What is Hypnosis

What is hypnosis?

What is Hypnosis? Put that question in to Google and the first answer you will get is from Wikipedia. “Hypnosis is a state of human consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness and an enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion.” That is a good answer but it is not entirely right.

In a moment I will get to the really imports questions that need answers; is it real, does it work, and what is it like? However, let us first get a bit of a handle on what this thing actually is.

hypnosisI can tell you about my own experience of hypnosis. When I was training we were each other’s test victims. At first it was laughable, but we got better, more attuned to the ‘client’. For me it is a feeling of ‘separateness’, akin to being one step removed from the room, but still, mostly aware and involved.

Will I remember everything?

For most of my clients, because I have asked, this too is their typical experience. Like being in the next room and eavesdropping for a while. Though, this is not the experience of everyone. Some guys ‘trip out’, not in a bad way, but in a “I have no recollection” type of way. If I asked them how long have you been hypnotised for, they would have no clear answer.

Having no recollection of the session is not the normal experience. This happens with a very small number of my clients overall. A complete absence of awareness is a phenomenon that happens naturally, it is not something I ask or aim for. You can find on all sorts of hypnosis forums, arguments about Trance Amnesia. Some claim it is important to aim for this. To give umpteen suggestion directing the client not to remember a thing when they are awake and fully conscious again. Which is complete crap, and certainly is not a sign of a good hypnosis session.

If a therapist is spending so much time of trying to produce Trance Amnesia, he is not making any effort to address the problem and it’s supporting structure. A session like that is more about the therapists’ ego, when it should be about the client’s solution.

Who really wants to finish a hypnosis session and have no recollection at all? To me that sounds scary, I don’t want to have a memory loss about anything. If it happens naturally, it happens, I do not push for it.

Time distortion

Time distortion is very common, the perceived length of time a hypnosis session has lasted for. This is normal, especially for a first session. In an ideal world a person would be induced in to hypnosis, therapy work will take place, and then they will be bought back to a fully conscious state again. In the real world, after an induction takes place, the hypnotee (client) will naturally vary the degree, or depth, of his hypnosis experience. At times he will be near, or even mostly conscious, and at time he is much further removed from a normal waking and conscious state.

One of the key skills of an experienced therapist is to manage the more ‘consciously awake moments’. Then do good, and useful therapeutic work during the more hypnotised periods of time.  Make sure you  work with a therapist who possesses enough experience to know the difference between the two.

A second hypnosis session would tend to be more profound; by then we both know a lot about each other and we both have an understanding of how we each work.

It is NOT just Relaxation

HypnotherapyHypnosis is NOT all about relax, think nice thought, visualise beautiful things. That is having a rest, possible taking a nap. Last week I worked with a guy who wore a Fitbit. Until then I know nothing about them. He had programmed it to buzz every hour during his working day, prompting him to get up from his desk and take a walk. He was well attuned to this, and it created an almost reflex response for him. At the time I did not know this, he explained it to me afterwards. He was over an hour in a hypnotic state, during which his device buzzed him. He told me he noticed it, but was unable to move. In a follow-up email form, him a week later he said “I could see on my Fitbit I had been hypnotised – my heart rate went lower than it ever has before.” There is no doubt he was sedentary in a big way for over an hour. Though, also, during this time he was having a major mental work out. With this client I was using Ideo Motor Responses, (IMR). His hands and fingers were on the move, in  pre defined and specific ways, which he had no recollection of. He also experienced some shuddering and involuntary leg movement.

Keep Control

Some guys really do not want an approach characterised by “close your eyes, follow my words, do as I say.” I get that, they want more of an involvement and a greater sense of control. ‘Follow my lead, let me be in control’ does not work with some guys, and that is fine. They have no desire to relinquish control, in reality or in just the perception of relinquishing. Not all hypnosis is about ‘tripping out’ or something near to it. There is a very good approach I can take where your eyes are open at the start and at all other times unless you decide otherwise. You are actively encouraged to sit, fully consciously aware and observe.


It is during one of these types of session I would use Ideo Motor Responses. I would also use them as appropriate during a more traditional hypnosis session too. It is all about using the right tool to fit the guy in front of me. IMR are involuntary, autonomous movements of fingers, or hands, sometimes feet, outside of the direct conscious control. Such movements can be set up as specific Yes or No answers, and can, with some people be taken further. If this interests you, ask me for details.

Can I be hypnotised?

This is a valid and important question to ask. The majority of people can experience hypnosis. A few people will respond  well to hypnosis, to a degree that all types of phenomena can happen. Most people will respond well enough to allowed a change for the better to occur, and for some, their brain just does not ‘do’ hypnosis.

It has nothing to do with the person’s intelligence or willingness; it is a matter of brain architecture. There are other variables too. Does the patient feel comfortable and safe with the hypnotist? Is there a fear of hypnotism that needs addressing first?

The specific part of the brain that matters is the rostrum in the anterior corpus callosum. In 2003 James Horton published {1} research comparing the size of this specific piece of the brain and the hypnotisability of the person. The type of research that is now only possible in the age of the MRI scanner. The bigger the rostrum in the anterior corpus callosum that you have, the better hypnotee you are.

Is It Natural?

Hypnosis is a mental state, a normal natural mental state. My job is to use it in the best way possible that fits with who, and how, you are. I have this tool box, and now, after all these years I am good at choosing the right tool for the job first time. Sometimes I will use a type of eye movement therapy, or a NLP technique, it all depends on the person sitting in front of me and what seems the best way to go.This is my therapy style.

Is hypnosis real?

Oh yes. hypnosis is a genuine psychological phenomenon that has valid uses in clinical practice. Which does not mean to say everyone can experience it. Everyone can sing, but not everyone can sing well. Some people are tone deaf; I am. We sing, but we sing differently to everyone else, in the kind of way that you probably would not describe as singing.

In a January 2001 article in Psychology Today {2} Harvard psychologist Deirdre Barrett wrote: “ A hypnotic trance is not therapeutic in and of itself, but specific suggestions and images fed to clients in a trance can profoundly alter their behaviour. As they rehearse the new ways they want to think and feel, they lay the groundwork for changes in their future actions…” I would go a little beyond this and add other therapeutic options to the list. In a trance a good experienced therapist can do a lot more than just lead a visualisation. A good therapist needs a tool box for of good, proven tools he can use appropriately to a wide range of clients.

Is Hypnosis Legal?

In the USA Blacks Law Dictionary gives a definition of Hypnosis {3} in terms of medical jurisprudence. In the UK we do not have such a definition. The NHS {4} lists it as a complimentary medicine on its website and cautions you against considering it if you have a psychosis or certain types of personality disorder. It furthers states treatment funded by the NHS in very unlikely. In the UK we also have the 1952 Hypnotism Act {5} “An Act to regulate the demonstration of hypnotic phenomena for purposes of public entertainment.”

The other key question is. Does it work? It is such an important question it has its own dedicated page.

There are also a few things you can do to help yourself with out the need for a therapist. Read this https://sexanxiety.co.uk/sex-problem/

Links to reference sources.

{1} https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/127/8/1741/297501

{2} https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200101/the-power-hypnosis

{3} https://thelawdictionary.org/hypnotism/

{4} https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hypnotherapy/

{5} http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo6and1Eliz2/15-16/46