There are still loads of those hypnotists and hypnotherapists out there who seem a bit ego-maniacal and believe that they wield hypnosis upon their underlings and subjects. They have this hypnotic power that their hypnotic subjects surrender to.
Hmmm… I am not dramatic enough and do not look good in a cape to accept this notion, if I am honest. I prefer to lift up the shroud of mysticism and all mighty powerful hypnotist, and not treat those being hypnotised with so little respect. Plus, the Svengali had far too much facial hair for my liking!
Several people in the field of hypnosis and hypnotherapy, whose work I truly love, have asked: is all hypnosis self-hypnosis?
They believe that the power is with the client. The person who is guided into hypnosis.
In fact, in 2006, the National Guild of Hypnotists (NGH) stated in print that the hypnotist will “induct a client into a self-hypnotic state.” Several other hypnosis associations have followed in a similar vein.
In 1985 book by Lynn and Garske entitled Contemporary Psychotherapies, in a chapter titled hypnosuggestive procedures as catalysts for psychotherapies, Theodor Barber contended that most hypnosuggestive procedures can be truthfully defined as self-hypnosis. Additionally, work by Orne and McConkey in 1981 (Toward convergent inquiry into self-hypnosis, International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis) and Sanders in 1991 (Clinical Self-Hypnosis: The Power of Words and Images) state the same.
Parts therapy and regression proponent Roy Hunter and his mentor Charles Tebbetts stated the same – that hypnosis is self-hypnosis. In fact, in Roy Hunters book The Art Of Hypnotherapy, he states that Tebbetts, whilst still alive, began every hypnosis session with the statement “all hypnosis is self-hypnosis.” You see, I do agree with regression therapists on some things!
Others who believed the same:
– The founder of the American Board of Hypnotherapy held that same opinion as stated in The Wizard Within by Krasner in 1990 (published by ABH Press).
– In 1995, in his book Essentials of Hypnosis, Michael Yapko suggested that whatever power the hypnotherapist has, is acquired from the client and of course, can be terminated by the client.
– As far back as 1965, in Hypnosis Induction Technics, Tietelbaum stated that if a hypnotist attempts to be too far up his own arse powerful, then the client may lose rapport and reject suggestions given.
Really, it is the guys in the 19th century, born out of Mesmerism and the dark ages, that created the notions of hypnosis ‘being done to‘ another individual (I wrote about Mesmerism here). Imagine if that were the case? How comfortable would you be about hypnotists being set loose on the world? Surely they’d take over, wouldn’t they? Well, the less scrupulous ones at any rate.
Ultimately, the person being hypnotised is responsible for generating the suggestion inside their own mind, creates the relevant imagery to go with it, and combines it all with their own experience and behaviours in response.
One of the benefits of such a theory and approach to hypnosis, is that it does lend itself wonderfully well to the hypnotherapy client then using hypnosis techniques at home and can be taught a number of techniques to add to those done in the hypnotherapy session and subsequently built upon. This is made difficult if the person being hypnotised believes that they can only enter hypnosis if the caped, all powerful hypnotist needs to be around to induce it.
This was of explaining hypnosis to hypnotherapy clients is also very useful because it helps to bypass resistance and fear associated with the notion of being under the control of another person. It also defies the notion created by Svengali proponents that you need to be somehow weak-willed to be controlled by the hypnotist.
The vast majority of hypnotherapists teach their clients to use self-hypnosis skills to enhance the efficacy of the hypnosis throughout the hypnotherapy. By practicing self-hypnosis, the client can enhance the collaborative nature of successful therapy. They become an active agent in the process rather than a passive recipient. The hypnotherapist becomes a facilitator rather than a dictator.
Of course, there are as many theories on this as there are hypnotists and hypnotherapists. I think it important to utilise the theory that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis because it empowers the hypnotherapy client, allays fears, puts them in control, creates a collaborative approach and seems to be more client-centred. All of which I prefer.
I couldn’t agree more, Adam. Having my clients feel empowered through their interactions with me, rather than (directly or indirectly) creating any form of dependency is of paramount importance to me. Wonderfully written piece, as ever!
Thank you Derek… And very well said.
Great post, Adam.
There are lot of people who come into hypnosis, NLP etc with the intention of using it or attempting to use it to give them power over other people. I’ve spent some time in the whole seduction community (please, best not to ask) and to say some of those people’s ideas about hypnosis, NLP etc are “outside of the stratosphere of crap” would be an understatement.
