Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Hypnosis or hypnotherapy is a very common word that most of us are acquainted with. However, what hypnosis really is and what its potentials are; is unknown to many. Although many disciplines of science and many schools of thoughts do not believe much on the concept of hypnosis, the fact is that hypnosis truly can bring positive changes in individuals, if done properly.

There is a strong misconception amongst people that the hypnotist makes the person do certain things and the individual or rather the subject does that. Hypnosis is in fact, not being controlled by others; rather all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. Hypnosis facilitates an experience with one’s own self that empowers and strengthens one’s persona.

Definition of Hypnosis:

Hypnosis or hypnotherapy is a therapeutic technique that clinicians take the assistance of in guiding individuals for achieving a heightened state of awareness, intensify their concentration level and focus on their attention, through a relaxation procedure.

During hypnosis, an individual is completely ignorant of the surroundings and what is happening around him or her, because the attention of the individual is completely focussed on certain tasks and thoughts. In this process, a trained therapist assists the individual to achieve this natural state of mind, where the focus is entirely on the given task, blocking every other occurrence. This, however, does not mean that the therapist or the hypnotist can manipulate and control the individual in doing certain tasks. The role of the hypnotist is to assist the individual to reach this state of mind.

Hypnosis as a Treatment for Various Disorders:

Hypnosis is a psychological therapy that is used to treat a lot of medical conditions that are associated with the mind, psychological disturbances and beliefs. Stress and worries are two psychological problems that are associated with physical pain. Hence, with the help of hypnosis, chronic pain can be treated.

Hypnosis is also used to treat depression. Patients, who are suffering from severe depression, can be benefited with this hypnosis treatment, as hypnosis can manipulate the false beliefs of the patients to leave the mind and thereby, provide a better life. Hypnosis also helps in reducing anxiety and related disorders and also is effective in treating post-traumatic stress disorder, hysteria and somatoform disorders.

For What Conditions is Hypnosis Recommended?

Hypnosis is a therapy that is used to help individuals cope with their anxiety and stress. Before various medical procedures that involve mental stress and physical pain, patients are recommended to undergo this therapeutic procedure, i.e. hypnosis. The reasons why hypnosis is done are:

Hypnosis to Relieve Pain. Temporomandibular joint problems, cancer, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, dental procedures and headaches are some of the medical conditions that are associated with pain. This pain can be reduced significantly with the help of this hypnosis therapy as the person is assisted to concentrate his or her attention or focus completely to eliminate a thought or to manipulate a belief. Thus in this way hypnosis helps in overcoming pain from various disorders.

Hypnosis for Behaviour Change. Since hypnosis can intensify the concentration level and heighten the awareness by communicating with the subconscious mind of an individual, the person is able to do things that he or she is willing to do. As the conscious mind is aware of the difference between what is to be done and what should not be done or discontinued, bad habits or behaviours like smoking, phobia, bed wetting, insomnia etc. can be got ridden of with the help of hypnosis.

Hypnosis to Treat Physical Symptoms: Sometimes, effective hypnotic therapy can help individuals to get rid of physical symptoms like hot flashes caused by menopause.

Hypnosis and Its Characteristics: How is Hypnosis Done?

Hypnosis is a therapeutic process and technique and it is done by particular methods, by a trained therapist or hypnotist and consists of the following steps:

Deepening:

The hypnosis technique starts with a “Deepening” method that helps the subject to come down to a "deep state of relaxation.” The purpose of this step of hypnosis is to make the subject feel relaxed, drowsy, sleepy and droopy. The usual methods of relaxation are general relaxation methods, staircase method and stiff arm method. One thing must be remembered by the hypnotist or the therapist and that is, if the individual or the subject is unwilling to be hypnotised, there is no way that he or she will be affected. This entire process of making the individual feel at peace with the mind and feel relaxed in hypnosis depends largely on the verbal assistance that the therapist continuously assists the subject with.

Hypnotic Induction:

Traditionally it was believed that through hypnotic induction, the subject was sent to a ‘hypnotic trance’. But now, this method is considered to be a mode of defining the role of the subject, heightening their expectations and on focusing attention. There are many methods in the hypnotic induction technique. The most useful, significant and influential ones are arm drop method, arm levitation method, hand shake method, Braid's "eye-fixation" technique, Gil Boyne method of conditioning, rapid method, magic shape method, non-verbal method etc. All of these hypnosis techniques and methods lead to muscle relaxation, reclining posture and optical fixation.

Suggestion:

Through direct or indirect verbal suggestions, rhetorical figures of speech, requests or insinuations, physical manipulation or voice tonality, the therapist or the hypnotist tries to communicate with the person undergoing hypnosis. The purpose of this step in hypnosis is to create a connection between the conscious and the unconscious mind.

