Hypnosis Research: It’s Real, and it Works

You’d be surprised how much scientific research has been focused on hypnosis. According to this article in Penn State News, there have been more than 12,000 scientific articles on the subject! Technology is giving researchers more and more toys to use in their studies, including brain imaging techniques that let them see how brain activity changes under hypnosis. It changes a lot!

People in a hypnotic trance tend to be very relaxed, that kind of delicious relaxation where you’d prefer to enjoy it and not talk or move much. This lethargy is misleading, because it conceals a heightened level of mental activity. With this heightened level of mental ability, more than ever, it’s easy to think, imagine, remember, face previously troublesome issues serenely, connect with all your mental, physical, and emotional resources, make decisions that are right for you, and change.

Some of the researchers even admit that their results are gloomier than they should be. Why? For one thing, research often uses whichever student volunteers can be rounded up at the moment, rather than people who are truly motivated to change. Also, for consistency, researchers often use specific, standardized techniques for a fixed number of sessions, rather than tailoring the approach to the individual and continuing until the job is done. And finally, sometimes researchers without much experience or passion for hypnotherapy will do the hypnosis, simply because they’re available.

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How Safe is Hypnosis?

Is hypnosis safe?” Hypnosis is safer than most things. Drugs carry the risk of side effects, surgery carries the risk of complications and infection, while hypnosis doesn’t.

The most common issue with hypnosis is when the hypnotist goes solely for the symptom itself. Sometimes the symptom is just a nuisance and it will go away forever if the unconscious mind is asked to do this in a way it understands. Sometimes the symptom serves a purpose, and removing it can cause trouble.

For example, what happens when a smoker who has forgotten how to relax without lighting up goes to see a bad hypnotist? His real problem is that his unconscious mind has built up a false belief that “relaxation is impossible without smoking.” The smoker likely doesn’t realize this consciously. He needs to replace this belief with something more helpful: that’s the key to solving his problem. But a bad hypnotist will ignore the belief and work only on the smoking itself. In this situation, three outcomes are possible:

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How Easy is it to Stop Smoking With Hypnosis?

How easy is it to stop smoking with hypnosis? Your mileage may vary, but you can expect that it will be a lot easier than quitting without hypnosis.

The thing is, sometimes smoking is just a habit with very little meaning to the smoker, and when that’s true, quitting is usually pretty straightforward. On the other hand, sometimes smoking is important for one reason or another, and it’s important to take care of that part first.

Take a guy who says that he needs to smoke in order to relax. Now, we all know that nicotine is a powerful stimulant, and smoking to relax is like taking Vivarin to relax! Does that mean he’s wrong? No! Not if his behavior matches his belief. If a cigarette calms him down, then it really does help him relax. What we’re seeing is the fact that the human mind is far more powerful than the chemicals we ingest. And doesn’t this imply that nicotine itself is neither here nor there? I think so.

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