What about stage hypnosis, where people are asked to do things they would not normally do? Or would they? I have observed that many people who get up on stage to be hypnotized are extroverts who want to be the life of the party. Stage hypnotists use specific processes for selecting their subjects. Typically a good stage hypnotist will select those people who want to be on stage, either to show that they are good hypnotic subjects, or to just have fun in an uninhibited atmosphere where everybody expects them to act silly anyway. I do not believe that the people on stage are made to do anything they don't want to. They simply do suggested things under the direction of their Unconscious rather than their Conscious Mind.
In therapeutic contexts, Erickson and other researchers were very clear on the fact that the client has total control. A client under hypnosis will not do anything he would not normally do.
Many of the phenomena produced in stage hypnosis, such as full body catalepsy and amnesia for suggestions, have great value in therapeutic situations. Consider a person with a back problem who is able to attain full body catalepsy during trance. He is able to actualize all his muscles becoming totally tense, then fully relaxed, then completely aligned. Think how this might help in eliminating his problem.
Amnesia for suggestions is often the key to dramatic deeper level results. If your client has a disease that he wants to heal and you do not want his Conscious Mind to get in the way of your healing suggestions, you can give him a post-hypnotic healing suggestion and instructions to forget the suggestion consciously. This will allow the Unconscious Mind to do its inside job without Conscious interference.
This approach can also work with smoking cessation. Simply suggest that the client forget to smoke and consciously forget your instruction. This could enable the client to forget about the behavior. The style differs greatly between stage hypnosis and hypnotherapy. But many useful phenomena are common to both.
A major difference between stage hypnosis and hypnotherapy is that in successful hypnotherapy, the deeper levels of trance are often not required. Erickson observed that we can get results in light trance for some clients, while others need to go into deeper trance for the desired results. It depends on what the client needs. Most of our clients will not need more than light trance to be able to actualize desired changes.
On the other hand, when we can actualize hypnotic phenomena at all levels of trance, we are in control of our own Unconscious state, which opens a full range of options to us. A 'runner' whose routine is to run 100 yards a week could hardly claim to be a high performance, all-purpose runner. Similarly, a person who has experienced only light trance cannot gain the full benefits of trance for himself or for his clients. If you have the full range of hypnotic phenomena available in your hypnosis toolbox, you will be able to heal yourself and your clients in powerful ways.
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