Hypnosis therapy is not something new. This technique has existed for thousands of years but still remains a difficult concept to fully understand and accept in terms of today.
The process of hypnosis therapy (hypnotherapy) is a form of treatment used to bypass someone's voluntary action response in order to activate subconscious change in behavior, habit, attitude, thoughts and reaction.
In hypnosis therapy session, the subject is able to enter an enhanced state of focus and concentration without distraction. This is achieved by reaching a state of induced consciousness through imagery, mental triggers, and guided suggestion.
Here we take a fascinating look into the history of this mesmerizing therapy technique and help unravel one of the greatest mysteries of the mind.
From Ancient Times to Modern Day Hypnosis Therapy
The earliest references of the therapeutic results of hypnosis therapy can be traced way back to ancient Egypt and Greece around 3000BC.
Hypnosis is derived from the Greek word hypnos which means sleep. It was thought that induced dreams could be used to determine the cause of an illness.
The father of Chinese medicine, Wong Tai, noted techniques involving incantations (a spell created by using words) during 2600BC.
Hindu Vedas mentioned hypnotic procedures around 1500BC. Hypnosis has been practiced in shamanistic, voodoo, yogic, druidic, and religious practices, and has slowly been accepted as an integral part of medicine over generations.
Austrian physician Franz Anton Mesmer is coined the father of hypnosis, from which mesmerism was born during the 18th century. Rather than distinguish this practice as something mystical, he was able to provide an explanation that could begin to create at least a slightly better understanding.
He theorized that the “tidal” influences of the planets, based on the theory of gravity, also operate on the human body through a universal force, which he termed “animal magnetism.”
The concept of invisible magnetic fluid apparently found throughout nature and within every human body is said to have the ability to restore balance and thus cure ailments.
In hypnosis therapy, the mind is subject to verbal suggestion and passing of the hands to regain balance of this magnetic energy.
His breakthrough case was that of Franzl Oesterline, a 27 year old woman suffering from what Mesmer described as a convulsive malady, “the most troublesome symptoms of which was that the blood rushed to her head and there set up the most cruel toothaches and earaches, followed by delirium, rage, vomiting and swooning."
These symptoms were so severe that Fraulein Oesterline moved into Mesmer’s house to receive constant care. Mesmer effected a cure by, as he saw it, using a magnet to disrupt the gravitational tides adversely affecting his patient. He successfully induced in Fraulein Oesterline the sensation of a fluid draining rapidly from her body, taking her illness with it.
Today, modern science has been able to show that these results were produced by the hypnotic suggestion of a fluid draining from the body. This case study provides a great metaphor that is still referenced among 21st century hypnosis therapy practice.
John Elliotson and James Esdaille from England, James Braid from Britian, Frenchmen Ambrose Liebeault, J.M. Charcot and Charles Richet, and Sigmund Freud are some of the forward thinkers who have paved the way for hypnosis therapy to gain ground and earn respectability in the medical profession.
In the 1900s, successful psychiatrist Milton H. Erickson widely used hypnosis in his practice, and by 1995, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommended hypnotherapy as a form of chronic pain treatment.
Is hypnosis therapy real or fake? Let’s find out!
In this fun and fascinating presentation, hypnotist and acclaimed Filmmaker Albert Nerenberg asks: What happens if you run a series of standard hypnotic inductions on a large crowd such as the audience at TEDXQueens. This presentation may finally provide a street science explanation for how hypnosis actually works.
How Hypnosis Therapy Works
Have you ever been so completely mesmerized that you felt yourself lost in the moment, as if under a spell? Even though you may feel lost in a compelling day dream state, there is a deeper part of your mind that has woken up and in a state of extreme alert.
At this point, you can't possibly think of anything else and you simply cannot resist nor look away. It's something quite natural, but hypnosis therapy aims to trigger and prolong this reaction.
The process entails an individual to typically go into a trance-like state by bypassing the remote centers of the brain and communicating directly with a receptive subconscious mind.
It serves as an aid to psychotherapy because it allows people to explore underlying feelings, thoughts, or memories which are often times the root of inner conflict and illness.
Mastering self-regulation skills empowers an individual over their own bodily functions and psychological responses. A trained therapist can help a person focus his or her attention on specific thoughts while external factors are temporarily blocked.
The conditions this kind of therapy is known to effectively address include anxiety, phobias and fears, addiction, sleep disorders, depression, grief and loss, stress, pain control, and overcoming undesirable habits.
Hypnotherapists utilize guided exercises, a series of mental images, and suggestions during the several stages of hypnosis therapy. They are carefully designed to access deep relaxation points and promote self-awareness.
Once the hypnosis state is achieved, the process is initiated. This includes reframing the problem, becoming absorbed in the words of your hypnotherapist, dissociating, responding or complying to suggestions, returning to your usual awareness, and ultimately reflecting on this unique experience.