Susceptibility and suggestion

Can I be hypnotised?

” … the reputation of hypnosis is checkered, not because of any serious clinical liabilities associated with its use, but rather because of its misapplication and the misconceptions that inevitably follow…myths abound that hypnosis means giving up control to someone … and is dangerous. How incredibly unfortunate for all those who would benefit from its sensible use.”  – Dr Michael D. Yapko.

One of the big worries people have about hypnosis is this idea that it is an unnatural state, and people are often concerned about their susceptibility to hypnosis and suggestion. Statistics are often quoted to us by prospective clients, along with questions like “can I be hypnotised?”, or “what will happen if I am not a hypnotisable subject?”. We get this idea that we’ve only got one shot, and if it doesn’t “work” or we don’t feel what we expect to feel, then that’s it – the option of hypnosis is off the table.

It is true that everyone responds differently. And it is true that susceptibility tests will give us a neat set of statistics that can show that some people won’t respond to suggestion at all, some people will respond minimally, most people will report an alteration of their awareness (whether heightened or suppressed), and every now and then someone might experience a somnambulistic (sleep-like) trance.

But hypnosis susceptibility tests may be irrelevant for people who want to experience the value of hypnosis.  What we know is that going into a hypnosis state and responding to suggestion is a skill that can be learned and that some people – most people – will require practise! The people who take part in the research that gives us “susceptibility” statistics are unlikely to be given the opportunity to learn and practise going in and out of the trance state. If they were, it’s likely that the results would be very different.

The wonderful thing is that hypnosis is about the power of your own mind. To put it crudely, it’s about getting out of your own way to make the changes you want to make. The hypnotist’s role is to help you do that, to show you how to do that by teaching you how to respond to suggestion, and by offering suggestions that may be appropriate for you and which will lead you to change.

A good hypnotherapist will give you the opportunity to practise, and will use language that gives your powerful mind the opportunity to interpret it in the way that is right for you.

Hypnosis and hypnotic suggestion is about creating opportunities for change, and that change is available to us all.

Quote from: Yapko, M. (2011). Mindfulness and Hypnosis: The Power of Suggestion to Transform Experience. 1st ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, pp.9-12.

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