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Tell me everything about being hypnotized
December 28, 2004 3:39 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone here have experience being hypnotized? I'm interested in maybe having someone poke around in the sub-basement, maybe even do a past-life-regression. Since I was about three I've had vivid, detailed dreams that take place in a time at least several centuries past. Cobblestone streets, etc. Also, about twenty years ago I had a terrible time with a suicidal friend, and directly afterward my life became so hectic that I never really dealt with my emotions about the experience, just "stuffed" them. I'm interested in maybe having a hypnotist poke around and see what s/he can find or set loose. I'm not sure what to look for in a hypnotist or if this is a good idea, etc. Tips/opinions? Thanks.
posted by anonymous to Science & Nature (20 answers total)
 
Get a book on hypnotism and a friend you trust to do the honors, and trust me, your results will be just as effective as if you'd paid someone to regress you. It'll probably take several tries to hit the part of your brain that has the images stored in it- whether they're imagination or past life- but getting them out would be interesting storytelling anyway. As for the locked up emotions- see a licensed therapist.

This message brought to you by the Central Indiana Paranormal Investigation Society- we'd like to find evidence of the supernatural out there, but we're bound to rule out the natural first.
posted by headspace at 3:44 PM on December 28, 2004


Tip: Previous thread.

Opinion: Past-life regression is bollocks.
posted by Danelope at 4:20 PM on December 28, 2004


Hypnotism worked for me in curing an inexplicable, debilitating phobia of both driving and being a passenger in a car -- a phobia that developed in my mid-20s. I went to the hypnotism session as a complete skeptic, as part of an article I was researching, and never entirely felt like I "went under" during the session. Except for the part where he had me counting backwards, out loud, from 100 and imagining a descent down a flight of stairs toward a pleasant scene. He told me in advance that I'd hit a point where I'd go to say the next number and my mind would just be like "meh -- done counting," and it happened. Around 70something, I think. It was weird.

I wasn't there specifically for the car phobia, either. It was more of a generalized, intro-to-hypnotism thing. But it was something we talked about in advance, and that he discussed during the session while I was supposedly "under."

Anyhow -- it was a pleasant experience in general. Much like acupuncture, I felt immensely light and relaxed for some time afterwards.
posted by damn yankee at 4:32 PM on December 28, 2004 [1 favorite]


Don't do it.
posted by konolia at 5:46 PM on December 28, 2004


And I have been hypnotized before. Again, don't do it.
posted by konolia at 5:46 PM on December 28, 2004


Regarding your feelings and experiences with your suicidal friend, I seriously believe you'd get more value and understanding about them from a real therapist, sans hypnosis.

As for the past life regression - well, Penn & Teller had an episode recently about hypnosis. It may be helpful for things like overcoming phobias or smoking, because it's just relaxation and concentration. But people who "regress" to past lives are basically inventing stories out of their imaginations, with the aid of a "hypnotherapist" who guides them to preconceived conclusions. Sorry if that bursts your bubble.
posted by dnash at 6:53 PM on December 28, 2004


Shorter dnash: false memory syndrome.

A conclusion with which I tend to agree and yet headspace's agnostic encouragement is intriguing and not without merit.
posted by y2karl at 8:07 PM on December 28, 2004


I think it only works if you are fairly suggestible and you already believe in it. Skepticism seems to block out its effectiveness. At least that's my experience.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 8:33 PM on December 28, 2004


I used to hypnotise people for fun. I learned it early on in HS from a script found on an old dial-up BBS and practiced, practiced, and practiced. I havent done it in years, but I know a bit about it.

First off, past-life-regression is crap. I played with this only to get the most ridiculous ahistoric crap, usually traced to a popular fantasy book or movie. Just read this and this, because you sound like you can become easily victimized by this belief when you will eventually give up on hypnosis and visit a "psychic" who will tell you all sorts of convicing crap and you'll be out of $500 in the span of a few weeks for a "spritiual cleansing." Not to mention a "spiritual therapist" would do the same to you and charge a lot more.

To put it simply, under hypnosis you will spew all sorts of fabricated stuff. Its not exactly a dream-like state, but it produces the same results. Hypnosis is the ultimate "garbage out" scenario. This is why we don't use it in court as evidence.

What its good for is entertainment and metaprogramming/self-help.
posted by skallas at 8:52 PM on December 28, 2004


Damn, skallas has already linked to the Skeptic's Dictionary. Now what will I link to? OK, I'll just add that you read articles linked at the bottom of those entries.

