Myths About Hypnosis

Taking the Mystery out of Hypnosis

By Barrie St John -

Much of society’s resistance to hypnosis is based on false beliefs perpetuated by a fear of the unknown. I’ve compiled and addressed some of my favorite myths to help clarify exactly what hypnosis is, and more to point, what it is not.

Myth #1 - Hypnotists have some kind of special power: Entertainment media plays a significant role in sensationalizing the word hypnosis. At the risk of demystifying the term, I submit that there is no trickery involved whatsoever. Skilled hypnotists operate from a basic understanding of humans and human experiences. The hypnotic state can be achieved alone, which refutes the point that hypnotists are somehow magical. It also suggests that anyone can induce hypnosis, either on themselves or on someone else. The real skill lies in how we use hypnosis to influence people.

Myth #2 – Only weak minded people can be hypnotized: Interestingly, concentration is the basis for achieving hypnosis, and the ability to concentrate requires a strong intellect. The greater your ability to concentrate, the better a hypnotic subject you will be. Suggestibility is unrelated to intelligence, and our susceptibility to suggestion is not indicative of weakness or gullibility. The decision to accept a treatment or service that you feel will benefit you is a conscious, calculated decision, not an act of weak mindedness.

Myth #3 - Hypnosis can only work on certain people: To this, I say, sure… if you really don’t want to be hypnotized, you can certainly impeach the process. Certain people will benefit more from hypnosis than others, because they are motivated to get more out of it. Your level of suggestibility cannot be altered, but your commitment and the degree of concentration that you invest can and will influence how much you get out of hypnotherapy. Hypnosis works for everyone. It’s the degree that varies, and this variable is entirely up to you.

Myth #4 – You will be able to recall everything that has ever happened to you:  If there is any benefit to you whatsoever in recalling certain specific times or events in your life, then a good hypnotist can help you do that. But typically, there is no real need to go back and remember the past. Hypnosis is a natural state of total relaxation. Regression is a different thing.

Myth #5 - You can be made to say or do something against your will:  Hypnosis is a natural state of complete relaxation, not a state of sleep. In this relaxed state, you become highly susceptible to suggestion, but you don’t become a different person. Achieving a state of heightened suggestion does not compromise your faculties, morals, ethics, or beliefs. Being hypnotized won’t lead you to say or do things against your will. If you’re asked to do something you don’t want to do, you will simply refuse.

Myth #6 – People who are hypnotized become dependent on the hypnotist: Hypnosis when used as a form of therapy and carries no greater risk of dependency than any other form of therapy. While in hypnosis, you’re in full control of what happens to you. Hypnotherapy is a means of empowerment, achieved with the assistance of an outside entity. It’s not submissiveness, and it’s not a surrender of control. You have the ability to pull yourself out spontaneously, at any moment.

Myth #7 – Hypnosis is bad for your health: The irony here is that the very essence of hypnosis is regularly recommended by physicians and psychotherapists. These trusted health professionals invariably advise us that we need to relax more, yet they seldom state how. When you are hypnotized, you are quite simply in a deep, natural state of relaxation.

Myth #8 – When in hypnosis you could get stuck and be unable to wake up: Hypnosis is a natural state which we all reach from time to time on our own, without prompting of any kind. There is absolutely no danger of getting stuck in this state. It’s about as likely as getting stuck completely asleep, really. The worst that can possibly happen is that you drift off into deep sleep for a few minutes, because you are in that bridged state between awake and asleep.

Myth #9 - You’re asleep or unconscious when in hypnosis:If people were asleep or unconscious when in hypnosis, they would not be able to report on what they were feeling. In fact, you are fully aware of what’s happening, and you are able to recall your state of hypnosis. Some describe it as feeling heavy, some light, others just very relaxed. Typically, the body will feel as though it’s gone to sleep, but the mind remains alert and receptive to the suggestion.

Myth #10 - Hypnosis is the devils work and is dangerous: In the past I’ve heard some religious people refer to hypnosis as the ‘devils work’. Like anything else, hypnosis can be used for good or for bad, but it is left to us to find a trusted hypnotist. Hypnosis is a natural occurring state, widely used by respected health care professionals. There are lots of doctors who practice hypnotherapy. I doubt very much that they are in league with the devil.

As with other unknowns, we quite readily make assumptions or suppositions about things that we aren’t sure of, and usually when we explore more closely, we find the reality is in fact quite different than the impression we had formed.

I hope I’ve managed to dispel some of the untruths about hypnosis, as it would be shame to deny oneself the benefits of hypnotherapy because of unfounded doubt or false impressions.

About the Author

Barrie St John is a leading figure in the field of hypnotherapy and personal change. He is the author behind the best selling self hypnosis CDs and downloads at

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