Describe the psychological and physical aspects of hypnosis and discuss the role of relaxation in hypnotherapy.
This essay will chronologically examine several theories about the nature of hypnosis, in relation to scientific studies dedicated by medical specialists to gain a better understanding of what hypnosis is, in order to identify precisely what constitutes a state of hypnosis by describing both the psychological and physical aspects of hypnosis.
I shall also explore the effectiveness and increasing popularity of hypnosis, in particular the relevant techniques associated with the role of relaxation in hypnotherapy within various medical settings in order to reach a state of deep relaxation as a prelude to making suggestions for therapeutic purposes of mind and body.
What is hypnosis?
It is not a clear-cut assignment in order to satisfy one’s curiosity of ‘what is hypnosis?’ It is not straightforward to define ‘hypnosis’ as the definition is so contentious, as hypnosis has evolved and advanced throughout history. For the purpose of this essay, perhaps one should consider the onset of hypnosis and follow the chronological studies and theorists thereafter.
In its earliest recognition, hypnosis appears to have originated from people known as 'shamans' who became referred to as 'witch doctor, medicine man or healer.' Shamans were highly spiritual people who believed they could heal illness on a soul, focused subconscious level. Shamans would create an atmospheric environment often using rhythmic monotonous drum beats in order to visualise healing by undertaking a journey in which they would seek out the illness in order to ‘will it’ to be healed.
Scientists first became involved in hypnosis around 1770 by Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) who started investigating an effect he called 'animal magnetism' or 'mesmerism.' His theory was that there was an energetic transference, stored in inanimate objects, e.g. a magnet which would directly affect the unbalanced ‘cosmic fluid’ in a patient. The magnets would stimulate the ‘cosmic fluid’ by directing energies into the patient’s body in order to regain balance in their health and cure them.
As a result of this, Marquis de Puysegur noticed that patients entered a trance like state during the process of mesmerism. His interest was the way that trances could be induced using words, rather than magnets. He also noted how clients were responsive whilst in this state and consequently, James Braid (1795-1860) advanced the term and state of being ‘mesmerized’ when he derived the term ‘hypnosis’ which originates from the Greek word ‘hypnos’ meaning sleep, giving this phenomenon a scientific explanation, believing it to be a state of ‘hypnosis.’
Now that a brief but concise and chronological historical overview has been implemented it becomes clear that defining the term hypnosis as any one generic interpretation is a precarious task as much of the information derived from the fore mentioned advocators is at best ambiguous and seemingly contradicts each of their predecessors. Scientists have endeavoured to answer the question of ‘What is hypnosis?’ for several centuries but no unanimous definition is yet agreed. Hypnosis can be described as:
1. An altered state of consciousness. There are several definitions. According to Hadley & Staudacher, hypnosis is the natural state of the body, one of the many levels of the consciousness when person is functioning in the automatic mode (Hadley & Staudacher, 1996; Hadley J. & C., 1996
2. A deep relaxation. The British Society of Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis defines hypnosis as "In therapy, hypnosis usually involves the person experiencing a sense of deep relaxation with their attention narrowed down, and focused on appropriate suggestions made by the therapist." 2011 cited on www.bscah.com
3. a trance
4. A natural state of mind. According to ‘Wikipedia’, (the free encyclopedia) hypnosis is “a