In the 2001 movie “K-Pax,” Kevin Spacey’s character “prot” claims that he comes from a faraway planet called K-Pax. He winds up in the mental hospital with Dr. Mark Powell (played by Jeff Bridges) as the man in charge of solving the mystery of prot’s condition and using subliminal sleep hypnosis as one of his procedures.
The end offers a lot of subjective interpretation about who prot is. One of the scenes in the movie is when the doctor tells prot to “remember” during the regression session. This word is not used by hypnotherapists because the goal is not to remember, but to re-experience.
Subliminal or sleep hypnosis is well-entrenched in Hollywood movie plots because of all the myths that surround it. Among the titles over the years include: “Trance (2013)”, “Good Will Hunting (1997)”, “Shallow Hal (2001)”,“The Manchurian Candidate (2004)”, and “Zoolander (2001),” among others. Ironically, by making a movie out of these myths, they help perpetuate the misconceptions about this discipline, which has helped thousands of people drop a bad habit. Sleep hypnosis has helped individuals focus or turn their lives around through positive reinforcement and cognitive behavior. Below are just some of the myths that continue to exist today:
Myth 1: Subliminal hypnosis Can Make You Do Bad Things
Stage hypnotists have made people do crazy things in front of an audience. Some people bark like a dog or quack like a duck. This makes people think that hypnotists are such powerful beings that they can make you steal or even kill somebody.
Truth: It’s easy to blame subliminal hypnosis for a crime or an embarrassing situation. But it’s easy to blame alcohol, too. Even under hypnosis, you remain in control of your actions so your subconscious will reject any suggestion that goes beyond your moral compass.
Myth 2: Hypnosis Is Dangerous
The common fear about sleep hypnosis is that people will always be under the spell of the doctor. Some people think that a few years down the line a doctor can just snap his fingers out of the blue and they can be made to do something they don’t want to.
Truth: You are always in a state of conscious awareness when under hypnosis. In fact, some patients have reported being hypersensitive to their environment. There is no way that a doctor can just snap his fingers at some point to put you under his spell like a magician in a cartoon.
Myth 3: Sleep Hypnosis Can Work Miracles
Remember the movie “Shallow Hal” where Jack Black was fooled into thinking that the overweight Gwyneth Paltrow was the sexiest woman in the world? Hypnosis is not that extreme.
Truth: Hypnosis puts you in a very relaxed state of mind, which makes you open to suggestion. In some cases, it’s used to treat some conditions (like irritable bowel syndrome for instance) or to drop a bad habit (drinking or smoking). Unfortunately, hypnotism can’t make you have super strength, or suddenly fall in love with someone that’s not your ideal man/woman.
Myth 4: Only the Weak Can Get Hypnotized
You often hear people scoff at subliminal hypnosis and how it won’t work on them. There was a time when researchers thought that one in two people are susceptible to sleep hypnosis but in recent years, this thinking has been upended.
Truth: It’s been proven time and again that even those who think they are too disciplined to be hypnotized end up eating their words. The fact that you went to the hypnotist already opens yourself up to suggestion at a subconscious level.
Myth 5: Hypnosis is The Work of the Devil
Devout Christians have dismissed trying subliminal or sleep hypnosis because they believe that it’s the work of the devil, or that the hypnotist engages in black magic.
Truth: The American Medical Association, British Medical Association, and American Psychological Association all recognize hypnosis as an effective tool to help patients deal with a condition or illness. In fact, even Pope Pius XII also recognized the merits of hypnosis back in 1956.
Myth 6: People Will Have Amnesia
Another myth that’s being perpetuated in pop culture is that people will forget being hypnotized. Back to “Shallow Hal” as an example where Jack Black did not remember being hypnotized into seeing beyond the physical attributes of a person.
Truth: Under subliminal hypnosis, you are going to remember the session down to the tiniest details. Remember that you are under a state of hyperawareness. Hypnotherapists don’t really put their patients into a very deep trance, which can induce temporary amnesia to some patients.
Now that we have debunked these myths about hypnotism, don’t be afraid to try it out for yourself. The procedure can help those who are struggling with addictions, or those who wish to deal with their anxiety and severe phobias.