Hypnosis: Fact or Fraud?

“The Sleeping Prophet” Edgar Cayce would command himself to engage in out-of-body experiences and near-death experiences through self-hypnosis. Under a trance state, he would give readings and diagnoses to people he has never met. His followers documented almost 14,000 journeys into the spirit realm, made through his subconscious mind – or what Cayce referred to as the soul.

Sensational historian David Lewis revealed that Adolf Hitler was once hypnotized and this may have been the root of the kind of life he has led. Lewis claimed that in 1918, Hitler believed he has gone completely blind – despite diagnoses of doctors that nothing is wrong with his eyes. Through hypnosis, a doctor suggested to Hitler that indeed, he has lost his eyesight – but through willpower he can make himself see again. “That’s because God made him an exceptional person,” the good doctor added.  “Since then,” Lewis said, “the hypnosis marked Hitler so much that he took life believing he was exceptional, and the rest, as they say, is history. “

Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin was under the influence of a mastermind through hypnotism during the assassination, and was said to have shown robotic, trance-like movements and repeated “RFK must die” over and over again during police interrogation.

Have you read about clairvoyants reaching into other dimensions to get rare or secret information?  How about mediums meddling with the underworld and calling the dead? Hypnosis stories – are they for real?

Hypnosis may be one of the most debated upon and controversial topics are known to us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get our facts right. Before we delve further into our study of mind control and its twists and turns, let’s try to get our facts straight first. Here are some of the most popular – yet unproven – takes on hypnosis.

The Powerful Mystical Mysterious Master Hypnotist

No, he doesn’t have supernatural powers. He’s not casting an ancient spell. He’s not an apostle of Satan. Neither is he a saint.

Your friendly neighbourhood hypnotist – be he a licensed doctor or a new-age practitioner – does not possess that special kind of “animal magnetism” either. That theory has long been dismissed, as early as in the 17th century. Today, it is proven that to be able to initiate a hypnotism session, the hypnotist may merely provide a very specific visual element to focus on, some soothing music perhaps, and a very convincing, authoritative spiel repeated in a monotone. You need only to be relaxed, aware, and willing to be hypnotized. Of course, the effects of hypnosis can rely on the hypnotist’s ability and experience; as well as the motivation and mental conditioning of the subject.

The Dreamer

People claiming they are under hypnosis – are they dreaming?

The opposite is true – when you are under hypnosis, rather than sleeping, you are actually fully alert. In fact, more alert than normal. Being under hypnotism requires your mind to focus intensely, whether it’s the swinging motion of the pendulum clock, the monotone pattern of the hypnotist’s voice, and the sound of your own breathing as you relax. For your subconscious to take over, you need to concentrate intently. Under a state of trance, you will still be fully aware of the things you will be saying and doing, as suggested upon by the hypnotist – including activities not related to sleeping, such as walking, running around, reading, laughing, and even acting like a chicken.

The Live Chicken-Eating Girl

No way! Not eating a live chicken, unless of course, you really prefer such gastronomic experiment.

It was widely believed that hypnotists can turn people into zombie-like, robotic creatures ready to obey their master’s bid and call. Popular culture portrayed hypnotized people to behave differently, or do extraordinary, life-threatening, illegal or immoral acts.

Sorry to disappoint you and your cinematic notions, but hypnotism cannot force you to do things against your will (unless the hypnotist is pointing a gun at you – but that’s a stickup). You, an ordinary, law-abiding citizen, will not turn wild and go trashing people’s windshields when under hypnosis. You will still maintain your principles; even if instructed, you won’t trample upon your religion’s holiest shrine. Your sense of right and wrong will remain intact. Nobody can make you strip in front of a crowd – unless you want to.

The hypnotist can only make suggestions that can alter your consciousness, making you more open and easily “manipulated” – to a certain extent. People who have experienced stage hypnotism said that they can refuse to follow the hypnotist’s suggestions, just that “it’s easier to follow him.” This is so because the active, aggressive, decision-making part of the consciousness becomes timid when in a trance. So it is “easier” to just automatically respond to suggestions. To some extent, the hypnotist can control the actions and the way his subjects behave. Conversely, the effect of hypnosis also depends upon your motivation, willingness, and faith to make it work for you.

The Deranged Hit Man

It was formerly believed that the perfect assassin is one under the influence of hypnotism – someone who will be intensely focused on the task, every obstacle trampled upon; someone who will be so sure to get the job done efficiently and cleanly; a lean, mean killing machine. Snap out of it! You may have been watching too many movies and television shows.

As stated, no amount of hypnotism can force anybody to act against his instincts or his moral principles. Yes, you may not help but chuckle like a chicken when, for example, you were chosen as a participant in a hypnotism show. But you may opt not to pull that trigger given that one evil hypnotist tells you to do so. When someone mentions a suggestion as serious as this, something in your mind clicks off automatically and lets you decide rationally. Like when you’re tipsy, you may sing “My Way” without inhibitions and with all the vocal callisthenics you could muster; but you are still aware and you can cut off the song (and probably release your audience from further discomfort) any moment you want to.

One theory on the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy was that the accused did the act because he was hypnotized. It was said that the assassin showed behaviour typical of a hypnotized individual. Witnesses said he “moved like a robot” during the time he shot RFK. Tests showed that he is a highly suggestible, easily hypnotic subject. Still, nothing of these was acknowledged, or even presented to the court.

But hey, that’s another story – or remake of “The Manchurian Candidate” – altogether.

The All-Around Wonder Drug

On the other side of the spectrum, while some people perceive hypnosis as evil and manipulative, some have prescribed it as a cure-all for all kinds of conditions – from weight loss to finding the “key” to financial success. Hypnotists claim they can help a person quit smoking through a number of techniques. One is by suggesting that cigarette smoke will cause him to feel nauseous – so that every time somebody lights up a stick, the patient will start to feel dizzy and may even feel like throwing up.

Insomniacs or people having trouble with sleeping have been said to get their first night’s sound sleep after being treated through hypnosis. Testimonials all over the internet have also asserted that hypnotism has improved their capacity to learn, the sharpness of their memory, their performance in sports, or their intelligence. Behavior can also be modified. Even speech defects, physical limitations, and your personality can experience dramatic changes. Your whole life can even make a turnaround with the help of hypnosis. You can be so effective a businessperson that you can experience financial growth. You can be so attractive that you can marry anyone you fancy!

Sounds outstanding – but is hypnotism really that effective?

Yes and No. 

Yes, hypnotism really has been used as part of the treatment and therapy of various physical and psychological conditions. Through its ability to tap into the subconscious and to intensify focus and concentration, hypnosis can help you be more attuned with your intellectual and emotional capacity; thus helping you modify your habits and behaviours, or wield more control over the way you think and analyze.

But no, it is not the cure-all for your problems. It is not proven to be effective every time, as often claimed. The United States general surgeon reports there is “insufficient evidence to support hypnosis as a treatment for smoking cessation.” Again, the effectiveness of hypnotism depends on each and every different case it is being used for.

Indeed, it will not hurt to try hypnotism; but don’t rely on it too much either. It may help you and may change your life forever. It may also work for you for an allotted period only. Or it may not – and you may walk out of another hypnotism session unchanged and still be the same old self. Your results will depend on a lot of other factors aside from hypnosis, such as determination, motivation, and willpower.

Your destiny is still in your own hands.


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This post was written by Daniel

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