About 10 - 15% of the population is highly hypnotisable and about the same is not, with the rest falling somewhere on the spectrum in between. But what makes one person more hypnotisable than the next?
The origins of hypnosis go back millennia but in our more recent history it has garnered a dodgy reputation. The entertainment industry has fuelled this macabre unreality with horror films and stage shows, depicting people acting against their will coerced by a tyrannical hypnotist or humiliated for a cheap joke.
The reality couldn’t be more different. A hypnotherapist cannot make you do something against your will. Firstly, to be hypnotised you have to want to do it, no one can hypnotise you against your will and no hypnotherapist can make you do anything you don’t want to do. Besides from consent and a willingness to attempt hypnosis the science behind it is still contested. However, studies show that there is something going on in the brain when people are hypnotised, and that people who are highly hypnotisable have different stuff going on with their brain to those who are less hypnotisable.
A theory by psychologist Auke Tellegen proposed that people who have a High Absorption Personality trait are more susceptible to hypnosis and he developed a test called the Tellegen Absorption Scale. People with this trait are able to go deep into their imagination where they can fantasise and relive memories. They get sucked into watching films and forget about their surrounds. People with this trait are more likely to be open minded. If you want to find out where you are on the Tellegen Absorption Scale you can take the simple questionnaire here.
However hypnosis can not be explained simply by personality, there may be other behavioural phenomenon, biological, cognitive and social components. Back to the science tests then…
Data from MRI scans showed how areas of the brain associated with executive control and attention tend to have less activity in people who cannot be put into a hypnotic trance, whereas highly hypnotisable participants showed greater co-activation between components of the executive-control network and the salience network.
In my own opinion the most important starting point is to consider that hypnosis can work… and it really can. If you’d like to find out more about how it could help you then please click on the contact button.