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Three Things to Know About Hypnosis
1. People aren’t unconscious under hypnosis. In fact, they are in a state of focused hyper-awareness. Subjects’ suggestibility does not emerge from any lack of understanding, but rather from the suppression of inhibitions. That might result in a stage performer making a person feel comfortable enough to cluck like a duck that thinks it’s a chicken, but for a therapist it might mean circumventing the conscious mind’s tendency to make excuses for an addiction.
2. You cannot be hypnotized against your will. Although it is true that a hypnotized person will be more susceptible to suggestion, it’s simply not possible to force them to do something that they don’t want to do. Likewise, when battling a deep-set psychological issue such as a phobia or an addiction, hypnosis doesn’t work by reversing the patient’s unwanted thoughts but by gradually strengthening their resolve to silence them.
3. Hypnosis often takes hold gradually. Many hypnotherapists use a method known as progressive relaxation. Introducing peaceful imagery in slow, soothing tones, the professional lulls the patient into a state of relaxation over a longer period of time—as long as a half-hour—and gauges their suggestibility with simple, easy-to-swallow commands such as “relax your arms.”