Although hypnosis has been repeatedly shown to be able to assist individuals with a number of different problems, ranging from overcoming phobias to kicking bad habits and from reducing pain to speeding up the healing process, a number of different myths and misconceptions remain in place to this day. Some of these misconceptions include:

Mind control. Thanks to a number of different movies, comic books, and other works of fiction, many people believe that hypnosis is a form of mind control or brainwashing. While this certainly serves for an interesting plot line and can help sell books and tickets to movies, it is entirely fictitious. Hypnosis does not give a person control over another person. Rather, it helps that person to gain control over his or her own mind.

Special powers. Some also believe that hypnotherapists have special powers. After all, they must be able to perform some sort of magic in order to get such great results, right? Wrong! A hypnotherapist doesn't have any special powers. Rather, he or she simply understands the techniques necessary to help a person unlock the powers of his or her own mind and to make the person more susceptible to suggestion. This misconception has been brought about by stage shows, which may be quite entertaining but do not reflect the true use and purpose of hypnosis.

Losing awareness. Another popular misconception is that the person being hypnotized is unaware of his or her surroundings or is unconscious while in a hypnotic trance. To a certain extent, this myth is perpetuated by hypnotists as they use the term "sleep" when putting a person in a hypnotic state and the term "awake" when bringing them back out. In addition, the word hypnosis is actually derived from a word that means sleep in Greek. In reality, the hypnotized person is in a relaxed trance during which he or she is always aware at some level and remains alert.

Only the weak can be hypnotized. Some also believe that only weak-minded individuals can e hypnotized. This goes back to the misconception that hypnosis is a form of mind control and, as such, a person capable of being hypnotized is too weak-minded to resist the control. According to research, however, a person's intelligence or level of gullibility has nothing to do with how easily he or she can be put into a hypnotic trance. Sex and race have no bearing either, though some research does suggest that their could be a genetic link associated with how easily a person can or cannot be hypnotized.

It's all imaginary. Some also mistakenly believe that hypnosis is all the result of an overactive imagination. In actuality, research has found that those people that are more imaginative actually do not do quite as well with hypnosis. In addition, PET scans have actually showed changes in blood flow in the brain while in a hypnotic state.

As hypnosis becomes more understood, it also becomes more accepted by the medical community. Numerous studies have found that hypnosis can be very beneficial in a variety of ways and that it is time to put these top five myths to rest.

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