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Mind Matters: What If I'm Un-Hypnotizable?

26 May 2018  

I was told I can’t be hypnotized. Now what?

In this column, Dr. Elaine Kissel answers your questions; helping to provide understanding and insight into a variety of topics, such as addictions, self-improvement, depression and much more.

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Q. I was told by a hypnotist when I went in for a session awhile back to quit smoking that I am not hypnotizable. I felt desperate after trying so many other things and had heard that hypnosis works. So I tried another hypnotist, had a few sessions and it didn't work either. I didn't feel any different during or after the session. I'm still smoking and my health is at risk. Any suggestions.

A. First of all there is no such thing as a person being un-hypnotizable. There are many altered states of consciousness that come under the heading of hypnosis. In fact we go in and out these altered states all day long, such as day dreaming, being intensely focused etc. You have indeed experienced it , for example when driving your car and not realizing you have passed familiar landmarks.

Many subjects are not able to recognize when they are hypnotized. Their expectations of being “out of it” or unconscious is an unfortunate misunderstanding propagated by hypnosis for entertainment. The operator ought to be able to discern if the subject is in hypnosis or not, and even the level, and their readiness for the effective employment of the state.

Being told you are not a good subject simply means the practitioner is not skillful enough to guide you, as an individual, into the most desirable and most effective states to achieve the goals: Using a pre-scripted approach obviously. In other words blaming you for his or her lack of skill. If standardized methods are used, as it is in most cases, the likelihood of success is severely limited. Also if the issues that drive the smoking, or any other addiction for that matter, are not resolved during hypnotherapy it is unlikely that permanent results will occur.

The induction methods, that is how person is guided into an altered state, needs to be tailored to the individual. There is no one size fits all approach to guiding a subject into hypnosis and suggestion formulation; that is how hypnosis is employed. What works for one person will not necessarily work for another. It is best to get educated about hypnosis and how it is best used therapeutically before engaging a hypnotist, so that your expectations are realistic. For an educational and fascinating lecture on hypnosis. Go to click on the FAQ's tab.

It is very rare that one or a few sessions will actually produce results, and/or permanent ones. Yes, we hear stories of people who have attended large group sessions, and as you have, those that are conducted privately and who have quit smoking. However, if there is any results it most often a temporary ones; that's because the issues underlying the addiction have not been resolved. If they do quit smoking that way many people resort to another unhealthy substitute behaviors, i.e .over eating or using drugs and even developing anxiety and depression.

Keep in mind that cigarette smoking is one of the most complex addictions and needs to be treated as such.

And don't think about just quitting; in order the become a non smoker naturally, you need to develop the psychology of a non smoker so that the idea of smoking is alien to you. A good skillful well qualified hypnotherapist ought to be able to help you achieve that goal.

I wish you success.