“What Is Hypnosis?” Describe the psychological and physical aspects of hypnosis and discuss the role of relaxation in Hypnotherapy.
In order to answer the question “what is hypnosis?” I start by looking at the history of hypnosis and have selected some key figures in the story of hypnosis and given a brief overview of their beliefs and development. I have also sourced some quotations and definitions.
I have also explored the physical and psychological aspects of hypnosis, firstly by looking at the four different brainwaves Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta and how the emphasis alters between the conscious and subconscious mind. For the physical aspects I will discuss the work of Edmund Jacobson and the progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) technique.
Leading into the role of relaxation; I will first discuss the difference between relaxation and hypnotic state and briefly describe how PMR works to obtain a hypnotic state.
What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis and it concept may have been developing for centuries in ancient civilizations however for the modern concept of hypnosis I have looked at some influential figures through the history of hypnosis below. (Waterfield, 2004)
Franz Anton Mesmer 1734-1815
Known as “the Grandfather of Hypnosis and gave us with the word “Mesmerism” Believed a cosmic fluid flowed through the body and used magnets to heal the body. Gained credibility till 1785.
Marquis De Puysegur
Rejected Mesmer’s theories on magnetic fluid and realised he was able to communicate with people in hypnosis asking questions and getting replies from his patients. James Braid 1795 – 1860
Defined the word hypnosis from the Greek “Hupnos” sleep + osis Conducted scientific studies and rejected “Magnetism” and concluded results were attributable to a physiological state of the brain and suggestibility. His research concluded that hypnosis was not a sleep state and tried to use the term “monoideism” meaning a fixation of attention perhaps a more fitting name however “hypnosis had already entered the language. Dr James Esdaile and Dr John Elliotson
Pioneered hypnosis to medicine and surgery, performing operations using only hypnotic anaesthesia, they were not well received and mainstream medicine favoured the use of nitrous oxide. Liebeault and Bernheim
Founded the Nancy School in Paris.
Believed that hypnosis was due to the physiological property in the brain of suggestibility and was a natural state. Sigmund Freud studied at the Nancy School and used this in his early career.
Pierre Janet 1859 – 1947
Discovered the benefits of relaxation on the hypnosis process which brought about the application of relaxation to hypnotherapy. Proposed that during hypnosis a disassociation or splitting of the conscious from the subconscious parts of the mind occurred.
Milton Erickson 1901 – 1980
Considered to be the Father of modern hypnosis, and through his own personal experiences his interest was in the therapeutic value of hypnosis. Noted for his approach to the unconscious mind as creative and solution generating and he worked very flexibly, adapting his methods to each individual client.
Paul Mckenna 1963-
English hypnotist, television personality and author of self-help books. Uses hypnosis and Neuro-Linguistic Programming in his approach. One of the best known hypnotists in the world and has worked with various celebrities and has written many best-selling books to help people lose weight, stop smoking and have happier lives.
There are many more key figures but we can see how hypnosis has developed through time and through looking at the story of hypnosis it can be seen that the “hypnotist” worked with individuals in an altered state of consciousness and suggestibility. As more and more scientific research continues into the workings of the human brain and our understanding of it becomes clearer we will be able to...
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