There is a lot of mystique and misconception associated with hypnosis. This mysticism is reinforced by stage entertainers. Many people think that if you are hypnotised, you will pass control over to the hypnotist who will make you do silly things you don’t want to do, like pretend you are a duck, or eat an onion thinking it is an apple. So let’s bust this myth from the onset. When you see a hypnosis act on a stage, it is purely a form of entertainment. Magicians have long dispensed with the pretence that they have special powers (except of course Uri Gellar), and it’s about time the less scrupulous hypnotists did the same!

So the first thing to remember about hypnotism is: YOU WILL NEVER LOSE CONSCIOUS CONTROL OF YOURSELF. Hypnosis is just a state of deep mental relaxation; nothing more, nothing less. It has been shown that when you are very relaxed, your subconscious becomes more sensitive to suggestions. But the important thing to remember is, it is still your choice to accept the suggestion or not. If you are picked out from the crowd and a stage hypnotist suggests that you quack like a duck, you will not do this involuntarily. If you do follow his instructions, you have chosen to do so consciously. More often than not the member of the public WILL quack like a duck, because he does not want to spoil the show. He could just as well, bark like a dog, or say nothing if he chose to do so.

When used in therapy, the suggestions are usually very worthwhile and very positive. Suggestions like: “you will feel more confident and in control”, or “You have the capability of lifting yourself out of this depression”. Of course, these suggestions could be very beneficial to your recovery, so it is generally a very good thing to embrace the suggestions. So hypnotherapy, when exercised by a professional of good reputation can be very beneficial tool in helping you to recover from your illness. You can also give yourself positive suggestions when you are in a relaxed state. This is called self-hypnosis.

There is an array of hypnosis CDs available, many of which make exaggerated claims like promising to change your life within a week, make you wealthy, guaranteeing to improve your relationships, etc. etc. Some of them are slightly more modest in their claims. All of the CDs follow exactly the same theme. They help you get into a relaxed state with calming music and relaxation techniques, then in a soft voice tell you that you are feeling more confident, happy, self-assured etc. Now I’m not saying these CDs do not work. Some of them are in fact very beneficial, because it is true that your subconscious is more sensitive to suggestions when in a relaxed state. However, please view them with a certain amount of perspective. They are not the magic bullet that will make you better within a few days. They are just another tool in your box to help chip away at this illness.

I believe that the thing that has most effect on your subconscious is your conscious. If your conscious truly believes something, then your subconscious will eventually believe it too. So there is little point someone’s voice on a CD telling you that you are feeling happy, when quite clearly you are not!

On the other hand, it is probably quite easy for your conscious to believe from an intellectual perspective that you will get better, because all evidence suggests that you will, even if your subconscious has doubts about it! So it is probably more useful to use some calming music to put yourself into a state of relaxation, then tell yourself that you will get better, and that the recovery may be quicker than you think it will be.