Common Misconceptions about Hypnotherapy

Only gullible, uneducated, or less intelligent people can be hypnotized.
There is no relation between the capacity to be hypnotized and gullibility, education, or intelligence. To be hypnotized, people must be willing and active participants.

Hypnosis is a state of unconsciousness or sleep.
Hypnosis is a state of altered consciousness, much like any activity in which the person's concentration is narrowly focused, such as meditation. Clients are aware of sounds, smells, and other sensory stimuli, as well as where they are.

You can be forced to act against your will or contrary to your morals, or may reveal private information.
Hypnosis is not a form of mind control or brainwashing. Clients are in full control throughout hypnosis and will not be receptive to suggestions that contradict their values.

You may not "wake up" from a hypnotic trance.
Everyone, without fail, comes out of a hypnotic state. If a person were to refuse to emerge, he or she would eventually fall asleep and upon waking would no longer be hypnotized.

Hypnosis weakens the mind.
There is no evidence to suggest that hypnosis weakens the mind or makes a person more susceptible to suggestions, advertisements, or trances.

Childhood events are resurrected.
There is no precise connection between the hypnotic state and accurate memories of past experiences and, in fact, false memories can occur. Therefore, in cases where clients seek to uncover childhood or traumatic events, most hypnotherapists recommend that clients seek the services of a licensed professional.

Hypnotherapy can cure.
Hypnotherapy is not a cure. Instead, it is a technique used to facilitate a specific short-term change or outcome. It is appropriate for many self-improvement goals but is not appropriate for all conditions.

Only a hypnotist can induce hypnosis.
Hypnosis is a skill that is learned, enhanced, and developed with time and experience. Anyone can learn this skill. A client can be trained by a hypnotherapist to hypnotize him- or herself. This is called self-hypnosis and is a recognized form of hypnotherapy.

There is only one correct way to enter a hypnotic state.
Each person experiences hypnosis differently because each person's mind processes information uniquely. People experience time and physical sensations differently. Some hear and remember every word from the session, while others remember only parts of what the hypnotherapist said. Some people report having very vivid images, others have vague images. Some people experience nothing unusual at all.

Hypnosis is meditation.
Meditation is a type of relaxation in which individuals empty their minds of other thoughts and then focus on a particular image or idea. Hypnosis uses relaxation to enhance suggestibility and to induce a hypnotic state in order to achieve a goal.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 01 Jan 2001

Last Modified: 22 Sep 2015