Hypnosis, also referred to as hypnotherapy or hypnotic suggestion, is a deeply relaxed, trance-like state in which one has heightened focus and concentration.
What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is usually applied with the help of a therapist using verbal repetition and mental images.
When under hypnosis, a patient will usually feel very calm and relaxed, and become more open to positive suggestions.
What hypnosis is NOT, contrary to urban myth and the fault of many TV shows and movies, is an experience when someone loses control and can be talked into doing things they don’t want to do.
It is surrounded by many myths and misconceptions, but it is really powerful and helpful for treating many problems.
Hypnosis can be used to help someone gain control over undesired behaviors or to help them cope better with anxiety or pain.
It’s important to stress that although one is more open to suggestion during hypnosis, one doesn’t lose control over one’s behavior.
While in a hypnotized state, awareness is heightened and anything going on around the patient is temporarily blocked out or ignored.
Anything around is temporarily blocked out during hypnosis.
What is the history of hypnosis?
Franz Mesmer was known as the father of hypnosis. It was Mesmer who gave the world the word ‘Mesmerism’.
But, unfortunately, although it is doubtless true that it was he who was the father of hypnosis and hypnotherapy, it was also he who contributed to the bad reputation that hypnosis suffers even to this day.
The Scottish ophthalmologist James Braid is the father of modern hypnotism.
It was Braid who first coined the term neuro-hypnotism (nervous sleep), which later became “hypnotism” and “hypnosis” (1841). Braid had visited a demonstration of a French magnetist, La Fontaine in 1841.
He scoffed at the ideas of the Mesmerists, and was the first to suggest that hypnosis was psychological. Braid is perhaps the first practitioner of psychosomatic medicine.
In 1847 he tried to explain hypnosis by “monoideism” (focus on one idea), but the term “hypnosis” had advanced in the work of the Nancy School, and is still the term used today.
What is hypnotic anaesthesia?
During a period of intense psychological investigation of hypnosis, a number of physicians developed the use of hypnosis for anesthesia.
In 1821, Récamier performed a major operation using hypnosis for anesthesia.
In 1834, the British surgeon John Elliotson, who introduced the stethoscope to England, reported numerous painless surgical operations using hypnosis.
James Esdaile, the Scottish surgeon, performed over 2,000 minor and 345 major operations using hypnosis in the 1840s and 1850s.
Hypnosis brings us to a state of calm and deep relaxation.
What is hypnosis used for today?
Hypnosis is such a powerful tool, it has many uses for mental health, here are some:
Depression: Hypnosis is a highly relaxed, super-focused state of mind that the majority of people can reach by following a few relaxation and focusing techniques. In fact, being under “hypnosis,” is a lot like practicing meditation.
But there is one key difference: hypnosis has a clear goal.
This highly relaxed state allows us to shed the conscious, critical mind. And when we’re under hypnosis, we can speak directly to the subconscious.
In fact, brain research suggests that under hypnosis the mind becomes highly susceptible to new information and new ways of thinking.
That means we can feed the subconscious mind information during hypnosis – like suggestions and positive affirmations – and they are retained afterwards.
We can re-teach the subconscious how to make sense of the world around us.
That’s why we say hypnosis is meditation with a goal.
We’re entering this state not to just relax the mind and body, but also to reshape our unconscious thoughts and promote positive thinking.
Hypnosis for depression allows the subconscious to be retrained.
Automatic thinking patterns that keep habits, negative thoughts and irrational responses (all factors that can contribute to depression) in place can be overridden and replaced with more positive outlooks.
Low self-esteem: The way we discuss and feel about ourselves has a great effect on our mood.
Yet, the unconscious can get cluttered with harmful beliefs and negative thoughts. We learn to hate the way we look.
Or we learn to assume that we are not good enough.
Through repetition, these underlying thoughts begin to stay and become unmovable.
And therefore, whenever we look in the mirror or face a difficult task these negative thoughts take over. The unconscious makes us see what it wants us to believe.
Hypnosis can be an effective tool for overcoming self-esteem and negative self-talk.
