What Is Hypnosis And How Does It Work?

what is hypnosis and how does it work

What Is Hypnosis And How Does It Work?

Hypnosis is simply a state of focussed attention where you are so tuned in to one thing that you tune out of everything else around you. So for instance, you might close your eyes and imagine you are on your favorite beach. In my opinion, the thing that distinguishes hypnosis from just simply imagining is when your emotions become fully involved. As a result, you really believe in every way that you are on that beach. When every one of your senses tells you that you are there, then it feels like you really are there.

I think that what’s really exciting about hypnosis is that it gives us the ability to access a part of our mind that is normally off limits, called the subconscious mind. This is the part of your mind that controls habitual behaviours, automatic reactions, the regulation and triggering of emotions and much more. 

Let’s take the example of panic attacks. Your unconscious mind is why you have panic attacks and have no idea why. It’s the same if you suffer from depression and negative thought spirals, it’s your unconscious mind causing it. When you have fears and phobias, that’s your unconscious mind too. At the root of all of these problems (and many more) is the automatic reaction that the unconscious mind has learned in the past and still keeps repeating today.

What Is Hypnosis Used For?

Hypnotherapy clinics all over the world use hypnosis to help with the following

  • Anxiety – relaxation suggestions can reduce anxiety
  • Depression – changing the focus from negative thoughts to positive
  • Weight Loss – convincing your mind that you love your new way of eating
  • Smoking – turning down the attraction for smoking helps you succeed
  • Addictions – providing you with an alternative (healthier) addiction
  • Confidence – steeping into the future, confident you and feeling it
  • Bad Habits – interrupting the thought pattern so the bad habit doesn’t hapen
  • Fears & Phobias – changing fear into something else
  • Sexual Problems – letting go of fear so your body can perform instinctually
  • Sleep – hte hypnotic state is great training for sleep

and many more

What Does The Hypnotic State Feel Like?

Many people fear hypnosis simply because they have seen a stage show or tv show where a hypnotist has chosen a volunteer from the audience and gotten them into a trance-like state. The fear comes from the mistaken idea that what you are witnessing is some form of mind control. If you’ve watched something like this before, you may have thought “I’ve never been in that trance state”. Actually, you have. Every time you have gone into a vivid daydream, or gotten “lost in the moment”, you have been experiencing a form of hypnosis. It is simply a state of deep relaxation.

How Does Hypnosis Work?

what does the hypnotic state feel like

Hypnosis causes a gradual change in brain activity. You can use hypnosis to turn down the influence of the left side of the brain which is involved in critical thinking. Simultaneously, it increases the activity of the right side of the brain which is involved more in imagination and creativity.

We all have a thing called the critical factor. It’s our ability to weigh up things and dismiss certain things and accept others. For the large part, your critical factor works well, helping you to make good decisions and avoid silly mistakes. The critical factor only develops in most human beings around age 7. This is why you can tell a 5 year old that there is a monster in the wardrobe and they will believe you (if you were that cruel to scare a 5 year old).

Tell the very same child at age 10 that there is a monster in the warddrobe and they will look at you as if you’re a weirdo. Their critical factor has developed and now they are able to “reject” the scary suggestion.

Your critical factor is at the centre of many of the problems solved by hypnosis. For instance, the anxious person simply can’t believe there is nothing to be anxious about. In the hypnotic state, (with the critical factor out of the way), suggestions can be given  at a subconscious level for calmness which otherwise would not be accepted.

What Happens To Your Body During Hypnosis?

what happens to your body during hypnosis hospital mointor image

If you were hooked up to monitors, you would be able to see evidence of a slowing of your heart rate in response to the therapist’s suggestions. As you achieve a deeper state of hypnotic trance, other changes can be observed, such as your muscles becoming limper. This can be especially observed in the facial muscles. When a suitable hypnotic induction is used, the facial muscles begin to sag just as they do when you are asleep. 

Stanford School of Medicine has proven in a recent study that a number of areas of the brain are positively affected when in the deeply relaxed state of trance. As part of their research study, they raised the possibility of alternative treatments for pain management and anxiety treatment without medication which could yield great benefits for some patients. 

