Is hypnosis bad

How Safe is Hypnosis? | Time

A years-long case involving a teacher’s use of hypnosis on students and staff members at a Florida school was back in the news this week when the case was settled before going to trial. Since it was not tried in court, culpability has not been determined, but it has raised some questions about the safety and efficacy of hypnotherapy.

Hypnosis is an induced trance-like state that’s intended to provide an intensive awareness of the present moment; indeed, its clinical application bears no resemblance to the “You are getting sleepy” parlor tricks depicted in horror movies and on TV.

“Contrary to how hypnosis is sometimes portrayed, you don’t lose control over your behavior while under hypnosis,” experts at the Mayo Clinic write. “You generally remain aware of and remember what happens under hypnosis.”

Dr. Andrew Weil, a physician and leading expert in integrative medicine, says hypnosis is safe and effective, adding that the practice would benefit from more study. “I think it has been insufficiently researched because it has generally not been taken seriously by the research community,” he says. Weil says he’s seen most benefit in people with stress-related skin conditions, GI issues, autoimmune diseases and for kicking bad habits like smoking. “I think it has been tainted by its association with stage hypnosis,” Weil says.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) says hypnotherapy has been studied for conditions including anxiety, headaches, pain control, irritable bowl syndrome, and quitting smoking. The agency cites some research that suggests clinical hypnosis can help some women with hot flashes. Some evidence suggests hypnosis relaxation therapy could help with pain management.

“Hypnosis is a mental state, not, per se, a treatment,” says Dr. David Spiegel, medical director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. “People think it is a means of taking away control, but it is actually a means of enhancing control—over perceptions such as pain, anxiety, habits, stress.

Typically in hypnosis, a practitioner guides an individual into a trance-like state, usually after discussing an individual’s thoughts, expectations and goals. Once a person is in that state, the therapist will speak to the patient and may ask them to do some visualization. Often, people are then taught how to do this on their own.

“All hypnosis is really self-hypnosis,” says Spiegel. “I teach my patients to use it for themselves to address the problem they are dealing with. It is a powerful treatment extender. They don’t need to keep seeing me to get benefits. I see many of my patients only one time to assess them, measure their hypnotizability, and teach them self-hypnosis to address the problem.”

It’s recommended that people who want to try hypnosis choose a therapist or health care professional that has been trained and licensed. Members of The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH) are licensed healthcare workers who are credentialed and trained in an accredited field of study. You can search for a licensed professional on the ASCH website here.

Spiegel says that if used in a misguided or dangerous way, a hypnotist could, in theory, exploit those he is working on.

“I think it should be much more widely used,” says Weil. “It’s safe, it’s inexpensive and it can produce dramatic results.”

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Hypnotherapy and Depression: How it Works

What is hypnotherapy?

Hypnosis, hypnotherapy, and hypnotic suggestion are all names for a type of therapy that involves putting people into a trance-like state. Achieving this state is intended to promote focus in an individual. In this focused state, a person can be more receptive to suggestions, such as quitting smoking.

Hypnotherapy is a therapy that spans hundreds of years and has many practitioners across the United States. Researchers have studied whether hypnosis can treat a variety of medical conditions, from irritable bowel syndrome to anxiety and depression. The goal for hypnotherapy is to help a patient learn to better control their state of awareness. In the case of depression, hypnotherapy sessions may be focused on helping a person achieve a state of relaxation. In this relaxed state, they can discuss their feelings and emotions without raising stress and anxiety levels.

A hypnotherapy session usually lasts about an hour. A trained therapist uses various relaxation techniques to guide you into a hypnotic state. In this state, you are still conscious and aware. Your body becomes more relaxed and the mind more responsive to suggestions from the therapist.

The therapist’s suggestions will depend on the condition or behavior you are trying to treat. Hypnotherapy can help target unwanted or unhealthy habits and possibly replace them with healthier behaviors. Examples include being able to better control pain or anxiety or adjusting negative thought patterns that could be worsening depression symptoms.

Pros of hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy offers the potential to help treat your medical conditions without the need for invasive therapies or additional medications. Therapists consider hypnotherapy a safe treatment option, with minimal side effects.

