One of the questions that comes up time and again when you’re a hypnotist is people who want to know whether everyone can be hypnotized.
So does hypnosis work on everyone? The short answer is that yes, it does. But people don’t want to believe it because they don’t know what hypnosis is. The truth is that so long as your brain is working correctly and you can learn, you can be hypnotized. In this article, we’ll cover why that’s a good thing.
It’s a curious thing though. If everyone can be hypnotized, why do so many think it doesn’t apply to them?
Why People Think They Can’t Be Hypnotized
For most people, our idea of hypnosis is largely influenced by popular culture. We have ideas that it somehow involves mind control, or people being made to do ridiculous things on stage.
And the thing is that these ideas aren’t really true.
Yes, hypnosis can be used for mind control. But so can regular, everyday conversations.
We get far more mind control from our constant exposure to the media.
And yes, people can be made to do ridiculous things on stage with hypnosis. But here’s the thing. The thing that’s causing them to do that is not the hypnosis.
It’s to do with the way a hypnosis stage show is set up.
How do Hypnosis Stage Shows Work
First, the hypnotist hypnotizes the entire audience.
Then, they ask for volunteers. Only those who want to be on stage volunteer. And people who want to be on stage typically like to be the center of attention.
Next, the hypnotist filters out the poor hypnosis subjects.
The end result is that the people who are on stage simultaneously want to be the center of attention and are good hypnosis subjects.
At this point, a little light hypnosis can help them to shed any inhibitions they might have had about doing something they wanted to do anyway: Namely, show off in front of a crowd.
The hypnotist isn’t controlling anyone. They’re simply creating a space for a bunch of people who want to show off, and then allowing those people to do so.
Hypnosis is not mind control
Now naturally, it’s a show, so it’s important that the hypnotist creates an illusion to keep people entertained.
The reality is that if the hypnotist stood on the stage and simply said Ok! Who wants to come up and show off in front of a bunch of people, they’d only get volunteers who knew they wanted to.
They’d miss out on all the people who definitely want to, but don’t yet know it. And those ones are probably the best in terms of making an entertaining show.
So no-one would be entertained.
Why People Think They Can’t Be Hypnotized
So by and large, people think that they can’t be hypnotized because they don’t know what it is.
We have this idea that hypnosis is something that it isn’t.
And almost no-one likes to think they can be controlled so easily, so they assume that either hypnosis is fake, or that they personally cannot be hypnotized.
This belief is so prevalent that it’s not uncommon for people to claim that they can’t be hypnotized even while they are currently hypnotized.
Or afterwards, they’ll tell the hypnotist that they thought they didn’t go under.
The thing is that a part of training to be a hypnotist is learning to spot the signs that someone is in hypnosis.
We know when you’re hypnotized, even if you don’t.
And no amount of fear on the part of the person who thinks they can’t be hypnotized is going to stop that.
What is Hypnosis?
So if hypnosis isn’t what most people think it is, what is hypnosis?
There are many definitions for hypnosis, so I’m going to go with a simple one that very few would argue with:
Hypnosis is the state that occurs when our conscious attention is fully occupied, allowing us to slip information into our minds which bypasses our regular data-checking mechanisms.
That’s really all there is to it. Our brains have a finite capacity, and that has flow-on consequences throughout our system.
How Does Hypnosis Work?
Our brains have a finite capacity. They have to, because they’re contained within our heads. Our best estimates are that human brains are neural networks with around 100 billion neurons, each with around 10000 connections.
Human Brains Have A Finite Capacity For Storage
Everything we ever experience in our lives is stored in the structure of these connections.
And this finite capacity has some interesting consequences.
A quadrillion connections is a lot. But not when you consider the sheer amount of data that we have to process on an ongoing basis.
We live for about 100 years, and have a perceptual resolution of a little less than a second.
Even if we only processed one bit of information per second, we’d need over 3 billion connections to store that lifetime of information.
In reality, there are millions of pieces of data flowing into our minds constantly. When you do the math, it just doesn’t add up. We simply don’t have the capacity to store that much information unless our brains take some shortcuts.
And that’s just the information being stored in the form of our memories.
We still have all our thoughts and the things we’re paying attention to, and these shift moment to moment as we move through life.
So our brains take those shortcuts.
They have to, because if they didn’t, we wouldn’t be able to do anything at all.
Beyond the information that’s constantly flowing into and shaping our minds, we have our processing of that information.
Human Brains Have A Finite Capacity For Processing
And just like the storage, that processing is limited.
It turns out that we can only focus on somewhere between 5 and 9 things at once.
That’s not a lot out of the millions of pieces of information flowing into our minds at any point in time.
And once we’ve reached our capacity for conscious attention, anything else that comes along simply falls out of our conscious awareness.
Hypnotists use this fact to slide information into minds.
