Hypnosis isn’t a new technique…in fact, research finds evidence of hypnosis as far back as Egyptian dream temples. At the same time, it is as modern as today’s most innovative tools and practices.
And yet, despite this long association with humankind’s history, many misunderstandings and myths surround it.
Let’s examine these perceptions one at a time to clarify what hypnosis is – and isn’t.
Miracle or magic?
Well, neither. After centuries of mixed reviews for hypnosis and its nicknames – somnambulism, trance – hypnosis began to emerge as a science. In 1958, it was accepted by the American Medical Association, which led to more rapid advancements in methods and our understanding of the technique.
According to the Mayo Clinic, hypnosis – or hypnotherapy or hypnotic suggestion – is a trance-like state in which the subject has “heightened focus and concentration.” Some experts characterize hypnosis as a state of human consciousness that involves focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness, resulting in an enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion and alter perceptions.
Nor is hypnosis accurately considered a “cure.” It is a tool or technique, one of many in a medical professional’s arsenal of learned practices that may be used to achieve improvements in a patient’s condition. The results aren’t guaranteed – human minds and bodies have too many variables for any technique such as this to promise absolute outcomes.
What about self-hypnosis?
If hypnosis, as the American Psychological Association describes it, is “a cooperative interaction in which the participant responds to the suggestions of the hypnotist,” then it stands to reason that a willing participant could be trained to give herself the desired suggestions and carry them out.
Some professionals believe all hypnosis is actually self-hypnosis, especially since hypnotizing a subject requires the cooperation of the person being hypnotized.
Dr. Steve Rosenberg, psychotherapist and hypnotist with more than 35 years of professional experience, notes that he used a form of self-hypnosis decades ago to successfully quit smoking. He avers that in general, most of the benefits of hetero-hypnosis – in which the hypnotist gives suggestions to another person – can be achieved through self-hypnosis.
“I’ve come to believe that the simplest but most important benefit of self-hypnosis comes from learning to relax,” he says. “And virtually any person of normal intelligence who is willing to apply himself can learn self-hypnosis.”
Like hetero-hypnosis, self-hypnosis can also develop self-confidence, control habits, overcome shyness, relieve insomnia, develop latent talents, improve memory and concentration, and put more order into life and work. In other words, help you make your life more of what you want it to be.