While it may not work for everyone, hypnotherapy is what’s known as a complementary therapy. A person can use hypnotherapy in addition to other treatments for depression to enhance an overall sense of well-being, lift mood, and boost feelings of hopefulness. Hypnotherapists use it to treat a number of conditions, including:

  • anxiety
  • chronic pain
  • concentration problems
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • smoking control
  • teeth grinding

A person with depression experiences a wide variety of emotions. According to the University of New Hampshire, hypnotherapy can help a person learn to reduce and/or better control feelings of anxiety, stress, and sadness. Hypnotherapy is also used to treat negative behaviors that could be worsening a person’s depression. These behaviors may include smoking and poor eating and sleeping habits.

Cons of hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy does have some risks. The most dangerous is the potential to create false memories (called confabulations). Some other potential side effects are headache, dizziness, and anxiety. However, these usually fade shortly after the hypnotherapy session.

People considering hypnotherapy should first consult their doctor or psychiatrist. It is possible that hypnotherapy could worsen symptoms. People suffering from delusions, hallucinations, or other psychotic symptoms might not be the best candidates for hypnotherapy.

It’s also possible that hypnotherapy is not an effective treatment method. The therapy requires a person to focus and enter a trance state of hypnosis. For some people, this is very difficult.

Hypnotherapy appears to work best when used with other forms of treatment, says Steve G. Kopp, a licensed mental health counselor and marriage and family therapist. It can help reduce a patient’s resistance to other more traditional treatments.

“It seems most effective complementing cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal psychotherapy,” Kopp says.

It’s important to remember that depression, along with severe and chronic mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, also affect a person’s physical health. Depression is more than just feeling sad or having negative thoughts. It’s a condition where the chemicals in your brain are imbalanced. Hypnotherapy is a complementary therapy, and it shouldn’t be the only therapy a person uses to enhance their mental health.

Kopp also warns that hypnotherapist quality varies widely. Anyone considering hypnotherapy should make sure the therapist is not only certified to perform hypnosis, but is also a trained mental health professional.

Several professional organizations and licensing agencies exist for hypnotherapy practitioners. Examples include the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH) and the American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists. To be an ASCH member, practitioners must attend at least 40 hours of workshop training, 20 hours of individual training, and have completed at least two years of clinical practice as a hypnotherapist.

Some medical professionals may incorporate hypnotherapy into their practices. Examples include:

  • dentists
  • family therapists
  • marital therapists
  • nurse practitioners
  • doctors
  • social workers

For those interested in hypnotherapy, contacting these organizations to find a local chapter and licensed professionals is a good start. Some insurance companies will pay a portion of the cost of hypnotherapy treatments. However, insurance companies often require a licensed professional to administer the treatments.

Hypnosis: what heals and what cripples?

Komsomolskaya Pravda

Healthy medicine

Elena Ionova

November 26, 2009 1:00

Hypnosis - this is one of the most popular psychotherapy methods

We understand the appearance of the Center for Legal and Psychological Assistance in Extreme Extreme situations by Professor of Psychiatry Mikhail Vinogradov

To believe or not in the unusual abilities of Wolf Messing is everyone's business. Nevertheless, hypnosis exists - it is one of the most popular methods of psychotherapy. Many clinics promise to get rid of smoking, obesity, alcoholism, and depression with its help. How effective can it be, and how dangerous?

Sleep of the mind or...

- Although hypnosis is translated from Greek as "sleep", it is not such in the usual sense. The brain during the session does not switch to "energy-saving" mode, as in normal sleep. Both the consciousness and the subcortex enter a special state - active, but narrowly focused. The brain focuses on the content of what the hypnologist suggests and gives the body these commands to carry out.

In deep hypnosis, the patient is completely immersed in himself, in personal experiences - during the session he is out of reality. And there is also the so-called Ericksonian hypnosis - when a person is put into a light trance. He is active, can communicate with others, but his thoughts and actions are subject to the hypnologist. Now this method is actively used in NLP (neuro-linguistic programming). About 70% of people succumb to deep hypnosis, and almost everyone succumbs to "light" hypnosis.

Can a person be made to do anything by suggestion?

- Basically yes. But this requires special approaches. A person has a certain moral watchman in the brain. Everyone has their own. So, contrary to the principles of human morality, it is impossible to force something to be done. But an experienced hypnologist can always bypass these settings. You can stupidly give a person in a state of hypnosis a gun and say: “Kill!” He will faint, lose consciousness, but will not go to kill. And you can make a suggestion, they say, "let's shoot at the target." And a person will start shooting as if at a target, and instead of it there will be a living object ... Therefore, hypnosis can be both a treatment and a formidable weapon. Depending on who is using it.