A good friend of mine recently came to me and asked me the same question as this. I had to give her a 30-minute lecture on why she was bonkers.
posted by madman at 10:57 PM on December 28, 2004


Consider meditation.
Vipassana is a technique that might help
posted by ataraxian at 5:22 AM on December 29, 2004


Past-life regression doesn't work. Hypnotism usually doesn't make you remember things better, either. Research has shown that when people think they remember things under hypnosis, they're usually just imagining them due to the effects of the hypnotism. That's why you get people being hypnotized and thinking they were kidnapped by aliens, and such. I have done a little hypnotism myself, and frankly, I'd recommend against it in your case. If you want help dealing with your past, go to a qualified counselor or therapist.

On preview, meditation is a good thing to try, too.
posted by unreason at 6:02 AM on December 29, 2004


To Konolia: why not?
posted by Termite at 7:42 AM on December 29, 2004


What everyone said about hypnosis being helpful for things that relaxation and concentration might be helpful for (stop smoking, address phobias) and not helpful for anything else.

And past-life regression is bollocks. I am somewhat open to the possibility that some kind of reincarnation/metempsychosis might occur in the universe. However, even with that mindset, I have never ever ever ever ever seen an account of "past-life regression" that wasn't an obvious confabulation.

Note that those social and religious groups who really believe sincerely and wholeheartedly in reincarnation (Hindus, Tibetan Buddhists) do not practice "past-life regression" techniques.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:25 AM on December 29, 2004


Skepticism seems to block out its effectiveness.

It's not skepticism that blocks it (I'm a skeptic, and I've gone through this stuff) it's determination not to cooperate. You can be skeptical and still cooperate in a spirit of inquiry, but if you are mentally bound and determined that you aren't even going to try it, you certainly won't become suggestive. That's all hypnosis is - an imaginative state in which you are open to suggestions.

I completely agree with skallas, having used hypnosis for both entertainment and self-improvement with mild success. It's not magic, and I would say it's not powerful enough to hurt anybody, unless you are already extremely mentally fragile,

Doing what's called 'past-life regression' can create some amazingly real-seeming sensations and visual hallucinations - but I hope it's obvious that you're not having visions from a past life. You're just having self-induced lucid dreams. More than anything, hypnosis just shows you some interesting tricks your brain is capable of pulling off. Most hypnosis techniques work by distracting/bypassing the conscious 'editor' in your brain that keeps your imaginations and behavior in line with social expectations. Still, you won't do anything that is truly wrong or dangerous. For instance, you can't be hypnotized to murder someone, or jump off a ledge, if that is not something you would do anyway.
posted by Miko at 9:14 AM on December 29, 2004


I talked to my sister, a cognitive psychologist before I used hypnosis to quit smoking. There isn't much science to hypnotism, and many people-- almost a majority-- cannot be hypnotized under any circumstances. That being said, I hated my hypnotist and thought he was an manipulative , idiot, but I did find it easy to quit smoking, and haven't smoked more than 1 cigarette a month for 7 years. To this day I'm not sure that I was even hypnotized. Perhaps I was ready to quit and just need a rite of passage? I have sent other smokers to hypnotists, and it has only worked for one other person.

I would, however, be cautious about whom you allow to hypnotize you. You are sharing very personal issues that might be painful with a stranger. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but there is potential for unpleasantness and exploitation.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 12:17 PM on December 29, 2004


Note that those social and religious groups who really believe sincerely and wholeheartedly in reincarnation (Hindus, Tibetan Buddhists) do not practice "past-life regression" techniques.

Not fully correct. Scientologists do.
posted by wackybrit at 2:20 PM on December 29, 2004


I'm going to stand by my original post, because I find the phrase "sincerely and wholeheartedly" completely orthogonal to the word "Scientologists".
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:46 PM on December 29, 2004


I digress, but I would argue that Scientologists tend to be more sincere and whole-hearted about their "religion" than most Christians. Of course, it all depends on your definition of brainwashing (and religion), I guess ;-)
posted by wackybrit at 4:13 PM on December 29, 2004


I guess it does, doesn't it? And given that we were discussing Hindus and Tibetan Buddhists, I don't see how Christians came into the conversation in the first place.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:16 PM on December 29, 2004


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