Thursday, 28 July 2011

What is Hypnotherapy?

What is Hypnotherapy? How does hypnotherapy work? Will hypnosis work on me?

Hypnotherapy is one of the quickest and most powerful tools toward self-improvement. This is a subject commonly misunderstood with stage hypnosis, where members of an audience are hypnotised by a performer to take part in a stage show for entertainment purposes. This is of course a form of hypnosis, but Hypnotherapy is something very different and is instead centred around helping others improve themselves using the hypnotic state. There are many slightly different definitions of what Hypnotherapy actually is as there is no one ‘official’ universal agreement of the term. However, these are a selection of quotes from well renowned experts in the field’s history to help you get a general idea of what Hypnotherapy actually is and what purpose it serves.

‘The great discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind’
William James

‘…To put it succinctly, hypnosis is an altered state of attention which approaches peak concentration capacity.’
Herbert Spiegel

‘…An altered state within which suggestions have a peculiarly potent effect’
K. S. Bowers

‘…A state of intensified attention and receptiveness, and an increased responsiveness to an idea or to a set of ideas’
Milton H. Erickson

‘…Temporary condition of altered attention in the subject which may be induced by another person and in which a variety of phenomena may appear spontaneously or in response to verbal or other stimuli. These phenomena include alterations in consciousness and memory, increased suggestibility, and the production in the subject of response and ideas unfamiliar to him in his usual state of mind. Further, phenomena such as anaesthesia, paralysis, muscle rigidity and vasomotor changes can be produced and removed in the hypnotic state.’
American Medical Association

‘Hypnosis is largely a question of your willingness to be receptive and responsive to ideas, and to allow you these ideas to act upon you without interference. These ideas we call suggestions.’
Andre M. Weitzenhoffer and Ernest R. Hilgard

‘Hypnosis is a natural state of mind with special identifying characteristics:
1. An extraordinary quality of relaxation.
2. An emotionalised desire to satisfy the suggested behaviour; the person feels like doing what the hypnotist suggests, provided that what is suggested does not generate conflict with his belief system.
3. The organism becomes self-regulating. It produces normalisation of the nervous system (both voluntary and involuntary systems).
4. Heightened and selective sensitivity to stimuli being received by the five senses and four basic perceptions.
5. Immediate softening of psychic defences.’
Gil Boyne

‘It is a somewhat altered state of consciousness and altered awareness, although the conscious mind is still present. We might compare it to a teeter-totter. In the waking state the conscious mind is at the high end of the teeter-totter and the subconscious mind at the low end. Under hypnosis they reverse and the subconscious is at the high end and the conscious part at the low end, but it is still present. Thoughts rise from the inner mind into consciousness.’
Leslie M. LeCron

…To summarise then…

Hypnosis is essentially a process of relaxing the mind in such a way that very deep, subconscious thought processes are brought forward into the thinking, conscious part of the mind that might otherwise have remained hidden in normal circumstances. When we dream it is these subconscious thoughts that are being revealed to us in different forms, and through hypnosis we can delve into this aspect of our world and interact with it in a more controlled manner. It must certainly be understood that subconscious mind processes are the route and foundation of our behaviour and emotions, and like a control centre hidden somewhere in our minds, hypnosis can be used to reach inside and make changes where they are needed and thus ‘reprogram’ the subconscious.

Hypnosis is indeed very similar to that of dreaming or sleep, but it is certainly not the same thing. Hypnosis would fall somewhere in the middle on the sliding scale between being wide-awake and fast asleep, depending on how deep the state of hypnosis is. Very deep hypnosis would be physiologically almost identical to the sleeping state, however this is no easy feat to attain and most states of hypnosis are light to medium in depth. The person in question would feel very much awake and in control the whole time albeit in a very relaxed state of mind very similar to meditation. Under normal hypnosis  conditions a person most definitely CAN NOT be controlled or made to do something that they do not agree with, and can break out of hypnosis at any moment they so choose. Some false connotations fall back to old stories and myths made up in order to make a story all the more dramatic, but they have no founding.

Hypnosis is not dangerous or a risk to experiment with and has no side effects. It is rather a naturally occurring state of mind that we fall under every single day of our lives, particularly just before falling asleep, after waking up, when daydreaming or becoming engrossed in the TV or the computer. Have you ever driven your car along a familiar route and suddenly realised you have somehow jumped in time and paid no attention to the past few minutes? That is the subconscious taking over your body and is also a form of hypnosis, just like finding ‘the zone’ in sports performance. The method of Hypnotherapy merely taps this ability of mind and uses it to alter attitudes and behaviour to make improvements in lifestyle. Various forms of hypnosis bring about decreased stress, improved memory, enhanced self-confidence and academic performance as well as psychological health and happiness. The uses are almost endless.

Keep reading this blog as it unfolds to acquaint yourself further with Hypnotherapy and how it can be used to improve people’s lives…

One source of further reading/information

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