The topic of hypnosis is one that often comes up because it is such a popular concept for most people. I really think that this is because it is so poorly understood and because it is so interesting to watch when demonstrations with hypnosis are performed.
However, like most things it has its good and bad points. On the good side, hypnosis is a powerful tool for doing a variety of things and is often used medically to treat a wide variety of skin conditions, various kinds of aches and pains, and is often helpful in assisting treatment programs of many types. On the negative side, it is not a panacea or a cure-all, and in the treatment of most conditions it is rarely effective if used solely by itself. Often hypnosis can get immediate and noticeable levels of improvement in "popular" areas of treatments such as weight control, termination of smoking and the treatment of alcoholism. However, when the treatment ends the gains that were made through the treatment do not appear to survive well on their own. There are many reasons why some programs with hypnosis treatment work and others do not, but a very basic one would be that those programs often focus on treatment of symptoms as opposed to those that focus on the underlying causes of the problem.
Among the common questions I am asked concerning hypnosis are the following. First, is hypnosis safe? The answer is that hypnosis is very safe when used by qualified professionals. However, I and many other psychologists with whom I have talked on the issue have had patients referred to us to correct damage that was caused inadvertently by someone using hypnosis in a detrimental manner.
Can you be made to do something under hypnosis that you would not be willing to do if you were not hypnotized? The answer here is yes. Now most of us have read in one article or another that the answer to the question is no, but there are many studies that have demonstrated that people will do things under hypnosis that they normally would not do. For example, in one study subjects were asked to reach into a box that appeared to be open, to pick up a live rattlesnake. In actuality the box had a glass panel slanted at an angle that would not reflect light, but would prevent the rattlesnake from reaching the hypnotized subject. Every one of the subjects attempted to pick up the rattlesnake and were confused when they hit the glass instead. Later after the hypnosis session, each of the subjects was asked why he would be willing to pick up a live rattlesnake, even under hypnosis. Every subject explained some "reason" such as knowing that the hypnotist would not tell them to do something that was dangerous and therefore the rattlesnake was defanged, not real, or was not a poisonous snake. It was particularly interesting in that they were told by the hypnotist that it was a live rattlesnake and yet they changed their belief in order to carry out the instructions of the hypnotist. Following this logic, we would assume that a person would not be willing to commit a crime simply by being told to do so under hypnosis but he could be made to believe that his actions were not in fact a crime and under those conditions we would expect him to act them out.
Can a person be "taken back" in age by hypnosis? Well, yes and no. We can demonstrate that people can recall many things that they are unable to recall otherwise when they are told in hypnosis that they are going back in age and becoming younger. However there is good evidence that they are not truly regressing, but are simply sharpening their memory functioning.
Hypnosis in the state of Florida and most other states is regulated as a practice. However, it's very common to find that those laws are not strongly inforced. Florida does not license hypnotists, in spite of advertisements I have seen locally that imply the contrary. A hypnotist who is not a licensed health professional who practices therapeutically in Florida, is in violation of Florida law.
Can a person be hypnotized without the hypnotist being present? Sure. You are getting very sleeeeepy ..
..(snap snap) WAKE UP! Wasn't that fun?
Think about it.