The use of hypnosis is as old as humankind itself. As far as can it be traced back through history, we can find evidence of hypnosis being used to heal through out time. Hypnosis has been used down through the centuries, and the use of hypnosis for healing can be traced back to 3000 BC in Egypt. Both the new and old testaments of the Bible speak of what could be hypnosis, and the ancient Greeks and Romans had what were called sleep temples, where those in need of healing would be put into a trance like sleep, then their dreams would be interpreted by the priests. Much of what has been done in the past by the tribal shaman can be attributed to a state of hypnosis, in which the fostering of a strong belief and expectation in the person being healed, effects a magical cure.
It has long been believed in many healing traditions that the body, thoughts and emotions can influence health and well being. It is possible to influence a physical illness by working on particular emotions, and by changing thoughts and behavior patterns.
The ancient Romans had a saying, “MENS SANA IN CORPORE SANO”, or, “healthy mind in healthy body”.
This ancient saying confirms that for many thousands or years, it’s been believed that physical and emotional well being effects on one another. The division between body and mind in medicine only took place around 1750, with the scientific developments of Sir Isaac Newton. Since that time, the mind and spirit have been considered under the jurisdiction of the church, and the body under the jurisdiction of science.
Traumatic experiences are not only stored on an emotional level, but also on a physical level. The emotional charge of trauma can influence our immune system, and our general health. By processing old traumas, and the emotional charge connected to a certain conditions, it is possible to find the inner resources that could help us begin the healing process.
Modern hypnosis began with Anton Mesmer in the 18th Century. After studying as a Jesuit priest, Mesmer became a graduate from a famed medical school in Vienna. Mesmer became interested in magnetism, and eventually became Europe’s foremost expert at magnetic healing, wherein magnets where passed over the body, to effect a healing. Mesmer believed all living things contained a type of magnetic ‘fluid’, and if someone had enough of this fluid, they would be healthy. Mesmer’s practice is where the term ‘Animal Magnetism’ comes from.
One day, Mesmer forgot his magnets, so he just made passes over the patient with his hands. He was surprised to find that even without the magnetic treatment, they got better. From then on, Mesmer thought he had sufficient magnetic fluid within himself to effect cures. In reality, he was practicing a form of hypnosis.
James Braid, a Scottish surgeon working in Manchester, coined the terms hypnotism and hypnosis, in 1843. He found that some people could go into a trance if their eyes where fixed on a bright object, like a pocket watch. He believed that a neurological process was involved, and that this process could be very useful, when no organic origin could be found for a person’s disorder.
James Esdaile (1808-1859) was another Scottish surgeon working in India. He would use the eye fixation technique to prepare a patient for surgery. With slow, sweeping motions, Esdaile would put 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 in their research and use of hypnosis. These pioneering doctors removed hypnosis from the realms of mysticism. Other scientific pioneers include Bernheim, Brewer, Liebeault and Freud. Amongst those individuals who have formed the current view of hypnosis are Erikson, Milton, Ormond McGill, Charles Tebbetts and David Elman.
Ormond McGill was a stage hypnotist, but he fostered the public interest in hypnosis. Charles Tebbetts was involved in stage hypnosis, early in his career. At that time, stage hypnosis would engender a curiousity among the general public, and bring many of those who pioneered the therapeutic use of hypnotherapy through the 20th century.
David Elman brought some measure of acceptance to hypnosis from the medical profession, when the Council on Medical Health of the American Medical Association accepted the use of hypnotherapy in 1958.
Probably the most important contributor to the practice of hypnotherapy was Dr. Milton Erikson. Dr. Erikson was a psychiatrist and hypnotherapist, with outstanding professional credentials. Because of his solid medical background, he had credibility within the medical profession. Others worthy of note for their contribution to the advancement of hypnotherapy are: Menninger, Rosen, Abramson, Shenek, Bordeaux, Magonet, Wolberg, LeCron, Wetzenhoffer, Erwin and Simonton, who continues to do amazing work with cancer patients, using mental imagery, and focusing on belief systems.
What is Hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy is the application of psychological therapy during a state of hypnosis, to change or modify behavior patterns, such as compulsions to smoke, gamble, drink etc. Hypnotherapy can help in the reduction of phobias, such as a fear of flying. It can help with motivation, self confidence, stress reduction and pain control.
Hypnotherapy can deal with psychosomatic problems; that is, problems that are rooted in and controlled by the subconscious mind. Hypnotherapy can bypass the conscious mind, allowing positive, life affirming suggestions for change, to be fed to the subconscious mind directly, to be acted upon. Hypnotic suggestions have a cumulative effect, over time, there is a build up of reinforcment in the subconscious, that it will act upon by the conscious mind.
Hypnoanalysis is used to initially find the event or events that are at the root of a problem, and release the emotions associated with them, freeing the individual from an outdated and obsolete thought pattern or conditioning. Following this discovery, hypnotic suggestions are used to build on the desire for change, and to strengthen and support movement into a positive future.
Hypnotherapy can empower you to take control of your inner resources, to bring about the changes you want. You are always in control during hypnosis, and the hypnotherapist cannot make you do anything against your will. With a little work a hypnotherapist and a client who wishes to make changes, and is truly motivated to, will be able to achieve success about 95% of the time.
Who can be hypnotized? Virtually everyone can be hypnotized, if they have a good hypnotherapist, and wish to cooperate in order to work on the problems in their lives.
What does hypnosis feel like? It feels different to everyone, but it could be explained as a relaxed easy feeling, and a heightened state of awareness. Some people may be prone to drift away, just like day-dreaming, or you might be concentrating on your therapist’s voice.
Hypnotherapy can help to address many problems including:
Fear of Flying
Fear of Crowds
Lack of Confidence
Stress and Anxiety
Low Self Esteem
Hypnotherapy is not magic but it sometimes it seems magical!