Hypnosis FAQ's and Myths        

History of Hypnosis

When and where hypnosis first began is unclear, due to the various interpretations of ancient history and documentation.  The term hypnosis is said to come from the Greek god of sleep "Hypnose". There are numerous references in the Bible to the use of something that is believed today to have been hypnosis; including terminology related to sleep temples, the evil eye, and soothsayers.  Ancient Chinese, Hindu and Egyptian texts also mention sleep temples and healing processes that are essentially hypnotic in nature.  Before the modern era of hypnosis was brought about by Franz Mesmer (1734-1815) and before the invention in the 1840's of chemical anesthesia, hypnosis and/or 'mesmerism' was effectively used during surgery to control pain and bleeding.

What is Hypnosis?

​Hypnosis is an altered and heightened state of awareness and is often referred to as a 'trance' state.  Hypnosis is achieved by using techniques to guide a person to deeper levels of relaxation while at the same time achieving a narrowed and focussed state of attention or concentration.

​Essentially, there are two parts to the mind: the conscious and the subconscious.  The conscious part of the mind is that which is active in reasoning, analyzing, judging and decision-making.  It acts to filter our thoughts and ideas.  The subconscious mind is where all our experiences and memories are stored; it is the part of us that remembers everything.  Depending upon beliefs, some say this part of our mind works at an even deeper level; being the Soul, Spirit, Higher Self, or the part of us that connects to God or the Universe.

Hypnosis is achieved by relaxing the conscious mind, so we can plant suggestions into the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is very receptive to suggestions during hypnosis when we are in a deep level of mental and physical relaxation.  Suggestions could be given during conscious awareness, however are significantly more effective when given to a person in the altered state. 

Does Hypnosis Work?

​Hypnosis is a safe, quick, and effective way to deal with many issues.  Often satisfactory results are achieved in two or three sessions. 

Hypnosis is not psychotherapy, but can be used as a tool or a technique.  It can be used alone or in conjunction with other health care modalities. 

'Hypnotherapy' utilizes hypnosis to help achieve goals and deal with a variety of conditions at the subconscious level. 

It can be argued that all problems are subconscious problems, even those that arise from external events or influences beyond our control. 

*It is our reaction to those events, rather than the events themselves, that make an impression on the mind and create an impact (ie. problem).  The subconscious mind can become convinced that problem behavior is 'good' in some way and is helping to achieve a purpose.  Through hypnotherapy, we can directly communicate with the subconscious mind to bring about change, using techniques such as 'reframing' the event or situation to perceive it in a different light. 

Another unique quality about hypnotherapy is that it allows us to gain access to our extensive memory bank, which is stored at a subconscious level, and identify the root cause of a problem.  Identifying the cause of a problem provides clarity and makes it easier to reframe the problem in order to bring about significant change.  It is well known that some memories, thought to have been forgotten in the conscious state, can be recalled during hypnosis.


​Clinical hypnosis has been endorsed by the:  British Medical Association (1955), American Medical Association (1958), American Psychiatric Association (1961) and the American Psychological Association (1969).

Is Hypnosis a Form of Mind Control?

​Much misunderstanding about hypnosis is a result of stage hypnosis (which is used as a form of entertainment) and/or how it is portrayed in the media.  The truth is, no matter how deeply hypnotized, a person will always remain in control throughout the session and cannot be made to do or say anything they do not want to do or say.  They cannot be made to reveal their deepest, darkest secrets and are free to say as much or as little as they wish.  A person is also just as capable of lying under hypnosis as they are at any other time.


"All hypnosis is self-hypnosis", meaning that there must be cooperation and a willingness to be hypnotized in order for it to work.  The mind can accept or reject any suggestion given during hypnosis if it goes against a person's core beliefs and values.  Therefore, they cannot be made to 'bark like a dog' or 'cluck like a chicken' if it is not something they are willing to do.  An introvert will remain an introvert. 

​Can I Become Trapped in Hypnosis?

​A person will always remain in control throughout a hypnosis session and can end it whenever they want.  In fact, they could open their eyes, get up, and walk out of the room at any time but will choose not to because of the enjoyable state of relaxation.   

​It is impossible to become trapped in hypnosis.  If something were to happen, a person would either, 1) come out of trance on their own (suddenly and immediately) when they sensed something was wrong or, 2) naturally fall asleep and awaken to a state of full alertness.

During Hypnosis are People Unconscious?