During hypnosis, we feed the unconscious mind new, positive affirmations about ourselves, and we can begin to release many of those old, automatic thinking patterns that dominate our inner voice.
Hypnosis helps overcome negative self-talk by releasing dominant negativity.
Anxiety and Stress: Anxiety, which is frequently brought on as a by-product of stress, is often an irrational response to the world around us.
We experience a stressful event, and the unconscious triggers the anxiety.
We can get into a fairly unhealthy feedback loop of feeling anxiety.
Hypnosis teaches us to calm the mind, recognize the thinking patterns that can make us feel anxious, and learn to control our thoughts in stressful situations.
Weight Loss: Obesity increases the risk of depression, by as much as 55%.
Many depressed humans turn to food to cope with their condition, which contributes to weight gain which kicks off a vicious cycle of more depression.
Hypnosis helps to lower the automatic thinking patterns that drive people to eat unhealthy foods or to overeat when in a depressed state.
In particular, we can instruct the unconscious to think negatively about unhealthy eating, or we can teach ourselves to become in tune with our natural feelings of hunger.
There is ample research to back this up. Several research sources have proven that hypnosis is an exceptionally advantageous weight loss aid, supporting humans to lose more weight and keep it off long term.
Enhancing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Substantial research has examined how hypnosis can work in tandem with standard depression treatments.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), for example, is one of the most popular, and research has proven that hypnosis can expand the impact of CBT.
In other words, hypnosis frees the mind to become extra receptive to CBT, as well as increasing our expectation of the benefits of CBT.
Both effects result in more successful treatments. One small study, for example, concluded that utilizing CBT in tandem with hypnosis provided a “more effective treatment in a shorter time.”
How does hypnotherapy work?
A hypnotherapy session normally lasts about an hour. A skilled therapist makes
use of a number of relaxation techniques to guide someone into a hypnotic state.
In this state, they are still conscious and aware and can open their eyes, sit up and become fully in the room at any moment in time, if they choose.
The person’s physical form will become more relaxed and the mind more responsive to suggestions from the therapist.
The therapist’s guidelines will depend on the condition or behavior that the patient is trying to resolve.
Hypnotherapy can help target unwanted or unhealthy habits and replace them with healthier behaviors.
Examples include being able to better control pain or anxiety or adjust negative thought patterns that may be worsening depression symptoms.
Self-hypnosis can take us to a place of extreme calm using
relaxing and positive thoughts.
Is there a downside to hypnotherapy?
Hypnosis conducted by a trained therapist or health care professional is considered a safe, complementary and alternative medical treatment.
However, hypnosis may not be appropriate in people with severe mental illness.
Hypnotherapy does have some risks. The riskiest is the potential to create false memories (called confabulations).
Adverse reactions to hypnosis are rare and usually fade rapidly after the hypnotherapy session, but can include:
· anxiety or distress
· creation of false memories.
People considering hypnotherapy need to first seek advice from their doctor or psychiatrist.
People suffering from delusions, hallucinations or other severe psychotic symptoms such as dissociative disorders where patients can be highly susceptible to suggestion, would possibly not be considered to be suitable candidates for hypnotherapy.
How does one prepare for hypnotherapy?
There is no special preparation needed to undergo hypnosis. However, it is a good idea to wear comfortable clothing to help promote relaxation.
Also, patients should try and be well-rested so they are not inclined to fall asleep during the session and hence will reap the most benefits.
Choose a therapist or health care professional who is officially certified to perform hypnosis and has a track record you can clearly research and see.
Seek a recommendation from someone you trust if possible. Learn about any therapist you’re considering. Start by asking this kind of question:
· Do you have training in a field such as psychology, medicine, social work or dentistry?
· Are you licensed in your specialty in this country?
· How much training have you had in hypnotherapy and from what establishments?
· What professional organizations do you belong to?
· How long have you been in practice and how many patients have you successfully treated?
· What are your fees, and does insurance cover your services?
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
Frequently asked questions about hypnotherapy:
1. Can I be hypnotized against my will?
No. Hypnosis does not work if you do not want to be hypnotized.
