Hypnosis may have a history that goes back as far as the ancient Vedas of India, as there are techniques in various Yoga systems which show that ancient Yogis had an understanding of states of mind that were similar to trance states.
Hypnosis is not sleeping and the trance states that are induced can be likened to Alpha states that we often experience in every day life. An example of this can be the trance like state that some experience on long distance drives or getting “lost ” in a novel or an engrossing task. Being extremely engaged in something and allowing your mind to focus is a hypnotic experience that we sometimes call being in an “Alpha mode”. When you are in this state ideas that are beneficial can gain access to the unconscious mind.
Probably the ” father of modern Hypnosis theory” would have been Franz Anton Mesmer an 18th Century Viennese physician whose work was influenced by Isaac Newton. While he did not call his practice hypnosis or hypnotherapy he utilized techniques of inducing trance like states to cure “hysterical” conditions. Mesmer also postulated some rather interesting theories on the planets having tidal influences on the lives of men.
The word Hypnosis was actually coined by a Scotsman named James Braid who observed that eye fixation such as staring at a candle often led to a trance like state.
However, modern Hypnosis as we know it is usually attributed to Milton Erickson a 20th century psychologist who understood the value of engaging the unconscious mind to bring about positive desired changes in an individual. Erickson recognized and fully utilized hypnosis as a therapeutic tool.
Most everyone can be hypnotized and the more intelligent the person the more receptive they are -usually- to being hypnotized.
Outwardly, when someone is hypnotized it may appear that they are asleep but that is not the case. In the hypnotic state you are very relaxed, and you will not do anything against your will. When you are in a hypnotic state you can reject or accept suggestions. When you are hypnotized you are aware and you can hear clearly. Your hearing may be sharper, and your imagination and memory can be enhanced.
In reality we operate more from our unconscious mind than our conscious mind. Our unconscious mind harbors emotions and perceptions and stores habits that we may wish to look at more consciously to effect optimal change. Hypnosis helps to relax the conscious mind to allow positive and beneficial ideas to become accepted by the unconscious mind.. If these positive and beneficial ideas can be connected to the individual’s motivation there can be powerful and permanent constructive changes made in a person’s life.
Many people find the experience to be really pleasurable, and some may question whether they were hypnotized at all because they experienced that they were awake. Be assured that even if you feel you were awake during the session the desired results are still happening. Hypnosis is approved by both the AMA and other Medical Associations as a valid therapeutic modality. In addition to using hypnosis to help change or eliminate unwanted habits or to create positive motivation, hypnosis can also be used in medical procedures to bypass pain.
Hypnosis also is a powerful technique to understand and get to the bottom of emotional traumas that cause recurring and inappropriate behaviors. Behaviors are very complicated and when we hold deep emotions that are painful, often these pains are deep-rooted and thru regressive hypnosis techniques one can often get to the bottom of the pain and with techniques adapted thru Neuro Linguistic Programming and Gestalt one can heal in a very meaningful way.
The applications for hypnosis are many and varied and as more and more people start to recognize how our unconscious mind influences conscious thoughts and actions, there will be a greater acceptance of this art going forward. Hypnosis can be very effective as a stand alone therapy or in conjunction with other therapeutic techniques.