“What is Hypnosis?” Describe the psychological and physical aspects of hypnosis and discuss the role of relaxation in Hypnotherapy.
Hypnosis is a state in which a subject’s mind is more capable of recalling their memory. It is a state of positively altered attention and in this state it can be seem like the subject is asleep however the subject is very much awake and has full control over themselves. Hypnotherapy is a technique that is used to help people make positive changes in their lives. The changes include losing weight, non-smoking, stress reduction, treating phobias, pain control, sleeping disorders, anxiety and so on. As well as helping people’s emotional and physical disorders, it also improves the living conditions of people with cancer or any other long term medical illness.
Hypnosis comes from the Greek word ‘Hypnos’ which means sleep. Looking at its basic history can help us understand what hypnosis is.
Franz Anton Mesmer was a German physician born in 1734 who made a theory that there was a natural energetic transference that occurred between animated and inanimate objects that he called animal magnetism.
In 1774, Franz Mesmer made her patient swallow something that contained iron and then attached magnets to various parts of her body. Her feedback was that she felt streams of fluid running through her body. For several hours, she was cured from her symptoms. Mesmer did not believe that the magnets had cured his patient on their own. He believed her situation had benefited from animal magnetism also. He stopped using magnets as part of his treatment.
In 1775, Mesmer performed cures following in a priest and healer’s footsteps. This priest was named Johann Joseph Gassner (1727-1779). In the same year, he was invited to give his opinion at the Munich Academy of Sciences on the work carried out by this Joseph Gassner. Mesmer declared that while the priest was sincere in his beliefs, his cures happened because of animal magnetism as the priest possessed a high degree of animal magnetism. This confrontation between Mesmer’s secular views and the priest’s religious beliefs ended the priest’s career.
In 1779, Franz Mesmer suggested the theory of animal magnetism. Dr Mesmer believed that hypnosis travelled from the hypnotist to the subject by means of magnetism. By managing this magnetic flow, he insisted that subjects could be cured from their sicknesses. Despite being very successful, the French commission rejected his theories. His popularity and reputation worsened and he died in 1815. Following on from his death, his students developed his work and techniques. They named his work, Mesmerism.
In 1841, Scottish surgeon James Braid who had been living and working in England, initially rejected mesmerism however his curiosity lead to his examination of the physical condition of mesmerized subjects and concluded that they were a different physical state. He participated in a few mesmerism sessions and he observed that trance helped many patients even though he did not believe in the magnetism. He called the trance, Hypnosis and ignored the magnetism side of it. However the British Science Association rejected his report Practical Essay on the Curative Agency of Neuro-Hypnotism in 1842. He was the first to use the word Hypnosis in English whilst the word was already being used in French (hypnotique, hypnotiste) in the 1820s. However Braid was the first person to use "hypnotism" in its modern sense, referring to a psychological theory rather than the theories of magnetisms.
Auguste Ambroise Leibeault (1823-1904) and Hippolyte Bernheim (1837-1919) were the first people to regard hypnosis to be a normal phenomenon. They developed induction techniques for hypnosis. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) became interested in hypnosis and visited their clinic to learn about these techniques. He observed unconsciousness as patients entered a hypnotic state. Freud recognized the unconscious