Is hypnosis dangerous? Can I be made to do something against my will? Can I embarrass myself?

There are some mental conditions when hypnotherapy is not recommended. This applies to the mental condition with active psychosis.


It is also important that you see a qualified hypnotherapist, somebody registered with a professional organisation, because sometimes the hypnotic trance can trigger a strong emotional release and it is important that the therapist knows how to help you in such a situation and make it beneficial instead of upsetting.


Can the hypnotist force you to do something against your will?

No. When you are in hypnosis, you are still alert, you know what you are doing, and any suggestion which does not agree with your internal values will simply not work. So the hypnotist cannot ask you to take your clothes off and to dance on the roof – unless this is what you want. But if it is something against your ethical code, or something you do not want to do, you will simply wake up from hypnosis.


Hypnosis relies on cooperation (remember – every hypnosis is self-hypnosis). The hypnotist cannot even give you a successful suggestion to stop smoking if you do not want to quit. For example, if the only reason for your treatment is to stop your wife nagging you about quitting, but you enjoy your smoke and you do not have any intention to stop.


However, there is an exception. This would not happen in a therapeutic situation, but rather when, for example, kidnapped by a terrorist or during interrogation in some totalitarian regime. Your suggestibility can be increased by starvation, prohibition of sleep and some other brainwashing techniques. This would require days of isolation and other means than just a comfortable chair.  


Your therapist is probably a member of a respectable hypnotherapist association with strong ethics, which are very strictly observed. But even if he/she was not, it is in his/her interest to behave in an ethical way – otherwise he/she would not earn a penny. 


How will I act when I am in hypnosis? Can I embarrass myself ?


Most likely you will not do anything, you will just relax, enjoy and listen. Sometimes you may get emotional, but that’s all. And you will not be on stage, so you cannot embarrass yourself in any way. You will be in a private room, just with the therapist, who is bound by very strict rules of ethics to keep the session absolutely confidential.


It is quite possible that you know hypnosis from some stage show, or TV. Stage hypnosis is different. The hypnotist is an entertainer, so you saw the hypnotized people acting like chicken or quacking like a duck. But how does the hypnotist select these people? They are the people who want to be on stage, who want to be hypnotized and have a good laugh. So they cooperate and everybody has fun.


Your therapist will not make you quack. Unless, of course, your goal is to improve your quacking (you may want to play the role of Donald Duck on the school show).