“I do not believe in hypnosis”. Surely, this is one of the most common phrases as we started talking about hypnotism. Even when what is on the table is neurological evidence of their existence.
Although there is evidence that hypnosis reduces pain and fatigue, reduces anxiety and is a successful treatment for phobias, the image we have of it is halfway between the charlatans and ritual magic. So we wondered what we know and what we do not know about hypnosis.
What is hypnosis?
I usually always put the same example. Did not you ever happened that you begin to talk to someone who is asleep and you can have a conversation with him? Moreover, at that time, if you say that you are your mother, your best friend or Cristiano Ronaldo chances are that it creates.
When we sleep, we remain connected with our environment and we continue to respond (to a greater or lesser extent) to the stimuli we receive. Therefore, if an ambulance down the street, we can integrate it into our dreams or if someone yells at us, we woke up. To oversimplify, hypnosis as a technique, can put people in a state between sleep and wakefulness, a state in which our susceptibility is high but our communication skills is still – relatively – functional.
If we get a little more technical, the general consensus is that hypnosis is “an altered state of consciousness subjectively perceived in which certain pre-existing characteristics of the subject is enhanced, which can be induced by suggestion and in which the subject is displayed perceptual to the suggestions of the hypnotist.”
In general, the induction is done properly manipulating psychological variables (motivation, attitudes, concentration, imagination, etc.), physiological (relaxation, activation, breathing, physiological fatigue, etc.), social (role of the hypnotized and the hypnotist) and contextual (lighting or noise level). It is not a technique too complicated, but it requires some practice.
Something of history
Based practices suggestion has been used since time immemorial by shamans and sorcerers. There are descriptions of hypnosis in Hindu texts, Assyrians, Chinese and many other civilizations. According to Martinez and Assisi, in Egypt, the priests of Isis used a ‘Sacred dream’ to alleviate some ailments and in Greece, they used something called’ dream body ‘to relieve pain.
But if we look for the birth of modern hypnosis, we must look at Mesmer and his theory of animal magnetism. Although historians do not agree on whether we consider the Viennese physician as the first modern hypnotist so rudimentary methods, it is clear that it was at that time when hypnosis care physicians earned.
Great researchers as Charcot, Pavlov, Wundt or Hull tried to unravel the mechanisms of this phenomenon. Here two lines are separated: arise modern methods of trance induction (the abbe developed the method of induction by eye fixation, Bernheim develops purely verbal methods and James Braid coined the term ‘hypnosis’ with its current meaning) and hence also born psychoanalysis. Many scholars agree that Freud disciple of Mesmer, had to develop their own theories by their inability to hypnotize patients.
In the twentieth century, during the fifties, the is created Society of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis and begin to develop the first rigorous studies. In 57, Stanford created the first laboratory dedicated to the study of hypnotic phenomena. And two years later, the Mass General creates another to study their analgesic and anesthetic effects.
Today, once the pseudo scientific fever regressive hypnosis, hypnotic techniques are used increasingly in both psychological therapy and minor operations (dental, especially) to induce analgesia.
You may also like to read another article on Tiffany-Hines: Can you read minds? These researchers believe yes
How does it work?
Hypnosis is essentially a communicative process between hypnosis and hypnotist. That means that the inductor begin to talk to you and, using some physiological trick as eyestrain (“Stare at one point,” for example), will accompany you as you walk into hypnotic trance. This trance is not a stable state, despite the redundancy. This means that if the hypnotist stops talking, soon we will fall for one of the two ‘natural’ sides: either we sleep or wake us.
There are some variables such as collaboration hypnotized, his positive attitude and proper environmental conditions that help or hinder the hypnotic process. Without the collaboration of the hypnotized, the process is much more difficult and in most cases, is impossible.
In trance we are susceptible to the instructions of the hypnotist. That does not mean not to lose control or we do anything we would not do under normal circumstances. What can the hypnotist is to create situations in which we would be have us as he would. You cannot make someone undress if that person does not want, but she could convince that is about to take a shower at home (and showering with clothes is a bad idea).
The ability of the hypnotist using language to create coherent worlds and susceptibility hypnotized are the two key factors that hypnosis is useful, fast and efficient.
Do you have any clinical usefulness?
Therapeutic hypnosis is used in many medical specialties such as dermatology, gynecology, cardiology, oncology and stomatology. It has also been used in dentistry. In general, we know that hypnotic techniques can help control pain(which makes them good for allergic to anesthesia).
In psychology and psychiatry, hypnosis is often successfully used to treat phobias and other emotional disorders. Phobias are usually treated by a technique called ‘systematic desensitization’ coaching in relaxation techniques and control while the person exposed to what frightens him. For example, if we are afraid to speak in public, the technique has to speak in public. This is usually not easy (not usually have an audience to train our fears). But thanks to hypnosis, we can recreate a conference and sessions are more intense and safe.
Does hypnosis helps us remember?
That’s one of the great myths about hypnosis. During the 80s, the use of hypnosis popularized to rescue memories of the past. The result was an avalanche of complaints of sexual abuse. Totally unfounded complaints.
As we have seen, by its technical characteristics, you cannot recover a memory using hypnosis without modification. With regressive hypnosis usually we find what we want, whether it’s true or not. And that’s always a bad idea.