Is the method based on deception?

- If we talk about hypnosis as a therapeutic method, then it is based on the reshaping of attitudes, attitudes, and increasing the protective abilities of the body. And lies are not allowed here! On the contrary, it is important for the hypnologist to establish an extremely honest and open relationship with the patient.

And criminal hypnosis - yes, based on deception. From the usual technology, it almost does not differ. But during treatment in a hypnotic state, the doctor immerses the patient carefully, monitors the pulse, breathing, so as not to damage. And the criminal one is lightning fast, a person suddenly falls into a trance state and fulfills all the commands of the criminal.

"Don't let scammers take you by the hand!"

- Seconds separate a person from being hypnotized. You can protect yourself from criminal hypnosis only when a person is ready for this protection. A gypsy woman came up, they say, let's tell fortunes. You need to cut it off immediately. Don't let yourself be taken by the hand. Don't let me make eye contact. You need to "break the wave" when it tries to tune in to you. And then the energy rhythm of the fraudster is broken. And he can no longer put you into a trance. Cut off abruptly, harshly, without any delicacy. There is a trick: gypsies try to touch the right hand of a person (in our subconscious, shaking hands with it is a symbol of friendship, disposition, trust). So left-handed people are more fortunate in terms of protection from lightning-fast hypnosis.

Can trance cure obesity?

- Hypnosis is not, in fact, an independent method of treatment. But it can be used quite effectively as an auxiliary psychotherapy for neuroses, phobias, obsessions, addictions.

As for obesity, hypnosis can be useful, but as a second component of treatment. Here the question is in the settings that the hypnologist gives. If the metabolism is disturbed, this is for nutritionists, endocrinologists. And if a person is gaining weight for neurotic reasons, then hypnosis can help him. Often depression leads to weight gain. But you can’t inspire a person: don’t eat this, don’t eat that, lose weight! This is criminal and can cause irreversible damage to the mind. The task of a hypnologist is to normalize mood, relieve anxiety. And then the excess weight will go away without harm. Hypnosis does not treat obesity, but the causes that lead to it on a psychosomatic level.

The same applies to alcoholism. Often it is secondary, and at the heart of a neglected neurosis, depression. But, like any method of treatment, hypnosis can only be chosen and recommended by a doctor!

And for what diseases is hypnosis dangerous?

- It is absolutely not to be used in psychoses. And also, of course, in all acute conditions - heart attack, acute pancreatitis, infections with high fever. Otherwise, the indications for the use of hypnosis are very wide. But the ability to conduct sessions correctly is not given to all people who call themselves hypnologists.

And by the way, hypnosis can only be carried out by a doctor who has specialized in psychotherapy, psychiatry, medical psychology, who is well versed not only in the method of hypnosis, but who understands the structure of the patient's personality and the peculiarities of the structure of his disease state.


Hypnosis has always existed. In the animal kingdom, a hunter (boa constrictor, wolf, etc.) hypnotizes the victim. Since ancient times, shamans have introduced entire tribes into a trance.

In 1530, the famous doctor Paracelsus (Theophrastus von Hohenheim) introduced the concept of "magnetism" into medicine - mutual attraction between people and the ability to influence the consciousness of another person with the help of "magnetic force".

In 1834, the term "hypnosis" appeared. It was first described and put into practice by the English physician J. Brad. Since then, hypnosis has been used as a medical method. In Russia, it was actively studied by the great physiologists Pavlov, Bekhterev, Anokhin.


Are you easily suggestible

These 10 questions will help you understand how easily you can influence your psyche, including hypnosis

1 A stranger (a waiter, a taxi driver, an aunt in the clinic) looked at you with displeasure. What do you think?

A) He didn't like me, probably something is wrong with me.

B) The person is simply tired or someone brought him down.

C) There are those of the breed who are always dissatisfied with everything! I have nothing to do with it.

2 You accidentally heard that your colleagues were washing your bones, saying that you work worse and worse every day...

A) It hurts me deeply, and really everything starts to fall out of hand.

B) You never know what people are talking about, they are just evil!

C) I will think about it and try to calmly evaluate my work, analyze the shortcomings.

3 You have pimples or hives on your face.

A) I will not show myself in public until everything is over.

B) I'll cover it with creams, and when we meet, I'll explain to all my friends that such a nuisance has befallen...

C) Well, just think! It happens to everyone.

