- Contraindications for Hypnosis
- False Memories
- Numbing Uninvestigated Pain
- Exceeding the Limits of One’s Training and Skills
Contraindications for Hypnosis
Let us explore this topic because while there are no known incidents of people having been ‘hurt’ by hypnosis itself, clearly some people do not respect or acknowledge their limits to the detriment of those expecting positive results. And yes, indeed, there are times when deliberately induced hypnosis should be avoided.
- Children are in a state of suggestibility (hypnosis) during most of their waking hours until they are about 12 -13 years old. This is great if they are getting positive suggestions during this waking hypnotic state. However, much of what they are getting on TV, from social media and from video games is very damaging to them. If you are skeptical about this, ask yourself why advertising companies would pay millions of dollars for 30 seconds of time with your kids! They know the power of hypnosis, the suggestibility of children and they use it to sell their often not-so-beneficial products. The end goal of all advertising is to create life-long, habituated consumers.
- Unfortunately many hypnotists, particularly of the entertainment and amateur/week-end variety, tend to overstate or deliberately misstate their competency and qualifications … some even promote themselves as competent to do medical and dental hypnotherapy. It is NOT true that just because a person can hypnotize someone they are automatically qualified and competent to deal with emotional issues or help change ‘habits’.
- In fact, without proper training, one is not even competent to make a determination as to whether hypnosis is appropriate for the client in the first place. There could be issues around medication, serious mental conditions such as brain trauma, addiction detoxification, withdrawal symptoms, seizures, epilepsy, paranoia and so on, that they are not aware of, or would not be equipped and skilled to manage.
Like the arm-chair psychologist who reads a book on psychology or watches Dr. Phil and then presumes that their degree of knowledge is sufficient to do psychotherapy on unsuspecting friends and others, doing hypnosis for therapeutic reasons is unethical and immoral unless one is fully trained and accredited. [see Choosing a Hypnotherapist]
Hypnosis is generally considered a “benign process” with “few contra-indications”. However, pseudo-memories can be created if leading questions are asked during the investigative phase of hypnosis (excerpt from Mayo Clinic Proceedings review by James H. Stewart, MD 2005;80:511-524 )
Please see Tip #8 at Choosing Your Hypnotherapist of this site for even more information on the horrific damage done by psychologists and psychiatrists in the 1990s, when false memories of satanic cults, multiple personalities and sexual abuse were implanted in patients. One such patient’s tragic journey was documented in several books and a Hollywood film “Sybil”. The truth about these ‘disorders” were finally revealed in ‘Sybil Exposed’ recently.
Numbing Uninvestigated Pain
It is dangerous to numb pain without knowing the reason for the pain and without knowing that it has been medically investigated, therefore anyone numbing pain using hypnosis before that pain has been properly accessed is engaging in very improper behavior.
A competent and ethical hypnotist and hypnotherapist will refuse to numb any pain that has not been investigated by a medical doctor. Once the pain has been investigated, the doctor will usually refer a sufferer to a hypnotherapist for pain management if the patient requests.
Exceeding the Limits of One’s Training and Skills
Hypnosis is natural and everyone can learn to induce it in a willing subject. But should they? Not if they are going to exceed the limits of their training. Over-reaching their skills, knowledge and abilities can in fact leave the person they are attempting to ‘help’ feeling disillusioned with the hypnotic process.
Hypnosis is a tool, like a hammer or shovel is a tool. If one is not trained properly in how to use a hammer or shovel, they can do unintentional damage and so too with hypnosis. Once hypnotized by a friend or someone they trust, a person can then receive post-hypnotic suggestions that they consciously want and agreed to, but that are not necessarily in their best interest or not necessarily framed in a productive way. The subconscious accepts all words literally, therefore the judicious use of language is extremely important. Qualified Hypnotherapists are trained when, how and with whom to use their tools. If you wouldn’t allow a non-mechanic to do a motor-job on your car, then why let a ‘hobbyist’ practice on your mind. [see Choosing a Hypnotherapist]
In the hands of an amateur hypnotist, the lack of proper training in using hypnosis for therapy can result in the hypnotist interjecting their own beliefs and values into a session and/or inappropriately terminating a session before the client has completed their self-discovery and resolved their issues. Hypnotherapists know that this is unethical and unproductive and violates their oath to make the therapy ‘client-centered’. Note that many people also take a week-end or other short course in hypnosis, refer to themselves as Master Hypnotist, Consulting Hypnotists, etc. etc., but have no clue how to manage a proper hypnotherapy session. [see Choosing a Hypnotherapist ].
Again, common sense should prevail … before you do anything ask yourself if you are comfortable with being someone’s ‘experiment’. You shouldn’t be…you are worth more then that! Thus it is important to seek out a hypnotherapist who specializes in your issues and who has the required training and experience. Grace Joubarne’s verifiable skills and training in medical and dental hypnotherapy are listed at her About Grace Joubarne tab.