What Is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a technique whereby a hypnotherapist induces a trance-like state in which the client becomes more susceptible to suggestion and highly focused on what they are being told. It is believed that hypnotherapy primes the brain to accept changes in the unconscious part of the mind. However one is not unconscious while they are hypnotized. They are aware of what is happening around them which is why it is not possible to “control” or give an inappropriate suggestion to a client as they would simply realize that something improper was happening and react accordingly.
Is There A Difference Between Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy?
Hypnosis is defined as induced state of altered consciousness. Hypnotherapy is simply using this altered state as a therapeutic treatment. You can think of hypnosis as a claw hammer and hypnotherapy as pulling out a nail. Hypnosis is a tool that can be used for many jobs whether it’s for entertainment, conversation or therapy. Here at HypnoBusters we focus on the hypnotherapy aspect.
Is It Dangerous?
There is no evidence that points to hypnotherapy causing any psychological or emotional dangers. The only time hypnosis is dangerous is when it is used at an inappropriate time. You should never listen to a session (such as a MP3 or CD) when you are driving, operating machinery or in any situation where it isn’t safe to be without the full use of your faculties.
Who Can Be Hypnotized?
Almost anyone can be hypnotized, although some people are more susceptible to hypnosis than others. Those with a more creative and visual mind (who typically have an infinity for the arts) tend to be the most susceptible to hypnosis. Even children can enjoy the benefits of hypnotherapy once they reach the age where they can understand and follow instructions.
The only group of people who should not be hypnotized are those who suffer from delusions as they may be unable to consciously differentiate between the fantasy that hypnosis provides and reality.
The best way to test if you can be hypnotized is to actually try it. You can try hypnosis for free by watching one of our many hypnosis videos.
Can I Hypnotize Myself?
Anyone can hypnotize themselves through the use of self hypnosis. The main way to perform self hypnosis involves the use of hypnosis scripts. Scripts are simply a written version of a session that a hypnotherapist provides. They can then either be recorded into an audio file (which can then be listened to) or memorized and read to oneself internally.
There is an adage amongst hypnotherapists that "all hypnosis is self hypnosis" meaning that when you are being hypnotized by someone else they are merely acting as a guide through self hypnosis. It would indeed be accurate to describe hypnosis as "guided self hypnosis".
Hypnosis: The History
Historical records have shown that hypnosis was used as far back as the days of Ancient Egypt where it was used predominantly as a form of pain relief. In fact in recent times hypnosis has once again started to be used as an alternative to anesthetic during surgery.
Hypnotherapy was first investigated scientifically by Dr. Franz Mesmer (1734-1815). Mesmer experimented with patients by cutting them and then passing various objects (the object was irrelevant) over the cut. He found that the bleeding would stop more quickly than usual.
It was Dr. James Braid who is credited with being the father of hypnosis. He coined the term “hypnosis” (1842) to describe the practice, hypnosis coming from the word hypnos - Greek for sleep. Dr. Braid later realized his error in describing hypnosis as a form of sleep and wished to re-name it monodies but by then the name was already well entrenched.
Hypnotherapy continued to be used although it’s popularity waned until World War II where it was often used to relieve pain when medical supplies were low.
In the 1950’s both the British Medical Association and the American Medical Association recommend hypnotherapy as a therapeutic tool. It was even suggested that it be taught to medical doctors.
Click here for a more in-depth look at the history of hypnosis.
Hypnosis: The Scientific Facts
While the media often portrays hypnosis as something strange and mystical that couldn't be further from the truth. Most people enter into a form of hypnotic state several times a day. Scientific research has pointed to hypnotherapy being a very real and effective form of treatment for a number of issues.
A Measurable Brain Effect
In November 2009 the BBC reported researchers at Hull University had found that people who had been hypnotized showed decreased activity in the parts of the brains usually associated with daydreaming when observed on an imaging scan.
One study written in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (1996) experimented with the effects of adding hypnosis to a number of different weight loss programs. The results showed that using hypnotherapy alongside a weight loss program increased the average result by 97% during treatment and 146% after treatment.
Another study from the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (1986) divided 60 women into those who who had used hypnotherapy and those who hadn't. The results from this study showed that those who used hypnotherapy lost 17lbs on average, while those who didn’t lost an average of only ½lb.
During research conducted at the Gastroenterology Unit, Frenchay Hospital, Bristol 33 patients with IBS were given four separate sessions of hypnotherapy over the course of 7 weeks, each session lasting 40 minutes. Of the 33 patients, 20 reported an improvement in their symptoms while 11 were shown to be cleared of all symptoms.
These sessions were given in groups of up to 8 patients at a time, showing that in some cases hypnotherapy doesn’t even need to be individually tailored to be effective.