There is no right or wrong definition when it comes to describing or defining the word hypnosis. Some call it a state of mind by which a person is guided into a trance like state, other theories include going into our subconscious mind in order to modify a behaviour, thoughts, or patterns which bring about negative additions into our daily lives. Hypnosis can happen spontaneously at any time, at any given moment in our lives and sometimes we are not even aware of this. Instances of this can be when you are driving your car and you suddenly realise you have reached your destination, but you are not quite sure how you got there in the first place. Or being in one of those Monday morning team meetings and half way through you start “spacing out” whilst someone is talking (also known as daydreaming) and not realising you have missed half of what has been said ! I guess this all sounds familiar to the majority of us.
Other ways in which hypnosis can be induced is mainly through relaxation but also by shock, visual or auditory stimuli (listening to music or watching TV) repetitive exercises and confusion.
Activities like driving are stored in our subconscious (this is where learnt behaviour can be found) and while we are functioning in autopilot it’s very easy to drift down from an alert state of mind to a completely different level of consciousness. Daydreaming is the first level of a trance like state. (Hadley and Staudacher, 1996) Daydreaming about things that happen in the past is also called Age Regression and worrying about events that may happen in the future are called Age Progression both of these according to (adriantannock, ?) can be induced by hypnosis.
Hypnosis in a therapeutic setting is used to modify behaviour using post hypnotic suggestions and some of these applications can be to reduce anxiety, weight loss, to stop smoking, to remove phobias and to treat skin disorders and these are just to name a few.
In order to understand some of the aspects of hypnosis it’s important to go back to its historical origins. Already used in ancient times by the early Egyptians and ancient Greeks cultures in the form of complex meditation exercises and some relaxation techniques, (Waterfield, 2004), hypnosis evolved in the West at a later stage. It was a man called Franz Anton Mesmer who in the 18th century popularized the concept of hypnosis and whom today we refer to as the grandfather of hypnosis. Mesmer believed that a magnetic fluid within the universe influenced the wellbeing of the human body. So he experimented with magnets to influence this and so bring healing to his patients. (Wikipedia, 2013) Mesmer referred to this as “animal magnetism”.
The word “mesmerise” therefore originates from the name Franz Mesmer and was used a few years later when Mesmer reached the conclusion the same effects could be created by passing the hands over his patient’s body, known as “Mesmeric passes”. It was at a later stage that a Scottish doctor called James Braid, who after extensive scientific research concluded that cures bought on by “Mesmeric passes” were in fact the patients suggestibility to the hypnosis. It was Braid who in 1840 came up with the word “hypnosis”, which derives from the Greek word “Hypnos” meaning sleep. This we know is not the same as sleep.
Because hypnosis is in fact a state of highly focused attention, this is what leads to some physical and psychological changes (Turrell, 2013)
I will now attempt to describe some of the physical and psychological aspects of hypnosis:
One of the most common uses of hypnotherapy is muscle relaxation. Most hypnotherapy sessions included muscle relaxation. An example of this is when the hypnotherapist may say during an induction: “Relax your arms, your legs, start to feel