We simply overload someone’s conscious mind by a variety of means, and then use our knowledge of how the mind works to help them to make the changes that they’d like to have happen.
Read more: How Does Hypnosis Work
That’s really all there is to it. Hypnosis works because it’s a necessary consequence of the structure of our brains.
Why Some People Are Better Subjects Than Others
So now that we know what hypnosis is, and how it works, why is it that some people make better hypnosis subjects than others?
There are two things going on here.
Being Hypnotized is a Skill
First, being hypnotized is a skill. And like all skills, we exist on a spectrum. Unlike many skills, in our western society we don’t really measure our hypnosis skill in school. Which means that the only way we have of knowing how hypnotizable someone might be is to hypnotize them and see what happens.
Some people are already experts at being hypnotized, and will drop on a single word. Most people are in the category where it takes anywhere from a few minutes to a quarter of an hour to formally hypnotize them. A rare few are so far from this that they can require months of training to get there.
I’ve hypnotized thousands of people, and I can tell you from experience that about one in one thousand people fits into that last category.
And finally, there are people with actual brain damage who can’t be hypnotized. These people are easy to spot because they have no ability to form new memories.
Everyone can be hypnotized, with the exception of people who cannot form new memories.
So we all exist on a scale of how skilled we are at being hypnotized. And unless we’ve been hypnotized before by several skilled hypnotists, we have no way of knowing where we are on that scale. That’s the first part.
The Hypnotist is the One Who Guides The Subject Into Hypnosis
The second part of the equation is the hypnotist. As with every other career, hypnotists exist at all skill levels. Some of us can drop just about anyone in the blink of an eye and effortlessly create any change we might choose. Most can’t. And some of us are so bad at it that we really shouldn’t call ourselves hypnotists until we’ve practiced a bit more.
The hypnotist’s job is to teach the subject how to experience hypnosis.
As with other teaching, hypnosis involves a feedback loop between the subject and the hypnotist. An exceptional hypnotist will get good results with just about any subject. An exceptional subject will get good results with just about any hypnotist. Everyone else is somewhere in between.
But not always.
Because of the way hypnosis works, you could take the very best hypnotist in the world, and the very best subject, and still get bad results.
Just as you could take the best teacher in the world and the best student and get bad results.
It’s important that they get along with each other, at least to some degree.
And since hypnosis deals with the unconscious mind, it’s our unconscious minds that have to get along. Not necessarily our conscious ones.
Can You Be Hypnotized?
Hopefully it’s apparent from the previous sections that so long as someone can learn, they can be hypnotized.
A common thing that I’ve heard from people in the past is: I can’t be hypnotized because someone tried to hypnotize me and failed.
Now that you know what hypnosis is, it should be clear that when someone makes this statement, it is the same thing as them claiming to not know what hypnosis is. Because if they did know, they would know that the hypnotist doesn’t try to hypnotize them.
The hypnotist is just the guide.
Another common thing I hear is: I can’t be hypnotized because I listened to a recording and it didn’t work.
Like all teaching, hypnosis requires feedback from the subject to the hypnotist, so that the hypnotist can guide the subject and show them how to change course.
Now, some people can listen to an advanced math training and just get it.
When you listen to a recording, all of the responsibility for going into hypnosis is on the listener. And if you’re not a hypnotist, or already an excellent subject, there’s a good chance that the recording may not give you the results you’d like to have happen.
So can you personally be hypnotized?
If you’ve made it this far through this article, the answer is undoubtedly yes.
I have no way of knowing where you are on the scale of skill at being hypnotized.
Learn Self-Hypnosis to Build Your Skill At Being Hypnotized
But I do know one thing: If you practice consistently, and make tiny course corrections each time, there’s no reason at all that you cannot become an exceptional hypnosis subject.
If you’d like to get good at being hypnotized, one of the most effective ways you can do that without a hypnotist present is to learn to hypnotize yourself.
To that end, I’ve written a book The Self-Hypnosis Formula, which I’ve designed from the ground up to take people from not even knowing what hypnosis is, to being able to create your own hypnotic realities that can seem just as real as real life.
Inside the book I give a simple 7-step process that anyone can follow. The process is designed to take you not only into hypnosis, but, with a little practice, all the way into a deep hypnotic reality.
Inside hypnotic realities time doesn’t work the same way as it does in our regular waking world, so once we’ve learnt to build them, it’s possible to spend days, months, or even years exploring them. All in the space of a few hours of clock time out in the waking world.
Read more: How to Bend Time With Hypnosis
These hypnotic realities can be used for just about anything you can imagine. Whether it’s honing a skill, leap-frogging into lucid dreams, going on the vacation of your dreams, or even practicing becoming good at self-hypnosis, all of that and more is possible inside hypnotic realities.
If that sounds like something you’d like to explore, check out my book The Self-Hypnosis Formula.