Mind 4 min read

But Really, Is Hypnosis Real?

by Natasha Wanderly April 19, 2019

In theaters and nightclubs all across the globe, curious minds gather to watch mysterious (and typically highly entertaining) hypnosis shows.

During these shows, audience members are gifted the pleasure of watching as “chosen ones” perform strange feats of the supposedly subconscious mind — clucking around like chickens, falling asleep randomly, laughing hysterically for no apparent reason… you know the drill.

Now, there are generally three types of people in the crowd:

  1. Those mesmerized by the act.
  2. Those crossing their arms in disbelief.
  3. Those looking back and forth between the two, wondering, what even is this? Is hypnosis real? Does hypnosis work?

If you are reading this article, our guess is that you fall somewhere between the person in disbelief and the person in questioning, is hypnosis real?

Here’s the thing— hypnosis is real.

And actually, you enter a state of hypnosis at least two times a day.

How Does Hypnosis Work?

what is hypnosis?

For those of you asking “is hypnosis real?” we know that the simple answer of “yes,” won’t relieve your curiosity.

So let’s get technical.

For a more thorough scientific explanation, check out our post, How Does Hypnosis Work? A Scientific Understanding.  

The hypnotic state exists between normal waking consciousness and sleeping. Scientists use EEG (electroencephalography) to measure states of consciousness through brainwaves.

Brainwaves are categorized into 5 groups based on frequency (from highest to lowest):

Gamma (above 40 Hz) — The Insight Wave

Beta (14 – 40 Hz) — The Waking Consciousness and Reason Wave

Alpha (7.5 – 14 Hz) — The Deep Relaxation Wave

Theta (4 – 7.5 Hz) — The Meditation and Sleeping Wave

Delta (.5 – 4 Hz) — The Deep Sleep Wave

Higher frequencies are associated with high intensity alertness, while lower frequencies are associated with relaxation.

During normal waking consciousness, our brains are typically functioning in the beta frequency. As we enter deep sleep, our brainwaves lower all the way to delta (unconsciousness).

The magic of hypnosis is that it lowers our brainwaves from the beta frequency to the midrange frequencies of alpha and theta — between the conscious and unconscious. Within these midrange brainwaves, the subconscious mind is expressed through emotion and vivid imagery.

How hypnosis heals

In this hypnotic state, the subconscious mind is open, focused, and highly suggestible.

EEG readings show that we can actually fall into a states of hypnosis (of varying intensity) several times throughout the day. Not just before falling into deep sleep and before waking, but also while daydreaming, getting lost in a book, and even while doing something repetitive like driving home from work.

You know that feeling of being so into a book or movie that the rest of the world seems to disappear and you lose track of time? That is a state of hypnosis. Surely, you are familiar with this flow-type state in one way or another.

Okay, But Is Hypnotism Real?

How does hypnosis work?

So, is hypnosis real?

Yes, hypnosis is a real state of mind.

But is hypnotism real? Is it possible that this state of hypnosis can be intentionally induced?

Okay, so, those people crossing their arms in disbelief, explaining to their excited friends that it’s all an act, may have a point. Perhaps they have never been able to be hypnotized, so they believe it’s a hoax.

This makes perfect sense.

If you don’t believe you can be hypnotized, you are right. You can’t.

Is hypnotism real on stage?

You can only be hypnotized if you are open to being hypnotized. Otherwise, you block out the ability. This is good, because we wouldn’t want to be hypnotized by random people on the street.

This can make stage hypnosis a bit tricky.

While some people on stage are inevitably faking it, some really are in a state of hypnosis.

Hypnotism is real, even on stage (sometimes).

How is hypnosis performed?

How does the hypnotist pick out someone who really believes they can be hypnotized amongst a crowd of people who are potentially just seeking the attention of the spotlight?

The hypnotist chooses certain people from the crowd by judging their suggestibility. This works because some people are naturally much more suggestible than others.

These highly suggestible people are known as somnambulists, and studies show that they make up about 10% – 15% of the population.

Before the show, the hypnotist will find the somnambulists by interacting with a group of contestants. The hypnotist will ask questions and take note of each person’s answers and reactions. They look out for specific body language, vocal tones, eye movements, and more.

Do you ever see contestants discarded from stage? That is because they aren’t passing the “somnambulist test.”

So, if you don’t believe in hypnosis, you aren’t going to be hypnotized (and you aren’t likely to be called up on stage, at the dismay of your pending acting career).

If you do believe you can be hypnotized but you aren’t naturally very suggestible, fret not. You can actually learn to become more suggestible.

Who Invented Hypnosis?


Is hypnosis real on stage?Since hypnosis is a state of mind that everyone encounters at least twice a day, it can’t really be “invented.”

In fact, hypnosis has been an adorned mental state since ancient Egypt and Greece (and perhaps earlier). In Greek mythology, hypnos is the God of Sleep (literally meaning “to sleep”). So, we could say that ancient Greece actually “invented” the term hypnosis.

But who turned this mysterious state into a world wide practice of medicine?

The controversial evolution of hypnosis

Most accurately, we can look to a man by the name of Dr. Franz Mesmer. In Paris, during the late 18th century, he made a discovery that would shape the field of psychiatry forevermore.

Dr. Mesmer noticed that some of his patients could be spontaneously healed, just by making changes in their state of consciousness.

He described this ability to change states of consciousness as a type of magnetism. It sounds strange to us now, but he actually called this discovery “Animal Magnetism.”

But it wasn’t quite a “discovery.” More accurately, it was more a rediscovery. A rediscovery of a powerful tool from ancient times: the controlled induction of trance-like states of consciousness for healing.

Although his work had extraordinary medical potential, his methods were fear, shut down, and “proven” false at the order of King Louis XVI. Animal Magnetism was stigmatized and banned from medical practices.

However, he had many strong devotees and his practices were still used in secret. Overtime, they expanded and evolved, becoming known as mesmerism.

Perhaps the word mesmerize makes a bit more sense now?

Over the next century, mesmerism stood strong and evolved into the modern field of neuro-hypnosis (nerve sleep), or hypnosis for short… Taking the concept all the way back to ancient Greece.

Moreover, this exciting and personally healing concept of hypnosis has even evolved outside of professional medical settings.

What is hipnotizame?

Hipnotízame is an enclitic form of Spanish verb hipnotizar. So, what does that mean for us English speakers? Quite simply, “Hypnotize me.”

In further translation, this term refers to the idea that you can actually hypnotize yourself.

Self hypnosis.

That’s right — no hypnotherapy appointments, no hypnotist, no bills; just you working intimately with your own mind. After all, no one knows you like you do.

The concept of self hypnosis has become increasingly popular over the ages. You can learn even more about it in our guide to all things self hypnosis.

So, What’s The Verdict?

Is hypnosis real?

Yes, hypnosis is real; but you can only become hypnotized if you are ready and willing.

If you are ready and willing, hypnosis can be used as a tool for deep healing (not just to entertain your friends). Being hypnotized by a trained therapist, called hypnotherapy, is revered as deeply life changing.

Maria Peer (author of Mindvalley’s brilliant Uncompromised Life program) is one of the top hypnotherapists of our day. If you’d like to receive the quickest and most effective type of hypnotherapy available today, check out her Rapid Transformational Hypnotherapy.  

If you are interested in learning more about hypnotherapy and how it works read our post, Hypnotherapy.

What do you think, is hypnotism real for you? 

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