We have all heard the term hypnosis and probably have a vague idea of what it is. As hypnosis is part of the services we are offering here at Integral Medicine, we want to give you the full picture and as much information as we can about what hypnosis is, what is not, and what hypnosis can do for you.
What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a special psychological state that resembles a kind of superficial sleep. While in, what we call, the hypnotic state, the hypnotized individual’s awareness is functioning at a level other than the ordinary conscious state. Increased relaxation that allows for improved focus and concentration. During hypnosis state there is a heightened receptiveness and responsiveness
Hypnosis is defined by the Oxford dictionary as “the induction of a state of consciousness in which a person apparently loses the power of voluntary action and is highly responsive to suggestion or direction. Its use in therapy, typically to recover suppressed memories or to allow modification of behavior by suggestion”, and such definition and use is still controversial.
“Hypnosis is not always a trance state or a sleep state, even though a person in hypnosis may appear to be sleeping. Hypnosis is really a natural state of mind and is an important part of everyday life. Whenever our mind wanders, daydreams or is focused on something, such as reading a book, driving a familiar route, watching a film, we are in a state of hypnosis. Brain scans on people who are in the hypnosis state show that brain wave activity moves from a Beta state to an Alpha state, and sometimes a Theta state. This is not dissimilar to the pattern of brain activity during meditation.” (NCH – National Council for Hypnotherapy
The history of hypnosis
Hypnosis has been around for a long time but its significant history began in the latter part of the 18th century with Franz Mesmer, a German physician. Though Mesmer was soon discredited due to his mistaken belief that hypnotism made use of an occult force that flowed through the hypnotist into the subject, several clinicians continued to make use of the technique without understanding its nature, until the middle of the 19th century, when the English physician James Braid came up with the terms hypnotism and hypnosis, after the Greek god of sleep, Hypnos.
Austrian physician Sigmund Freud was experimenting with hypnosis for neurotic disorders and later, in World War I and II, hypnosis was sometimes used to treat soldiers who had experienced combat neuroses.
Various researchers have put forth differing theories of what hypnosis is and how it might be understood. Below are some of the most popular definitions that have emerged over the years:
According to Speigel, “Hypnosis is an altered state of awareness in which the individual withdraws his peripheral awareness and concentrates all attention on a focal goal. …is related to the ability to concentrate in an attentive, responsive manner, even to the point of dissociation.”
“…a communication of ideas and understandings to a patient in such a fashion that he will be most receptive to the presented ideas and thereby motivated to explore his own body potentials for the control of his psychological and physiological responses and behavior.” (Erickson & Rossi, 1980).
Despite differing definitions, hypnosis has been used successfully for therapeutic purposes by many throughout the years. Hypnosis has been officially approved as a therapeutic method by medical, psychiatric, dental, and psychological associations throughout the world.
What is it like to be hypnotized?
The hypnotizing process, while differing with each individual, generally follows a simple process.
You will be given commands (suggestions) by your hypnotist that your body will carry out and accomplish. The subconscious mind is a servo-mechanism and Whatever it believes, your body will do.
Ordinarily, all trance behavior is characterized by a simplicity, a directness, and a literalness of understanding, action, and emotional response that remind us of behavior seen in children. The surprising abilities shown by some hypnotized individuals seem to come partly from the restriction of their attention to the task or situation at hand and their consequent freedom from ordinary distractions.
When an individual is in a hypnotic state, they generally appear to have regard only for the hypnotist and tend to respond in an automatic and uncritical fashion while ignoring all aspects of the environment, unless pointed out by the hypnotist.
The individual also usually feels, smells, sees, and generally perceives in accordance with the suggestions of the hypnotist. But sensory changes aren’t the only things that are affected during hypnosis. The subject’s memory and awareness of self may be altered by the hypnotist’s suggestion.
How can hypnosis help me?
This is a very common question for clients embarking on the hypnosis journey for the first time – and the answer isn’t straightforward because what hypnosis can do for you largely depends on what you want it to do for you.
Hypnosis has been found useful in a number of different areas, such as childbirth and in the management of otherwise intractable pain. It’s also often used in managing hot flashes, treating sleep problems, cancer treatment side effects, and mental health conditions such as anxiety or phobias.
At IAM, we can help you get into a state of deep relaxation so your body can work on repairing and healing itself.
Contact us today to book your first session.