, but the practice of hypnosis is significantly different in that it is driven by suggestion. With hypnosis there is specific work to be done. In addition, the brain-state also seems to be somewhat different between hypnosis and meditation according to measures with EEGs, scans, and other forms of feedback. It is not uncommon for people who do both to keep them separate, so there is obviously a subjective sense that there is a difference.

Is it safe?

It is just as safe as anything else. You will not do anything in hypnosis that you would not otherwise do. Of course what some people would otherwise do, can surprise you. If you have seen a stage hypnotist's show you may have seen people doing things you would not want to do. And you probably would not; the only reason people do strange things in a stage presentation is because of what we call the "demand characteristics" of the situation. That is, being on stage in front of a lot of people exerts a tremendous pressure to do as one is told. It is generally wiser not to volunteer for any stage demonstrations of hypnosis, or to use it in any way just for entertainment.

Various religions have at different times had something to say about hypnosis. The ancient Egyptians thought it was a Good Thing. On the other side of the coin, the Church of Latter Day Saints thinks otherwise. Some of the Church Elders believe, I'm told, that hypnosis is dangerous because it opens up the mind for the "dark side of life" to enter.

Hypnosis would not be any more likely to open up one's mind to that, than, say, listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Maybe even less so if you happen to dislike church choir music.

Another frequently heard bugaboo about hypnosis is the presumed danger of the "release of repressed material." This and other common concerns of Freudians and others have never been a problem in hypnosis. A person practicing hypnosis has the same safeguards available to her that she has in a normal, waking state.

The cessation of any habit, while complicated in its dynamics, is essentially a matter of getting rid of the desire, or drive, to commit the habit. The drive to smoke stems from subconscious drives, but the behavior itself is under your conscious control and you can change it with the help of hypnosis. It is the subconscious motivation to smoke that must be changed in order to quit smoking. Fortunately, hypnosis is an effective and relatively easy way to change subconscious motivations. It does not work the same for everyone: Many people have found quitting smoking with hypnosis to be easy and painless; for others, quitting smoking is difficult no matter what method is used. Regardless of how difficult it is, hypnosis always makes it easier than it would otherwise be. Hypnosis often means the difference between success and failure. Some have tried and failed to quit lots of times and were not successful until they enlisted the aid of hypnosis.

Whether or not it is less easy than we would like,

quitting smoking with the help of hypnosis is invaluable.

Does hypnosis work for weight control?

Most certainly, yes. Most cases of overweight are the result of over-eating combined with insufficient activity. Both, in normal cases, are under your control, technically speaking. So hypnosis is perfectly valid and uniquely appropriate for getting your eating under control and for increasing your motivation to get more exercise.

Is hypnosis a New Age thing?

No, not really. Something does not have to be new to fall under the rubric of "New Age," and it is true that many New Age practitioners advocate the use of hypnosis. However, the earliest known descriptions of hypnosis date back 6,000 years to rites performed in Egyptian sleep temples. European physicians such as Charcot and Bachofen were using it in the 17th and 18th centuries. Benjamin Franklin, who was the United States ambassador to France at the time, investigated the so-called animal magnetism of Anton Mesmer and substantiated the successes animal magnetism was producing (Franklin attributed it to suggestion). (We still use Mesmer's name today when we say someone was "mesmerized," meaning raptly attentive, or that they were somehow temporarily deprived of their normal conscious qualities.) The term "hypnosis" was coined by one of the most respected scientists of his day, James Braid, in 1843.


Disclaimer: Hypnosis cannot, and should not, stand alone as the sole medical or psychological intervention for any disorder. Hypnosis should not be used instead of appropriate medical, dental, or psychological treatment, and any individual with a medical or psychological problem should first consult a qualified health care provider for diagnosis and professional advice. Hypnosis should only be practiced by those who have been appropriately trained, who practice appropriately, and within the scope of their training.


Facts about hypnosis from current research findings:

(From www.worldhypnotismday.com. Visit this site for more information)

As of December, 2004 there are more than 5,000 clinical research studies having to do with hypnosis and its benefits currently being conducted worldwide?

