When most of us think of hypnosis, we picture someone imitating a chicken or other silly behaviour on a public stage. However, science has revealed that hypnosis is actually a valuable technique in the healing process (Encyclopaedia of Psychology, March 2000). Hypnotism has been used not only for self-improvement and entertainment, but it has also been applied in military, medical, and educational areas. If hypnosis is indeed a legitimate alternative healing tool, then why do so many still consider it hocus-pocus?
The answer appears to be bi-fold:
1) There is a fear that hypnosis is a form of mind-control and that one loses control over self behaviour. This idea however is strongly criticised by science since current research has shown one cannot be hypnotised without awareness or consent; and,
2) Belief that hypnosis is fake or magical, and is therefore not a legitimate practice. What do practitioners and believers say to the skeptics?
Well, take the case of J.D., who sought treatment to quit smoking. He is a 65 year old man who had been smoking for 52 years, wanted to quit, but was also still skeptical about how hypnosis would help. This particular client stopped smoking after the first session and with continued reinforcement and regular hypnosis, he is still a successful nonsmoker. Not only was he able to conquer a lifelong unhealthy habit, he achieved his goal without medication!
Or how about the case of H.D., in his late 20’s, who suffered such severe stage fright that he avoided all situations that required him to speak in front of an audience.He decided to try hypnosis after other methods failed to work. Almost immediately he reported feeling more confident and feelings of enjoyment. He eventually was able to not only speak in public but also interact with groups of people!
With science and real life success stories, there is no shortage of practitioners who claim they can free you from pain, anxiety, and unhealthy behaviours. Do you agree with the science – can hypnosis heal what ails us?