But, what exactly is hypnosis? Merriam-Webster defines it as: a trancelike state that resembles sleep but is induced by a person whose suggestions are readily accepted by the subject.
In this trance-like state, one is more open to suggestion and, yes, can be more easily talked into twirling like a ballerina or dancing like Michael Jackson.
Besides stage-shows, hypnotists and hypnotherapists are sometimes sought out by those looking to overcome addictions and even help ease the pain of child birth or migraines.
Penny Chiasson is a practicing hypnotist in Flowood, and has helped clients with issues ranging from chronic pain, smoking and teeth grinding to headaches, nail-biting and weight-loss, just to name a few.
While being trained in hypnosis at the American School of Clinical Hypnosis International (yes, there is a school for hypnotists), she is also a Board Certified Hypnotist, Certified Professional Hypnotist Instructor, a Member of the National Guild of Hypnotists, and, if that were not enough, she is also Board Certified in Nurse Anesthesia.
So let’s say you schedule a session with Chiasson. She says that your first meeting would usually consist of spending time talking about hypnosis and to clear up any misconceptions you may have about what it is. First, she says, contrary to popular belief, hypnosis is not mind control.
“When someone is is hypnosis, they can choose at any time to participate or not to participate,” she says. In other words, a hypnotist can not make someone do what they do not want to do. Chiasson also says that if she were to hypothetically pass out while she had someone hypnotized, that person would not ‘stay under’ for the rest of eternity. “After a few minutes you’re gonna be sitting there thinking Okay she’s not talking and you’re going to open your eyes and look around.”
But the image of a hypnotist swinging a watch back and forth, that’s real. It’s called eye fatigue and it’s caused by someone focusing on one point and, as Chaisson describes, “everything fuzzes out and you get [the eyes] going from side to side and it engages how the right brain and the left brain work together and you can begin to induce hypnosis.”
f you go to a hypnotist looking to overcome a habit, Chiasson says that you must actually be ready to change. “Hypnosis does not negate your free will,” she explains. “Hypnosis makes it easier to follow through on your desire. There is no magic arm that is going to pull your hand away from your face and keep you from having that cigarette… When you get to the grocery store, if you start to turn down the cookie aisle, the hypnosis isn’t gonna say Nuh-uh-uh.”
But if one is serious about taking control of a craving, let’s say smoking, the most popular habit she is asked to help quash, she says that a typical session would have a “suggestion component,” meaning that while the client is in hypnosis, she would provide suggestions that the cigarette no longer matters, smoking is a thing of the past and that the client has decided that they are now a non-smoker.
Before you discount this, according to a survey by The Truth Initiative, quitting smoking cold turkey has a success rate around 5 percent. With treatments such as a nicotine patch, nicotine lozenges or the prescription drug Chantix, the success rate rises to about 20 percent. Chiasson says that with the clients who come to her for smoking dependency, she has a success rate of 50 percent or higher.
And according to a study published by the American College of Chest Physicians, “Smoking patients who participated in one hypnotherapy session were more likely to be nonsmokers at 6 months compared with patients using nicotine replacement therapy alone or patients who quit ‘cold turkey.’”
But not all sessions are created equal and a patient coming in to quit smoking would not get the same session as one coming in for migraine troubles. First, anyone coming to Chiasson for a medical problem must first get a referral from their physician. After the all clear, she says a migraine appointment would revolve around suggestions associated with comfort.
Because migraines can be caused by vasoconstriction, which is the narrowing of blood vessels, a popular visualization technique is to have the client imagine a nice cool evening around a camp fire. They are relaxed and have their feet and hands extended, feeling the imaginary heat from the imaginary flame and what this does is that it tricks the body and triggers a biological physiological response to dilate the blood vessels which takes the pressure away from the migraine.
Although every migraine is not the same, she says that “if you teach [those who suffers from migraines] stress reduction techniques… you can minimize and lessen the migraines.” Chiasson then goes on to say that “anything that is influenced by stress can be helped with hypnosis,” whether that be high blood pressure or stomach issues.