26 Nov

Is Hypnosis Real or Just Hocus Pocus?

Is Hypnosis Real or Just Hocus Pocus?

Is Hypnosis Real or Just Hocus Pocus?

You’re sitting there, wondering if hypnosis is real or just a bunch of hocus pocus. You’ve seen stage hypnosis shows and aren’t sure what to believe. Is hypnosis scientifically proven or just smoke and mirrors? In this article, we’ll explore the history of hypnosis and look at the evidence for whether or not it’s real. From its origins in 18th century medicine to modern therapeutic uses, hypnosis has come a long way. While the swinging pocket watch is mostly exaggerated, hypnosis itself has been shown to create real changes in brain activity. We’ll look at the science and help you decide if hypnosis is real or an illusion. Stick around as we pull back the curtain on this mystical practice.

A Brief History of Hypnosis

Hypnosis has been around for centuries, with accounts of trance-like states dating back to ancient Egypt, Greece, and India. But modern hypnosis didn’t emerge until the late 1700s. ### Franz Mesmer and Mesmerism In the 1770s, Franz Mesmer proposed the theory of ‘animal magnetism’ – the idea that there are magnetic forces within the body that can be harnessed for healing. Mesmer used trance-inducing techniques, including staring into a patient’s eyes, to put them into a trance-like state. Mesmerism attracted a lot of attention but was later debunked.

James Braid and Hypnosis

In the 1840s, Scottish surgeon James Braid coined the term ‘hypnosis’ after witnessing a mesmerism performance. Braid believed hypnosis was a psychological state rather than magnetic forces. He helped legitimize hypnosis as a medical treatment.

The Golden Age of Hypnosis

In the late 1800s, hypnosis gained mainstream acceptance within the medical community. Ambroise-Auguste Liébeault and Hippolyte Bernheim in France and Josef Breuer and Sigmund Freud in Austria used hypnosis to treat hysteria and neuroses. However, hypnosis fell out of favor with the rise of psychoanalysis and medication.

A Revival of Interest

Interest in hypnosis surged again in the mid-1900s. Milton H. Erickson helped popularize a more indirect hypnotic technique. Hypnosis became accepted as a complementary therapy and a tool for relaxation or personal growth. Although still controversial, hypnosis continues to intrigue people and is used in various forms of therapy today.

What Is Hypnosis Exactly?

Hypnosis is a trance-like state of focused awareness and heightened suggestibility. Contrary to popular belief, hypnosis is not a state of sleep. It just appears to be due to a person’s relaxed state and focused attention. While in hypnosis, a person’s mind is more open to suggestions that can be used to help change behaviors and thoughts or relieve symptoms.

Hypnosis works by bypassing the conscious mind’s critical thinking faculty and accessing the subconscious mind. The subconscious controls emotions, habits, and automatic behaviors. Under hypnosis, the subconscious can be reprogrammed with new thoughts and behaviors.

How Does Hypnosis Work?

A hypnotized person is awake and aware of their surroundings but their attention is highly focused. In this state, a person can concentrate intensely on a specific thought, memory, feeling or sensation while blocking out distractions. While in hypnosis, a person’s body relaxes while their thoughts become more focused and open to suggestion. The hypnotized person feels calm and relaxed, while their mind achieves a heightened state of awareness or concentration. Suggestions given under hypnosis seem more compelling and real to the hypnotized person.

Is Hypnosis Real or Fake?

Hypnosis is a legitimate therapeutic technique that can be effective for a variety of conditions like anxiety, pain management, addiction, and trauma recovery. However, hypnosis will not work for everyone. Some people are more hypnotizable than others based on factors like motivation, imagination, and the ability to focus and concentrate. While hypnosis remains controversial, many studies show its effectiveness for certain medical and psychological purposes when performed by a licensed professional. Hypnosis should always be performed under the guidance of a licensed medical professional and should never be used as a form of entertainment.

