Word Count 2040 excluding reference list and bibliography
Module 1 Essay
“What is Hypnosis?” Describe the psychological and physical aspects of hypnosis and discuss the role of relaxation in hypnotherapy.
In this essay I intend to provide a brief history and background to hypnosis, cover both the psychological and physical aspect of hypnosis and conclude with the role of relaxation in hypnotherapy.
Hypnosis has frequently been linked with the strange and mysterious, it could also be argued that it has been discredited by entertainers. The truth is that hypnosis isn’t the least bit mysterious or supernatural. In fact, we all have been in an hypnotic state probably thousands of times. We don’t notice it because it seems like such a natural state of mind and the hypnotic state is natural for all humans and many animals.
The history of hypnosis is full of contradictions. On the one hand, the history of hypnosis is a bit like the history of breathing. Like breathing, hypnosis is an inherent and universal trait, shared and experienced by all human beings since the dawn of time. On the other hand, it’s only in the last few decades that we’ve come to realise that hypnosis itself hasn’t changed for thousands of years, but our understanding of it and our ability to control it has changed quite profoundly. The history of hypnosis then is really the history of this change in perception.
Many people have concerns that hypnosis could make them do something that they would not normally do, something embarrassing, shocking or even maybe something irreversible. This is not the case. You will not do anything that you do not think is acceptable and cannot be ‘made’ to violate your own values or accepted behaviour. People will also worry that they could be hypnotised and then left in a hypnotic state, again this is not the case. A trance state can be terminated by the client at any time. If for some reason you were left in a trance state by your hypnotherapist you would either return to full consciousness on your own or enter a natural sleep and awaken naturally.
The Australian Aborigines have used a hypnotic trance state for thousands of years and Franz Anton Mesmer born in Germany in 1734 made a significant contribution to hypnosis and is reported to be the ‘grandfather of hypnosis’. Mesmer was the first to propose a rational basis for the effects of hypnosis.
In 1840 and English doctor from Manchester named James Braid first used the word ‘hypnosis’ derived from the Greek God of sleep Hypnos. Unfortunately this led people to believe that they would be asleep whilst in a hypnotic state, which we know is not the case so he later tried to rename hypnosis to monoeidism (influence of a single idea) but failed as the original name stuck.
A little more recently, born in 1932 Milton Erickson pioneered his work in indirect suggestion and is now considered the father of modern hypnosis.
Physical and Psychological aspects;
Studies have been conducted in which scientists compare the physical signs of hypnotic subjects with those who have not been hypnotized and they have found no significant physical change between those in trance state of hypnosis and those that were not in a hypnotic state.
Heart rate and respiration rate were found to be slower, but that is consistent with being in a more relaxed state. What does seem to change regarding physical factors is the brain activity that is witnessed by electroencephalographs or EEG's.
EEG’s measure the electrical activity of the brain. Research shows that different brain waves are produced depending on the mental state of the patient.
Deep sleep waves look different to the waves of the person who is awake, whilst the waves of a person who is highly alert differ from a person who is relaxed. EEG's from those under hypnosis show a boost in the lower frequency waves that are associated with dreaming or sleeping and a drop in the