Who can be hypnotized?
"Virtually everyone who has the ability to achieve focused attention and concentration can be hypnotized. However, some people have better abilities to concentrate than others, and therefore are able to achieve a deeper hypnotic state. Practically all normal people can be hypnotized, though not necessarily by the same person, and practically all people can learn to be hypnotized" - Dr. Milton Erickson (1985)
Although it is true that people differ in their ability to be hypnotized, almost anyone with a good ability to concentrate and achieve focused attention can be hypnotized. Studies have shown, however, that individuals who a good imagination and who are highly suggestible have a greater ability to achieve deep hypnotic states. By the same token, it would be difficult for individuals with an attention deficit disorder (individuals who are highly distractible) to achieve an adequate enough state of hypnosis to have any effect.
However, a deep resistance to the hypnotic process and a desire not to be hypnotized, will prevent the process from occurring or being in any way effective. By the same token, a deep desire to be hypnotized and to be receptive to the suggestions being made either through direct contact with a trained hypnotist or self-hypnotic tapes, can produce highly effective results. Some people give up after a few sessions because they believe they are not hypnotized or are not suitable subjects. However, hypnosis improves with practice, the more you experience the feeling, the better the response.
Am I asleep when under hypnosis?
No, when in the hypnotic state you are not asleep, but quite awake and aware. Your mind is still active, and your thoughts may become quite clear. As you listen to the hypnotists words, you can speak, laugh and remember everything that has happened. In fact, while in the hypnotic state, your senses may become more alert. Your sense of hearing may become quite clear, as you become selectively focused on the subject of your hypnotic trance.
The hypnotized individual can remain aware of everything that is taking place. Even after being brought out of hypnosis, the client will be able to recall everything that has taken place while in trance. The only exception is when a specific suggestion has been given by the hypnotist to forget all or part of what has taken place. This is generally discussed and agreed upon prior to entering the hypnotic trance.
The experience of being hypnotized is often likened to the stage just prior to going to sleep but is quite different from night time sleep. It is best described as a state of deep and focused relaxation. In fact, an hour of hypnosis is equivalent to three hours of sleep because the body achieves a deep state of relaxation.
Will I be in a trance?
Trance is a very common, everyday occurrence. For instance, when we daydream. Another common example of "trance" is when we concentrate on particular visual images such as staring into the traffic lights of oncoming cars during night driving. This phenomenon is known as "highway hypnosis." By allowing our eyes to become fixated on the lights created by the oncoming traffic, the driver can fall unexpectedly and suddenly in the trance-like sleep.
Will I be in control?
The hypnotized subject is always in control and if he or she wishes, can choose not to respond to any suggestion. Hypnotic subjects can bring themselves out of hypnosis at any time.
One common misconception that people have about hypnosis is that the hypnotist exercises some "magic power" over the client and does this with some unique gift which only the hypnotist possesses. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. If a suggestion is not appealing or appropriate for a client, it will be ignored. If an incident occurred or a suggestion was made that was completely contrary to that of a client's belief or desires, the client would be able to bring himself out of the hypnotic state.
How Can Hypnosis Help?