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Movies About Therapy: Hypnosis Myths & Therapy Misconceptions

Movies and pop culture have done a lot of damage to therapy through hypnosis. From making fun of hypnosis to engendering myths and lies, Miami Hypnosis & Therapy is here to bust some of the most common misconceptions. If you’re wondering if what you’ve seen in movies and on television is true or false, read on here for our breakdown of some of the most popular movies about hypnosis.

1.  The Manchurian Candidate

manchurian candidate movie poster

Whether you watch the 1962 original or the 2004 remake, The Manchurian Candidate revolves around hypnosis and mind control. Supposedly the main character is hypnotized by communists during the Korean War. Once returned home, he becomes a US Congressman but is starting to experience PTSD, nightmares, and confusing memories. He eventually uncovers a sinister plot.

The main issue with this movie about therapy is that they treat brainwashing and conditioning the same as hypnosis. These are very different things. Conditioning and brainwashing are usually done through extensive training with the aid of drugs, but hypnosis works due to the power of suggestion. While much of the “hypnosis” in the film is fantastical, there are hypnosis-like elements in the film. Posthypnotic suggestions and triggers are both real. These are words and phrases that can be used to create a predetermined response in a person who was previously hypnotized.

2.  Good Will Hunting

office space movie poster

Good Will Hunting is not really a movie about therapy, but it is a film that makes fun of hypnosis and therapy. He goads and teases his therapist throughout the scenes to make him think that he’s opening up, but in reality, he’s just making fun of the fact that therapy isn’t working on him. The hypnosis scene is another opportunity for Will to dodge questions, as he fakes his reaction to hypnotic suggestion.

While many people tell their therapist what they think they want to hear, most therapists will weather the jokes and faking until they find something real. At Miami Hypnosis & Therapy, we want to help every person who comes to us — whether they believe in therapy or not. There are a lot of techniques we can use to draw out someone who is resistant, but at the end of the day, you have to decide for yourself if you’re willing to let a therapist help you.

3.  Office Space

good will hunting movie poster

A movie about a man who is depressed and hates his life, Office Space is another film that isn’t a movie about therapy but targets an aspect of therapy as a critical plot point. Peter Gibbons is an office drone forced to go to therapy by his girlfriend, but when the hypnotist has a heart attack in the middle of the session, Peter becomes stuck in a hypnotic state.

Now, this is definitely a hypnosis myth, as getting stuck in hypnosis is impossible. A hypnotist or hypnotherapist is never really in control of your mental state. They are simply there as your aid in achieving a different state of mind to help navigate your deeper issues. If you were in the middle of a hypnosis session and something happened to your therapist, you would eventually just wake yourself up in a relatively short amount of time. A hypnotic state would almost never last days upon days as it does in the session.

4.  Get Out

get out movie poster

Chris and his girlfriend, Rose, have reached the point in their relationship where it’s time to meet the parents. As they spend time at her parents’ estate, strange things begin to happen that end up with Chris hypnotized and his conscious mind taken over by another person’s. The hypnotic trance is created by a spoon stirring a cup of tea, while a camera flash is one example where a hypnotized person was able to snap out of a hypnotic state.

One thing that is true in this scenario is the fixation device. In a movie about therapy, this is often the cliché of a swinging watch. Fixating on a hypnotic rhythm or movement helps your mind disassociate and prepares it for entering a hypnotic state. One thing that is definitely not true about this film is being able to hypnotize someone who actively resists you.

Miami Hypnosis & Therapy

Hopefully, debunking these hypnosis myths helps you feel a little more comfortable about speaking to our experts about getting help for your issues through hypnotherapy. It is not a movie therapy myth that you can work on addiction issues, pain management, anxiety, and more with the help of integrative hypnotherapy and counseling. If you have any questions about how hypnosis works, reach out to our experienced team here!

Anna Marchenko

Anna Marchenko, LMHC, M.A., Ed.M. is the principal therapist at Miami Hypnosis and Therapy. She holds a bachelor's degree from NYU and dual masters degrees from Columbia University. Marchenko’s hypnosis certification is from the only hypnosis program in Florida that has been certified by the state’s Board of Education. She helps her clients by utilizing an integrative approach to psychotherapy, tailored to each individual’s mental health journey, drawing from hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, NLP therapy, EMDR, and more.

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