Reflections for April 2013
What do you think of when you hear the term hypnosis? Someone waving a pocket watch and saying you will fall into a deep, deep sleep? The examples of hypnosis, where many of us have gained our knowledge over time, have been from television programs, movies, cartoons or stage shows. Maybe you have wondered what it would feel like to be hypnotised, or if you could actually be hypnotised.
There are many common misconceptions about hypnosis. Perhaps the most common misconception about hypnosis is that it is a powerful form of mind control and the person has no free will. Another misconception is the belief that anyone who can be hypnotised must be weak willed. People may believe that whatever hypnosis does or is, it is beyond understanding and probably very dangerous. Therefore, hypnosis can sometimes be feared and also considered in a very negative light.
What is hypnosis? Hypnosis is a natural skill of achieving a focussed state of mind. Well, this is my way of explaining it. With people that have experienced hypnosis with me, I often explain the experience with an example, and liken it to being absorbed in the story line of a movie when at the cinema or reading a book. For example, imagine you are at the cinema and are watching a film that you are enjoying. If you are in a deep trance you will forget that you are at the cinema with other people seated around you. You will be unaware of time or anything else. Your mind will be totally absorbed in the storyline of the film. That is, perhaps a way of describing the focussed state of mind that is hypnotic trance. And how we focus and to what depth varies from person to person.
Hypnosis is not sleep. However, if you were to watch someone being hypnotised they would look like they were sleeping because their breathing would be slowed and their muscles would be relaxed. However, the person’s mind would be conscious, relaxed and aware at some level of what was happening.
Some people may believe that hypnosis is hypnosis, that is regardless of who does it. This is not true. Hypnosis, like psychological therapy, is about the relationship. You have to feel comfortable with the person doing the hypnosis. It is a trust relationship. And the suggestion used in the hypnosis is best tailored individually. That is why listening to someone else’s recording of their hypnosis session is unlikely to be of full benefit.
How does it work? Hypnosis works on the premise that each person has valuable abilities and skills that are hidden or minimised and are waiting to be revealed. Hypnosis works on the foundation that people are much more resourceful than they currently realise. I think hypnosis magnifies a persons own abilities, including the capacity to change and adapt to circumstances. It increases the ability to cope with what seems impossible at times. I think that is why it is amazingly helpful to so many people.
Hypnosis empowers a person to discover their own strengths and abilities. Abilities that they did not know they had. And the consequences of this can be life changing.
“Does a person smile because he is happy, or is he happy because he smiles?” William James
© COPYRIGHT MBS PSYCHOLOGY 2013