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Hypnosis and Self-Hypnosis Self-Suggestion Approaches

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. Updated: Apr 25th 2016

Hypnosis and Self-Hypnosis. Most people, lay people and professionals alike, tend to think of hypnotism as a mysterious and somewhat dangerous phenomena practiced primarily by entertainers who use it in the manner of mind control to convince grown men from the audience to cluck like chickens while on stage. There are stage hypnotists of this nature, of course, but hypnotism is also useful as a clinical tool, useful to both medicine and psychotherapy practices, and to people seeking to help themselves make life changes.

Hypnotism is an altered state of consciousness characterized by a feeling of peaceful relaxation and "letting go", and increased suggestibility. As experienced from the inside, you are conscious, but detached as though you are observing what is happening to you rather than being in charge of it. It's as though you've temporarily gotten out of the driver's seat of your body and mind and are taking a turn as a passenger.

When in this state, your body and mind are suggestible. Stage hypnotists may ask you to act like a chicken, but reputable clinical hypnotists are able to get more useful things done. Hypnosis may be substituted for light anesthesia during surgery, as a pain-reduction technique, and to induce a profound state of relaxation. It can also be used to plant suggestions for change.

Theories explaining how hypnosis works are still very much evolving. Hypnosis appears to be a form of dissociation. Dissociation, which is a condition in which parts of memory get split off from other parts, is the active ingredient responsible for creating some forms of amnesia, and, in severe cases, multiple personality disorder. The dissociation involved in hypnosis is far lighter and milder in nature than in these other disorders, however. The Dissociated Control Theory of Hypnosis (Bowers 1992) suggests that hypnotic induction temporarily dissociates or separates the brain's executive command functions (the parts that give orders) from other functions that take orders such as emotion-control, motor/movement and sensory perception functions. This temporary weakening of executive control allows the hypnotist to present commands more directly to a hypnotized person's brain, without that person feeling the need to criticize or examine those commands for reasonability or practicality. With the hypnotized person's censoring, judging and limiting executive mind out of the way suggestions are acted on directly, without testing.

There is real potential for danger in hypnosis, especially when a hypnotist is either incompetent or unscrupulous, or otherwise attempts to coerce you into doing something you're not comfortable with. Use caution in selecting a clinical hypnotherapist. Make sure that any hypnotherapist you might use is also a trained medical doctor, psychologist or psychotherapist of the proper sort to address your issues without using hypnotherapy. No one should attempt hypnotherapy on you unless they are qualified to treat your issues without hypnotherapy!

In the right hands, however, hypnosis can be a useful tool to support your growth. You can learn to hypnotize yourself and provide suggestions to yourself, thus avoiding any possibility of abuse. Your self-induced hypnotic state will not be as deep as is possible when you are hypnotized by someone else, but then again, this is necessary, because you need to remain in control enough so that you continue to be able to make suggestions to yourself. Self-hypnosis methods can be used to reduce feelings of anxiety, and promoting feelings of confidence, self-efficacy and self-control.

Hypnotizing yourself requires only that you have a private quiet area and a place to sit or lay down. You relax yourself as completely as possible without allowing yourself to fall asleep, and then work to deepen your relaxation, usually by counting down from 100 or by thinking of yourself slowly sinking downwards. When you are very relaxed, you can think about a relaxing image, or an image of yourself as successful and happy and not worried. You can repeat to yourself affirmations you've previously prepared to the same effect (e.g., that will increase your confidence, "You are a capable person who can handle challenges"). When you are ready to end the session, slowly waken yourself, using images of ascent and waking to help your progress along. End by suggesting that you will open your eyes refreshed, awake and alert. Then open your eyes.

More involved instructions for self-hypnosis can be found in a variety of locations on the web, including here.


Reader Comments
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Thanks - Danni Fountain - Apr 19th 2021

Thanks for the information!!

useful - gul - Aug 18th 2010

self hypnosis is really useful mind develops positive thinking.


Reference - Brittany - May 3rd 2010


Does anyone know how I would reference this web page? 

Thanks :) 

self-hypnosis - added tips - Val - Feb 15th 2010

The same mechanism that sabotages your wakeful intentions to change will be at work in your self-hypnotic attempts.The key is to mentally DO something different in order to get different results. If you are a swimmer, remember the moment when you became one? Theory is fine, but a mountain of theory won't make you happy; you just have to DO it the way "ignorant" kids do it. So get into a spirit of an easy, pleasant, and benefitting trance. Lie to yourself (positive suggestions), and know that you are lying; pretend; fake it; and when doubts arise - LOVE them and go on. Then, once again, it won't matter if water under your belly is 7 or 17 feet deep - because you will be DOING IT! Don't forget to tell yourself that you've been doing it successfully all your life, because, of course, you are a master of self-hypnosis.

P.S./ A zen master would remind you that you are lying to yourself equally - whether you say that life sucks, or that life is a wonderful, magical, divine adventure. Then why not lie so that it feels better?!












uneffective - Dylan - Mar 4th 2009

If this worked i havn't noticed it yet.

