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Battling Persistent Stereotypes In Hypnosis

Updated: Nov 12, 2023

Movies and TV often paint hypnotism with a broad brush, evoking images of carnival sideshows, commanding stage hypnotists, and even vampire-like characters who plunge people into helpless, catatonic states. Despite the persistence of these stereotypes well into the twenty-first century, the true nature and history of hypnosis beckon a closer look—perhaps even a rebranding.


Exploring Hypnosis Through the Lens of Science and Skepticism

While hypnosis boasts a history spanning thousands of years, western science only began rigorously exploring its functional uses in medicine and psychiatry after WWII. However, a questionable reputation preceded it, with the general public perceiving it as a method of mind control and brainwashing—a belief fortified by religious institutions and darkened further by the U.S. government’s exploration of hypnosis for military and intelligence purposes through projects like MK-Ultra and the Gateway Process. Despite its contentious image, substantial evidence must support the efficacy of hypnosis, considering the government has invested millions into its research and application, right? Although western medicine continues to uphold its taboo status, tell-tale signs hint that both the government and some medical practices still test and implement hypnosis and its derivatives, such as remote viewing.


Unpacking Hypno Terminology

When we try to forge ahead, recognizing the profound and meaningful therapeutic value of hypnosis, we hit a semantic roadblock. The very terminology—“hypnosis,” “hypnotized,” “put under”—engenders visions of all the negative connotations we’ve discussed. Would a rebranding be apropos at this juncture? Renaming may be a premature step, but clarification certainly isn’t. Hypnosis, in essence, is a "consent state." For meaningful change in beliefs and behaviors to occur, it necessitates consent. So, debunk the mind control myth—it simply doesn't hold water. To be precise, nobody "hypnotizes" you; you create the altered state and experience for yourself.


Self-Hypnosis and the Power of the Subconscious Mind

Indeed, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis! Also vital to dispel is the myth that you lose consciousness during hypnosis. In reality, you maintain the ability to see, hear, move, and even walk out of the room if you so choose. But why does this matter? Altering beliefs and behaviors hinges on reaching the subconscious mind. Have you ever "known" you should quit smoking but found it impossible to stop? While your conscious mind "knows," your subconscious mind refuses, utilizing the cigarette for perceived gains like comfort or security. Hypnosis offers a platform for such change, providing direct access to the subconscious mind, enabling individuals to enact the changes they desire.


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