A state where you can uncritically accept suggestions for yourself or others. Hypnosis is a natural state of heightened awareness, where you are able to open your mind to beneficial suggestions and where you can make use of your imagination to help make positive changes in your life. Hypnotherapy is often applied in order to modify behaviour, emotional content, and attitudes, as well as a wide range of conditions including dysfunctional habits, anxiety, stress-related illness, pain management, and personal development.
It is all part of everyday life, for example how the moguls of advertising are using it all the time.
You have already seen names like Richard Bandler, Paul McKenna, Derren Brown, Anthony Robbins and John Grinder, so you know it works!
The word “hypnosis” is an abbreviation of James Braid’s (1843) term “neuro-hypnotism”, meaning “sleep of the nervous system”. A person who is hypnotized displays certain unusual characteristics and propensities, compared with a non-hypnotized subject, most notably hyper-suggestibility, which some authorities have considered a sine qua non of hypnosis.
Hypnosis could be considered a social interaction in which one person responds to suggestions given by another person (the hypnotist) for imaginative experiences involving changes in perception, memory, and the voluntary control of action.
Where does hypnosis come from?
The origins extend back to the ancient temples of Aesculapius, the Greek god of medicine, where advice and reassurance uttered by priests to sleeping patients was interpreted as the gods speaking to them in their dreams.
In more recent history of hypnosis begins with Franz Anton Mesmer, who theorized that disease was caused by imbalances of a physical force, called animal magnetism, which affects various parts of the body. In the course of their proceedings, the commissioners conducted what may well be the first controlled psychological experiments.
James Braid, another British physician, speculated that somnambulism was caused by the paralysis of nerve centres induced by fixation of the eyes on an object. In order to eliminate the taint of mesmerism, Braid renamed the state “neurhypnotism” (nervous sleep); a term later shortened to hypnosis. Later, he concluded that hypnosis was due to the subject’s concentration on a single thought (monoideism) rather than physiological fatigue.
Pierre Janet and Sigmund Freud also studied with Charcot, and Freud began to develop his psycho-social theories of mental illness after observing the suggestibility of hysterical patients when they were hypnotized.
Hypnosis has been used as a psychological treatment for a variety of illnesses with apparent success. It can be said it is used to enhance relaxation and alleviate pain and other physical discomforts.
Can you be Hypnotized?
There are large individual differences in response to hypnosis. Hypnosis has little to do with the hypnotist’s technique, and very much to do with the individual’s capacity, or talent, for experiencing hypnosis. Most people are at least moderately hypnotisable. However, while relatively few people absolutely cannot be hypnotized by the same token, relatively few people fall within the highest level of responsiveness (so-called hypnotic virtuosos). There is some controversy over whether hypnotisability can be modified. As with any other skilled performance, hypnosis is probably a matter of both aptitude and attitude: negative attitudes, motivations, and expectancies can interfere with performance, but positive ones are not by themselves sufficient to create hypnotic virtuosity.