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What Is Hypnosis?


What is Hypnosis? – In this article, Gillian Kelly explains the fascinating science of Hypnosis.

Hypnosis is a state of being fully present and focused to such an intense level that the outside world becomes less important.  It can be used to effectively reduce anxieties, bad habits, e.g. smoking etc. It can also be effective as a means of pain management and to conquer fears in relation to moving forward with life goals.  Hypnosis is a popular treatment for certain health and emotional problems because it is non invasive.  Hypnosis is the original mind/body medicine.  The Hypnotist suggests that you make changes in your ideas and future actions.  Misconceptions regarding Hypnosis are that people think they are going to fall asleep when they are being hypnotised, this is not the case.  When you are asleep you drift off, and are not alert to what is going on around you.  However when you are hypnotised you are interested and focused on the mental adventure you are experiencing by the hypnotherapist.  When a person is hypnotised they are able to focus more intently on the image they are been asked to see in their minds eye.

The differences between being hypnotised and being asleep are:

Sleep                                                                          Hypnotised

Eyes are closed                                                           Eyes may be closed or open

Body is relaxed                                                           Body can be relaxed but not always

Unaware of surroundings                                          Aware of surroundings

Doesn’t hear conversations                                        Does hear hypnotist’s voice

Usually moves around                                                 Body usually remains still

Unable to concentrate                                                Very high concentration levels

Brain waves of sleep have little alpha activity        Brain waves have high alpha activity


Why does hypnosis have a higher success rate than other therapies?

Studies have proven that hypnosis has a higher success rate than other therapies by suggestive images been relayed to patients.  This hypnotic trance can change their behaviour or the way they think about something, e.g. a certain phobia they may have etc. Hypnosis works on the subconscious mind. Psychology Today reports, “specific suggestions and images fed to clients in a (hypnotic) trance can profoundly alter their behaviour. As they rehearse the new ways they want to think and feel, they lay the groundwork for powerful changes in their future actions.”


Emotional Suggestibility

Emotional suggestibility is characterized by receptiveness to suggestions that affect emotions and inhibit physical body responses


Physical Suggestibility

Physical suggestibility is characterized by receptiveness to literal suggestions affecting the body, restricting emotional responses; usually associated with a comatose stage.


Intellectual Suggestibility

Intellectual suggestibility is where the patient tries to analyze everything the hypnotherapist says. In this instance the hypnotherapist needs to give logical explanations for the suggestions he is making so that the patient feels that he is doing the hypnotizing himself.

Research regarding brain-imaging and therapeutic practice indicates that hypnosis is far more effective than positive thinking, because hypnosis can be used to direct the subconscious mind. The subconscious controls our emotions and behaviours.

The New York Times reports that “The main studies show that the unconscious mind may understand and respond to meaning, form emotional responses and guide most actions, largely independent of conscious awareness. The findings imply that, despite the subjective experience of being in conscious control of feelings and thoughts, decisions and actions, people are piloted far more than they know by the unconscious mind.”

The subconscious is not obtainable to our conscious in spite of our attempts to influence it.

“One of the interesting ironies about hypnosis is that old fantasy that it takes away control,” says Dr. David Spiegel, Professor and Associate Chair of Psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine. “It’s actually a way of enhancing people’s control, of teaching them how to control aspects of their body’s function and sensation that they thought they couldn’t,” concludes Spiegel, as quoted by Newsweek.

Scientists have reported that the subconscious mind has a complex system of neural activity, spread throughout various areas of the brain. This research therefore shows that our subconscious beliefs hold extensive power over the rest of our physiology.  A report by Alfred A. Barrios, of the University of California reported that 93% of people recovered from their ailments after 6 hypnotherapy sessions. Scientists believe that the subconscious is more powerful than the conscious mind because it is able to grasp far more of our neural capacity. Studies have reported that when we are awake, we consciously process about 50 bits of information per second. This is minute compared to the amount the subconscious brain capacity performs.

Scientists have discovered that the human brain contains about 100 billion neurons, and these neurons are connected via synapses to as many as 100,000 others. This means the subconscious brain processes quadrillions of bits per second, whether a person is sleeping or awake. Hypnotherapists put clients into a trance state by speaking to them in an explicit manner, using neuro-linguistic patterns to stimulate the client’s autonomic nervous system.  This then triggers the sympathetic nervous system initially, and then the parasympathetic system leads to physiological changes such as REM (rapid eye movement), it affects breathing, lowers blood pressure, and it causes deep muscle relaxation. This results in a trance like state of physical wellbeing and mental assimilation during which the subconscious becomes extremely receptive to suggestion.

During hypnosis the clients are not asleep. Clients remain fully conscious, and are able to work with the hypnotherapist to express their subconscious attitudes, feelings and goals to attain positive life changes. As Scientific American describes, “Under hypnosis, subjects do not behave as passive automatons but instead are active problem solvers who incorporate their moral and cultural ideas into their behaviour while remaining exquisitely responsive to the expectations expressed” by their hypnotherapist.

Perhaps the famous U.S. based Mayo Clinic website sums it up best: “The purpose of hypnosis is to help you gain more control over your behaviour, emotions or physical well-being.”


Benefits of Hypnotherapy

  • Depression, Grief and Loss
    · Anxiety, Phobias, Panic Attacks, PTSD
    · Relationship Issues
    · Stress and Chronic Pain
    · Eating Disorders
    · Addictions
    · Sexual Dysfunction
    · Weight Loss
    · Smoking Cessation
    · Life Changes
    · Creative Blocks
    · Life Purpose and Career Issues

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