I’ve had people ask me if hypnosis is evil. Or flat-out accuse me of it. Never by someone who understands hypnosis though. Everyone I’ve met who understands hypnosis also understands that it’s a powerful tool for good.
If you’re confused about hypnosis, I understand. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. But rest easy and know that it’s a positive thing.
How can I be so sure?
When I studied science, ethics was a short, optional course. I dropped it when I realised I had to go the university library for research. (The other subjects used files on the, you know, internet…) A successful scientist can use their research for good or evil, so teaching ethics makes sense.
When I studied Buddhist meditation, morality was not a short, optional course. It was studied in-depth. It was the first and last subject taught. Everything linked back to morality.
To recap: the subject that created nuclear weaponry skimmed over ethics. It was a core part of the subject that involves sitting still for a while.
How does that work?
In retrospect, it makes perfect sense:
Ethics is important to science. Science is a sacred calling to advance the world’s wisdom and abilities. To do unethical science is to jeopardise the public’s trust in one of the greatest transformative forces in history. Unethical science is just as effective as ethical science – it’s just not a good idea.
Buddhism sees things differently. Advancing your skills requires a strong sense of morality. It’s not that immoral meditation is a bad idea – immoral meditation fails. It doesn’t work. Any thoughts of cruelty or apathy derail the exercise. Morality is a core component of the practice, like the wheels of a car. Skip these lessons and you won’t progress at all.
Hypnosis teaches ethics in the Buddhist tradition rather than the science tradition. It’s not tacked on to appease lawyers; ethics is the foundational skill. It’s the first and last thing taught. Whenever a student stumbles, a common question is: “were you intending to do good for this person? Or was it all about you?”
I’m a great hypnotist and I have no idea how to harm someone using hypnosis. Hypnosis creates a deep connection between hypnotist and subject. It only works when the hypnotist genuinely and intensely desires amazing things for the subject.
Because the subject can tell.
People aren’t stupid. For example, you know the difference between a real conversation and a sales pitch. How quickly can you spot a telemarketer on the phone? Five seconds? Two? When someone wants something from you, you know it.
Your easily-duped ancestors didn’t live long enough to have children.
Trance works only when the hypnotist wants the best for the subject. Anything else raises the subject’s internal defences.
Is hypnosis dangerous?
Is daydreaming dangerous?
Sure, if you’re driving a car or carving turkey. Those tasks need your full focus. Every other time, daydreaming is safe, pleasant and deeply relaxing.
No one’s ever been stuck in a trance. No one has ever hurt themselves through suggestion. If the hypnotist gives a bad/dangerous/evil suggestion, you will reject it.
Note that I didn’t say you can reject it. It’s automatic. There’s no choice involved. Your unconscious mind knows helpful advice from the rest. (Remember those easily-duped ancestors?)
What if people are hypnotising me right now?? How do I protect myself against hypnosis?
Then the best thing would be to learn hypnosis.
That makes sense, right? If people keep beating you up, learn martial arts. You’ll want to know the tricks so you can spot them and defend against them.
Then, at some point very early in your training, you’ll think: huh, even with the best intentions and a willing subject… it’s really easy for them to reject suggestions. Even if they want to accept the suggestion, they often reject it.
It’s true. It takes skill to have a willing subject accept a suggestion they want. People spend a lot of time and money to see a hypnotist… and some part of them still fights the suggestion they want. Good hypnotists tap into the part that wants the change. If that desire isn’t there in the subject, forget about it – no level of hypnotic skill will make a difference.
The moral is that you have to want to be hypnotised for it to work. Resistance shuts down hypnotic power.
But I heard a story about someone hypnotising someone to –
Let me stop you there. Whatever your story is, it’s an urban legend.
If it were possible, we’d see fewer hypnotherapists in the world and more hypnocriminals. Spellcheck is telling me that ‘hypnocriminal’ is not even a word, so there you go.
There must be some risks with hypnosis…
Let’s explore what a well-meaning-but-clumsy hypnotist could do.
Under hypnosis, it’s possible to relive memories. Many hypnotists avoid this technique because some memories are unpleasant. Those hypnotists who work with memories do so safely – usually by avoiding awful memories, sometimes by carefully exploring them.
Experienced hypnotists can learn the protocols for safely exploring memory in minutes. They are simple and well known in the community.
But let’s say a clumsy hypnotist doesn’t follow the rules. The worst-case scenario is you relive an unpleasant memory for a minute or so. And then you storm out of the hypnotist’s office, calm down and get on with your life. As bad as this is, it’s temporary – and extremely unlikely.
If we take a broad definition of hypnosis, the worst experience I had in the past 12 months was not a big deal. The person had me access a problem and left me in it. I could solve that in seconds now but, at the time, I didn’t have the skills to handle it.
The consequence: I went from a cheerful mood to feeling miserable for a few hours. That’s all. That’s far better than my worst conversation in that time.
So a clumsy hypnotist is still safer than a clumsy surgeon, chef, driver or friend.
That’s the nature of the field – it biases interactions towards positive results. Outcomes tend to be amazing… or no change. On average, this makes it a force for good in this world. It also means you have nothing to lose.
Speaking of forces for good: the next step for you is to visit Awakened Thought. You don’t even have to believe in hypnosis for it to work. As long as you put in time and make an honest effort, it will resolve your issues at their very root.
Image credit: Alexander Koch from Pixabay