The Science Behind Hypnosis

Hypnosis is a real psychological phenomenon that has been studied extensively. Scientists have found that hypnosis produces both physical and psychological changes in your body.

Brain Waves

When you’re hypnotized, your brain waves actually shift to a morerelaxed state. Your brain enters a state of intensified focus and concentration known as theta waves. This is the same state we naturally experience just before falling asleep. In this relaxed yet focused state, the brain is highly responsive to suggestions.

Relaxation Response

Hypnosis also activates your body’s relaxation response, which is the opposite of the fight or flight response. Your body slows down, your breathing becomes deep and regular, and your muscles relax. This deep state of calm and physical relaxation is what allows people to focus their attention and become open to hypnotic suggestions.

Changes in Perception

Through hypnosis, you can also experience changes in your perception, senses, memory, and awareness. For example, under hypnosis, some people report feeling like time is slowing down or speeding up. Others describe becoming highly focused on a specific memory or losing awareness of their surroundings.

While hypnosis may seem mysterious, scientists have found it has real biological effects. Although more research is still needed, hypnosis appears to create beneficial changes in the brain and body that can have both psychological and physical benefits when used responsibly by a certified hypnotherapist. Rather than hocus pocus, hypnosis can be considered an altered yet natural state of focused relaxation and awareness.

So you see, hypnosis is not just the stuff of magic shows and fiction. When performed by a licensed professional, hypnosis is a legitimate therapeutic tool with real benefits backed by science. The power of hypnosis lies not in some magical or mystical element, but rather in the natural abilities of your own mind and body.

Common Myths and Misconceptions About Hypnosis

  • Hypnosis is shrouded in mystery, leading to many myths andmisconceptions. Let’s debunk some of the common ones.
  • Hypnosis is magic or supernatural.
  • Hypnosis is a natural state of focused attention and concentration, not magic. It works by allowing you to experience enhanced focus and concentration. Hypnosis is a skill or technique, not a magical power.
  • The hypnotist has complete control over you.

A hypnotized person always remains in control of their own mind and body. You cannot be forced to do anything against your will while hypnotized. The hypnotist acts as a guide to help you relax and focus your mind, but you are always in control.

  • Hypnosis can make you act goofy or bizarre.
  • Hypnosis will not make you act in a way that is inconsistent with your values or morals. While you may feel very relaxed, you remain aware of your surroundings and will not do anything embarrassing. Hypnosis feels natural and ordinary.
  • You will get stuck in a trance. This is impossible. You cannot get stuck in hypnosis. You remain aware of your surroundings at all times and can emerge from hypnosis whenever you choose to. The hypnotized state will end on its own after a certain period of time as well. Waking up from hypnosis feels like waking up from a daydream.
  • Hypnosis is only used for entertainment. While hypnosis is often used in stage shows, it has many practical applications as well. Hypnosis can be an effective therapeutic technique and is used to treat conditions like anxiety, pain, PTSD, smoking addiction, and more. Self-hypnosis and meditation can also be used to reduce stress and promote wellness

Hypnosis remains an enigma, but the truth is far from the popular myths. Understanding the facts about hypnosis can help you determine if it may be useful for you.

The Various Applications of Hypnosis

Hypnosis has been used to help people in many areas of life. One of the most well-known applications is for pain management. Under hypnosis, you can change your perception of pain or focus your attention away from it. This is why hypnosis is often used for pain relief from injuries, burns, surgery, childbirth, and chronic illnesses.

Overcoming Fears and Phobias

Hypnosis can be very effective for helping people overcome irrational fears and phobias. Under hypnosis, you can reframe thoughts and replace frightening associations with more positive ones. This allows you to feel more in control of your reactions and less triggered by fear. Many people have found success overcoming fears of flying, public speaking, heights, and various phobias.

Improving Performance

Many top athletes use hypnosis to improve their mental game. Under hypnosis, you can strengthen your focus, relax anxiety, build confidence, and condition your mind for peak performance. This works for any skill or activity – sports, music, academics, etc. Hypnosis helps you access the zone of optimal performance.

