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What is Hypnosis?
Change For Good,® Inc.
To understand Hypnosis, one must first recognize that we experience life in two distinctly different realms: the conscious and the subconscious. The part of your mind you are using right now to read this paragraph is what we refer to as your conscious mind. It may seem to be the part of your mind that is most “awake” during your life. Your subconscious mind seems to be in a kind of sleep mode as
can be evidenced by the often-used phrases such as, “I must have done that subconsciously,” as if to say you were unaware of your having done it.
Being in hypnosis or in a “trance” state is something you are quite used to. For example, you are driving in a car and suddenly you find yourself at your final destination. You cannot remember actually driving there, and you dismiss it to some kind of daydreaming. You were operating your vehicle in a safe manner; however, your attention drifted to some thoughts, which put you in a kind of trance. This is very much like the feeling of hypnosis. Your are aware of what is going on around you; however, your conscious mind is resting so your subconscious mind can readily accept, retain and act upon positive suggestions.
What Protection Do I Have?
To keep us safe from unwanted suggestions during our life, we have what can be described as a network or lens through which we see life. This is often referred to as the “critical faculty” and serves up a set of beliefs from which we have gathered throughout our lives. It is impossible for any suggestion that violates any moral or ethical boundaries to penetrate the critical faculty. During hypnosis, you only act upon those suggestions that you find to be beneficial and are within your own standards. It is important to know that you are not a blank slate while in hypnosis. You would not do anything under hypnosis that you would not be comfortable in the non-hypnotic state.
Will I Cluck Like a Chicken?
Many people view hypnosis as they have seen on TV or in the movies in a stage show environment. They imagine people on stage demonstrating a wide variety of silly acts such as dancing like Madonna or barking like a dog. What you are
seeing is someone, who has come to the show, has volunteered to go up on stage, and within their own moral and ethical standards, act wacky and have fun. There is a very broad suggestive contract with the hypnotist in that case. The person that submits to this type of fun is fully aware that what they are about to get into will more than likely result in some kind of unusual behavior. However,
it should be noted that if the stage show participant who clucked like a chicken was to go into the hypnotist’s office the next day and was given the same suggestion, nothing would result.
Can Everyone Be Hypnotized?
Yes, everyone can reach the tranquil state of hypnosis, since it is something that comes naturally anyway. Sometimes people reach deeper states than others and some faster. When people need a little more time, it usually means they are a bit afraid of losing control. This is a misunderstood concept since hypnosis can offer the individual more control in their life than they are normally used to.
Hypnosis vs. Hypnotherapy: What is the Difference?
Hypnosis is the state you are in, while hypnotherapy is a technique that is used when a person is in that state. Hypnotherapy has proven to be one of the most rapid and effective ways to correct bad habits, improve performance and relieve suffering. A skilled hypnotherapist has the ability to find the root of a person’s difficulty and then correct the problem at its origin.
Through the use of hypnotherapy, you can solve problems which have been hard to overcome with willpower and discipline. After the root of the problem has been discovered, you are then taught self-hypnosis techniques to reinforce the progress made during your session. Teaching the client self-mastery and self-discovery makes the therapy permanent and effective.
Many people wait years before trying hypnotherapy to solve problems which have lingered for years, even decades.
A Hypnosis Time-Line
Frans Anton Mesmer is considered to be the “father of hypnosis.” He was the first to scientifically explain hypnosis. He was able to create convulsive states that resulted in extraordinary healings. The frequently used term “mesmerized” is coined after Frans Mesmer.
Father Gassner was a Catholic priest. He was the first to produce a calm trance state. He hypnotized people in the cathedral, circling them with a candle-lit crucifix, repeating the word “sleep”, creating deathlike trance states.
Marquis Chastenet De Puysegur was the first to induce a somnambulism state, and to apply this hypnotic technique to diagnose disease. He “magnetized” an elm tree in his home town of Buzancy, France.
Abbe Jose Castodi De Faria was the first scientific researcher to assert that in order to assert a trance induction, the subject’s consent, expectations and psychological attitudes were crucial.
John Elliotson was a professor of theory and a physician. He practiced with trance states to eliminate pain in a surgical setting and dispelled the belief that pain was necessary for healing.
James Braid is the true “father of hypnosis.” He was the first to point out central elements, both physical and psychological, to the development of trance: eye fatigue plus willing belief and expectation of subject. He named the phenomena “hypnotism.”