​During hypnosis, a person is not asleep or unconscious.  Rather they are very relaxed and active participants in the hypnosis session.   They are more focused inwardly and, although a person will be aware of everything going on around them, they allow outward surroundings to have little effect on them during the session.  During all hypnosis sessions, a person will be able to easily talk and interact. 

The term 'sleep' is a dramatic term used by hypnotists to suggest that the mind is deeply relaxed.  During hypnosis, a person may get to the point where they are between the sleeping (Alpha wave) and waking (Theta wave) states, but will typically remember everything that happened and what was said during the session.  The hypnotist's voice may fade in and out but this is not sleep, rather it has to do with a person slipping in and out of different depth levels of trance. 

​Is Hypnosis the Same as Meditation?

​Hypnosis is similar to meditation.  Both meditation and hypnosis use similar relaxation techniques to achieve a state of relaxation.  The main difference is that hypnosis tends to have a specific psychological or behavioral purpose or end-goal in mind; whereas meditation has a purpose of emptying the mind in order to relax or de-stress.  Meditation is used to 'quiet' the mind, where hypnosis is used to 'program' the mind. 

​Can Anyone be Hypnotized?

Research has shown that the vast majority of people can be hypnotized.  A person may be more responsive to hypnosis, however, if they have a greater capacity for imaginary involvement (ie. fantasy, daydreaming) or for absorption in activities (ie. blocking out external happenings when reading a book, playing sports, watching a movie).  Children often make excellent hypnotic subjects, whereas overly analytical minds or those with severe mental illness may not.  The more a person experiences hypnosis, the easier and deeper the hypnotic trance becomes. 

Trance is a natural state most people experience many times in their lives.  Immediately before falling asleep each night and before being fully awake each morning is an example of a form of trance.  Daydreaming is another naturally occurring trance state that is familiar, and is similar to being in a light state of hypnosis. 


Most importantly, there must be cooperation and a willingness for hypnosis to work. If a person wants to go into trance, they will, because it is a natural and normal state.  When in a hypnotic state, a person will still be aware of their surroundings as they drift into deeper trance, and/or they may feel as though relatively little is happening.  People often don't realize when they are under hypnosis, because being under hypnosis doesn't always feel particularly unusual.  The feeling of being in a hypnotic trance will differ from person to person -- some may say there is very little difference between the hypnotic state and their normal waking state other than a sense of deep relaxation, others may say there is a feeling of 'disconnect' between their mind and body.    

Does Hypnosis Go Against Religious Values?

Some people shy away from hypnosis but often this is because they misunderstand what it is.  Much of the misunderstanding comes from stage shows and a history of viewing hypnosis as a form of 'mind control'.  The traditional and ongoing image of the hypnotist (derived from old Hollywood movies) portrayed a mysterious figure who was said to exert supernatural or magical power and influence, and could enforce his will on others.  Some conservative religious groups consider hypnosis to be 'the work of the devil'.    Hypnosis has long been associated with those in the occult who wanted to reach evil spirits; history is wrought with stories of mind control by various religious and cult leaders.  But whether suggestions are planted by a priest or therapist, it must be remembered that hypnosis is a natural state of mind.  Hypnosis is neither anti-religious nor pro-religious.  Rather it is a tool to help people live better lives by meeting their goals, solving their problems, and reducing or eliminating pain. 

​Hypnosis and the techniques of hypnosis have always been very much a part of religious practice and rituals.  Prayer is, in essence, the most common form of hypnotic induction and trance; the very act of closing one's eyes, relaxing, and praying and talking to God is a form of self-hypnosis.  In the same way, it draws attention from external surroundings and toward internal thought. The alter, cross and/or flickering candles provide a fixation point for concentration and focus.  Research has shown that the deeper a person descends into prayer or mediation, the more active their frontal lobe (the seat of concentration and attention) becomes.  At the same time, activity in the parietal lobe (located at the back of the brain) diminishes, which results in a decrease of awareness of time and space.  Precisely the same things occur during both a hypnotic experience and a religious experience.  An individual may feel 'at one with the Universe'.  Concentration combined with relaxation and suggestions produce feelings of euphoria. It is also during these intense moments of concentration and emotional experience that powerful suggestions may take root, resulting in change.  In both religion and hypnosis, a person's mind must contain four primary criteria in order for it to be effective 1) Belief, 2) Imagination, 3) Conviction and, 4) Expectation.  The difference between religion and hypnosis is that attention is focussed on different subject matter.     



Recommended Sites:

​http://durbinhypnosis.com/  (Hypnosis and Religion Volume 1)