Hypnosis is purported to be a cure-all for almost anything. People tout hypnosis for weight loss, playing better in sports, achieving great things in business, and generally making you a much happier person. If it can do all that, can it help people stop smoking?

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It’s not quite that simple. We have to look at what hypnosis really is, and we’ll start by saying what it’s not.

When most people think of hypnosis, they think of those guys who go on television, put people to sleep, then make them bark like dogs and cluck like chickens. While those types of things are entertaining, that’s not quite the same hypnosis that’s done by trained, qualified professionals.

The term “hypnosis” actually comes from the Greek god of sleep, who had the same name. It got the name because essentially that’s what the principle of hypnosis is, though not necessarily so literal. In essence, the purpose of hypnosis is to put people into a comfortable and restful state, sometimes the first stage subconscious state of sleep, then help by giving suggestions for how that person wants to feel, or what they want to give up. Often these messages are supplemented by music of some kind that helps maintain the relaxed state.

Hypnosis affects different people different ways. The most important thing to know is that if you don’t want to be hypnotized, you can’t be. For it to work, you have to be willing to be guided into this relaxed state.

Some people know what’s going on every step of the way, while others fall asleep and don’t remember anything. Listening to tapes and CDs later on while you’re alone is supposed to help reinforce whatever you went to the hypnotist for in the first place. In essence, what you’re doing is something that almost every person does a couple of times a day on their own without realizing it, such as daydreaming, only in this case they’re allowing themselves to be guided.

Where the derision against hypnosis comes in isn’t whether or not it’s effective in any way. There are two major lines of thought where critics have a problem with it.

The first issue is the promise that hypnosis is an easy way to quit smoking. Critics assert that it’s not ever easy to quit smoking, and that the reality of smoking cessation is that it would take multiple visits to start showing true signs that a person is really giving up cigarettes, and that time doesn’t go much faster than going to see a therapist.

Whereas some hypnotists acknowledge the criticism, what they counter with is that most people see the process of trying to stop smoking as a negative emotion, and with hypnosis they’ll start seeing it as a positive step in their lives, and positive emotions always make people work better than negative emotions.

The second criticism is that the cost of CDs or videos are just ways for hypnotists to make more money and don’t really do anything. Therapists who also provide hypnosis as part of treatment counter the second part, saying their patients usually come out of their trance state feeling positive about things in general, including whatever they went under for, and that they often come back the next time saying that listening to the tapes and watching the videos helped them stay on course. Not all hypnotists charge their clients for extra material, although it’s not beyond reason to believe some of the costs of the materials are built into the price of the sessions, which is the same method that hospitals use.

Can hypnosis work towards smoking cessation? The answer is yes for some people, no for others; just like every other smoking cessation method. But if you can free your mind and allow someone else to help you control your thoughts, you might feel better with hypnosis.
 

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