James Esdaile documented the results of several thousand minor and approximately 300 major operations, including amputations, that were performed through the use of hypnosis, creating a pain-free surgery and dramatically reduced the death rate, particularly those related to post-operative shock.
Ambroise August Liebault and Hippolite Bernheim Liebault demonstrated that suggestion alone, even without eye fatigue, was all that was necessary to produce a trance. Bernheim learned of Liebault’s work and, being a neurologist, pronounced Liebault’s work a fraud. However, after much investigation, he became a believer. He used Liebault’s methods and applied them to his own practice and accomplished outstanding results, which he carefully documented and produced a reference for medical hypnosis called “Suggestive Therapeutics.” Together, they founded the “School of Nancy” in France, the first institution to base therapeutic use of hypnosis on scientific principles.
James Martin Charcot was a physician. He was the first to recognize and test
distinct levels of trance states. Unfortunately, his misconceptions and convictions that hypnosis was a form of hysteria and that only hysterics could be hypnotized were also accepted.
Dr. Josef Breuer discovered that unconscious, unresolved experiences are at
the root of conscious symptoms; that once the unconscious memory is re-made conscious, the symptoms disappear and would transform the effectiveness of therapy and hypnosis. Until this point, the root source of the symptom was never addressed and would continually reappear. Breuer disclosed his treatment process with Sigmund Freud.
is considered the “father of modern psychoanalysis.” He was a student of hypnosis with Liebault, Bernheim & Charcot. However, he became bored by the monotony of hypnotic therapy and disillusioned that many were unresponsive to
his authoritarian techniques. Since his authoritarian methods didn’t work, he then concluded that hypnosis didn’t work. He built on the insights of Breuer and experienced better results with free association in the waking state. Due to his intellectual dishonesty in misrepresenting his findings, he practically single-handedly destroyed the field of hypnosis, claiming that psychoanalysis had rightly
supplanted the inferior methods of hypnosis. Thanks to Freud and the growing sophistication of drug therapies, it would take the First World War to create conditions for the re-emergence of hypnosis. (Remember the frequently used
phrase “Freudian slip”?)
J.G. Watkins was the author of the book “Hypnotherapy of War Neuroses,” which describes the use of hypnosis to rapidly heal war trauma in thousands of soldiers. He utilized the simple formula of regressing the client to the root experience of the symptom and eliciting abreaction of repressed emotions, whereupon symptoms disappeared.
R.M. Linder coined the term “hypnoanalysis” to describe his work of combining psychoanalysis and hypnosis.
L.R. Wolbergn promoted the use of hypnoanalysis in his book “Medical Hypnosis” to treat compulsive disorders.
B. Gindes coined the term “hypnothesis” in his book “New Concepts of Hypnosis,” which describes the approach of first accessing repressed material and then integrating change comprehensively throughout the personality.
Leslie Lecron was a clinical psychologist who advanced the use of hypnosis as a therapeutic tool and made it accessible to the layman with his book “Self-Hypnotism.”
Milton Erickson was a Psychiatrist and had a huge impact on all therapeutic
philosophy and really brought about a new respectability for hypnotherapy. He created innovative approaches to the use of hypnosis as a therapeutic tool capable of creating rapid healing and psychic reorganization in clients. As a result of his work, both the AMA and the APA had endorsed hypnosis. (want to explain what the AMA & APA are? American Medical Assn & what’s APA)
Dave Elman advanced the use of hypnosis medically and dentally through
training thousands of doctors and dentists across the United States. He created rapid induction techniques and demystified the phenomena of hypnotic trance.
Walter Sichort discovered and defined three additional trance depth levels
below somnambulism – coma, cationic and ultradepth.
John Grinder & Richard Bandler are the founders of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP). Using the analysis of various “modalities”, they decoded the human experience in a way that allowed quick and easy cures for phobias and other modifications of event-driven behavior.
James Maynard created Transpersonal Hypnotherapy, fusing psychosynthesis
models with the hypnosis.
Modern Day Alternative “Therapy of Choice”
In the last 30 years, hypnotherapy has moved from a vague esoteric concept to one of the most formidable methods of behavior modification in modern history. Many insurance companies are now accepting this method of alternative medicine. Now, all across America, board-certified hypnotherapists are reporting tremendous success within their practices. Particularly high ratios are those for the treatment of smoking cessation, sleep disorders, pain and stress management, weight control and anxiety and panic disorders.
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