Hypnosis – ‘back to your subconscious’

Hypnosis involves a change in consciousness, which is brought about by a hypnotist. For a long time, hypnosis, formerly explained as magnetism, had the reputation of being supernatural in nature, something that appealed to popular superstition. How is a trained hypnotist able to influence a person’s condition? Do special psychological processes take place during hypnosis and is the person put into a trance a weak-willed plaything?

Influencing the mind

Researchers have been working on hypnosis for 200 years. The expression itself was introduced in the mid-19th century by the English physician James Braid (1795-1860). It was only between 1950 and 1980 that decisive scientific research took place into the phenomenon in which the people involved, the clients as they say today, are made susceptible to a certain influence. The influence includes limited perception and memory, the occurrence of certain images, reactions and feelings as well as physical changes.

Definition of hypnosis from a medical point of view
The Merck Manual Medical Manual defines the concept of hypnosis as follows:
‘Hypnosis is a process in which the certain mental content (memories , images, feelings, perceptions) of conscious perception is lost and withdrawn from the premeditated understanding’

are given during hypnosis for a specific reason , but which are only carried out by the client after waking up – when the hypnotized person emerges from the subconscious. However, the client believes that he is acting on his own volition.
By discovering relationships between the nervous system and the immune system, for example their significance for health, hypnosis has given a new dimension to the treatment of diseases or addictions to nicotine, drugs and alcohol. Classical hypnosis research now shows that people respond differently to hypnosis. There are also people who are not sensitive to it at all.
It is incorrect to assume that special psychological processes occur during hypnosis. Hypnosis is an extreme form of suggestion.

Use of hypnosis as medical therapy

  • weight loss
  • quit smoking
  • healing from addiction to drug or alcohol
  • relaxation, preventing or reducing stress
  • improving concentration
  • healing phobias
  • eliminating fear of flying
  • improving performance


Three hypnosis methods

In popular superstition, the hypnotist is a kind of magician who looks someone straight in the eye and mutters “go to sleep now.” At best, this only applies to circus or variety performances. There are several methods to achieve the state of hypnosis . The three most common are the fascination method, the counting method and the fixation method.

  • With the fascination method, the person to be hypnotized looks at an illuminated or slightly reflective object, for example a pendulum.
  • For example, in the counting method, the hypnotist says: ‘I am now counting to ten. When I get there you will be under hypnosis.’
  • With the fixation method, the hypnotist stares straight into the client’s eyes and pretends that he or she is getting tired until he actually closes his eyes.

With all methods the client is suggested to relax and become tired. But the suggestion that creates the state and removes the doubt can prevent the actual hypnosis. For no man can be hypnotized if he resists it or is overcome by doubt. So the popular belief that one can fall into a trance against one’s will and then do horrible things while doing so is not correct. The client is always the one who puts himself in this state. Some specialists therefore speak of ‘guided self-hypnosis’.

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