I know it works.... - lorraine - Feb 16th 2009

I am Post-Traumatic and had a tremendous fear of  people knocking on the front door and opening doors as a young child...I had suffered a very traumatic event  at  that time which triggered extreme panic  attacks  then shock and I would usually have a siezure...My family had put me through hypnotherapy back in the early 70's to this day it has worked for me as I dont quite freak out the way i used too...

doesnt work - - Jan 22nd 2009

this sucks it deosnt work dont waste your time

Hypnosis and dementia... - Chris - Jul 19th 2008

To the person caring for the partner with dementia: you are to be commended for looking any possible help.  I am not a doctor, but I think that hypnosis (or self-hypnosis) might help with agitation or anxiety.  In order to do this though, she would need to have sufficient remaining brain function to be able to relax, follow the simple directions, enter into a hypnotic/suggestible state, and understand the suggestions (if only subconsciously).  Therefore, if you can't have a simple conversation with her, I doubt she could do that.  Anything's worth a try, though.  You could also just try using the soothing music which you might use to help induce a hypnotic state, just for its calming effect.  Good luck, Chris

A carer's problem. - J .W A T .B - Jun 7th 2008

UNDERSTANDING what goes on in the mind of the partner you have shared life with for nearly 50 years is difficult. Is there a chance that hypnosis can help? Dementia is difficult to understand, and she cannot admit that anything is amiss. I hear about new treatment, but our doctor says ;don't clutch at straws, a cure is still a long way off. I cannot just accept, what can I do? How do I send this? I am not very computer literate.

Hypnosis Helped Me Quit Smoking - Debbie - May 29th 2008

I joined a hypnosis group to help me quit smoking. I haven't smoked in 5 years as of June 19. I bought a tape when the "class" was over to reinforce my negative thoughts towards smoking. I can say that I was afraid going in because of the hypnosis thing, but it was really very harmless. It really just makes you think about the negative effects of smoking and you in turn reinforce that thought process continuously until you really don't want to smoke any more. It doesn't work for everyone, but it worked for me.

self hynosis - Anthony Dorato - Apr 8th 2008

In self hypnosis, the word "I", is what should be used if you are doing self hypnosis to your self mentally or verbally.

However, if you are using a casette tape recorder, the word "you", shpuld be used instead, because the recorder acts as a hypnotist speaking to you as you are listening to the suggestions.

Self hypnosis:Added tips - Rahul - Nov 16th 2007

Well,self-hypnosis is nothing really to be scared is an autosuggestion method,where you try to replace certain beliefs which you reasonably believe are serving you no useful purpose(on the contrary,they are just doing the opposite) with some new beliefs.Look,life is probabilistic and relativistic. Leading life depends a lot on how we INTERPRETE things happening to us.And our INTERPRETATions rely on our BELIEF SYSTEM.If our belief system is flawed,it is very likely,that our interpretations are going to give us an anxiety or depression attack. So,altering your belief system is the key here. And here's the catch:you probably just can't let go of hypnosis. It probably much like hiting the gym to lose wight;you lose weight at the gym;moment you leave it,gradually you lose interest in exercise and you are back to your fat self. Hypnosis probably is like "GYM"ming the mind to make it think the way you want it to think.

Ok. I bored you people a lot. One important thing: Don't refer to yourself as "you" in self-hypnosis.Think and feel "I"."I am feeling","I am doing"..etc


Subconscious doesn't understand past or future probably.So always use present tense in your suggestions.

hope you find these tips helpful.

Self hypnosis is hard! - Bill - Sep 8th 2007
Self hypnosis is hard to start with. I built up my 'going into trance' skills by first listening to hypnosis recordings.  Once I had listened to a few, I got a 'feel' of what a trance really was. I soon started to sucessfully experiment with my own self hypnosis!

Self Hypnosis and - Scott LaDoucer - Jul 21st 2007

If I may add to your nicely written article.... For those who employ this valuable technique I encourage extreme caution to be used regarding any unsolicited outside sources gaining access to the subconscious during this process. As this will play a role in the new foundation of codes that are being locked in to the subconscious that is being programmed during this process. Also, not understanding what is really happening at a cellular level in the human, what elements come in to play and how these will manifest themselves and so on.... folks could set themselves up for future new issues or even exacerbate current ones thus adding to the confusion. Again only a caution. Not fully understanding what is really happening one is employing it through self esteem but rather a shortcut and it becomes a band aid and does not get to the root.

The process is subjective to the neurotransmitters available in the body... an alternative to self hypnosis Therefore, getting to the root of why you feel you need the process is important. Is it burn out? What natures and elements are you deficient in and start there. Prepare the foundation first... I invite any response.

Best to all!!! Scott

"The Human Element Codes" -

- V - Mar 16th 2007

I think people who don't know how to do self hypnosis, have no idea about the level of material that's in the article. They may comment that it's waste of time because of their inability to do it. It certainly needs a lot of motivation and patience to start with. Self-hypnosis is the divine way for self growth for all of us, somewhat imperfect people.

For me personally, the article was very helpful 

- Marlee - Mar 5th 2007
I found your article informative and educating, I plan on using some of your information in the essay I'm righting on self-hypnosis. Thankyou.

- - Feb 24th 2007
I think that hypnosis is the key to opening your inner self and if used properly it could help many people. I also suggest self hypnosis to anyone who wants to change or boost thier confidence.

More information on hypnosis - Matthew Whalley - Feb 21st 2007
That was a really informative article, thanks. For more information on hypnosis and suggestion please take a look at,, a not-for-proft site aimed at increasing awareness of the science behind hypnosis and suggestion

This sucks - - Jan 31st 2007

I tried it and it's just a waste of time.

Editor's Note: If you are refering to cognitive restructuring, your statement is unsupported by the science.  Cognitive restructuring techniques, applied as part of a cognitive therapy protocol, are generally effective and do help people to feel better.  It is critical, however, that the techniques are applied in the proper manner.  It is very easy to do cognitive restructuring wrong, and this is especially the case when you are doing it on your own in self-help mode.  I'd recommend that readers who find that it doesnt' work in self-help mode, try working with an experienced CBT therapist for a few months and see if that doesnt' help.  Or, try some other technique...

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