You are fully in control, both before and during hypnosis, and do not have to take on the therapist’s suggestions if you don’t want to.
2. What is hypnotherapy used for?
It can be used to treat anxiety, phobias, substance abuse include quitting smoking, sexual dysfunction or a variety of bad habits.
It can also be used to help improve sleep, for learning disorders, communication and relationship issues.
3. Does hypnotherapy really work?
Hypnosis can be very effective in helping people cope with pain, stress or anxiety.
CBT is considered the first line treatment but that does not work for everyone.
4. What is the difference between hypnotherapy and hypnosis?
The word hypnosis refers to the inducing of a passive state of mind, or trance, that promotes better communication between the conscious and the subconscious mind.
Hypnotherapy is the psychological healing process that uses hypnosis to achieve a desired result.
5. How many hypnosis sessions are needed?
As a general rule perhaps four to six sessions would do the trick, and the hypnotic experience may need to be modified to better suit a persons’ personal and therapeutic needs.
Once you’ve had your sessions, the hypnotist can record the script for you so that you’re able to utilize the recording at home and in your own time.
More severe cases of anxiety, phobia, stress or addiction can take longer, even up to a year.
6. Can you fall asleep during hypnosis?
While hypnosis is not sleep (it is meditation with a goal) it is possible to fall asleep while listening to hypnosis if you are tired. Happily, hypnosis will reach your subconscious mind even if you do happen to fall asleep.
7. Do you remember being hypnotized?
Most of the time people will remember what happened during hypnosis.
However, the hypnotist will usually give a time limit to the suggestion, such as “You won’t remember anything that happened until you sit down”.
Even without that suggestion, people will naturally start to remember as time goes on.
8. Is hypnotherapy better than Counselling?
Counselling provides that safe, nurturing space in which patients can freely explore their emotions, and hypnotherapy helps to bypass the busy-ness of the conscious mind and get to the root of issues, in a deeply relaxing way.
9. Can everyone be hypnotized?
Not everyone can be hypnotized.
The brains of people who can be easily hypnotized are different from the brains of people who can’t be, according to new research from the Stanford University School of Medicine.
10. What does self hypnosis mean?
Self-hypnosis is a naturally occurring state of mind which can be defined as a heightened state of focused concentration.
With it, you can change your thinking, kick bad habits, and take control of the person you are, along with relaxation and de-stressing from everyday life.
This is a technique your hypnotherapist can teach you to practice away from formal sessions.
Want to learn more about hypnosis? Try these books!
How To Master Self-Hypnosis In A Weekend: The Simple, Systematic and Successful Way to Get Everything You Want
Lots of books have been written about self-hypnosis, so what makes this one special?
Well, maybe you’re trying self-hypnosis for the first time, or perhaps you’ve tried before and failed.
Whatever your situation, you’re looking for results, otherwise you’ll waste your time, and come away disappointed and disillusioned.
This is more than just a book. It is a system.
The Ultimate Hypnosis 5 in 1 Bundle: Hypnotherapy for Deep Sleep, Overthinking, High Self-Esteem, Weight Loss, and Past Life Regression
This five-in-one bundle includes all five audiobooks from the Hypnotherapy for a Better Life series, including nine hypnosis sessions that will help you:
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· eliminate negative thoughts and self-doubt
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· rewire your brain and get you on the path to lasting weight loss
· get a better and deeper sleep.
Can You Be a Hypnotist?: How to Create a Fulfilling and Lucrative Career Helping People with Modern and Professional Hypnosis
Do you dream of becoming a professional hypnotist and helping people with big issues, but have no idea where to start or if you can make a living at it?
If you’re serious about helping others with hypnosis and also want meaningful work that makes a positive impact in the world, you can easily learn about the modern, professional, and heart-centered approach to hypnotherapy that brings lasting relief to clients, and fulfillment and a lucrative career to the practitioner.
Hypnosis – Mayo Clinic – January 2020
Hypnotherapy – NHS UK – January 2018
Mental health and hypnosis – WebMD – 2018