If you are conscious, have an IQ higher than about 80 (average is 100), have the ability to concentrate, and also have the ability to dream - then you can be hypnotised.
You see, hypnosis is a perfectly normal state of consciousness that you will enter into maybe several times a day. Hypnosis is just an altered state of awareness. If you've ever been lost in a book; engrossed by a film or TV program; realised you have no recollection of the road you've been driving along for 20 minutes; or daydreamed; then you have been in an altered state.
The only difference between those examples and formal hypnosis is that with formal hypnosis you are directed into that altered state by the hypnotherapist, rather than by your environment.
Usually though, when people ask 'Can I be hypnotised?' what they are really asking is 'Will this treatment work?'
And whether or not the treatment will work depends not just on whether or not an individual can be hypnotised, but on how suggestible they are. Suggestibility, as the word suggests, is responsiveness to suggestion. Most people are responsive to suggestion. If they weren't then there would be no adverts on TV, radio, or in the press. Let's face it; there isn't a single thing that is advertised on TV, radio, press, billboard, or anywhere else, that we couldn't live without; not one thing that is essential to our well-being and good health.
Yet most of the things we buy are bought in response to the idea that our life experience will somehow be enhanced by our new possession - not because it's true, but because we are suggestible. The suggestions are so subtle that we will hotly contest any suggestion that we were influenced by the ad. The ad might have drawn our attention to it (attention=subliminal suggestion), and let us know that it was available (available=subliminal suggestion), and produced by a 'brand-name' (brand-name=subliminal suggestion); and use key words like 'free', 'extras', 'value', 'less than?', 'health', 'vitality', 'young', 'tests have proved', 'scientists?', 'modern', '9 out of 10', 'x% fat free'; along with words and phrases that suggest you will be left behind in the past if you ignore this opportunity to possess?
The ads do all of this and we all think we are making a free choice, uninfluenced.
Those who deny their own suggestibility and defend their freedom of mind to choose independently of outside influences are simply fooling themselves. From the point of view of the therapist, a client who is 'resistant' to suggestion i.e. someone who won't allow another to tell them what to do, is simply treated by asking them to do the opposite of what is required.
Stage hypnotists use suggestibility tests (such as the hand-clasp) on their audience in order to select suitable participants.
Here's one you can try on a group friends who might like to find out if they can be hypnotised.
* to close their eyes and hold both their arms out horizontally in front of them, palms facing down.
* to rotate their left wrist so that that palm is now facing upwards.
* to imagine a big heavy book like an encyclopaedia volume being placed on their upturned palm.
* to imagine they can feel that heavy book pressing down on their hand.
* to imagine a big brightly coloured helium balloon being tied by a bright red ribbon to the wrist of their right hand so that it takes the weight of the arm and lifts it upwards.
* to add more books to the left hand and more balloons to the right hand until your 'audience' is demonstrating a significant difference in level between both their arms.
* to open their eyes and look at how their arms have moved.
This is suggestibility in action. It only doesn't work if it is actively resisted.
If there is any response to these suggestions then that individual can be hypnotised, because they just have been.
Hypnosis works because the client goes along with the suggestions of the therapist, i.e. doesn't resist them.
So if you think you can't be hypnotised, forget it, everyone is hypnotised, every thought we have is somehow influenced by the thought that went before it, and if someone else put that prior thought into your mind by asking you not to think about chocolate, and sometime later that day you find yourself eating your favourite chocolate bar?
Michael J. Hadfield MBSCH is a registered clinical hypnotherapist.