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A Brief History of Hypnosis


If you ask most people to tell you what comes to mind when they think about hypnosis they will recall the dramatic stage shows of celebrity hypnotists like Paul McKenna and Derren Brown. