What is Hypnosis?

A natural, highly focused state in which the conscious mind (one part of the mind) does not interfere with an unconscious process (another part of the mind) and which can open doors into your unconscious that you don’t necessarily have access to under “normal” circumstances.

Over the past few centuries many myths have been created around hypnosis and the subject thereof. Hypnosis is not some all-powerful force used to control the minds of the masses. Hypnosis cannot be used to have someone break their own moral or ethical code. If someone is not willing to do something in their waking state, then chances are they will not be willing to do it whilst in a hypnotic trance.

Hypnosis is not a deep form of sleep as many believe. Although many hypnotists use the word “sleep” as a suggestion with clients to enter a hypnotic state, hypnosis is not sleep. Whilst experiencing hypnosis, you actually become more aware of your surroundings and in tune with your senses.

You cannot get “stuck” in hypnosis. While in a trance state, your unconscious mind expects to receive feedback constantly from the coach. If at any given time, no suggestions are given or feedback received by the unconscious, it will systematically bring the client out of trance and to their full alert state.

Hypnosis is a state of human consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness and an enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion.

During hypnosis, a person is said to have heightened focus and concentration. The person can concentrate intensely on a specific thought or memory, while blocking out sources of distraction. Hypnotised clients are said to show an increased response to suggestions. Hypnosis is usually induced by a procedure known as a hypnotic induction involving a series of preliminary instructions and suggestion. The use of hypnotism for therapeutic purposes is referred to as “hypnotherapy”.

A person in a state of hypnosis is relaxed, has focused attention, and has increased suggestibility.

The hypnotised individual appears to heed only the communications of the hypnotist and typically responds in an uncritical, automatic fashion while ignoring all aspects of the environment other than those pointed out by the hypnotist. In a hypnotic state an individual tends to see, feel, smell, and otherwise perceive in accordance with the hypnotist’s suggestions, even though these suggestions may be in apparent contradiction to the actual stimuli present in the environment. The effects of hypnosis are not limited to sensory change; even the subject’s memory and awareness of self may be altered by suggestion, and the effects of the suggestions may be extended (post hypnotically) into the subject’s subsequent waking activity.

Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis by a trained professional to encourage a state whereby beneficial change can occur, whilst utilising and communicating with the client’s unconscious mind.

What is the ‘unconscious mind’?

Simply put, it is everything that is not in conscious awareness in any given moment. For example, think back to your classroom at your first school. Now we’ve mentioned it, you can bring some information to your conscious mind about what it was like. Your unconscious keeps that stored for you throughout your life. Now, if you like, bring your breathing to your attention. Notice its rate, depth and the ease at which it naturally occurs without you normally having to think about it as your unconscious mind takes care of that for you.

What to expect

You’re fully in control when under hypnosis and don’t have to take on the coaches’ suggestions if you don’t want to. If necessary, you can bring yourself out of the hypnotic state.

Hypnosis doesn’t work if you don’t want to be hypnotised.

The History of Hypnosis

The powers of hypnosis have been well known and used for thousands of years. Below you will find a brief history of humanities use of trance, prayer, meditation or as we call it here, the history of hypnosis.

2000 B.C.
Ancient Sanskrit’s contain writings of the use of healing trances, performed within the walls of healing temples in India.

Egyptian papyruses scrolls depict the story of sleep temples, in which priests dressed in mythical robes would speak to those that came, in such a way that illnesses healed.

1500 A.D.
Parcelsus, the discoverer of the cure for syphilis, began healing illness, and disease with magnets.

1600 A.D.
Valentine Greatrakes healed via the laying of hands combined with the passing of magnets over the body.

1725 A.D.
Father Maximilian Hell, a Jesuit priest used magnets to heal people.

1734 – 1817
Franz Anton Mesmer, a student of Maximilian Hell brought the use of healing magnets to Vienna. At the time bloodletting was the primary method of healing. Mesmer would bleed a patient and then pass a magnet over the cut, causing the bleeding to stop.

One day by coincidence Mesmer couldn’t find his magnet and used a stick instead, still causing the bleeding to stop. It was this that led Mesmer to believe that the magnetic energy came from within the patient, of which in turn he eventually labelled the term Animal Magnetism, because it also appeared that he had this magnetic attraction.

In due time, the king of France put together a board of inquiry consisting of Lavoisier (a chemist), Benjamin Franklin, and Dr. Guillotin. What finally gave Mesmer’s claims away was that he had apparently magnetised a tree on his property, in order to accommodate a number of people.

Eventually as Benjamin watched a young boy needing healing went out to the tree, and went into the fad of convulsions, unfortunately the tree wasn’t the one magnetized by Mesmer. Soon after this incident Mesmer was dubbed a fraud.

The Marquis de Pusseguyr from France took up mesmerism, and eventually coined the term “somnambulism” meaning “sleepwalker”, which is used today to describe the deepest state of hypnosis.

Dr. Elliottson began using mesmerism in his practice and was expelled from the medical community.

James Braid witnessed a mesmerism demonstration put on by La Fontaine. Braid came to the realization that it was the power of hypnotic suggestion which entranced the subject, and came up with the name neuro-hypnosis.

James Braid wrote the book “Neurypnology”, and published his observation that it was a subject’s fixation on a single point that caused the state of trance. He tried to coin the term monoideism, but it didn’t stick and the term hypnosis, survived to this day.

James Esdaile discovered how to use mesmerism to control pain and performed over five hundred operations successfully along with speedy recovery times. This was all done before the invention of chloroform, but when he brought his report back to Britain, the medical community didn’t believe him, and shut him out of the British Medical Corps.

Liebeault of France began using a system he developed for therapy using hypnosis. Soon after Bernheim joined with Liebeault in his research after a patient he had was cured of a sciatica almost overnight after being worked on by Liebeault. The two eventually formed the Nancy School of Hypnosis. Freud appeared as one of Bernheim and Liebeault’s students, but due to his inability to gain rapport with clients because of his rotten teeth and over use of cocaine, he proved to be a miserable hypnotist and abandoned the use of hypnosis.

Pavlov publishes his paper on “conditioned reflex”. Today we know this as “anchoring”.

Clark Hull, one of Milton Erickson’s professors wrote “Hypnosis and Suggestibility”, which was one of the first books covering the psychological studies on hypnosis. One of the primary observations was that “anything that assumes trance, causes trance”.

Although his primary professor, Milton Erickson and Hull strongly disagreed on their thoughts of hypnosis. Erickson’s beliefs stemmed from observation, and naturalistic processes, while Hull researched for a method that could be phonographed and used on everyone in the population. His reports concluded that a portion of the population could never be hypnotised, due to his stringent trance inducing methods.

1920 – 1980
Milton Erickson helped about 14 people per day for the sixty years he maintained his hypnotherapy practice. He first begun with direct suggestion but quickly realised that a different approach, a more permissive approach worked better, and that he could hypnotise a far greater percentage of the population with what might be referred to as a permissive approach, eventually being called the utilisation approach to hypnotherapy.

Eventually Milton Erickson developed many extraordinary means of bringing on trance developments, making him the most pronounced and influential figure of modern day hypnosis.

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