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Three Things to Know About Hypnosis
Despite its less-than-serious depiction in cartoons and movies, hypnosis can be an effective tool for therapy. Read on to learn more about the way hypnosis affects our conscious minds.
1. People aren't unconscious under hypnosis. In fact, they are in a state of focused hyper-awareness. Subjects’ suggestibility does not derive from any lack of understanding, but rather from the suppression of inhibitions. That might result in a stage performer making a person feel comfortable enough to cluck like a duck that thinks it's a chicken, but for a therapist it might mean circumventing the conscious mind’s tendency to make excuses for an addiction.
2. You cannot be hypnotized against your will. Although it is true that a hypnotized person will be more susceptible to suggestion, it's simply not possible to force them to do something that they don't want to do. Likewise, when battling a deep-set psychological issue such as a phobia or an addiction, hypnosis doesn't work by reversing the patient's unwanted thoughts but by gradually strengthening their resolve to silence them.
3. Hardly anybody uses a swinging pocket-watch anymore. This isn’t just because pocket watches have been replaced by wind-up smartphones. Rather, this method, known as fixed-gaze induction, just isn't very effective. Research indicates that large segments of the population are simply not susceptible to hypnosis through visual fixation, so many hypnotherapists prefer to use a method known as progressive relaxation. Using slow, soothing tones, the professional lulls the patient into a state of relaxation over a longer period of time—as long as a half-hour—and gauges their suggestibility with simple easy-to-swallow commands such as “relax your arms.”