The weird controversy that might separate good hypnotists from the bad

I’ll admit, this caught me by surprise the first time I came across it.

And the second time, when I realised I was seeing a pattern.


It amuses me.

The delightfully strange, bizarre and insightful controversy involving hypnosis and self-hypnosis. If you want to see it for yourself, find a group of hypnotists. Chant the following magic words and there’s a good chance some of them will rebuke you.

You might even offend them.

Those words are simply this:

“All hypnosis is self-hypnosis.”

The idea is simple enough – the subject enters the trance, finds the resources, makes the change and does what needs doing.

They can resist the experience, go with it or hijack it.

By this way of thinking, the hypnotist doesn’t hypnotise you. They show you how you to hypnotise yourself.

This model has some advantages. For one thing, it takes all the pressure off you as the hypnotist. If you try to explain something to someone and they don’t get it, you don’t moan, freak out and think you’ve failed. You try again. Likewise, if something goes wrong in a hypnotic induction, you change it up and try something new.

From the subject’s point of view, it reminds you that hypnosis isn’t mind control. It isn’t something other folk inflict upon you.

You create and control the trance.

So, is it true? Is all hypnosis self-hypnosis?

I don’t know. I think it’s sometimes a useful way to think about it. And sometimes it isn’t. If it doesn’t work for you, that’s not a problem.

It’s only true so far as it’s useful.

Okay, great.

But none of that explains why this idea would annoy anyone, let alone offend them.

I have some theories on that.

One objection to this model is, if the subjects find the solutions themselves, why do they even need a hypnotist? Why don’t they just, click, instantly become better themselves?

Probably the same way folk learn. When you teach someone, you don’t place knowledge inside someone’s head. They have to engage the material and build it for themselves. All learning happens within the student – that’s not my opinion, that’s the latest stance of researchers in the field.

But if students do all the learning, why do they need teachers?

There’s no denying that they do.

To help them learn faster, and to help them learn the right things.

That’s true for hypnosis too. A subject might not know how to find the resources inside themselves. They might not know which resources to focus on. The hypnotist is there to make it faster and make it right.

But again, this back and forth of ideas doesn’t explain the offended backlash this simple idea can create.

My take on it?

“All hypnosis is self-hypnosis” diminishes the role of the hypnotist.

Now, I see that as a feature, not a bug. I’m thrilled when my clients realise they are so much more capable than they ever realised.

If they think they depend on me to help them continue to grow, I’ve failed them.

But some hypnotists have more ego than that. They don’t like to diminish their role in things.

There’s nothing wrong with that – they’ve mastered an amazing skill, one which some folk don’t even think exists.

It’s just when something threatens that ego and it fights back…

Well, I don’t see that as being too helpful for anyone.

This might make it an effective litmus test, though. If you want to hire a hypnotist, casually mention you’ve heard all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. If they get angry, they might focus too much on themselves and not enough on you.

Or maybe it doesn’t mean that. Who knows. Either way, you’ll have some fun watching a strong reaction to a harmless idea.

One thing no one questions: “is all self-hypnosis hypnosis?”

If you’d like to experience a trance with a hypnotist who’s exactly as humble as you are, you can learn to hypnotise yourself. Then you can feel good, knowing you’re in total control right now.

It’s surprisingly fun to learn, too – especially for something so powerful.

Here’s how you do it:

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