In this entire procedure of hypnosis, the analytical part of the brain is inhibited and the non-analytical part of the brain, that is the subconscious mind, is awakened. Since the subconscious mind is more deep seated, instinctive and complex, this method of hypnosis works for individuals to overcome their beliefs, false beliefs, fear, terror and pain that the conscious mind cannot help them to do, despite trying every other alternative. However, one thing must be remembered that through this procedure of hypnosis, the subject’s attention is concentrated, but the subject cannot be made or forced to do things that they are not willing to do.

About Self-Hypnosis:

When hypnosis is being talked about, it is self-hypnosis that is being referred to. The mechanism of self-hypnosis is to surpass the conscious level of the mind and reach the subconscious level to try to introduce new thoughts and beliefs into them, so that when the individual is ‘awakened’ from the state of hypnosis, these new thoughts and beliefs direct the conscious mind and the behaviours associated with it. Hypnosis is highly effective since this is the most useful therapy that makes it easier and possible for the hypnotist to reach the subconscious level of the mind, as it is quite difficult to surpass the conscious level of the mind to reach the subconscious in normal conditions.

On the other hand, accessing the subconscious is very important for manipulating the thoughts and beliefs, since the experiences and thoughts from the past are stored in the subconscious level and this manipulates the conscious and aware behaviours. Hence, as you undergo self-hypnosis, you will be able to build new thoughts and beliefs in the subconscious mind and gradually change your behaviour. However, what needs to be reminded is that one must be willing to change the behaviour and the client is addressing those issues that they generally and ordinarily do in their regular life. Hypnosis cannot make the person do things that they do not do in their daily lives or what they do not want to do.

What To Do Before A Hypnosis Session?

When you are going for a hypnosis session, you must make sure that you:

  • Are not too sceptical about hypnosis.
  • Are willing to be hypnotised.
  • Do not over-analyse the hypnosis process and technique, rather concentrate on your attention focusing more.
  • Are not afraid of the hypnosis technique or procedure.

Preparing for Hypnosis:

When you are going for a hypnosis procedure, you do not have to have much of a preparation. Hypnosis requires only mental preparation that will help you to concentrate your attention and focus, which is the most important factor in hypnosis. You must also have enough rest before hypnosis, so that you are not sleepy when the hypnosis therapy begins. A mental preparation to have a positive effect and outcome of the hypnosis therapy is very important. This is because, without the belief that hypnosis will work, you will not be able to enjoy its outcome and benefits. Wearing relaxing clothes that make you feel comfortable during hypnosis. It will help you to surrender yourself to the hypnosis therapy.

What to Expect During Hypnosis?

When you are going for a hypnosis therapy, it is very important that you mentally prepare yourself to receive the hypnosis therapy and enjoy its beneficial outcomes. The hypnosis therapist will talk with you to understand what you want to accomplish and achieve through the hypno-therapy. Using soothing conversational tone and by showing relaxing images, the hypno-therapist will try to calm you down.

As you enter the hypnotised state, the hypno-therapist will encourage you to eliminate all the bad habits, thoughts and beliefs and try to help you to visualize certain images in which you see yourself as successfully achieved your goals and purpose. These meaningful visual images during the hypnosis will help your subconscious mind to direct your behaviour in real life to accomplish your goals.

The hypno-therapist will then help you to end and come out of your trance-like state achieved in hypnosis. Unlike the general idea or misconception, hypnosis does not make you forget your therapy, rather it lets you keep in mind or make yourself aware of what happened in the therapy, so that hypnosis can direct you to achieve your goal.

How to Select a Good Hypnotist?

It is very important that you hire a good hypnosis therapist from a trusted institute. Recommendation from a trusted friend is a good option for making the selection. As the therapist or hypnotist starts the therapy, you must ask him or her about:

  • The institution or professional organisation that the hypnosis therapist is working with.
  • The professional training of the hypnosis therapist, the medical college or organisation that he/she has passed from.
  • Whether the hypnosis therapist is licensed or not.
  • How many hypnosis therapies has the therapist conducted.
  • The fees of the therapist and whether it will be covered by the medical insurance or not.

What are the Risks of Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is a therapy that is extremely beneficial for those individuals, who want to significantly bring a change in their belief pattern, behaviour and memories. However, it must be made assured that the hypnosis therapy is conducted by a professional therapist. If the hypnotist is not skilled, learned, trained and practiced, it might have risks and adverse effects such as:

  • Feeling dizzy and drowsy.
  • Headache.
  • Distress and anxiety.
  • Loss of memory.
  • Creation of false memory.

Conclusion: Result and Outcome of Hypnosis

Hypnosis is a very useful method of treatment or therapeutic support for many people, who are in pain, anxiety and distress or want to eliminate certain thoughts. Therapists have said that the more you are likely to be hypnotized; the better will be the outcomes.

Hypnosis can be very useful if you really want to make the most of it. However, before you want to be benefited by hypno-therapy, you must know your anxieties and be willing to eliminate them.

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: January 25, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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