Hypnosis, as a therapeutic tool is as old as man himself, i.e. it can be traced back through various periods of time and we can find records of hypnosis being used to heal and to make the change.
Hypnosis is used under many different names down the centuries and its use for healing can be traced back to around 3000 BC in Egypt. Both the new and old testaments of the Bible, speak of what could be deemed to be hypnosis. The ancient Greeks and Romans had sleep temples, where those seeking to heal would be put into a trance-like sleep and their dreams, would be interpreted by the priests. The rhythmic drumming and monotonous chanting together with eye fixation were accompanying the ritual. The Shaman of today can still produce catalepsy of the body. This helps him to give the appearance of having magical powers, just as they have done for centuries.
Many things done in the past by the village witchdoctor, shaman or wise woman, can be attributed to the fostering of a strong belief, conviction, expectation and imagination in the one being healed, and the chanting and singing often take the form of what we would term as a suggestion.
If the most powerful and magic person you know tells you that you will become well, you are very likely to do just that. In many cases where such an individual administered to a sick person, they would have recovered eventually anyway and this intervention just speeded up the healing process, or it is just autosuggestion.
It has been believed by many healers that body, thoughts and emotions can influence one another. In this sense, it is possible to influence a physical sickness by working on and realising particular emotions, and by changing thoughts and behavioural patterns.
The Romans said “MENS SANA IN CORPORE SANO” – Healthy mind, in a healthy body.
This just confirms that for many centuries it has been believed that physical and emotional well-being have an effect on one another, which can be seen when our health declines after periods of stress or as a consequence of radical events.
In medicine, the division between body and mind is something that took place around 1750, with the scientific developments from Newton. Before this period of time, the mind and the spirit have been considered to be under the jurisdiction of the church and the body under the jurisdiction of science. This explains why all other kinds of medicine see the human being as a whole – consisting of body, mind and soul.
Traumatic experiences are stored not only on an emotional level but also on the physical level. The emotional charge of the traumas can influence our immune system and health conditions.
Through processing old traumas and the emotional charges connected to a certain sickness, it is possible to find resources inside of us which could help us start the healing process.
Anton Mesmer (1734 – 1815) begun the studying of the modern hypnosis in the 18th Century. He was a medical graduate from the famous medical school of Vienna and after studying as a Jesuit priest, he became interested in magnetism. Mesmer became Europe’s foremost expert at magnetic healing. In this healing magnets were passed over the body to effect a healing, which was a great success and he became very famous. Mesmer believed that all living things contained a kind of magnetic “fluid” and if a person had enough of this fluid, he/she would be healthy. This is actually where the term “Animal Magnetism” comes from.
One day Mesmer forgot his magnets and so just made passes over the patient with his hands and was surprised to find that they got better. From this moment, he thought he had sufficient magnetic fluid in himself top effect the cures.
James Braid (1795-1860) was a scientist that coined the terms “hypnotism” and “hypnosis”, in 1843. Being a Scottish surgeon working in Manchester, he found that some people could go into a trance if their eyes were fixated on a bright object, like a pocket watch. He believed that through this, a neurological process was involved and that the process could be very useful when for a person’s disorder, no organic origin could be found.
James Esdaile (1808-1859) was another Scottish surgeon working in India who would use eye fixation to prepare a patient for surgery and slow sweeping motions, putting them into a deep hypnotic sleep, causing full amnesia throughout the body.
James Braid and James Esdaile, where among the first who could be called “scientific” researchers in the use of hypnosis. They removed hypnosis from the realms of “mysticism”, and started experimenting with what could really be done with it to help people with their disorders. Other scientific pioneers were, Liebeault, Bernheim, Brewer and Freud. The great Freud, was responsible for hypnotherapy being shelved by many, for some time, when he abandoned its use.
Ormond McGill was a true a stage hypnotist, but he preserved the public interest in hypnosis. Charles Tebbetts was involved in stage hypnosis in the early part of his career. As the times when he lived were different from the ones we live today, the stage hypnosis would prove to engender a desire to know more about this curious art and therefore bring many of the people who moved the therapeutic use of hypnotherapy forward through the last (20th) century.
Dave Elman introduced some measure of acceptance to hypnosis from the medical profession in the USA, when the Council on Medical health of the American Medical Association, accepted the use of hypnotherapy in 1958.
Most likely the most important contributor to the acceptance of hypnotherapy as an art and as a science was the grandfather of hypnotherapy Dr Milton Erikson. He was a psychiatrist and hypnotherapist with outstanding professional credentials. Because of his solid medical background, he had credibility within the medical profession.
There are other people worth mentioning for their contribution to the advancement of hypnotherapy as a healing art and as a science in the 20th century. They are Rosen, Abramson, Menninger, Shank, Magnet, Wolberg, LeCron, Bordeaux, Wetzenhoffer, Erwin and Simonton, who continue to do amazing things with cancer patients using mental imagery and focusing on beliefs and belief systems amongst other things.
What is Hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is the application of therapy during the hypnosis, aimed to change or modify the behaviour patterns that we wish to change, such as the compulsion to smoke, drink, gamble, etc. It can be used to help in the cure of phobias such as fear of spiders/insects, fear of flying, fear of height, fear of thunder and lightning, fear of injections etc. It can help with motivation, confidence building, reducing stress and has proven to be very effective in pain control.
Hypnotherapy deals with Psychosomatic problems. These are the problems of the mind that are rooted in and controlled by the subconscious mind. We act according to what our subconscious mind tells us, even if it goes against reason and logic. In this sense, the hypnotherapy bypasses the conscious mind to allow the positive life-affirming suggestions for change, of our own choosing, to be fed to our subconscious mind directly, for us to act upon.
Hypnotherapy and hypnotic suggestions have a cumulative effect. Over time there is a build up of suggestions that are reinforced in the subconscious mind that it will act upon. This will do more rapidly than if you were feeding the suggestions to your conscious mind.
If there were problems where a causal event or events may exist in the past, initially hypnoanalysis can be used in order to find the sensitising event or events and release the emotion and motor actions associated with them. The freeing of the individual from the grasp of an outdated and obsolete (possibly never really needed at all) thought the pattern and/or conditioning occurs. Following this, the healing suggestions and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) are used to build on the individuals’ desire for change, in a direction of strengthening and supporting forward movement into a positive future.
You have to remember that hypnotherapists do not control your mind!
Hypnotherapy empowers you, in taking control of your mental resources to bring about the changes you want. You are the one that is always in control during hypnosis and hypnotherapy. The therapist cannot make you do anything against your will, or that is not within you as an individual to do. With a little work, when there are a good therapist and a good client, who wishes to make changes and are motivated to do so, success will be achieved in about 95% of cases.
Who can be hypnotised? -Virtually everyone, if they have a good therapist and wish to cooperate with them in order to work on the problem with which they are presenting.
What does hypnosis feel like? – It feels different to some people than to others. It as a relaxed easy feeling and heightened state of awareness.
Sometimes you may be prone to drift away for a while, just like day-dreaming, and you might just as easily be concentrating on your therapist’s voice. Your good therapist will ensure you get the very best from your hypnotherapy session and can guide you in everything you need to know.
Hypnotherapy can help to address many problems including: fear of flying, fear of crowds, lack of confidence, stress issues, low self-esteem, fear of heights, panic attacks, exam nerves, driving test nerves, smoking, weight loss, nail biting, relationship, sexual tinnitus, stress anxiety and many more diagnosis.
Hypnotherapy is by all means not magic, but can do magic!