Clinical Hypnosis: Myths, Realities And Science

By Ofer Zur, Ph.D.


These distorted and unrealistic images can cause some people to reject hypnosis as frightening and dangerous. Alternately, they can lead others to believe in hypnosis as a superpower that can produce a whole host of remarkable results, from rapidly curing ailments to remembering past lives.

There is a lot of misinformation on the Internet about hypnosis, and many “lay hypnotists” put patients at risk by providing care when they are not adequately trained.

Myths and Facts about Hypnosis

  • MYTH: Hypnosis is like sleep.
    Fact: The hypnotized person is an active participant who remains responsive and aware of his or her surroundings.
  • MYTH: It is possible to be hypnotized against your will.
    Fact: Anyone who actively resists attempts to induce hypnosis cannot be hypnotized.
  • MYTH: One of the risks of hypnosis is getting stuck in a trance.
    Fact: If the hypnotist left the room, you would spontaneously come out of the trance.
  • MYTH: Hypnosis is a form of therapy.
    Fact: Hypnosis is not a form of therapy. It is an altered state of consciousness in which therapy can be conducted.
  • MYTH: The hypnotist can make you do things against your will.
    Fact: The hypnotist gives suggestions that will not be followed if they are unacceptable to the subject.
  • MYTH: The hypnotist is a powerful authoritarian figure who has total control over the passive subject.
    Fact: Hypnotic subjects are active problem solvers who maintain their values, beliefs, and opinions while in a trance state.


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