Hypnosis is a state of altered consciousness and increased suggestibility. It has been present for a long time. The name hypnosis comes from the Greek word for sleep (Hypnos), although the state of hypnosis is different from sleep.
In different cultures and religions, hypnosis was called by different names, so there were and still are different ways of introduction into a hypnotic state such as singing meditative chants, drumming, or performing monotonous dance rhythms. Druids, Vikings, Indian Yogis, Hindu sacred and holy fathers of all religions have successfully used such methods for centuries. What we call hypnosis today can be found in both the Bible and the Hindu Vedas.
In the 18th century, physicians began to turn to hypnosis again and use it for medical purposes. The greatest contributions were made by Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer, Dr. James Braid, Dr. James Esdail (over 2000 surgeries under hypnosis during which patients did not feel pain!), Dr. Milton H. Erickson and others. In the 1950s, the British and American Medical Associations reaffirmed the usefulness of hypnosis as a method of therapy, and the Catholic Church recognized hypnosis as a legitimate form of therapy.
Numerous researchers have contributed to testing the effectiveness of hypnotherapy, and therefore hypnotherapy can no longer be seen as a method of alternative medicine. Hypnotherapy has a scientifically proven effectiveness as a method of therapy, greater than placebo, and in many cases greater than classical and more commonly used therapeutic methods. For example, in the treatment of infertility, women who underwent hypnotherapy for IVF treatment became pregnant in 28% of cases, while women who underwent IVF treatment without hypnotherapy became pregnant in 14% of cases (study presented to the European Association for Human Reproduction and Embryology, in Berlin, July 2004).
HUMAN MIND AND HYPNOSIS
The human mind is like an onion – it has many layers. The outer layer makes up our conscious mind which helps during daily decision making by working according to the principle of reality. Our conscious mind is intelligent, realistic, logical, and negatively oriented. However, the conscious mind can work simultaneously with a limited number of things and is very easily overwhelmed.
The subconscious mind (or the main hidden layer of the arc) works on “autopilot” by reacting according to the principle of comfort, avoiding pain, and focusing on comfort and survival. It is occupied by our emotions, imagination, memories as well as our autonomic nervous system which controls our internal organs automatically. These four heads of the subconscious mind function are very closely interconnected. In short, the mind affects the body and the body affects the mind. Our subconscious mind is very powerful, but it is not very intelligent – it thinks at the level of a four-year-old child. It has a strong desire to help us and facilitate change, but it is very naive in his effort to do so.
The conscious mind makes up only 5% of our entire mind. That is our short-term memory. The conscious mind is logical, analyzes things, sticks to habits, is self-aware, and is in charge of making decisions. The conscious mind is like the captain of a submarine.
For positive change to occur, a person must be aware of the need for change, motivated to “recover” or progress and to believe that he or she can achieve the goal. Therefore, to bring about positive change, hypnosis is used to bypass the negatively oriented conscious mind by giving suggestions directly to the subconscious mind – which always listens and always pays attention, and eagerly awaits instructions on how to help in the best possible way.
To understand the connection between the conscious and subconscious mind, I will use an analogy. Imagine that the conscious mind is the captain of a submarine. The captain is the one who makes all the decisions depending on the goal he is heading towards. He is the only one who sees where he is going through his periscope. On the other hand, the large crew manages the navigation.
The crew responds to all orders given by the captain. As the crew does not see where it is going, it must rely entirely on the captain’s ability to make the right decision. Members cannot make the right decisions on their own, their function is to simply respond to the captain’s orders and follow his instructions. All power comes from the subconscious mind – without a crew, the submarine would not even sail. The subconscious mind is our long-term memory. It makes up about 95% of our mind. It is like the most powerful computer ever devised. It is capable of multitasking, does not judge, does not criticize, does not analyze, and does not reject. It reacts quickly, but often not correct.
It is emotional and unconscious. He doesn’t understand and has no sense of humor, and it takes everything literally. Our subconscious mind also seems both innocent and naive. It wants to help us as much as it can, but also in the way it can.
However, as the reasoning of the subconscious mind is at the level of a four-year-old child, it often uses an inappropriate way and needs to be directed. When something becomes sufficiently known, it becomes part of the subconscious mind. We do a lot of things every day on a subconscious level without making any conscious effort (eg reading, brushing teeth, typing on the keyboard, etc.)
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A HYPNOTHERAPY SESSION?
During hypnotherapy, no one sleeps, falls into a trance, or reveals his most hidden secrets. The hypnotherapist does not manipulate the client he is working with nor can he force him to do things the client does not want. Moreover, treatment does not have any effect if the client is not truly motivated to change. Therefore, it makes no sense to persuade someone to hypnotherapy.
When a client opts for hypnosis therapy, the first step is to clarify what exactly hypnotherapy is, to help the client break down the misconceptions he has about hypnosis. It is important to explain how the conscious and subconscious mind works, and how hypnotherapy will be performed. It usually takes 2 to a maximum of 6 sessions, which makes hypnotherapy an extremely effective form of therapy.
Introduction to hypnosis can be done in several ways. I do this through a special rhythm of breathing, after which I guide the client through relaxing visualizations until they are completely relaxed. This is followed by a squeak made up of suggestions related to the problem. These suggestions are arranged in advance with the client, who knows best what he wants for himself and what he wants to achieve with hypnotherapy.
If it is an analytical person who is always looking for activities and can not completely calm down and relax, after the visualization I set a mental task that the client should “do” in their minds while giving suggestions. Suggestions are followed by a gradual “awakening” from hypnosis.
The therapy is the most effective if one listens to the recording of the session every day for at least 21 days – that is how much it takes to create a habit in the brain.
WHO IS A GOOD CANDIDATE FOR HYPNOTHERAPY?
The most common reasons people turn to a hypnotherapist (psychologist or psychiatrist trained to practice hypnosis for medical purposes) or a hypnosis practitioner (a person who does not practice mental health but uses hypnosis techniques to improve quality of life) are smoking cessation and weight loss.
Hypnotherapists face a wide range of problems such as skin diseases, hypertension, headaches and other types of pain (eg labor pains), depression, anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, trauma, alcoholism, and other addictions, eating disorders, AD / HD, dyslexia, grief, insomnia, infertility, sexual problems, preparation for childbirth, nail-biting, and many others. On the other hand, many people want to work on themselves and the quality of their performance in, for example, sports, school, public speaking, achieving their goals and motivation, self-confidence, etc.
What most people need is help with stress reduction and coping with stressful situations. Hypnotherapy is a very powerful tool here.
Stress, directly and indirectly, leads to probably most diseases, from hypertension, diabetes, heart attack to psoriasis, and since hypnotherapy has no side effects, it is a shame not to take advantage of its benefits.
“If you don’t know what to do, work on yourself – there’s always work to be done!”