The Truth About Hypnosis

The Truth About Hypnosis

People took a poll on asking them about what keeps them from trying hypnosis.  It was a small sample (31, hardly sound research) with additional comments emailed to me, but it does represent many reasons frequently found in research for reasons people avoid hypnosis.  FYI the difference between hypnosis and hypnotherapy is the latter has to be performed by a licensed mental health professional.  For pragmatic reasons, the term hypnosis will be used.

Five choices were given:

  •  Fear of losing control
  • Skeptical-Don’t believe in it
  • Thinking they can’t be hypnotized
  • Fear of stage hypnosis antics
  • Not knowing enough about it

The reason most people in this poll avoid hypnosis (35%) is “fear of losing control.”  This is a common myth. Hypnosis is simply a deeper state of relaxation. The goal is to get the person relaxed enough to allow their unconscious to absorb the suggestions for the change they seek.  Your unconscious will not allow you to absorb messages you don’t agree with. This can be a bad thing, as people may resist the changes they want to make.  It is also protective.  Hypnosis has been found to be more effective with more intelligent people. People who fear losing control have enough control issues that nobody will bend their will. So relax, let go and give it a try.

Many don’t believe in it (26%). These folks might not have enough education about hypnosis. It is important to believe in it for it to work. These people will be poor candidates for hypnosis. They are not the ones seeking my services, until they learn more about it.

Along with not believing in it, the same amount of people (26%) don’t know enough about it.  Many also weren’t interested enough to see my blogs about hypnosis (http// It is clear that more people need to learn about the benefits of hypnosis. It is empirically supported to treat many issues, and is even approved for non- top secret clearance military personnel.

Many think they can’t be hypnotized (10%). Most people can if they are willing. The only way to find out is by trying. Again more intelligent people respond better to hypnosis. I thought it would be the other way around at first too, but research suggests otherwise.  Hypnosis is not supported for cognitively challenged and psychotic people.  There is also some question as to its effectiveness with people with personality disorders.  Bottom line: More people can be hypnotized than they think.

Another reason people avoid hypnosis is due to what is portrayed in stage hypnosis (3%). Look, these participants want to be hypnotized and act stupid. Their unconscious allows them to do those things. If you have a strong will, then it won’t happen. Remember, you will absorb and act upon what you want to.


Some people wrote in comments worth mentioning.  Some people fear they won’t snap out of it. You will be awakened at the end. Should you fall asleep while listening to a self hypnosis recording, you will eventually wake up. If worried about falling asleep, either listen to it at night or set an alarm.

Someone also mentioned religious beliefs being a reason. Evil spirits will not take over, unless you have been practicing black magic having already welcomed them.  If a religion prevents people from undergoing a harmless, side effect free therapeutic process, I would question if it is more of a cult.  There was also someone who believes religion is the answer to all of their problems. These people are also poor candidates for hypnosis.  Some people don’t feel a need for it.  Nobody is suggesting everybody needs or should undergo hypnosis.

Hypnosis can be passive or more interactive. There is hypnosis where the participant simply listens and responds internally.  I sell mp3s on iTunes for this kind of self hypnosis. It is the safest, especially for those fearing losing control.  Then there is more interactive hypnosis where the person is in trance (a deeply relaxed state) and they are talking and recalling thoughts, feelings and memories.  I personally don’t touch repressed memories. In addition, while I believe in past life regression, I do not do that either.  The interactive hypnosis is to more quickly bring issues to the surface causing whatever distress the person is experiencing to be able to work through via hypnosis or other techniques.

Hypnosis is not a magic bullet. People often have unrealistic expectations about what it can do.  Not only will you remain in control, at least you will with me as your hypnotherapist J, that fear can make the process take longer.  Some people come to me for problem X. We’ll do some hypnosis, and I’ll know what the issue is causing the problem. While they thought they were coming just for hypnosis, they often end up undergoing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or some form of talk therapy as well.  In sum, people will benefit from hypnosis if they have a specific problem to address such as losing weight or managing anxiety. People with multiple problems will achieve symptom reduction but will need talk therapy as well.

The goal of this article was to provide more education about hypnosis and dispel many common myths.  There is nothing to fear or lose by trying self hypnosis recordings, as they are affordable and don’t take up a lot of your time.


Dr. Umfer is a licensed clinical psychologist and forensic psychologist in Tampa Florida. She specializes in weight loss and forensic evaluations, such as sex offender risk assessments, psychological evaluations for substance abuse, competency, fitness for duty, immigration etc. She has certifications in fitness and nutrition, clinical hypnotherapy and as a meditation instructor. She identifies herself as a Forensic Evaluator and Weight Liberator and strives to help clients become "Umferized" aka empowered and fulfilled.

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