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Hypnosis is a super-concentrated state of mind brought about by suggestions, which can be direct or indirect. Hypnosis produces a hypnotic state, or trance that’s actually a natural phenomenon. One can tap into this relaxed state of mind through intentional self-hypnosis (the person hypnotizes himself), through induction by a therapist, or accidentally by sheer repetition of a phrase or “mantra.” The hypnotic state is a “normal” altered state of consciousness, similar to, but not the same as being awake. It also is similar to but not the same as being asleep.
Hypnosis has been around as far back as humankind itself. The induction of hypnotic state goes as far back as the medicine men of primitive tribes for religious and therapeutic ends. Magicians and priests of ancient civilizations were also known to practice hypnosis. People go in and out of trance state all the time, and have been since the beginning of recorded time. There were many well known practitioners, such as: Father Josef Gassner (1727-1779), Frederich Anton Mesmer (1734-1815), Jean Martin Charcot (1825-1893), Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and Milton H. Erickson 1901-1980).
Hypnosis is achieved by a central focus of attention in surrounding areas of inhibition. The state of hypnosis will produce an increased concentration of the mind, an increased relaxation of the body and an increased susceptibility to suggestion.
The word hypnosis was coined in 1841. It is the Greek word for sleep (hynos). This is misleading because the trance state is not sleep at all. Most of us are in a trance state quite often. When we daydream, watch television, drive a long distance in the car we are often in a trance state.
During hypnosis, whether self-induced or guided by someone else, the body is deeply relaxed and the brain waves are at a frequency of eight to 13 cycles per second. This is the Alpha State, which is slower than the alert Beta state but above that of sleep or even deep mediation.
Persons in hypnotic trance are fully aware of their surroundings, but their attention is intensely fixated and purposely focused on something in order to distract from something else, such as: pain, overeating, worries, smoking etc.
No, hypnotherapy is not a “cure” all. It is actually not a cure at all. It is an effective method of alleviating the subject’s symptoms. Although hypnosis provides great relief and change, the underlying cause of the symptoms must still be identified and treated. This is where clinical psychotherapy can be highly beneficial.
Hypnosis is being used to treat the symptoms of such conditions as: asthma, arthritis, Parkinson’s, migraine headaches, depression, phobias, addictions, bulimia, insomnia, hypertension, nausea, gastric hyperacidity, burns, skin disorders, weight loss, smoking cessation, improve study habits and low self-esteem. These are just some of the ways hypnosis can be implemented. The list is endless.
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