Hypnosis Side Effects

Senior man being hypnotized
Hypnotherapy is commonly used to alleviate unwanted behaviors. (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)

Hypnosis, or trance, is simply a state of consciousness that differs from your normal experience of reality. The hypnotic state is one in which your mind becomes acutely open to suggestion. This is why hypnotherapy is commonly employed to relieve unwanted habits and compulsive behaviors. Hypnotherapy is typically applied by a certified practitioner, also known as the operator. The person seeking hypnotherapy is commonly called a client or hypnotic subject. While hypnosis represents a very natural state of mind, certain side effects may occur when you apply it for personal use.

Heightened Suggestibility

For the first few minutes after a subject emerges from the hypnotic process, he will typically remain in a heightened state of suggestibility. During this time, it is important that the operator avoid either stating or implying any idea that may work against the client's goals. An experienced hypnotist will often use these moments to deliver positive suggestions about success and self-esteem.The subject will then often take these thoughts forward, into the days and weeks and months that follow.

Bond

Hypnosis is frequently a very pleasant experience, one in which longstanding emotional blocks can be dissolved. After emerging from the hypnotic process, some subjects feel an emotional "closeness" to the operator. A client may develop an intuitive sense that she and the operator have gone through something very meaningful together, fortifying a bond between both people. This bond may become inappropriate if the operator welcomes extensive contact from the subject once therapy is complete. This is why a practicing hypnotherapist must keep a professional distance from most subjects at all times.

Abreaction

An abreaction is an intense emotional outburst, caused by the sudden release of a repressed event or idea. On rare occasions, a person seeking to resolve one issue with hypnosis will experience a spontaneous revivification of some traumatic circumstance from the past. Several symptoms may reveal the appearance of an abreactive episode, such as uncontrollable crying, explosive anger or indications of terror. During these times, it is important that the hypnotherapist remain calm and avoid touching the subject. He can then reorient his client to the present moment through suggestion.

Negative Transferrence

According to esteemed hypnotherapists Adam Eason, "The concept of transference is one whereby a client applies attitudes transferred to the therapist which were originally directed towards another person." Transference often takes on a positive glow, such as when a subject feels emotionally connected to her hypnotherapist. However, the tendency to transfer emotions also poses great risk to the inexperienced operator. This is especially true in the event of an abreaction.

In the hypnotic session, there are usually only two people: subject and operator. A client may begin to relive some past traumatic event that involved only her and another person. If the abuser was a male and the operator is also male, there is a chance that the subject will see her hypnotherapist as the instrument of her mistreatment. Seasoned operators often find some means to record each therapeutic session, either audibly or on video. This way clients will have verifiable evidence than no impropriety has taken place.

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