What is Hypnosis?
Academics have tried to define hypnosis for the last hundred years or so – without success. The following is a useful way to think about hypnosis but is certainly not a precise definition.
If you take the symptoms of the fight/flight response and precisely reverse them, you have the state of those body systems in the altered state which we call hypnosis or trance. This makes hypnosis the most obvious method in the world to treat any disorder in which stress is a cause, or in which stress is a serious complicating secondary factor.
However, let’s deal with a couple or myths first. Despite the entertaining showmanship of certain stage hypnotists, the reality is that all hypnosis is self hypnosis. There is no other kind. I was certified in 1989, by the organisation which was then the British Council of Hypnotist Examiners as a master of the subject. The only person I can hypnotise is me. What I do for anyone else is to guide a person – who has to choose to be guided by me – into a pleasant, dreamy, deep self hypnotic state.
To refute the other common myth, it is important to say that this is an altered state of consciousness. Hypnosis is not a state of unconsciousness. The client is conscious throughout, albeit in an altered way. So throughout the experience, it is the client who is actually in control, and hypnosis is not about losing control – it is about learning to take control over your own mind and body, probably to a greater degree than ever before.
Trance is a naturally occurring state in which the focus of attention is narrowed, and directed to a person’s inner thought processes. In trance, it is possible to become aware of deeper aspects of thinking and to change these – which can lead to the changes in behaviour, feelings and abilities which you desire.
Do you remember being hypnotized?
The answer is a little confusing because you may well remember being placed in to an hypnotic state, and you may also remember the events that you experienced during the hypnosis session. However, you may not be fully aware of the compelling nature of any suggestions made to you during the session, or the reason why you take certain actions afterwards.
The brain can be considered as a protein computer – very much more complex than any built by humans. The problem is that most of the programming was done while the owner was a young child. So it is not surprising that the adult can improve on it now! Also, operators of complex computers are trained, whereas most human brains are used by operators untrained in how to get the excellent results which are perfectly possible.
Hypnosis is simply the methods used to lead a willing person into trance. The therapy part of hypnotherapy combines this with psychotherapy techniques. The therapist is a bit like the help desk you may phone when there are problems with your PC. The person you talk to has the knowledge and skills – but only you can make the changes, by choosing to follow their suggestions in the keystrokes you make on the computer keyboard, as they guide you step by step.
The techniques of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) are used to effectively enable the client to reprogramme his/her own bio-computer or brain, to achieve the results he/she wants. This is usually achieved far more easily in trance, and the therapist is just a guide to enable you to achieve what can be a complex and somewhat technical task.