(According to: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/)

As of December 15, 2004 results from more than 3,000 clinical research studies are available showing positive benefits from hypnosis?

(According to: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/)

According to studies done at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, suggestions given in a hypnotic state, even once, can produce actions in human beings that are the same type of actions that would have resulted from more long-term conditioning and practice.

In a research study on Self-hypnosis for relapse prevention training with chronic drug/alcohol users, (Am J Clin Hypn. 2004 Apr; 46(4):281-97), individuals who played self-hypnosis audiotapes "at least 3 to 5 times a week," at 7-week follow-up, reported the highest levels of self-esteem and serenity, and the least anger/impulsivity, in comparison to the minimal-practice and control groups.

In a research study done with 60 college student volunteers (Spring of 2004 at Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona), using hypnosis with ego-enhancement suggestions showed "significantly dramatic effects" in brain-wave patterns, subjective sense of self-confidence, and test scores.

As reported by NewScientist.com news service:

"Hypnosis is more than just a party trick; it measurably changes how the brain works," says John Gruzelier, a research psychologist at Imperial College in London. "Hypnosis significantly affects the activity in a part of the brain responsible for detecting and responding to errors, an area that controls higher level executive functions." The finding is one of the first to indicate a biological mechanism underpinning the experience

of hypnosis. "This explains why, under hypnosis, people can do outrageous things that ordinarily they wouldn't dream of doing," says Gruzelier, who presented his study at the British Association for the Advancement of Science Festival in Exeter, UK. Gruzelier hopes it will also benefit emerging research showing, for example, that hypnosis can help cancer patients deal with painful treatments.

Research using positron emission tomography (PET) scans, shows that hypnosis might alleviate pain by decreasing the activity of brain areas involved in the experience of suffering. Scientists have found that hypnosis reduced the activity of the anterior cingulate cortex, an area known to be involved in pain, but did not affect the activity of the somatosensory cortex, where the sensations of pain are processed.

Clinical trials of therapeutic hypnosis confirm its potential benefits. Christina Liossi, a psychologist at the University of Wales in Swansea, recently conducted a study of 80 cancer patients aged 6 to 16. She found that those under hypnosis experienced far less pain during treatments than control children, who simply talked to the researchers normally.

According to published results of clinical studies (Am J Clin Hypn. 2004 Apr), the use of hypnosis facilitates a more uncomplicated birth process. In a separate research study done by University of Florida counseling psychologist Paul Schauble, it was also found that women who learn hypnosis before delivering babies suffer fewer complications, need less medication and are more likely to have healthier babies than are women without hypnosis. Schauble's first study involved adolescents getting prenatal care at a public health clinic. A group of 20 patients who received hypnosis preparation were compared with 20 who were given supportive counseling and 20 patients in a control group who received only the standard prenatal care. None of the women who received hypnosis required surgical intervention in their deliveries, compared with 12 in the supportive counseling group and eight in the control group, he said. "Patients who are prepared for labor and delivery in hypnosis are more likely to absorb and benefit from information because they are in a relaxed, highly focused state," he said.

In an ongoing pilot study being done by University of Florida counseling psychologist Paul Schauble, preliminary results show hypnotized patients with hypertension are more easily able to make lifestyle improvements that can lower blood pressure.

A study being done by a team of University of Florida researchers is finding that learning self-hypnosis gives a patient greater control over the stress, anxiety and pain of medical operations and childbirth, overall. "Training patients in hypnosis prior to undergoing surgery is a way of helping them develop a sense of control over their stress, discomfort and anxiety," says Dr. Paul Schauble, psychologist. "It also helps them better understand what they can do to bring about a more satisfying and rapid recovery." He also said, "We've found, in working with individual patients, that they often feel literally stripped of control when they go into the hospital. The surgeon may do a good job of explaining the surgery, but patients' anxiety may make it difficult for them to absorb or comprehend. This can result in undue apprehension that can create complications or prolonged recovery."

"Children make excellent subjects for hypnosis because they spend more time using their imaginations," says Florida counseling psychologist Paul Schauble. "But with practice most adults can learn how to enter into a therapeutic hypnotic state quite easily as well."

