13 Mesmerizing Facts About Hypnosis

woman getting hypnotherapy

If your idea of hypnosis involves a mustachioed man at a carnival, entreating you to "Look into my eyyyyyes," then it's time you snap out of that stereotype. Because hypnosis -- aka hypnotherapy or hypnotic suggestion -- is not only incredibly cool, but scientifically proven to treat a whole host of issues.


Never seen a hypnotherapist? During a session, you're gently relaxed into a trance-like state that heightens your awareness and makes you more open to suggestions. Not "you are a chicken," but verbal cues or imagery that help you stop undesired behaviors like smoking or overeating. Or that can lessen your anxiety, depression, phobias, or pain.

Intrigued? Read on for some eye-opening facts about hypnosis.

1. Hypnosis isn't a replacement for therapy. Rather, it's a procedure that can help other types of therapies and treatments work better. Still, it's important you only see a hypnotherapist who's a properly trained and licensed health care professional (like a doctor or psychologist).

2. Hypnosis has been around a looong time. And no, not just at county fairs. The technique dates back to the late 1700s. Army surgeons even relied on hypnosis during the Civil War when they needed to perform battlefield amputations.

3. No, hypnotherapy won't make you cluck like a chicken. Contrary to every movie you've ever seen, you don't lose control when you're hypnotized. You should hear and remember everything the therapist says to you while you're in your relaxed state.

4. You've probably already been in a hypnotic trance. Ever been driving somewhere, lost in thought, when suddenly you're already at your destination? Or so engrossed in a book that you don't realize two hours has gone by? That's pretty darn similar to hypnosis, girlfriend.

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5. Not everybody will have the same results. How well hypnosis works depends on your degree of "hypnotizability." It doesn't have to do with your personality so much as specific traits like creativity, empathy, mental absorption, fantasy proneness, and your expectation of whether hypnosis will work on you.

6. Your brain works differently when you're hypnotized. Studies show that during a session, people gain hyperawareness while losing the desire to ask questions or monitor their environment for changes or feedback.

7. Hypnosis can help you sleep better. In one study, women considered to be good candidates for hypnosis spent 80 percent more time in deep sleep after listening to a hypnosis tape.

8. It's a pain-fighter. Plenty of research shows that hypnosis is effective at fighting both acute and chronic pain, including that caused by cancer, arthritis, burns, and anxiety.

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9. Hypnotherapy can help you shed weight. Research shows that hypnosis boosts motivation, self-discipline, and willpower when used alongside a weight management program.

10. ... and stop smoking (maybe). While plenty of ads urge hypnosis as a way to kick cigarettes, the verdict is still out as to just how successful it is. Studies show mixed results, but the American Cancer Society still publicly admits there's anecdotal evidence that it helps some people.

11. Some people should avoid hypnotherapy. When done by a trained therapist or medical professional, hypnotherapy is considered safe. That said, if you're dealing with a severe mental illness, experience delusions or hallucinations, or are using drugs or alcohol, you should definitely opt out.

12. Hypnosis affects your perception of pain. A variety of EEG studies have shown that hypnosis has the ability to remove the emotional experience of pain while still allowing you to experience the sensory sensation. In other words, when you're hypnotized, you may feel a touch but not be aware that it really hurts.

13. And yes, it works during childbirth too. One study found that women who went through prenatal hypnosis training needed less sedatives and anesthesia during labor. Do you really need any other reason to try it?


Image via Image Point Fr/Shutterstock

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