Ricki loves her mother, and is understandably concerned for her Mom’s health. When Ricki asked me if hypnosis can be used as an intervention to force her Mom to stop smoking, I had a ready answer for her.
Ricki assumed that if she could only get her Mom in the same room with me, I could hypnotize her into stopping smoking. It is a common notion that hypnotists control the minds of the people that they hypnotize. After all, we see all those people in stage shows acting in silly ways. And, it seems like they are being completely obedient to the commands of the hypnotist.
Perhaps the most significant thing that hypnosis stage show audiences miss, is that a number of the participants will not respond to some suggestions from the hypnotist. I was in a participant in a hypnosis stage show once. The hypnotist gave me the suggestion that it would be as if I had itching powder down my back when he snapped his fingers. He snapped and nothing happened. When he had given me the suggestion I thought to myself, “I don’t think so.” I was feeling wonderfully relaxed, and was not about to give up those good feelings.
There are good reasons that stage hypnotists have multiple volunteers on stage for their shows. One is that only some of the volunteers will respond dramatically to a particular suggestion, and others will respond slightly or not at all. The audience will of course be focused on the volunteers who are most entertaining. “Look honey, Joe is doing a great Elvis. He’s always been so shy!” In the meanwhile, Jane is simply swaying her hips a little, while everyone is watching Joe.
Hypnosis is much more like dancing than a dictatorship. The lady can always refuse to dance in the first place. She can freely choose to dance only waltzes and no tangos. And, if she isn’t enjoying dancing with that handsome partner with two left shoes, she can walk off the dance floor at any time.
All experienced hypnotherapists have worked with a client who just sits there passively and says, “Just hypnotize me, tell me to stop smoking, and wake me when it’s over”. Those clients are all disappointed with the results of their sessions. Then there are the clients who want to keep smoking. Those clients discover that they had complete choice all along, and they do keep smoking, no matter how deeply into hypnosis they went. And, then there are the clients who are determined to be tobacco free, and who cooperate to the best of their ability. Those clients are delighted to discover that hypnosis makes it easy to eliminate the tobacco habit without any withdrawals, cravings or weight gain.
Sorry, Ricki. It’s Mom’s choice.