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The Hypnotherapy Centre

421 Durnsford Road, London, SW19 8EE

0208 947 3338

Hypnosis - Quack remedy or valid treatment?

Many of us have seen theatrical hypnotists, who seemingly manipulate their ‘victims’ into complying with requests to undertake bizarre behaviours. These behaviours will usually generate hysterical laughs from the audience and the thought of this puts off many people who could benefit from hypnosis in a therapeutic setting.

People often make an assumption that hypnosis is connected with sleep or is similar to be under anaesthetic. Scientific studies into brain activity have shown that it is actually a slightly altered state of consciousness, similar to day dreaming. Hypnosis is a focused state, where an individual will ‘zone out’ from their surroundings; indeed sports people and artists describe ‘being in the zone’ when they are absorbed in their activity.

Being in a trance-like state (hypnosis) generates different physical feelings in different people. Many people describe a sense of deep relaxation, with their body feeling very comfortable and heavy. The majority of people feel safe; as if the rest of the world has been shut out. They become less aware of their surroundings and are not disturbed by everyday sounds that could normally distract them. During hypnosis their mind may wander, but they will be able to absorb useful suggestions given by the hypnotherapist, even if they are not consciously listening.

So can everyone reach a hypnotic trance? This is debatable. It is believed that most people can be hypnotised if they wish to be, although some individuals are more ‘suggestible’ than others. Creative or imaginative people or those who easily become engrossed in things tend to find hypnosis easy. As with many things in life, practise improves the speed and ease at which hypnosis can be achieved; the more familiar the state becomes, the quicker it happens. Many therapists say that ‘all hypnosis is self-hypnosis as they no-one can be hypnotised against their will.

There is a raft of issues, both mental and physical, that hypnosis or self-hypnosis can help with, including habit change, anxious thinking and pain management. For the latter, hypnosis has been shown to be very effective. It works particularly well for childbirth and tooth ache, but can be used for many types of chronic and acute pain.

Hypnosis can be used not only for analgesia, but anaesthetic too; indeed hypnosis was used during surgical procedures before medical anaesthetic was available. Recently there has been a resurgence of interest in hypno-anaesthesia, for operations and dental procedures and this may be due to a new awareness of the process through media reports. Individuals who don’t like the idea of general anaesthetic or who can’t tolerate it, now have an alternative.

Contrary to how it appears on stage shows and TV, being hypnotised does not mean that someone takes control of your mind. The people who volunteer to be hypnotised on stage know that they are there for the entertainment of the audience and therefore must be happy to make fools of themselves and get their ’15 minutes of fame’.