What is hypnosis? What does it feel like? And, does it work?

meWhat is hypnosis?

“Hypnosis is the engagement of a person’s beliefs and imagination in creating for them an altered subjective reality” ~ James Tripp

Hypnosis is a natural subjective process. We employ hypnosis – by ourselves or with the guidance of a hypnotist – to reprogram and discharge thought patterns and behaviors that no longer serve us, in order to make desirable, lasting changes in our lives.

It is well known that the majority of the bodily and mental functions including memory storage, the implementation of skills in which an individual is unconsciously competent, habits, beliefs, and the way a person interprets the world are run by the subconscious mind; this allows the conscious mind to be free to learn new skills, think, organize, strategize, experience life, and so on.

Through hypnosis, the hypnotist is able to put the subject in direct communication with the subconscious mind, empowering the individual to pause the way the unconscious mind shapes reality. Once the person’s subconscious has accepted the suggestion(s), it automatically becomes accepted in the conscious level; and a new reality for the subject is created. Simply stated, hypnosis allows the hypnotist to move the subject from where they are, to where they want to be.

What does it feel like?

Let’s try it out (read the instructions first):

1. Close your eyes
2. Take 5 deep breaths
3. Concentrate fully on your breathing while counting backwards from 10 to 0
4. Once you get to 0, open up your eyes

That is what hypnosis feels like: you are relaxed, you are in control, and fully aware of the experience.

Does it work?

Absolutely! Although, for the sake of not appearing biased, I will let a few scientific studies demonstrate the power of hypnosis and/or visualization (a form of self-hypnosis, and by definition all hypnosis is self-hypnosis). Please share this blog, comment about your experiences below, and if you have any questions just let me know. Have a wonderful day, and without further ado, the research that I promised:

“Therapy is sought not primarily for enlightenment about the unchangeable past, but because of dissatisfaction with the present and a desire to better the future.” ~ Paul Watzlawick

1. The Survey of Psychotherapy Literature by Alfred A. Barrios, PhD, revealed the following recovery rates:

Psychoanalysis: 38% recovery after 600 sessions
Behavior Therapy: 72% recovery after 22 sessions
Hypnotherapy: 93% Recovery after 6 sessions

2. Hypnosis & Bone Fracture

The results of this experiment showed a faster healing for the hypnosis group at week 9 of the experiment. X-rays revealed a notable difference at the edge of the fracture at week 6 of the experiment. The hypnosis group also had better mobility and used less pain killers. The researchers conclude by saying that “despite a small sample size…. these data suggest that hypnosis may be capable of enhancing both anatomical and functional fracture healing, and that further investigation of hypnosis to accelerate healing is warranted.”

Reference: “Using hypnosis to accelerate the healing of bone fractures: a randomized controlled pilot study”, by Ginandes, CS, Rosenthal, DI. Alternative Therapy Health Medicine, 1999, March, 5(2), pp.67-75. 1: Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2008 Jul;56(3):270-

3. Visualization

“In summary, the evidence produced thus far supports the use of imagery to benefit performance. Research has shown that imagery can produce better performance outcomes and have a positive effect on anxiety, motivation, and self-efficacy.”

Reference: Tony Morris, Michael Spittle and Anthony P. Watt, Imagery In Sport. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2005.

4. Childbirth

In Britain 55% of birthing women using hypnosis required no medication for pain relief, compared with 22% of women in non-hypnosis groups. In two other reports 58% of women using hypnotic analgesia required no medication. And five other reports quoted 60-79% of women using hypnosis required no medication. In another study subjects given hypnosis reported reduced pain, shorter stage 1 labors, less medication, higher Apgar scores, more frequent spontaneous deliveries than other group. Some had lower depression scores after birth than the other groups.

Reference: Harmon, T.M., Hynan, M., & Tyre, T.E. (1990). “Improved obstetric outcomes using hypnotic analgesia and skill mastery combined with childbirth education.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 58, 525, 530, 1990

5. Smoking Cessation

In a recent stop smoking study, where smokers attended individual hypnotherapy for stop smoking over three sessions, 81% had stopped smoking after the treatment ended, and at a 12 month follow-up nearly 50% remained smoke free. And 95% of the people were satisfied with their treatment.
Reference: (1) Elkins GR, Rajab MH. (2004) “Clinical hypnosis for Smoking Cessation: preliminary results of a three session intervention.” International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis 2004 Jan; 52 (1):73-81

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