Unfortunately, in the past, hypnosis and hypnotherapy have received bad press. Why is this? There are, perhaps, three main reasons :
– Stage hypnotists who claim they are using ‘hypnosis’ to induce volunteers from the audience to do absurd, degrading and demeaning things – in fact, such behaviour is more likely to be play-acting or due to the pressure to ‘perform’ once on stage (i.e. compliance with the ‘hypnotist’s instructions rather than a genuine, hypnotic response).
– The use of hypnosis to ‘regress people into past lives
– The use of hypnosis by poorly trained therapists to inadvertently instil false memories of abuse into their patients’ minds during attempted retrieval of ‘buried memories of abuse’ (hypnosis should not normally be used to try to unearth ‘buried memories’ from patients’ minds due to the patients’ high state of suggestibility whilst under hypnosis – to read my article about hypnosis and attempted retrieval of ‘buried memories,’ click here).
However, despite the above, it is important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater when trying to ascertain the effectiveness of hypnosis and hypnotherapy.
Indeed, both the British and the American Medical Associations now recognize hypnosis and hypnotherapy as a valid treatment for psychological problems (for example, addictions, eating disorders and phobias).
There is also a growing body of scientific evidence to show how powerful the effect of hypnosis can be in bypassing our conscious awareness to have a profound influence on our thoughts, feelings, behaviours and beliefs. For example, individuals can be hypnotized to see black and white images as if they were in colour (click here to read my article about this experiment).
Other research has found individuals can use hypnosis to alter their body temperature and blood flow, as well as reduce their experience of physical pain (Casiglia, University of Padua, Italy).
Such studies suggest that hypnosis may be more than ‘just’ a highly focused and relaxed state and that, when hypnotized, something significant and special is going on in the brain which allows us to achieve things over and above what we can achieve using our non-hypnotized brain.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).