I might look good in a cape but since becoming a trainee therapist, I haven’t wandered around Cardiff hypnotising people to do my bidding and proof of my lack of control over people abilities can surely be seen in the fact that I’m spending this evening typing this instead of having a night of passion with Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley. Despite that, none of my friends will let me practice my new found skills on them. There certainly is something that unsettles some people about hypnosis.
A lot of hypnotherapists blame it all on how the media represents hypnosis but I’ve seen quite a lot of hypnotherapists on things like Youtube and in person and some of them really do themselves no favours. For some, the client becomes “the subject” and there are still those notions of putting someone under something, working on someone, doing something to someone etc.
Mark Cunningham’s hypnosis recordings are something I discovered recently and, whilst they are very good, they do make me feel slightly uncomfortable. The recording is about 48 minutes and he spends almost half of that telling you to “open up fully to him”, “submit” to this and that and even borrows from the Borg in the whole: “resistance is futile” stuff. He’s also partnered with another hypnotherapist in the realm of erotic hypnosis where the notion they are working on seems to be trying to use hypnosis to gain power over women- something, as a feminist (yes, I know, I know), I’m bound to be uncomfortable with.
Now, granted, once you get past the marketing and look at what is actually going on, it’s not as bad but still….I guess my point runs along the lines that there are very few Adam Eason’s (and other therapists who genuinely want to help people) and a heck of a lot of people whose main intention or interest (whether the tools and skills they acquire can do the things they want them to or not) is to gain power over another person.
Hi Marty, thanks for your contribution here, which is always valued.
In some respects, I suppose the myth that is created by many on the hypnosis field – of it being able to be wielded in this way – does bring us a lot of attention and more time in the spotlight. Though I really do think that we an stop dining out on that any longer.
There is such a body of evidence that demonstrates what hypnosis is and is not, that it seems foolish to allow people to perpetuate misnomers (whether its for marketing or during real-life trainings).
The problem occurs when the types of training you mention are the only exposure that some people have of the field, and accompanied with very little further reading, can end up perpetuating these notions further…
Great read Adam and I agree. I always explain to the client about the nature of hypnosis – being a natural state you go in and out of all day long and use ‘driving trance’ as an example — where you drive along not really paying attention because your mind is a million miles away ‘daydreaming’ and then you arrive at your destination not even remembering the last five miles of your journey! Everyone who drives can relate to this.
I know some therapists do not like to use the word ‘trance’ as well, but following along the lines of Stephen Wolinsky ‘Trances People Live’ where he explains that a client’s problem state is in itself a hypnotic or trance state — and our purpose as therapists is to ‘dehypnotise’ our clients to get more resourceful states and results. So, a therapist really acts as a guide with a good map to bring unresourceful thoughts, feelings and beliefs to surface awareness and using tools such as hypnosis to make change on an unconscious level. Does that make sense?
So, IMO all hypnosis is self hypnosis. It’s a focussed state of concentration at the exclusion of other things and in this focussed state you open to suggestions that benefit you the most.
Hi Brenda, thank you for this, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your response and concur… And it has been a while since I read Wolinsky’s book, I do like it.
That said, I had my thoughts on the use of the word ‘trance’ and my own training school mutinied! As you can read here:
I very often use the “all hypnosis is self hypnosis” to calm people who react poorly to hearing that I’m a hypnotist (generally scrunching their eyes closed and turning away)
It also happens to fit with my own experience, and I am congruent with it.
Having said that, if someone comes to me with the expectation that hypnosis is “done to them” and that belief is useful in a therapeutic sense, it would be foolish of me to talk them out of it (at least for now)
As an aside, I look awesome in a cape and spent most of my training perfecting my “hypnosis” laugh 🙂
Hi Andy, your hypnosis laugh is spot on by the way… Some people just take to capes better than others I guess 😉
I hear what you are saying and it is wise to meet someone at their map of the world as far as hypnosis is concerned.
Though I prefer to think of it as ‘educating’ the client rather than ‘talking them out of it’ and with correct expectations the therapeutic results are likely to be enhanced.
Thanks again Andy.
Yes, by talking them out of it, I meant educating them in a better metaphor.
The Satir Change Model has a graph, which shows one idea of how new ideas are absorbed into ourselves.
I believe that making the decision to seek assistance and visit a hypnotherapist puts our client at the top of the late status quo area (some versions of the graph have a little bump to represent the excitement of making a change)
Educating someone, particularly where that education runs contrary to an existing belief, put us into the resistance phase (“What do you mean it’s not done to me? What’s the point of coming here then?”)
If we can get just a little bit of momentum building by utilising their existing belief, then we can use that to carry them through the dip and up and out the other side 🙂