Changing Habits

Hypnosis is a proven technique for making positive changes in your life by reprogramming old habits and patterns. Whether you want to quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, or make other lifestyle changes, hypnosis can help change your thoughts and behaviors at an unconscious level. It helps strengthen your willpower and gives you strategies for overcoming obstacles and staying committed to your goals.

While hypnosis is not a miracle cure, for many conditions it can be a safe and natural complementary therapy. However, it does require an open mind and a willingness to make real changes. When combined with conscious effort, hypnosis can be a powerful tool for improving your life in many ways. Talk to a licensed hypnotherapist to see how it may be able to help you.

Does Hypnosis Really Work?

Many people are understandably skeptical about hypnosis. After all, hypnosis is often portrayed in popular culture as some kind of mysterious mind control, possibly even with magical or supernatural elements. However, hypnosis is a well-studied, evidence-based intervention.

What the Research Shows

Hundreds of scientific studies have shown that hypnosis can be effective for a number of conditions, including:

  • Pain management. Hypnosis can help reduce both acute and chronic pain. It may be particularly helpful for pain that is hard to treat medically, like fibromyalgia or irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Stress and anxiety reduction. Hypnosis can induce a state of deep relaxation and calm, which helps lower stress and anxiety levels.
  • Behavior change. Hypnosis may help change unhealthy behaviors or habits, such as smoking, overeating, or lack of exercise. The hypnotized state makes you more open to suggestions for positive change.

While hypnosis does not work for everyone, many people experience significant benefits. The effects tend to be greatest when hypnosis is used in combination with other treatments like cognitive behavioratherapy. Hypnosis is generally considered an adjunctive or complementary treatment, not a standalone cure.

How Hypnosis Works

Hypnosis works by inducing a state of deep relaxation, focused attention, and heightened suggestibility. In this state, your mind is able to make connections and open up to beneficial suggestions in a way that the conscious mind may have trouble doing. The hypnotized state does not involve loss of control or willpower. You can come out of hypnosis at any time and will not do anything you do not want to do.

Hypnosis may seem strange or implausible, but it is supported by science. When guided by a trained professional, hypnosis can be a very powerful tool for gaining insight, changing behaviors, and improving symptoms. An open and curious mind is the best way to approach this fascinating altered state of awareness.

Finding a Qualified Hypnotherapist

When looking for a hypnotherapist, it’s important to find someone properly trained and certified. While hypnosis has become more mainstream, some practitioners are still not well versed in evidence based techniques.

Credentials and Experience

Look for a hypnotherapist with proper certifications from accredited organizations like the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners or the American Hypnosis Association. These organizations require a certain number of hours of training and a certification exam. You’ll also want a hypnotherapist with several years of experience practicing hypnosis for the specific issues you want to address. Ask about their success rates for past clients with needs similar to yours.


The field of hypnosis is broad, so find a hypnotherapist who specializes in your particular needs, whether it’s for pain management, stress and anxiety relief, behavior change, or another goal. A specialized hypnotherapist will have the proper training and experience to help you achieve the best results.

Reviews and References

Check online reviews from the hypnotherapist’s past clients to get a sense of their competence, professionalism, and bedside manner. You can also ask the hypnotherapist for references from past clients who have consented to be contacted. Talking to others who have been through hypnosis with that practitioner can help put you at ease about starting the process yourself.

Initial Consultation

Many hypnotherapists offer a free initial phone consultation or meeting. This is your opportunity to get a feel for the hypnotherapist, learn more about their experience, discuss your goals, and ask any questions you may have about hypnosis and what to expect. Go with a hypnotherapist you feel comfortable with, who answers your questions knowledgeably and puts you at ease about the hypnosis process. The relationship you have with your hypnotherapist is key to achieving good results.With the right hypnotherapist, you’ll be on your way to realizing the benefits of hypnosis for your needs. Do your research, ask good questions, and go with the professional you feel most at ease with for the best chance of success.

