December 8, 2004 7:00 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone ever been hypnotized? Obviously it works to some degree, but what is it like? Do you remember what you did afterwards?
posted by borkingchikapa to Society & Culture (24 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I went to a weight-loss hypnotist. I remember that for a few weeks, I was able to follow the directions that they gave me. However, since I didn't follow up with the "aftercare" that they suggested, I pretty quickly went back to my old ways. Also, I don't know how effective being hypnotized in a room full of other fat people actually is. I do remember entering a dreamy, relaxed state, and feeling really warm and good.
posted by PossumCowboy at 8:23 AM on December 8, 2004

During my senior year in high school we had that senior night sleep over party thingy in the school where they do lots of activities and the like. One of the offerings was a hypnotist.

I got there too late to be get hypnotized, but I did see the results. It was amazing. When I talked to someone who was hypnotized later that night about their experience he stated he knew what was going on but it was like he was outside himself watching himself fulfilling the hypnotizer's commands.

Another friend of mine who was there when the hypnotizing was done said that even though he was only in the audience watching people get hypnotized on stage he felt his limbs get a bit heavy and it seemed as though a dark red veil was being pulled over his eyes.
posted by bakiwop at 8:37 AM on December 8, 2004

I was hypnotized by a clinical hypnotist during my psychology rotation in med school. I remember everything just fine (amnesia is not a part of hypnosis) and the feeling was one of intense relaxation (I know that is a bit of an oxymoron, but that is the best way to describe it). All in all it was rather enjoyable. Since this was not stage hypnosis, I was not asked to do a bunch of silly behaviors to entertain a crowd; instead the hypnotist would point out things such as how flexible my limbs were that are typical of the hypnotic state. Another time, some of my classmates got on stage during a hypnotist's act and later said that they were just playing along for fun; at one point the hypnotist sent the subjects running through the audience and my friends met up in the bathroom, decided they were getting tired of playing along, and rejoined the audience
posted by TedW at 8:46 AM on December 8, 2004

Hypnosis is really just a very relaxed mental state. You cannot be made to do something that you wouldn't normally do while fully conscious -- in other words, you never surrender your will to the hypnotist. People who do weird things like acting like a chicken or whatever are really just following a suggestion that they could easily choose not to do. You are conscious the whole time, but on a deeper plane than you usually are, if that makes any sense. A number of psychologists and other types of therapists use hypnosis to allow patients access to parts of their memory or simply their emotions. It's really just a way to facilitate self-awareness.

Some people are more "hypnotizable" than others, though I'm not sure that anyone knows why. From what I've read, one way to determine this is by how far you can roll your eyes back. The more whites are visible when you do this, the more receptive you will be to hypnosis. Also, if you meditate, you might be able to go under hypnosis fairly easily.

The hypnotic state is very similar to a deep meditative state, in my experience. I'd be curious to hear from someone with a neurology background who could speak to what is going on with the beta waves or whatever they are.
posted by butternut at 9:15 AM on December 8, 2004

I was hypnotized once years ago and it was a really amazing experience.

My company offered free quit smoking stuff and it wasn't optional. Since I actually didn't really want to quit very much, I chose the hypnosis session figuring it would be the most painless. I was sure it wouldn't have any effect on me.
There were about 10 of us in a session that probably didn't last more than an hour. I was snarking on the hypnotist the whole time, being the wiseass that I am. Even when under - and yeah, you are aware of everything but feel removed - I was cracking wise.
The two amazing things: when the hypnotist woke us up, he told us we would feel absolutely great and damned if I didn't feel better than I had on any drug. (I have considered going back to one just to be told I feel great.)
And the second thing is that I left the room assuming I would be lighting up again in five minutes but I didn't smoke another cigarette for three months. (Sudden personal trauma caused me to decide foolishly that smoking would make me feel better. Dumb me.)
But wow, it worked. Last thing I expected.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:23 AM on December 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

I went to a hypnotist over 10 years ago for weightloss. It had absolutely no effect on me other than relieving my of money.

I'd only try it again (for smoking cessation) if someone who I knew to be credible vouched for the hypnotist.
posted by Juicylicious at 10:04 AM on December 8, 2004

There's some previous discussion on this on a previous thread, as well.

