There are different types of amnesia, but each involves memory loss. When someone has had a painful past experience part of the post-traumatic consequences often include amnesia. Amnesia can also be induced by drugs or caused by physical trauma or disease to the brain. So how does amnesia – a seemingly undesirable state of being – fit into the process of hypnosis?
There are different schools of thought on whether inducing amnesia should be a part of hypnotherapy. Hypnosis techniques, which rely heavily on the power of suggestion as a way to encourage new behaviors or break old habits, seldom use amnesia as part of the therapy. The use of amnesia in hypnosis does actually rely on suggestive powers. In this case, the suggestion is that the person undergoing hypnosis forgets – at least temporarily.
The human mind is naturally quite forgetful. We get millions of different messages each day, yet only remember what we consciously choose to remember. A good example of the truthfulness of this has been the subject of many experiments in how observant people generally are. In these experiments, a person enters a room and causes a disruption drawing attention to himself. When all the people in the room are asked to describe the person the results are widely varied, even though the people observed him for a few minutes. Hypnosis relies on the mind’s ability to quickly forget that which it doesn’t even know it has experienced.
In a typical hypnosis session, one of the final steps is referred to as the amnesia phase. It is designed to scramble the memory. Lasting only a mere minute, it helps the person undergoing hypnosis to avoid over-analyzing the suggestions or scripts introduced to them during the session. The amnesia induced during hypnosis is short-lived. The purpose of this is that the information obtained during hypnosis is something you want to remember – subconsciously at first, and then eventually as part of conscious decision-making. The reason for forgetting temporarily is to avoid that immediate analysis. Posthypnotic amnesia is also sometimes referred to as function amnesia because of this fact.
While the brain is naturally forgetful to some degree, it is also naturally analytical. When too much analysis occurs too soon following hypnosis, it can be mentally stressful to the person who just when through the hypnosis. This can negatively affect the impact of the script and the ability to make the desired changes.
Allowing yourself to be hypnotized also involves a willingness to forget. To prepare for hypnosis make sure you:
1. Have an open mind
2. Are willing to listen to the suggestive powers
3. Come prepared to relax completely
4. Understand you may not immediately remember all that was said during a session, but that the message you need has been delivered
5. Avoid trying to remember and analyze all that you’ve heard
Understanding that amnesia is an important and effective part of the whole process of hypnosis will help you get more from each session. Come prepared with an open mind and enjoy the experience. You don’t have to remember it all for it to make real changes in your life.