What is Hypnotherapy?

History of Hypnosis

Hypnosis is an ancient art – almost as old as civilization itself. Medicine men, magicians and priests of ancient traditions practiced a primitive form of hypnosis. For example in ancient Greece, the oracle at Delphi went into a trance, from where she would give answers to questions.

Over the last two thousand years it went through different phases, however different versions of hypnosis have been documented in Persia by Avicenna (980-1037), Switzerland (1483-1541) by a physician named Paracelsus. Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) an Austrian physician introduced ‘animal magnetism’ or mesmerism. A Scottish physician performed over 300 surgeries with Hypnosis. With the introduction of pharmaceutical anesthesia the use of Hypnosis was displaced.

It was not until the 18th century, however, that any attempt was made to turn hypnosis into a science. The need for rapid treatment of shell shock during World Wars I and II led to a rekindling of interest in hypnotism.

Because of its astonishing effectiveness, hypnosis became the treatment of choice as a shortcut psychiatric therapy.

More Recently….

In 1955, the British Medical Association approved hypnosis for the treatment of psychoneurosis, and for hypnoanesthesia to relive the pain of childbirth and in surgery. Three years later, in 1958, The Council on Mental Health of the American Medical Association reported its approval of hypnosis. More recently, the field of hypnotherapy has become an emerging profession, separate and distinct from others, but still complementary to the major healing arts. With heightened public awareness of the crucial link between a person’s state of mind and his or her state of health, people are turning to hypnosis as a short-term, non-invasive therapy.

Many people are surprised to learn that they have frequently encountered hypnotic trance states throughout their lives. While early theories of hypnosis were based on mystical “mesmeric fluid” or “animal magnetism”, a modern understanding of the field treats hypnotic phenomena as a process that utilizes natural shifts in our language and perception.

There is no hard and fast definition for a hypnotic experience or ‘trance’. The best that can be said is that a trance state is an altered state of consciousness, one that represents a shift from ‘ordinary’ waking consciousness.

Some emphasis has been given to the ideas that a trance state represents a more internalized experience, a narrowing of focus, ‘dissociation’, increased suggestibility, or automatism. While any of these can come into play in a hypnotic experience, none of them are either necessary or universal. The late Dr. Milton Erickson, the ‘grandfather of modern hypnosis’, said “Trance permits the operator to evoke, in a controlled manner, the same mental mechanisms that are operative spontaneously in everyday life.” With this in mind, it may be easier to understand that our minds have the ability to shift from one state of consciousness to another very easily.

We have all experienced trance-like states while daydreaming, while bored in a lecture or class, while driving on a long highway, getting a massage, sitting in a hot tub, when we shift our attention in order to read a book, to watch television, or to go inside our own minds to think about something. There are many methods of hypnosis and self-hypnosis.

The best way to describe what happens in a hypnotic trance or state is to get a person do what they would not normally do. For example, the smoker does not smoke and the person in pain is pain free. Hence, the many applications of Hypnosis in helping many different conditions.

Learn more about Hypnosis and the Hypnotherapy services Piroska Bata offers.