What to Expect During a Hypnosis


When you go in for a hypnosis session, here’s what you can expect. The hypnotherapist will start by asking you some questions about what you hope to achieve and any concerns you may have. Don’t worry, hypnosis itself is a very relaxed state. The hypnotherapist will then guide you into a deeply relaxed state of mind known as hypnosis.

As you enter hypnosis, your body relaxes and your mind becomes more focused. Your senses become heightened, and you may feel light, heavy, warm or tingling sensations. Don’t fight these feelings,  just go with the flow. The hypnotherapist will speak to you in a calm, rhythmic voice to keep you in this relaxed state. While in hypnosis, the hypnotherapist may use imagery and visualization to help you make certain changes or gain insights. For example, if you want to quit smoking, the hypnotherapist may have you visualize yourself as a healthy non-smoker. They may alsosuggest that cigarettes now taste and smell unpleasant to you.

During the session, you will be aware of everything that’s happening and in control at all times. Hypnosis is a collaborative process, and you will be an active participant. The hypnotherapist acts as a guide to help you access your subconscious mind. You may experience a distortion of time and be surprised at how quickly the session passes.

When the session is over, the hypnotherapist will gently bring you out of hypnosis. Most people feel very relaxed and refreshed after a hypnosis session. Some people notice positive changes right away, while for others it can take several days or weeks of practice to achieve their goals. Multiple sessions are often required for more complex issues.

Hypnosis can be a powerful tool for change when approached with an open and willing attitude. Leave your skepticism at the door and embrace the experience. You have nothing to lose and so much to potentially gain.

FAQ: Answering Common Questions

About Hypnosis

Hypnosis is a mysterious phenomenon that often brings up many questions. Here are some of the most common questions and answers about hypnosis.

  • Is hypnosis real or just made up? Hypnosis is a scientifically proventherapeutic tool. Years of research studies have shown hypnosis can produce real changes in the body and brain. While hypnosis appears magical, it has a rational, physiological explanation.
  • Can hypnosis force me to do things against my will? No, hypnosis cannot override your free will or values. You are always in control of your actions. A hypnotized person will not do anything they would not normally be willing to do.
  • Will I get stuck in a hypnotic trance? It is impossible to get stuck in hypnosis. You can come out of hypnosis whenever you want by simply opening your eyes. Even if the hypnotist left the room, hypnosis will end on its own in a short time.
  • What does it feel like to be hypnotized? Hypnosis often feels like a very relaxed, focused state of awareness. Many people describe feeling deeply calm and peaceful, yet aware and focused. Although deeply relaxed, you remain in control of your thoughts and actions.

Some experience physical sensations like heaviness in the limbs. Butfor others, it just feels like your normal state.

  • How long do the effects of hypnosis last? The effects of hypnosis are generally long-lasting. However, reinforcement through practice of new thoughts and behaviors will help make changes permanent.

Ongoing self-hypnosis or follow-up sessions with a hypnotist can help cement changes into habits. The time needed for reinforcement depends on the individual and issues involved.

  • Does hypnosis have any risks or side effects? Hypnosis is considered very safe. However, some people may experience mild side effects like headache, dizziness, or anxiety. Hypnosis is not recommended for people with severe mental illness or certain physical conditions.

It’s best to talk to your doctor before trying hypnosis. With an open and curious mind, hypnosis can be a powerful tool for change. By understanding more about how it works, you’ll see that there’s nothing spooky or strange about hypnosis. It’s simply a natural state that can be used to enhance your health and well-being.


So is hypnosis just a bunch of hocus pocus or something real? While the jury may still be out, it seems like there could be something to it. With its long history and use by trained professionals, hypnosis does appear more legitimate than just a magic trick. But like many things, the power of hypnosis likely comes down to the person doing it and the person receiving it. At the end of the day, approach it with an open but skeptical mind. Don’t just accept whatever someone tells you. Stay grounded and listen to yourself first. Hypnosis may hold some power, but you hold the real power over your own mind.