One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is if hypnosis can make people do things they don’t want to do. At the same time I must confess I’ve had a number of very strange requests over the years! One of the most common requests I get is from jilted lovers that want to know the truth about their partners.
So, here’s the answer: No, hypnosis can’t make you do anything you don’t want to do.
First of all, if you don’t want to go into hypnosis you simply won’t follow the hypnotist’s directions and as such you won’t go into hypnosis. There’s the first obstacle. You have to want to go into hypnosis in which case it’s very easy. Hypnosis is a one-hundred-percent consent state and if there’s no consent there’s no hypnosis. You have to be willing.
Once you’re in hypnosis you’ll only accept suggestions that are acceptable to you. By acceptable I mean reasonable and pleasing. A suggestion must be both reasonable and pleasing before it’s accepted by the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is the protective part of the mind and so you can’t get people to do what they don’t want to do in hypnosis.
If you think about this for a second it’s obvious. For example I have two wonderful teenage daughters. If I could, as a Board Certified Clinical Hypnotist and as a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, get other people to do what they don’t want to do in hypnosis, my two beautiful daughters bedrooms would always be immaculate! It’s not cool when you’re a teenager (nor reasonable or pleasing) to have an immaculate bedroom and so that suggestion is very definitely rejected. My daughters are not in any way motivated to accept that suggestion. I would be far better off hypnotising myself and giving myself the suggestion to accept and make peace with the fact that living with teenage daughters requires a certain amount of compromise.
Also, if hypnotists could get people to do what they don’t want to do, Scotland Yard would have me on speed dial. I’d also be the Prime Minister, for life, and I’d be considerably wealthier. The trouble is there isn’t enough hypnosis on this planet, or anywhere else, to get people to vote for me or hand over all their money to me. If I or anyone else could get people to do these things using hypnosis, I’m sure hypnosis would be illegal. The politicians don’t like competition.
So, for this reason, whenever a jilted lover phones or writes to me asking me to hypnotise their partner and force their partner to tell me the truth of their indiscretions while in hypnosis, I have to very gently explain that I can’t. I explain as best I can that you can’t get people to do what they don’t want to do in hypnosis. I then give them the details of the local polygraph service!
Troy Robins - Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist based in Oxford & Witney, Oxfordshire in the UK.