What makes great hypnotists great

Is Hypnosis Dangerous?

In the minds of many people, hypnosis is associated with manipulation, subliminal influencing and the like. In addition, many people think that there is something supernatural about hypnosis. Hypnosis has even been associated with the devil.

Nevertheless, one hears more and more often what great successes can be achieved with hypnosis, even on a physical level. And what brings with it a certain power can sometimes also harbor dangers.

Anyone who has these images in their head when they think about hypnosis can quickly ask themselves: "Is hypnosis dangerous?"

I'll give you the answer to that question in this article.

So much in advance: Hypnosis is not dangerous if it is used correctly. I also give two examples of how hypnosis can be used incorrectly.

Unfortunately, not all hypnotherapists are very well trained. Therefore it is also important to know the possible dangers of hypnosis if you want to use hypnosis as a therapy.

Since a large part of the question of whether hypnosis is dangerous is related to the question of what hypnosis actually is. So let's start with a short version of this:

What is hypnosis anyway?

This question does not only concern people who are interested in the dangers of hypnosis or who are new to hypnosis. Researchers and practitioners also have different answers to this question.

Some use the word "hypnosis" to mean the hypnotic state, that is, the hypnotic trance. Others mean by hypnosis the process of "hypnotizing", that is, the way into the hypnotic trance.

The broadest definition of hypnosis that suits me best is this: Hypnosis is everything that communicates with the unconscious.

Contact the unconscious

Everyone has a lot of unconscious parts. These are active at all times and perceive our surroundings, filter the information and also react to it. This includes, for example, the heartbeat or body temperature. However, these processes do not, as many believe, happen independently.

For example, if you imagine something embarrassing and then blush at the idea, your thoughts have been influencing something physically.

The summary of the unconscious parts, the contact person for hypnosis, so to speak, is what we call the unconscious.

Some would like to use hypnosis for the show. Others want to use them therapeutically. Addressing the unconscious and picking it up appropriately is one way or another the main component of hypnosis.

Logically everything that is perceived by the human senses can now have a hypnotic effect. If the air is cold and we shudder, that is also hypnosis in the broad definition. The environment naturally harbors its own dangers, so for the clarity of this article I will reduce hypnosis to everything that people can do with their words.

Dangerous unconscious?

So we now know that with hypnosis it is possible to address the unconscious and thus also to influence it in a certain way. The question now is what the unconscious can do and what it can be persuaded to do.

Possibilities of the unconscious

Basically, the unconscious determines almost all body functions. After all, who consciously ensures the right blood pressure or the sending of immune cells?

That means if we can influence the unconscious with hypnosis, should we theoretically also be able to influence all this hypnotically?

In theory yes, but in practice it doesn't look that clear.

Because maybe we can influence the whole thing to a certain extent, but we can never control it completely.

As an example, we can take the heartbeat: we can perhaps slow it down with the right words. This happens, for example, when someone calms down or the stress is reduced. But we cannot command the heart to stop beating.

Almost every process in the body is regulated by various factors. Not all of these can be directly influenced.

The main goal of the unconscious is survival. If the hypnotist's suggestion contradicts this, it is simply ignored.

Many misconceptions about hypnosis happen at this level. Because in the hypnotic trance the unconscious is more active and more open to suggestions, but it is still not easy to talk about everything.

This also partially answers the question: "Does hypnosis make you willless?". Because the will of the conscious mind is perhaps more ignored in the hypnotic trance (e.g. immobile arms / legs or unconscious twitching). But in spite of this, inappropriate suggestions are filtered out.

The unconscious basically wants us to be fine. So we can say that the self-protection of the unconscious protects us from many hypnosis dangers.

What can be dangerous about hypnosis?

Simply saying that hypnosis is 100% safe would not be true. As with any powerful tool, the main danger is user error.
Basically, as I said, we have many filters that protect us from negative influences, but sometimes something goes through.

Example one: dangers of hypnosis botch

I once had an example like this in my practice. It was a woman who had previously been to a "hypnotherapist" to give up smoking. This then gave her subconscious suggestions that smoke was very disgusting. The aversion to smoke is plausible. The guy then used that to link it up so that she should feel sick every time she smells smoke.

This then had the desired effect, every time she smoked she felt sick. So goal achieved, she had to quit smoking.

The vigilant reader will probably be on the trail of danger by now; because there is not only smoke from the cigarette. So my client got sick every time someone else lit a cigarette. Or when your neighbor has fired up his grill. Or when a car had too much exhaust.


The trigger for her visit to me was that she almost died in a house fire. Because when the smoke from the fire began to spread in her apartment, the nonsensical suggestion was activated. This then caused such nausea that she could barely make it out of the house. In the end, the firefighters carried her puked out of the house. She came to me to break this link, which we then did with great success. We then naturally treated smoking in a meaningful way.

This example shows how hypnosis can be dangerous if used improperly. It shows how important a good, in-depth hypnosis training is. The emphasis is on the word "hypnosis" as the next example shows.

Example two: Dangers of standard processes

The second example was published as a study-by-one or as a field report. The protagonists are doctors who wanted to show other doctors the effects of hypnosis in treating pain. In doing so, they apparently followed a standardized process.

In this case, the hypnotist is suggested the effect of the pain reliever novocaine. This is mainly used by dentists and many people are familiar with the numb feeling. In this standardized procedure, however, the client was not asked whether he or she was allergic to novocaine.

The pure suggestion of the drug now triggered an allergic reaction. Fortunately, the anaphylactic shock was not too great, so that the hypnotist, who was also a doctor, was able to terminate the reaction appropriately.

This story shows us that improper use of hypnosis can lead to serious consequences. And this mistake could also be made by a doctor. Fortunately, he was able to repair his damage, otherwise it could have led to bigger problems.

So we see how important hypnosis-based training is when exercising. A medical degree and three days of advanced training in hypnosis for pain can be dangerous.

This also applies in general to hypnosis with standardized processes, which are often used in short training courses. If these are not adapted to the individual, this can also lead to problems in certain cases.

Where else to watch out for hypnosis

In hypnosis, as I said, we use trance. For most people, this is a comfortable and relaxed state of creative focus.

In certain cases, however, this is not the case.

Care should be taken especially in people with schizophrenia. If people with such predispositions are picked up inappropriately (e.g. suggestions of "you are now going deeper and deeper"), this can even trigger relapses. Because someone who is schizophrenic or has schizophrenic traits is already too much in his or her "trance" anyway, it is better to get them out in such cases.

Other examples of inappropriate trances are improper hypnosis of victims of traumatic experiences. Certain people who have experienced traumatic experiences immediately enter this situation mentally when they are led into the hypnotic trance.

In such cases hypnotic sensitivity is also required from the hypnotherapist. If this is not sufficiently pronounced, there is a risk that old wounds will be fully torn open again.

Conclusion: is hypnosis dangerous?

In summary, we can say: Hypnosis is not dangerous if the user knows what he is doing. Due to the great possibilities that hypnosis gives us, in very rare cases great stupid things can be done with it.

If you are looking for a hypnotherapist, it is all the more important to make sure that he has been sufficiently trained and that he has enough experience with difficult topics.

However, if you go to a well-trained and experienced hypnotherapist, hypnosis is safer than many other conventional treatments. The great effect of hypnosis combined with the great safety makes hypnotherapy the ideal treatment method for almost all complaints.