In 1998 Henry Szechtman of McMaster University in Ontario and his co-workers used PET to image the brain activity of hypnotized subjects who were invited to imagine a scenario in which they were listening to someone speaking to them, and who then actually experienced a scenario in which they were listening to someone speaking to them. The researchers noted that the act of imagining a sound, called hallucinating a sound, was experienced exactly the same as real hearing, both being experienced as coming from an external source.

18 separate studies found that patients who received cognitive behavioral therapy plus hypnosis for disorders such as obesity, insomnia, anxiety and hypertension showed greater improvement than 70 percent of the patients who received psychotherapy alone.


Hypnosis cannot, and should not, stand alone as the sole medical or psychological intervention for any disorder. Hypnosis should not be used instead of appropriate medical, dental, or psychological treatment, and any individual with a medical or psychological problem should first consult a qualified health care provider for diagnosis and professional advice. Hypnosis should only be practiced by those who have been appropriately trained, who practice appropriately, and within the scope of their training.

Information compiled by Gwyneth McNeil, Certified Hypnotist and Certified Instructor with the National Guild of Hypnotists and Managing Director of Academy of Life Management in Salt Lake City, Utah. 3098 Highland Drive Suite #317 - Salt Lake City, Utah 84117

Understanding "The Hypnotic State of Mind."

The hypnotic state of mind is between analytical, conscious thinking (Beta) and deep unconscious sleep (Delta)... a natural state in which we drift in and out of throughout each day.

(Chart from www.worldhypnotismday.com. Click on to see more.)

A Few Words From Our Clients...

The Self Center's clients choose hypnosis
because it is safe and effective in achieving the outcomes desired.

Read on for excerpts from their letters.

"One session ... just one session and my back pain is gone! My chiropractor of two years is amazed at the results. Better yet, I can pick up my grandchildren again."
- Happy grandmother of six girls and four boys

"I am so grateful for your part in my quitting smoking. It has been 1 week. I have not craved even 1 cigarette. I have thought about the act of smoking, but never craved the cigarette. I have been on a natural high now for over a week. People do notice, just as you said they would. I have some very stressful days in the last week and have practiced some of the techniques, such as taking deep breaths and exhaling and holding my stone or saying purple. I love listening to my tape at night. So relaxing. You've opened up a whole new world for me!!!! Once again, thank you...."
- East Coast Executive

"Happy anniversary to me! It has been one year today since I smoked, thanks to you. No weight gain, no cravings and I'm still a "Prince" of a guy! My pediatric clients like my new scent!"
- Smoke-free Pediatrician

"I wanted to share with you that I was out for the evening tonight with friends that I had always gone out with and smoked cigarettes with...(the true test) and realized that what my session of hypnosis seemed to have done for me was....wiped out the fact that I was a smoker! All that is in my head is that "I am a nonsmoker". No temptation, no question, no doubt - thank you again."
-Smoke free and happy woman

"My wife and I are ever so grateful for the help you gave our son. His lack of self-confidence and stuttering behaviors made him an easy target for ridicule in middle school. After 3 sessions, he is a changed boy. He was just voted to the student counsel. By the way, he still listens to his tapes nightly."
- Relieved parents

"My fear of the dentist has been cause of great distress. Imagine that! And here I am President of a major computer manufacturing company. I have avoided the dentist for so long that it has resulted in major repairs needed. I never could have done it without hypnosis. I made it through 3 sessions already and am ready to go back for more. I bring my "trusty hypnosis tape" to listen to as he "drills and kills!' Thank you for helping me to help myself."
- Male executive

"My nail biting has caused such grief and embarrassment for me as a fashion designer. I never thought I would be able to touch the fine fabrics again without risking pulls and hanging threads. Well, we did it. I am happy to tell you, that after our session, I am beginning to grow long and stronger nails. What a relief it has been to me. My boyfriend thanks you too!"
- Woman fashion designer

When you try us, you will say ...

The Self Center

Phone: 781-721-7299  *  Email: Pearlan@aol.com

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