What is it?
Hypnosis is similar to deep daydreaming. During this trance-like time, the conscious or rational part of the brain is temporarily tuned out, making the subconscious mind subject to suggestions offered by the therapist, a hypnotist. In this relaxed state, the mind is considered open to change.
A skilled hypnotist can help cause a change in the person, such as slowing down one's breathing or heart rate.
No one can be hypnotized unless they are open-minded and willing to participate in the process. A person enters the hypnotic state on their own by following the therapist's instructions. The World Health Organization estimates that 90% of the population can be hypnotized.
Successful hypnosis has three basic conditions:
- The patient and the hypnotist must have a good relationship and level of trust.
- The room must feel safe and be comfortable and free from distractions.
- The patient must be willing to be involved in the process and want to be hypnotized.
A common concern is that a person may lose control to the hypnotist, but a hypnotic suggestion will only work if the patient accepts it. The hypnotist cannot force a person to accept something that goes against their moral code or religious beliefs. The goal of the therapist is to help solve problems.
Hypnosis is often helpful when used with other medical treatments to treat different problems. Because of the deep relaxation that occurs, hypnosis may help the stress related to some health problems, such as heart or gastrointestinal problems, cancer, or any chronic diseases. Hypnosis may help the pain of headaches, facial neuralgia, sciatica, arthritis, and menstruation. Hypnosis has been successfully used instead of anesthesia in some surgeries and may help in the healing process after surgery. It may also be effective to treat addictions, anxiety, depression, and phobias.
During the first session, the hypnotist and patient discuss the patient's past and any concerns the patient may have about hypnosis. The hypnotist tests the patient to learn if the patient can be easily hypnotized. On the second visit, the hypnotist will often hypnotize the patient to help the patient either change their behavior, limiting beliefs, or pain patterns. A hypnosis session usually lasts one hour. To reinforce the treatment, the hypnotist may teach the patient how to hypnotize himself.
For more information:
1. Burton Goldberg Group: Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide. Future Medicine Publishing, Puyallup, WA; 1994.
2. Cassileth BR: The Alternative Medicine Handbook, 1st ed. WW Norton & Company, NY, NY; 1998.
3. Inglis B & West R: The Alternative Health Guide, Alfred A. Knopf, NY, NY; 1983
4. Kastner MA: Alternative Healing: The Complete A to Z Guide to Over 160 Different Alternative Therapies. Halcyon Publishing, La Mesa, CA; 1993.
5. Sifton DW: The PDR Family Guide to Natural Medicines and Healing Therapies. Three Rivers Press, NY, NY; 1999.
6. Woodham A & Peters D: Encyclopedia of Healing Therapies, 1st ed. Dorling Kindersley, NY, NY; 1997.
Last Updated: 1/4/2018