Is Hypnosis Real?
There are many myths surrounding hypnosis mainly coming from the media, so many people expect to come to my clinic and see me swing a pocket watch or something, or avoid eye contact in case the go into hypnosis! Avoiding all these clichés hypnoses is a well studied legitimate treatment for a wide range of conditions from sleep, weight loss, trauma, pain, anxiety, depression through to erotic hypnosis. Hypnosis is really an umbrella term for a range of different states, in the same way, we use the word sleep which can mean light sleep, REM sleep, deep sleep, hypnosis is the same covering everything in between being asleep and being fully alert!
What is Hypnosis?
In some ways, talking about the history of hypnosis is a bit like talking about the history of thinking or the history of breathing. Hypnosis is a universal human trait, so its history is the history of humanity itself. We might think of hypnotherapy - the use of hypnosis for healing or therapeutic purposes - as a very recent development, but its roots stretch deep into the past. The problem with attempting to define hypnosis is that throughout the years there have been so many ideas about what hypnosis is and what it isn’t that people have preconceived notions. It might be said that they have been hypnotised into believing whatever it is they believe about hypnosis!
If asked what is a hypnotist? What comes to mind? If you are like many people you might conjure up images of sinister stage villain who brings about this state of hypnosis with a swinging watch, taking control of people’s minds so they lose complete volition over their being, completely helpless to the suggestions of the hypnotist. (If that ‘power’ existed I would be sunning myself on a beach, drinking champagne).
In truth, the reality is very different from these stereotypical depictions. If we consider that hypnosis is a generic state that covers many states, one where the hypnotist does not hypnotise the individual, but rather the hypnotist serves as a coach, a guide who’s role it is to help the person hypnotise themselves, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis.
To further illustrate this if we consider the word sleep, we recognise that there are many states of sleep, light sleep, deep sleep, REM sleep, restless sleep etc, all under the umbrella classification of sleep, there is still some dispute between experts as to what induces sleep and why people sleep in these different ways, but all in agreement that sleep exists!
If you imagine a scale where fully alert/conscious awareness at one end and sleep is at the other end, with the gradients between these two points then you might think of hypnosis as an area between these poles where the subjects awareness of their surroundings are diminished and their internal focus is heightened.
Does Hypnosis Work?
Here’s a short answer: There is a surmountable amount of research that suggests that hypnosis is indeed a powerful tool to facilitate change.
Can everyone be Hypnotised?
Hypnosis is a universal human trait, in the same way, that everyone breathes, everyone has the ability to be hypnotised, we just have to realise that everyone will experience hypnosis in their own unique way, there isn’t a right or wrong way to experience it, only your way!
Can Hypnosis change behaviour and be used for mind control?
Mind control is a common misconception about hypnosis, if that were true I would be sunning myself on a luxury yacht! There are many factors that influence our behaviour, to convince a ‘normal’ person to commit a robbery is highly unlikely however if you held their loved one to ransom they may be more likely to commit a crime. People who are hypnotised are certainly more open to receiving suggestions, but this does not give the hypnotist control over your mind, morality, or judgment. In regards to a therapeutic tool, my opinion is that it actually heightens ‘control’ by allowing the person to take command and change undesirable thoughts or behaviours.
There is a significant amount of research that supports the effectiveness of hypnosis with a weight loss programme. Studies have shown that those that received hypnosis not only lost more weight than those who received CBT but also maintained the weight loss after 18 months.
When we eat for any other reason other than genuine hunger we are eating to achieve a feeling, this is emotional eating, so the solution to this has to be to address the emotional reasons that you eat food when you are not hungry, and this is why just providing nutritional information will never succeed long term.
There is some debate in the medical community as to the cause when the cause of depression, the chemical imbalance theory coming under scrutiny. When we talk about feelings, we know that these are the result of a mind body interaction so it stands to reason that if we change the thoughts it effects the chance of response within the body that creates the feeling. Our thoughts do not only reside in our conscious mind but a large proportion is from our unconscious mind, that happen ‘automatically’ often outside of our conscious awareness. Hypnosis allows us to access the unconscious thoughts and uses the ability of the brain to create new neural pathways and connect to the new experiences. In this way, hypnotherapy helps to identify find the root cause of depression without re-experiencing a trauma.
Are you laying awake a night with a million thoughts running through your mind? You're not alone. 1 in 3 people suffers from Insomnia.
Hypnosis, when combined with creating good sleep habits, is effective in reducing sleepless nights. There are many possible reasons for insomnia but they are usually related to stress and anxiety.
You may feel worried about a situation, a deadline at work, or it may be the fear of not getting enough sleep, which can end up creating a perpetual cycle.
Studies have also found that hypnosis may be useful in the treatment of nightmares, sleep terrors, bedwetting, and sleepwalking.
One of the most common reasons people come to my clinic is anxiety. Every single person on this planet is familiar with feelings of anxiety. Anxiety is inbuilt survival mechanism with the primary objective of keeping us safe! However, anxiety can be extremely debilitating when it interferes with your day-to-day activities. Each of experience stress in different ways and what one person may find stressful another may find motivational. Stress can produce a whole variety of symptoms from anxiety, nervousness, frustration, fear, anger as well as physical symptoms such as nausea, heart palpitations or headaches. Most of us manage these symptoms however it is when these symptoms begin to negatively impact on your daily life that is when it is necessary to seek help.
The root cause of anxiety is in the subconscious mind, where our thoughts, feelings, memories, beliefs, hopes, dreams, nightmares are all stored and this is where anxiety is also allowed to live. Hypnosis directly accesses the subconscious mind and can help you to address your stress and anxiety.
OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)
Firstly hypnosis is effective in treating OCD because OCD is hypnosis!
OCD can effect people in different ways, the displaying symptom are usually actions that are a result of obsessive thoughts, this could be anything from turning taps on and off, washing hands, shutting doors to counting, but the fundamental process is the same.
I have heard many people when in the throes of OCD behaviour describe it as a spaced out feeling.
When in a hypnotic state there’s a deliberate narrowing of your focus of attention, creating an absorbed feeling of ‘time disappearing’, similar to when carrying out OCD behaviours like hand washing for example. In these moment’s hypnosis and OCD appear to be one and the same, you become inwardly immersed as imagination becomes more ‘real’ than external reality.
In this sense, OCD is an ‘imagination disorder’, so it makes sense to treat a ‘hypnotic condition’ with hypnosis.
When we look at what emotion fuels these OCD behaviours it is fear, so it makes perfect sense to address the fear of not carrying out these behaviours and as with many other issues, the answers to OCD lies within the unconscious mind, where hypnosis is king!
Hypnosis has many practical applications one of which is reducing inhibitions and increasing arousal. Erotic hypnosis is not the same as hypnotherapy and can be used by using post-hypnotic suggestions to produce an experience in response to a trigger. Erotic hypnosis can also include suggestions intended to improve sexual health. Hypnosis can also be used to create a hypnotic fantasy, in which the person is directed through a process and taken through a description of a sexual experience. The ultimate goal is to guide someone to achieve an orgasm without touching, sound impossible? Well it's not, this is a real game changer!
We know that the mind is critical to experience pleasure, if you are feeling fat and frumpy and ‘not in the mood’ you are much less likely to find it pleasurable, if you are stressing about work and not feeling very sexy, your body will struggle to override that whereas if the mind is actively stimulated it is entirely possible to achieve an orgasm just from that.