Updated: Dec 5, 2022
Thanks to twisty television plots and popular Vegas magic shows, hypnosis is one of the most fascinating — yet least understood — forms of therapy. Hypnosis is so much simpler than most people realise.
Hypnosis is an accepted form of medical treatment
Officially, hypnosis has been around since 18th century.
Franz Mesmer is usually credited with bringing hypnosis to the attention of the public sometime around 1770. The Austrian physician likely knew about the use of hypnosis by earlier societies, and spent much of his career studying hypnosis and its effects on the human mind. Interestingly, Mesmer referred to hypnosis as “animal magnetism” or “mesmerism,” and the latter of the two is sometimes still used today. (We bet you’re utterly mesmerized by this fact, right?).
But some of the earliest recorded descriptions of hypnosis date back to ancient Egypt in 1500 B.C.
Imhotep, the world’s first known physician, used healing sanctuaries known as Sleep Temples. The temples were used for a type of suggestion therapy, and people would go to be healed from problems both physical and mental. It’s said that patients visiting a Sleep Temple would be put under the influence of incantation, or hypnotic state. Before ultimately falling asleep, the physician would give them whatever suggestions might help overcome their problem in hopes that the gods would visit the patient during his sleep and fix them.
Hypnosis — known also as hypnotherapy — has its doubters, but it’s been around since 444B.C. and has been an accepted form of medical treatment since the 1950s. Every year, more and more people seek out appointments with hypnotherapists to find a healthy way to control fears and negative behaviours. To achieve this, hypnotherapists help patients access their subconscious mind, something many of us do every day without realizing.
What is the fundamental difference between psychotherapy and hypnotherapy?
Rather than dealing with the conscious thinking analytical brain [as with psychotherapy], you are accessing the subconscious, where all feelings and emotions and behaviours exist, where 90 percent of our being is, where our brain function is.
The conscious mind has a filter called the Conscious Critical Faculty (C.C.F.), the CCF rejects all incoming information that does not match a previous pattern of behaviour. Hypnosis allows a hypnotherapist to bypass this CCF and remove the fears, beliefs and phobias of the past directly from the client’s subconscious mind. Once the initial sensitizing event has been resolved the client is then able to see the world from a completely new direction. The filters of previous experiences have been removed and the client can enjoy an improved life without the haunting negativity of the past.
And so by quieting the thinking mind and understanding your issues, it makes getting to the root cause extremely fast (often just a few sessions are required*) and very effective.
Let’s look at an example
Imagine that you have been told all your life that you are not very good at maths.
When presented with a maths problem (remember your mind is conditioned with the belief you are not very good), your CCF recalls this belief and of course you fail miserably.
To recondition the mind can take a very long time, that is why some forms of talking therapy can go on for months and even years as they are constantly fighting the will of the CCF. Hypnosis bypasses this filter and gets to the root of subconscious belief.
I understand there’s a difference between hypnosis and hypnotherapy. Can you explain their relationship?
Hypnosis is a part of hypnotherapy. Typically hypnotherapy has a purpose to help somebody resolve an issue. Hypnosis is a bit more broad, and people unfortunately have a connotation that hypnosis is what you have seen in the movies or on stage, where their eyes are spinning and their mind is being controlled, that sort of thing. That’s the myth that needs to be dispelled.
During sessions, clients remain awake, yet it is the client’s subconscious that is ultimately leading the session. Can you expand?
Contrary to popular belief, hypnotism is a natural state of mind. It’s not a form of sleep. Scientists have proven over and over again that patients remain wide awake while under hypnosis and retain complete control of their actions.
The most common thing I hear is “I don’t think I can be hypnotised. My brain’s too busy.” We are all in and out of states of hypnosis all day long. When you’re watching a movie, your conscious brain is not on, you’re in a TV hypnosis. Other common examples include arriving at your destination without memory of driving there, zoning out while reading the page of a book, or becoming so engrossed in the television show you’re binging that you barely realise half a day has passed.
This is the same for video games or when you’re in the heat of an argument, because you’re so focused on only one thing, and it’s all generally feeling based. Any kind of conscious thought is really not coming in. And so hypnosis is so much simpler than most people realise. In the end, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. Ultimately the client decides if they want to be hypnotised or not.
What is the most common reason people seek hypnotherapy?
I mostly see people with anxiety, depression, behavioural issues: fears, phobias, a lot of emotional stuff, perfectionism, self-sabotage, or even finding purpose in life. A lot of people-pleasing, a lot of inner critic. The range that I see is interesting but never the same. People really don’t want medication, they’re looking for alternative forms of healing, and they’ve been in psychotherapy and they can’t get past it.
My clients often come to me when they have tried everything else, and it hasn’t worked.
*The number of sessions required, depend on the presenting issue. Phobias require 3 sessions, Anxiety 4-8 sessions on average.