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Hypnosis De-mystified
by Rex Steven Sikes

Hypnosis is a word that usually gets strange responses from people. Some people think it's a gimmick that night club acts use for making people do obnoxious things, some people think it's a cure for smoking and weight loss, and others think it is the "devil's work". The truth is, Hypnosis is not a process of taking control of people; rather, it's a process of giving people control of themselves by providing them with feedback that they wouldn't ordinarily have.

In fact, if you think about Hypnosis as a way to control other people you won't get very far. Hypnosis is an amplifier. It's a very powerful amplifier. No matter what you are doing, whether you are selling cars, doing psychotherapy, or working with juries, you can use it to elicit more intense responses from people.

By itself, hypnosis won't do anything. It's not a cure, it's not a state, it's not a thing. It's a set of tools. (And buyer beware... if a person has a set of mechanic's tools, that doesn't mean s/he can fix a car.) Hypnosis is a set of procedures that can be used to alter someone's state of consciousness and direct them, or yourself in a way which is useful for attaining a particular outcome.

There is no such thing as the "Hypnotist Master Manipulator". In fact, most people can be talked into doing absurd things simply by talking with them. It is less likely that a person in trance would do anything that wouldn't positively benefit them in some way. When people move from the so called "every-day-waking-state" into other states of consciousness, they become more apt to look for and find that which is useful, positive and healthy for themselves to begin to make changes that they want.

Hypnosis is a way to bypass conscious resistance and begin to amplify inner resources, or to develop new resources that enable a person to feel better about themselves, develop a positive mental attitude, or make the changes they desire. For too long, the Freudian notion of a dark, malevolent unconscious perpetrated a frightening notion of hypnosis; when in reality, our unconscious mind is a vast warehouse of past and present resources, pleasant memories and abilities to make our lives more of what we want when we allow ourselves to communicate with ourselves in respectful ways.

Any effective communication is hypnosis. Successful poets, attorneys, salespeople, parents, politicians, religious leaders, etc. all use forms of hypnosis to alter someone's state of consciousness.

For example, one of the most commonly used and simple hypnotic patterns is the "negative command." If I say, "Don't think of a pink elephant with a yellow monkey on it's back", you have to think of it in order for you to not think of it. If a hypnotist says "I don't want you to feel too comfortable, now", the subject often finds her/himself getting comfortable.

The same language is often inadvertently used to get unwanted responses. "Don't spill the milk," or "Don't worry about it so much..." The listener has to think about doing the behavior in order to understand what has been said, and this makes the behavior more likely to occur. Unknowingly, we already "hypnotize" our children or spouses into doing (or at least thinking about) things we don't want them to do.

Most books present hypnosis as something that you sit down and do on yourself or on someone else for a specific period of time, usually to solve problems. Then you get up and do something else. If you still think of hypnosis in that way, you are depriving yourself of the most important ways you can use these tools - in your daily life. Most of the satisfactions that we all want in life don't take place in a hypnosis chair; they happen with the people we love, the work that we do, and the ways that we play and enjoy life.

I hope you will discover that you already know a great deal about hypnosis under other names, or under no name at all. The most fascinating arena for exploration is what is called Ericksonian hypnosis, after Milton H. Erickson M.D. Ericksonian hypnosis means developing the skills so well you can put some one into a hypnotic state in a conversation in which the word hypnosis is never mentioned.

Milton watched people closely and made observations about how people responded to the things that he said (a skill that most people have yet to learn). By carefully noting their reactions, he knew how to influence them conversationally into a productive altered state.

Many people ask, "What can hypnosis be used for?" The question is not "What can you do with hypnosis?" but rather "How can you use hypnosis to do whatever you want to do?"


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