4 When you catch a cold, you don't go to the doctor because. ..

A) I am annoyed by crowds of people, including in polyclinics.

B) What if, besides a cold, the doctor finds some other hidden illness? It scares me, it's better not to know.

C) A mild cold will go away on its own. And there is no time for doctors.

5 You have an important decision to make. Your actions.

A) I won't discuss it with anyone. Extra talk will only confuse you.

B) I will ask friends and relatives for advice, but I will do it anyway.

C) I rely entirely on my intuition.

6 On a deserted street you feel that someone is following you.

A) I get scared and immediately accelerate my step.

B) I control myself, but still I look around out of curiosity.

C) I continue to walk calmly, if there was danger, I would feel it.

7 You have read new research on healthy living.

A) I immediately try to change something in my behavior.

B) I think: what exactly can be useful for me in this?

C) Sensations are born every day! You have to live with your mind.

8 You are on a big sale. But you don’t really need anything, and you don’t have much money.

A) Actually, there are a lot of things I need here! Five minutes later, the money is all gone.

B) I go, I look, I put aside a couple of things. If the desire to buy does not disappear by the evening, I will return and buy.

C) I will quickly run through the rows. Really, I don't need anything.

9 As they say, whoever has the TV remote control is the boss in the house. Your partner loves football and you love psychological thrillers (or vice versa). Over time...

A) I'll switch to football, that's also interesting. And captures no worse than thrillers.

B) Let's buy a second TV set, no problem!

C) I will convince my soul mate and even quarrel, if necessary, that your cinema is more important.

10 You are drawn into an unpleasant conversation.

A) I am tormented, looking for a reason to get rid of such communication, but I can't find it.

B) I find a logical reason to end it.

C) I don't participate in such conversations, I'll leave right away.

What answers did you get more?

A. You are very suggestible. Most likely, you can be easily put into a hypnotic state. This is not bad if you need psychotherapy and the help of a hypnologist. But at the same time, you are in the "risk group" in relation to criminal hypnosis by scammers, gypsies. Train your psyche, analyze your actions more, try not to make important decisions without thinking them over first. There are also special trainings to increase psychological stability.

B. In general, you are in good control of yourself, and it is not so easy to get into your subcortex on the move. But you can succumb to manipulation if you correctly select the key to your consciousness and subconscious. But you are not very good at navigating "unfamiliar territory." And when there is a hole in your self-confidence, you become lost and vulnerable to suggestion.

V. You are a rock! You have an opinion on everything. Neither sophisticated persuasion, nor emotions, nor even threats will take you. You don't trust anything but facts. But here you can be caught - on conceit. Of course, one can hardly imagine how you give all the money to the gypsy in the alley. But an experienced hypnologist will be able to "turn off" you, concentrating on your own person.

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Myths about hypnosis

Hypnosis is a state in which a person is introduced by a hypnotherapist in order to extract the necessary information from his subconscious. Hypnosis is used to treat mental illnesses such as anxiety disorder and dissociative identity disorder. This phenomenon is shrouded in many myths and legends, and still looks mysterious and magical to many people. Below we debunk popular myths about hypnosis and clarify the main issues associated with this phenomenon.

1. You can remember everything that was before the birth of

Official science does not confirm this. However, there are cases when, in the hypnotic state, the patient shows reflexes that cannot be reproduced in adulthood. They are inherent only to a person in the prenatal state. Also, sometimes during sessions, hypnotherapists observe unusual phenomena. Patients may begin to speak in languages ​​they have never been taught or even heard. There were many cases when patients during hypnosis sessions spoke in the languages ​​of ancient peoples, with which not all specialists are familiar.

See also

Aquaphobia: fear of water

At the moment, such phenomena have no scientific interpretation. Basically, they are explained by all sorts of esoteric and pseudo-scientific theories: genetic memory matrices, Jungian archetypes, or reincarnation. However, the only explanation adequate to science may be that such phenomena, for example, when people speak foreign languages, are part of memories. Theoretically, a person, having heard the language of the ancient Sumerians out of the corner of his ear on TV in early childhood, can speak it in a hypnotic state. Modern research shows that our brain remembers absolutely everything. In the 40-50s of the twentieth century, the Canadian neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield conducted a series of experiments, causing irritation of certain areas of the brain with the help of current. Thus, it turned out that if a certain neuron is irritated, a person can, for example, remember a melody that he has not heard for more than 30 years. Our brain is like an endless repository in which everything settles, and to which we did not really look closely.