I've never tried it, but it seems to be primarily about relieving conflict - ironing out the disagreement between the warring factions of your mind in order to achieve a goal.
posted by mdn at 11:01 AM on December 8, 2004

Yeah, I got hypnotized when I was a kid. The suggestions he gave did not affect me, but what I do remember was, it felt like about 45 minutes had passed, but when I came out of it and looked at the clock, 4 hours had gone by. Hells of spooky.
posted by Hildago at 11:30 AM on December 8, 2004

mdn, thank you for the pointer to the previous thread. There's a lot of good stuff there.

I think it worth reiterating that when it comes to hypnosis, YMMV, like, a LOT. People respond very differently to it, depending on all sorts of variables -- including one's own will and desire. I have never tried to achieve an effect like weight loss or quitting smoking with hypnosis, so I can't measure its effectiveness in that way. I've been hypnotized by people who are trained therapists, and I have always experienced a deep sense of peace and calm afterwards.

If you are curious about hypnosis, there isn't anything to be afraid of in trying it. You will always be in control, no matter how deep a trance you are capable of entering. Though if you're the kind of person who represses a lot of emotions or who doesn't really want to let go and relax, hypnosis either wouldn't work for you or may stir things in you that you don't want to deal with.
posted by butternut at 11:39 AM on December 8, 2004

What I've read about hypnosis (wish I could remember where) is that it is entirely dependent upon your own agreement to take part in it. Thus the hypnotizer has to be someone you 'click' with -- someone you find charismatic enough to be willing to go along with them. I have been in the audience at two of those types of hypnosis entertainment shows you find in colleges -- at one, the hypnotist asked us to clasp our hands together. Then he told us 'you won't be able to pull your hands apart. Go ahead-- try'. So I tried, and this is how I felt: it was hard to pull my hands apart. They didn't really want to come apart. I sensed that I *could* get them apart if I really yanked, knowing that no physical force was holding them there. But I didn't really want to exert that force, because this funny feeling that it was working was just too cool.

So I do believe that you have to be willing to at least give it a go.
posted by Miko at 12:01 PM on December 8, 2004

butternut: It's actually a lightish meditative state (alpha waves), usually.
posted by abcde at 12:53 PM on December 8, 2004

I have not experienced hypnosis personally, but like CunningLinguist a friend of mine was able to quit smoking for 9 months - didn't feel cravings at all - until he got a, and broke up, with a g/f in the space of a few weeks and started chainsmoking again.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 1:08 PM on December 8, 2004

I was hypnotized in the audience of one of those hypno guys that come to colleges. It was really just like being very very relaxed, and sort of "zoned," if you will. I do remember going up to the stage when called and that the hypnotist looked directly into my eyes. I thought he was the kindest man I'd ever known.

It's really just the same sort of thing as zoning out to music or whatever, at least to me.
posted by agregoli at 1:25 PM on December 8, 2004

I can't be hypnotized.

I went to see a hypnotist show during my freshman year and the dude had some girl on stage believing that her chair was shocking her and that she couldn't get up. By the end of it she was crying for her mother. I was not amused.

I went back after the show and confronted the hypnotist, asking him not to repeat that segment in the future. Maybe it's true that, while hypnotized, you're relaxed and wouldn't do anything against your will, but at the time it certainly didn't seem like it to me.
posted by ODiV at 3:03 PM on December 8, 2004

Being the cynic I am, I went to a comedy club in DC.
I saw Flip Orley

I was wildly impressed. So much so, I came back the next day and took a self hypnosis class that he gave as a seminar.

He was teaching us how to hypnotize ourselves...not just "go under"

Basically, it's similar to most forms of mediation - but often meditation suggest that you clear your mind; where hypnosis suggests a positive direction. Frankly, I'm impressed and given the chance I'd let someone put me directly under. Truthfully, I'd like to get a chance to learn how to do it to others...for nefarious reasons, because I think it's that powerful.
posted by filmgeek at 5:44 PM on December 8, 2004

I've done self-hypnosis before, using this method. I guess the trance probably isn't as deep as one you'd get from a professional, because you remain self-conscious, rather than letting someone take over the thought process for you. It's pretty neat, though. You lose sensation in your limbs (well, more like, you start ignoring it) and get a feeling like being in a nice pool of mud.

