Generations of theorists have offered various interpretations of what hypnosis is, how it works, and what it can do.
Most practitioners agree that an essential characteristic of hypnosis involves the bypass of the conscious mind, thereby enabling the hypnotist to work directly with an individual's subconscious mind. Deep relaxation is often associated with hypnosis, but is not a prerequisite.
The second factor that is recognized as part of a hypnotic state is a level of highly selective thinking that is acceptable to the person who is hypnotized. Research has shown that the hypnotic state is an integrated state comprised of beta, alpha, and theta brain frequencies. Hypnotists do not diagnose maladies, but rather are more concerned with eliminating unwanted behavior. The process involves accessing the subconscious mind of the client and discovering the root cause of the presenting problem, so that it may be eliminated. This is possible because our subconscious minds remember everything we’ve ever felt, said, thought, or done. Often events in life provoke internal negative emotions. If these emotions are left to fester, they can manifest in negative ways.
Charles Tebbetts created a diagram that helps to explain how the mind reacts to destructive emotions.
A genuine trust and rapport must exist between the client and hypnotist, principally because most hypnosis is actually self-hypnosis; therefore, a hypnotist becomes a client’s guide or “conductor” by mutual agreement and tacit contract. An individual’s fear of hypnosis will affect the session. Fear prevents hypnosis from happening, so fears must be identified and eliminated. Some people are afraid to surrender control, forgetting that they always actually have the choice whether or not to remain in hypnosis. Some people fear that hidden secrets might be revealed.
Other misconceptions about hypnosis also abound, the most common being that people associate it with sleep. People who have been hypnotized for the first time often believe they have not entered into an altered state because they have remained alert and have heard everything that has transpired. In fact, a hyper-alertness is characteristic of the hypnotic state, as well as other symptoms, including a tingling in one’s fingers or hands, a feeling of floating, and a feeling of heaviness in the arms and legs. Such symptoms are idiosyncratic to each person.
Once the somnambulism state is achieved, a deepening of the trance allows for lasting benefits. People find they are able to free themselves from a variety of physical and emotional problems, which may be rooted in childhood trauma, guilt, anxiety, and/or anger.
Several tests for depth of trance are a part of proven inductions, and offer helpful confirmation to client and hypnotist alike. Such demonstration that an altered state of consciousness was achieved can provide helpful feedback. Lasting and valuable work can be accomplished through hypnosis and guided imagery when the trust between client and “conductor” engenders rapport and confident expectation.
The discovery of hypnosis is often ascribed to Anton Mesmer (1734-1815), a Vienna-trained physician who discovered the power of suggestion and the enormous healing power that it offered to his patients.
Thousands of years prior to Mesmer, ancient sleep temples induced individuals into trance and guided them to find the cause and cure of their maladies.
Hypnosis, as it is known today, was discovered by the Marquis de Puysegur (1781-1825), a retired French officer. Puysegur’s findings were furthered by Joseph Phillipe François Deleuze (1753-1835), a librarian to the French Royal Botanical and Zoological Gardens, who discovered that suggestions given to a person during hypnosis would manifest during the waking state. Jose Custodio de Faria (1755-1819), an itinerant priest from Portugal, concluded in 1815 that a subject must be willing to cooperate with a hypnotist for any meaningful work to happen. In 1837, John Elliotson (1791-1868), a professor of surgery in London and also the inventor of the stethoscope. began using the hypnotic state with patients in order to perform painless surgery and to give relief to nervous disorders. Despite enormous successes, his work was thoughtlessly condemned by his conservative colleagues. In 1842, Dr. James Esdaile (1808-1859), a Scottish physician practicing surgery in Calcutta, applied Elliotson’s discoveries to induce anesthesia in his patients during surgery. Using hypnosis with thousands of patients. the mortality rate dropped from fifty to five percent. Despite the astounding success of his work, the British medical establishment rejected his findings.
Dr. James Braid (1795-1860) is sometimes called the ‘father of modern hypnosis’. In fact, he coined the term for hypnotism, deriving it from the Greek word hypnos - for sleep. Since Braid, many researchers have added new understandings and discoveries to this ancient form of healing that have subsequently succeeded in helping countless individuals.
Hypnosis & guided imagery have provided effective aid to people who have sought help for their physical and emotional problems, including:
• Phobias and fears
• Clearing negative resonant energy anchors carried from childhood and before
• Issues of forgiveness
• Enhancement of abilities
• Renewed confidence
• Smoking cessation
• Weight loss
• Chronic pain complaints (must be referred by a physician)
• Assistance with cancer symptoms - pain, nausea