SPOTLIGHT ON HYPNOSIS -- THE MYTHS
By Jimmy Eldred Quast
Hypnosis (sometimes called hypnotherapy) is a subject of extremely intense interest. Every time I speak publicly on the topic of hypnosis I find that, afterwards, the attendees’ questions simply have to be curtailed at some point, because they would go on indefinitely. I have also observed that what most folks “know” about hypnosis is usually based upon novels, movies, and stage acts which offer frightening and completely false ideas on the subject. That is so unfortunate, because hypnosis is, in fact, a well-researched and valuable technique.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 276, No. 4, p. 313-318, a 1996 National Institutes of Health Technology Assessment Panel stated that hypnosis has been used effectively in the treatment of obesity, smoking, insomnia, acute and chronic pain, anxiety and depression and during dental and surgical procedures. They went on to say it has also proven useful in treating such conditions as irritable-bowel syndrome and tension headaches.
These are all health-related uses, and there are many more of them, but hypnosis has been used to great advantage in sports achievement and improving reading and test-taking skills. Forensic hypnosis has been used for years to help crime victims remember minute details about a crime scene. Also, people who worry too much, can’t relax, get angry too easily, or sad, or afraid, often find a rapid and amazing level of comfort from hypnosis techniques. Best of all, the benefits tend to be long-lasting.
So it is truly unfortunate that novels and movies portray hypnosis as some kind of sinister mind control and stage acts make people look silly. You can refer to any text on professional hypnosis and learn that:
1. A hypnotized person is not asleep. They can think and reason.
2. A hypnotized person does not surrender control to the hypnotist.
3. A hypnotized person will not reveal secrets that they wish to keep.
4. A hypnotized person cannot be made to do anything that would violate their personal beliefs, values, and morals.
5. A person cannot be hypnotized against their will. Hypnosis is a collaboration, not a clash of wills.
In upcoming issues, this column will delve into the science as well as the mystery of hypnosis. Expect information on the practice of self-hypnosis, the use of hypnosis in the treatment of specific diseases, and examples of hypnosis in sports, etc.
Note: hypnosis related to medical problems may require a referral by your physician.