I was able to complete a final project for a class in the half an hour before the deadline, after dilly-dallying with a stupid idea for the previous few hours, through self-hypnosis. It's also helped me gain confidence, from time to time. I haven't really found many other uses for it, though.
posted by LimePi at 11:34 PM on December 8, 2004

I believe LimePi means this method.
posted by TheIrreverend at 12:35 AM on December 9, 2004

ButterNut, I am not a psychiatrist, but I believe the use of hypnosis to recover memories is--at the very least--highly controversial, and memories "recovered" under hypnosis are often entirely false.
posted by yankeefog at 2:25 AM on December 9, 2004

I hypnotized my mother once, made her lift her arms up a little, woke her up.
Tried a lot of self hypnosis, but whether or not that worked I am uncertain of. All the things I said to myself were fairly obscure, just little bits of self improvement, a little mind-tinkering. I kinda felt like a hacker, trying to optimize my brain. But hypnotizing yourself is not very different from meditating. IMExp, You don't have "power" over yourself, you can't tell yourself to lift up your arms, and watch your arms lift without consciously thinking it.
Since most of the techniques involve series of visualizations, I wonder if my fairly weak trance is due to difficulties I have in visualizing - I can't keep the images constant and vivid in my mind, so the transitions which really do the work are mostly lost on me.
There have been people who have claimed to be able to leave their bodies almost instantly, with no long period of trance preceding it. Whether or not you believe in OOBE's, the subjective experience is there and requires a very intense trance. Maybe some people just have very controlled and acute imaginations - I often find myself thinking about things that I have no interest in, unable to stop before completion. Practice makes perfect, I hope.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 3:21 AM on December 9, 2004

Please, please, please don't mistake hypnosis for anything other than self delusion supported and propagated by a group of pseudo-scientific assholes who make millions a year from people taken in by bullshit anecdotal evidence and reasonable sounding nonsense.

There are mountains of scientific evidence that show that the hypnotic state simply does not exist and that any effect attributed to hypnosis is nothing more than the placebo affect in action.

Honestly, hypnotherapists are pure scum who willingly prey on and take money from people for something that has no scientific basis whatsoever and which does not work.

Sorry to get so worked up about this, particularly in my first post on mefi, but god damn hypotherapists make me mad.
posted by Savvas at 3:24 AM on December 9, 2004

*BRAWK bawkbawkbawk* *flapflap*

I haven't noticed anything different since my *BAWK* recent experience with *buhKAAK* hypnotherapy.
posted by PossumCowboy at 1:22 AM on December 20, 2004 [1 favorite]

I am not hypnotizable, and I have had this confirmed by hypnotists. However, when this came up around the gaming table as a teenager, I tried to hypnotize one of my friends - totally amateur; a pendulum, a bright light, a commanding voice, and an indomitable will - and succeeded beyond my wildest imagination. It was a little bit frightening.

Since then I've not dabbled in it. It doesn't seem like a very good idea overall.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:25 PM on December 21, 2004

Savvas is so right, and so wrong. It does exist. People have surgery using it, with greater success than the usual anaethesia. Blood flow can be controled. I knew a guy who had hemoroids removed surgically, with hypnosis used during surgery and post-op care. His recovery time was a fraction of the usual.

I have hypnotized people, having studied the subject and then seen it done. I have read a lot on the subject, and please allow me to explain something about "will":

Sure, you would never squirt acid in someone's face. But I bet it would take little prompting to squirt water. So what if what you THINK is water is really acid? "Will" is not a concept to enter when discussing hypnosis. Read Andrew Salter on the subject if you want to understand. This is essentially what he described.

To say that "hypnosis is nothing more than the placebo affect" misses the point entirely. Its like saying a 'nuke' is nothing more than a thermonuclear device. Kaboom!

It IS one of the most fascinating debates in science, but the debate is a waste of time. It works, therefore its real. As to how to DEFINE it, that's another question. Meanwhile, it still works, defined or not.

Age regression is a fascinating thing in hypnosis. Without prompting, a good subject, when asked, will demonstrate their very penmanship regresses along with their mind-set. Take someone back year-by-year and discover the year they switch from cursive to printing, for their own name. And then from writing in a single space to doing it double-space. Sure, hypnosis isn't real.

Then there are experiments that have demonstrated you can get hours of practice at a skill (eg, playing music) in a few minutes under hypnosis, just by imagining it. Hypnosis isn't real, neither is imagination. Put them together, you get real results. What the fuck is reality, anyway?
posted by Goofyy at 4:12 AM on December 30, 2004

It doesn't matter how you cut it up, it's a scientifically provable and observable fact that the hypnotic state simply doesn't exist. Whatever is happening stems directly from the brain's suceptibility to suggestion and you'll get exactly the same results with or without the guy with the swinging pendulum telling you to relaaax, relaaaaax.
posted by Savvas at 8:23 PM on December 31, 2004

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