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More often than not, after introducing myself as a hypnotherapist, one of the first things I’m asked is, can a hypnotist hypnotize a person to do something against their will?

My answer often shocks.  Regrettably, the answer is yes, if the hypnotist is either down-right unethical, or just thinks they know what you need better than you do.  In other words, unethical.  Yes, an unethical hypnotist can make a person do things against their will.

At the Hideaway Workspace yesterday, I was taking part in a small workshop (not hypnosis related, although a lot of consideration was given to mind set and the importance of this in helping a person to reach, and even exceed, one’s goals.  One of our number had a stammer, and asked if I could help.  He was pleased to know that hypnosis can help with stammering and stuttering as he’d tried most solutions out there.  He just hadn’t thought of hypnosis.

But, he wanted to know, and so did others, what was the truth behind whether or not a hypnotist can trick a person.

Well, a hypnotherapist is highly unlikely to want to trick a person or make them do anything against their will.  I could be talking to someone so obese I could literally see they were close to a premature obesity related death.  But even then, I couldn’t trick them into losing weight.  Because I have to respect why they are putting on the weight, or gaining it in the first place.  And understand that until I have their permission to discover the root cause of the life-style choices that makes them gain weight, I can’t work with them, at least not for help with weight loss.  The same would go for trying to trick a smoker into giving up the cigarettes.  Some people think that a disgusting suggestion, aversion technique, can make a smoker stop smoking.  But not if it is against their will.  Because guess what?  Most smokers were disgusted by their first puff.  They just used mind over matter to make the unpalatable cigarette no longer matter.  Until it became the first of many.  They wanted to smoke and still do, many years later.

And this is why you can’t trick a person into picking up a gun and shooting another human being (or even an animal) if that person’s moral code is dead set against causing harm to others.

But, one could hypnotise them into believing that a real gun is actually a toy gun or a fake gun and make them believe that discharging the gun will be a bit of harmless fun.  They haven’t been hypnotized into shooting someone.  But hypnotized into believing the gun is harmless and so is pulling the trigger.

This kind of misrepresentation to achieve a goal indirectly is what one sees here in this Youtube clip from American’s Got Talen, where a man, germaphobe Howie Mandel, with decades of OCD to the point of not being able to shake hands with any one, was hypnotized by the hypnotist to believe that other people were wearing thin latex gloves.  And to the amazement of his colleagues, he shook their hands for the first time ever, baffled as to why people were laughing.  I felt scandalised watching the clip which you can see here.

How would he feel when the trance was over and he realised what he’d done.  Just because you can make a person do something, doesn’t mean they like it.  Howie’s had to have therapy since the show, once he realised what had happened.  But I imagine, Chris Jones, is a competent hypnotist that can put people in trance and plant a suggestion.  But he is not a hypnotherapist, who would have appreciated the implications of tricking someone in a way that would be seen to be a big deal.

I’d like to think that I’m the kind of hypnotherapist that will not trick you with suggestions.  Every change we go for, will be something I’ve got your informed consent to work on.  You’ll understand, exactly what it is we want to change together and you’ll be looking forward to what life will be like once the change is in effect.

Very unlike poor Howie!

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