How Do You Feel When You Are Hypnotized?

In my experience, most of my clients have described hypnotic trance as a beautiful, floating state where they have very little concept of time passing by. In a clinical setting, with a properly trained therapist, hypnosis if perfectly safe for most people, and just seems like an altered state of consciousness which is quite pleasant.

The danger tends to lie more with stage hypnosis where, typically, the hypnotist has had little training. I would always warn people that it is not a good idea to partake in a stage show if you have any (even slight) mental health condition. A properly trained certified hypnotist will always screen the patient first for any medical conditions that may preclude you from undergoing hypnotherapy sessions.

Can Everyone Be Hypnotized?

can everyone be hypnotized statistic

Professor Len Milling of the University of Hartford found the following:

In my own experience as a therapist, I’ve found that about one in ten people are very hypnotizeable, and, also, about one in ten are quite difficult to get into hypnosis. I’ve come to the conclusion that the difference between people is the time it takes. For some people, they’ll be in trance within two minutes. For others, it can take ten to fiteen minutes. With practise, even the most difficult subjects can learn to go into hypnosis quicker. It just takes patience.

Is Hypnosis Dangerous?

For the hypnotized individual, it is usually perfectly safe. However, it is important to know that a hypnosis session should NOT be done with certain people. In general, people with psychotic symptoms, epilepsy, borderline personality disorder and a number of other mental health conditions and mood disorders. I would always suggest to check with your medical doctor first if you are in any doubt about whether hypnosis therapy would be an effective treatment for you.

Some people think that hypnosis can help them recover memories that have been lost. You should note that, if this is why you may be thinking of using hypnosis, there is no guarantee that the memories will be accurate. There have been anecdotal cases where the subject of hypnosis has created false memories, so it could not be relied upon, for instance, in a court of law. I believe that hypnosis is best used as a form of therapy to make positive changes in your life. 

3 Things Hypnosis Cannot Do

Here are three things hypnosis cannot do

  • You Cannot Change Your Physical Appearance Using Hypnosis: for instance, you cannot make your nose smaller using hypnosis
  • No-one Can Make You Do Anything You Really Don’t Want To Do: for instance, many women fear that their male hypnotherapist will take advantage of them while they are in the hypnotic state. This is an irrational fear because no-one can make you do something when you are in hypnosis that is against your will.
  • Serious Diseases Cannot Be Cured Hy Hypnosis: for instance, cancer or heart disease cannot be cured by hypnosis. While a relaxed mindset can be beneficial, it cannot cure these diseases


Learn Hypnosis For Beginners

Learn how to get someone into hypnosis, how to deepen trance, post-hypnotic suggestions and how to end trance safely.


Learn Hypnosis For Beginners

Learn how to get someone into hypnosis, how to deepen trance, post-hypnotic suggestions and how to end trance safely.

Are There Any Negative Side Effects Of Hypnosis?

In rare cases, some people have reported dizziness after a hypnotic experience. Some people have also reported drowsiness, headaches or mild anxiety. As a matter of fact, in one study, it was shown that “the rate of serious adverse events likely attributable to hypnosis was 0%“.

From over fifteen years of running a hypnosis clinic, I can say that I have never witnessed a serious adverse reaction to hypnosis. As a matter of fact, I have never even heard of one.

So What Can I Help You With?

What issues would you like to tackle, or overcome? What skills would you like to get better at? Have a look at all of my self hypnosis audio downloads and see if there’s a hypnosis download that could change your life.

Once you’ve satisfied yourself that self hypnosis is suitable for you, the next step is How Do I Listen To A Self Hypnosis Audio

Picture of Author: Paul Hunter

Author: Paul Hunter

Although thousands of people read his blog every month, Paul's path to success was not an easy one. Click here to read his amazing story "From Unwanted Baby And Adopted To A Respected Self Help Blogger". If you want to send Paul a quick message, then visit his contact page here



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Picture of Paul Hunter

Paul Hunter

Although thousands of people read his blog every month, Paul's path to success was not an easy one. Click here to read his amazing story "From Unwanted Baby And Adopted To A Respected Self Help Blogger". If you want to send Paul a quick message, then visit his contact page here

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