Hypnosis is the induction of a state of consciousness in which a person apparently loses the power of voluntary action and is highly responsive to suggestion or direction. Its use in therapy, typically to recover suppressed memories or to allow modification of behavior by suggestion.

hypnosis treatmentWhen you hear the word hypnosis, you may picture the mysterious hypnotist figure popularized in movies, comic books and television. This ominous, goateed man waves a pocket watch back and forth, guiding his subject into a semi-sleep, zombie-like state. Once hypnotized, the subject is compelled to obey, no matter how strange or immoral the request. Muttering “Yes, master,” the subject does the hypnotist’s evil bidding.

During hypnosis, a person is said to have heightened focus and concentration. The person can concentrate intensely on a specific thought or memory, while blocking out sources of distraction. Hypnotised subjects are said to show an increased response to suggestions.  Hypnosis is usually induced by a procedure known as a hypnotic induction involving a series of preliminary instructions and suggestion. The use of hypnotism for therapeutic purposes is referred to as “hypnotherapy”, while its use as a form of entertainment for an audience is known as “stage hypnosis”. Stage hypnosis is often performed by mentalists practicing the art form of mentalism.

Some of programs available through your hypnotist

Private, Recorded One-on-One Sessions in:
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  • Sports Improvement including Golf
  • Fears and phobias
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  • Panic Attacks
  • Sleep Issues, sleep problems
  • Learning Issues
  • Gastric Band Hypnosis
  • Lap Band alternative
  • Slim Band alternative
  • Hypnosis for children
  • Hypnosis attention problems

The use of hypnosis goes back at least as far as the Aesculapian ‘sleep temples’ of Greece of 500bc, which were designed specifically for the treatment of the mentally ill. Priests would induce ‘sleep’ using a ritual and then interpret the dreams of the ‘patients’, seeking to cast out ‘bad’ spirits. Looked at objectively, we can see that it is a form of suggestion therapy, though there are no records to tell us how successful or otherwise they were. The modern day image of the hypnotist is largely influenced by an 18th century Austrian physicist by the name of Franz Anton Mesmer (1734 – 1815).

Mesmer was responsible for almost single-handedly bringing hypnosis to the attention of the general public – only it wasn’t called hypnosis then, because he named it ‘Animal Magnetism’. Mesmer claimed that it was when the magnetic fields in our bodies became disrupted or got into conflict or were flowing the wrong way that we became ill. He developed this somewhat bizarre notion after observing a street ‘magician’ manipulating lodestones – magnets – which were at that time almost completely unknown. Mesmer’s audience were totally in awe at how his ‘magician’s wand’ would attract, repel, and move the lodestones around, because they’d never seen such a thing before. Anecdote has it that this street performer told the crowd about magnetism and proclaimed that there is magnetism in everything and everybody, then he began to make suggestions to certain individuals that if he touched them with his magician’s wand, it would alter the magnetism in their bodies so that one would fall to the ground laughing, another would fall to the ground crying, and so on. To Mesmer’s amazement, whatever was suggested actually happened and it must have been at that moment that he decided that if the direction of the magnetism was wrong, then that’s when we become ill.

Mesmer resolved to experiment with the use of this amazing phenomenon in medicine, and rapidly discovered that he could produce apparent miracle cures for all sorts of ailments. Mesmer was amazingly successful in his therapeutic endeavours and in the 1780’s had people queuing up at the famous Paris Salon. He was unable to treat them all and developed some extremely novel approaches to therapy in order to accommodate all those who sought his help. One of these was to transfer his magnetism to a tree in the courtyard, simply by touching it with one of his ‘magnetic rods’; many of those who consulted with him were not able to even see him and were directed that the next best thing was to simply touch the magnetised tree – and they still got better from whatever ailed them. Another novel method he developed comprised of nothing more than a barrel of sand, from which trailed several ropes; his patients had merely to sit around the barrel, holding onto one of the ropes in order to find relief from their symptoms. Such was the power of suggestion before science and education had brought their influence to bear upon the western world.

It was the famous American scientist and diplomat, Benjamin Franklin, who was responsible for bursting Mesmer’s bubble. In 1785, when he was almost 80, he was appointed as one of a commission of three by the French Government – Franklin was a very popular and respected figure in France at the time – to investigate exactly what Mesmer was apparently able to do. Well, it seems that he saw through it pretty much immediately and pronounced that: “If these people get better at all, then they do so by their own imagination.” Of course, it was suggestion, rather than imagination but neither he nor Mesmer himself were aware of how powerful the force of suggestion can be, at that time.

Although his methods fell into disrepute after Franklin’s denouncement, Mesmer has remained one of the most memorable figures in the field of healing; even to this day, people still use the expression ‘Mesmerized’ usually meaning to be in some way transfixed or rendered immobile by an external force. It was actually Mesmer who developed the idea of hand passes around and near the body, which many people still believe is the one of the secrets of the hypnotist, moving his hands, presumably, within the supposed magnetic field of his subject.

How did Mesmer’s Animal Magnetism end up being called hypnosis? Well, it was a Scottish eye surgeon by the name of James Braid (1795-1860) who experimented with the phenomenon and coined that name ‘Hypnosis‘ after Hypnos the Greek good of sleep. He named it hypnosis after seeing a presentation of Mesmerism in which he forced a pin beneath the finger-nail of the subject, a young girl. When she showed not even the slightest sign of discomfort, he was so impressed that he later carried out numerous experiments for himself and eventually gave the process its new but erroneous name. Later, Braid realized his mistake, in that it had absolutely nothing to do with sleep and he wanted to rename it ‘mono-ideaism’ – total concentration on a single train of thought. The public loved the apparently paranormal quality of the idea of an artificial sleep state that could produce exciting phenomena. It was somehow like the trance-state that mediums entered. They would accept no boring clinical name as a replacement and hypnosis was here for good.

A Frenchman, Emile Coué (1857 – 1926), moved away from traditional approaches and initiated the use of autosuggestion. His most famous phrase was, ‘Day by day in every way I am getting better and better.’ He also understood the significance of the subject’s participation in hypnosis, and was an early forerunner of practitioners who now claim, ‘There is no such thing as hypnosis, only self-hypnosis.’ The modern day acceptance of hypnosis in medicine that we now have owes a great debt to research starting in the 1920’s and 30’s by pioneer Clark Hull and his then student, Milton H. Erickson. Erickson went on to become the recognized leading authority on clinical hypnosis, and a master of indirect hypnosis, who was able to put a person into a ‘trance‘ without even mentioning the word hypnosis. Erickson’s approach and its derivatives are widely accepted as the most effective techniques. Milton Erickson died in 1980, but left many followers of his work.