2. After hypnosis comes amnesia

This is true only if the task of the hypnotherapist is to induce amnesia in the patient. A specialist can use certain techniques aimed at making a person forget some kind of terrible or traumatic event. Usually in a hypnotic state, a person is maximally concentrated on the moments and details that the hypnotherapist points out to him. The rest of the memories, images and events remain in the background and seem to float by, but are not forgotten.

3. One session can change everything

In movies or books, we can often see how one session of hypnosis can help a person to remember everything, recover or radically change his life. In reality, this is not the case. In one session with a hypnotherapist, you can reach a specific traumatic event or a distant, lost memory. This does not mean that this will solve the problem. Usually such sessions need to be carried out again and again. In this regard, hypnotherapy is not much different from cognitive behavioral therapy, since both there and there, 15-20 sessions are needed for any changes to occur. During hypnotherapy, a priori, psychotherapy techniques are also used. The patient is given a session or several sessions of hypnosis and then work with him using psychotherapeutic techniques.

4. Hypnosis is the same as sleep

This is what the Soviet physiologist Ivan Pavlov claimed when it was not yet possible to check the activity of the brain using an electroencephalogram. Then it seemed that the state of hypnosis outwardly is very similar to sleep. And since then, unfortunately, this analogy has been introduced, which is used to this day. Although studies show that there is nothing physiologically similar between sleep and hypnosis. While in hypnosis, a person is very much focused on his inner self. However, he continues to hear all external sounds, the voice of the hypnotherapist, the noise of cars outside the window, although, at the direction of the specialist, he consciously does not notice all this.

5. You can get stuck in hypnosis

No, you can't. An unqualified specialist who uses hypnosis may simply not know how to bring a person out of a hypnotic state. A person can get stuck in hypnosis for a while, but any qualified hypnotherapist can easily bring him out of this state. Or, in extreme cases, he will come out of hypnosis on his own. He will simply go into a state of normal sleep and wake up. The hypnotized person himself can decide not to leave hypnosis, and then you can really get stuck in it. That is, it largely depends on the person who is under hypnosis.

6. Only people with extraordinary abilities can use hypnosis

This is not true. In order to conduct hypnosis sessions, you need only certain skills and abilities. A qualified hypnotherapist must have a clinical diploma, as well as complete special courses in hypnosis. In most countries, the use of hypnosis in treatment does not even require the practitioner to be a member of an association of hypnotherapists. It is also desirable that the hypnotherapist specializes in the area of ​​problems with which the patient comes to him.

See also

Myths about autism

7. There are people who cannot be hypnotized

That's right. There are a set of certain personality traits that supposedly influence whether a person is hypnotic or not. However, this theory is not always confirmed. Research in this area has been going on for many years. However, there are experts who claim that they can hypnotize any person without any problems. Most likely, they simply did not come across those who do not lend themselves to hypnosis. If a person believes in the effectiveness of hypnosis and wants to be hypnotized, he easily enters this state. In the absence of a desire to enter a state of hypnosis or trust in a specialist, a person may not succumb to this technique. Of course, there are people who simply cannot be hypnotized. They may be more distrustful, wary, and even paranoid. Also, according to statistics, only one in five people can be introduced into the deepest phase of hypnosis - somnambulism.

8. Hypnosis is ineffective

It depends on what problem the patient comes to the hypnotherapist with. In some tasks, hypnosis can be very effective, but in some it is not. People used to think that hypnosis is a panacea, a magic wand. However, it is not. Hypnosis is most effective in the treatment of anxiety disorders, dissociations, as well as various problems associated with bad habits (biting fingers, nails), tics, bedwetting, overeating. It used to be thought that hypnosis was also effective in the treatment of alcoholism, but this is a very controversial issue. The so-called coding, which is essentially the introduction of a person into a hypnotic state, does not work for everyone.

9. Hypnosis can be harmful or hazardous to health

Under certain conditions, hypnosis can actually harm and even pose a threat to life. People who suffer from psychosis, schizophrenia, and borderline personality disorder should not be immersed in a hypnotic state. If such a person is put into hypnosis, the symptoms of mental disorders may increase and adversely affect health. Also, hypnosis can not be subjected to people who are in a state of drug or alcohol intoxication. For a person who does not suffer from the mental illnesses listed above and is not under the influence of substances, hypnosis is usually not dangerous, since in this state the person controls the entire process and what the hypnotherapist tells him.

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