- Posted July 3, 2014 by
Hypnosis: Are You Vulnerable?
We think of swaying pocket watches and unscrupulous, charismatic Svengalis seeking to enslave minds and control the actions of others. When not regarded as malevolent it is received with skepticism, as if it were a parlor trick or a side show in a circus. When hypnosis is neither feared nor found amusing, it is dismissed to the fringes of scientific inquiry, and those who believe in it or succumb to it are thought of as naïve or mentally weak.
One of the most misunderstood issues about hypnosis revolves around this question: Is it possible to hypnotize somebody without them knowing it? Is it possible for people to control us, influence us or coax information from us, without our knowledge or willingness?
Are we more vulnerable to hypnosis than we think?
Anyone Can Be Hypnotized...
First things first: succumbing to hypnosis is reportedly not limited to the mentally weak. According to experts, hypnosis actually involves concentration activities that require intelligence and self-control. This means that while peoples’ susceptibility to hypnosis varies, the quick and dirty answer is that many people, including intelligent ones, are “hypnotizable.”
… But Not Without Cooperation?
It’s great news that many people are “hypnotizable” because hypnosis has been demonstrated as effective in helping people deal with chronic pain, intestinal problems, anxiety, depression, even toward curbing bad habits like smoking. But where there’s good news, could there be bad news too—can we be hypnotized against our will?
According to researchers, while most anyone can be hypnotized, it necessitates voluntary participation. The American Psychological Association describes hypnosis as a cooperative interaction between a hypnotist who makes suggestions and a participant who responds to those suggestions.
Some would argue, however, that subliminal suggestions—stimuli directed at the unconscious mind in order to create a desired reaction – is a kind of manipulative hypnosis too and does not exactly require the consent and participation of the target.
Persuasion expert and author Michael Lee, in his upcoming “Prepare, Persuade, Conquer,” provides advice on how to be a better persuader. Among the many tips he shares relates to tapping the subconscious so that we can better connect with other people and for them to link us with positive associations. The goal of persuasion for him though, is not to pull a fast one over other people, but to find win-win solutions.
No matter how you feel about, or how susceptible you are to hypnosis and subliminal suggestions, educating yourself and veering away from the myths and misconceptions is the best way to understand and maximize its potential, as well as avoid its dangers.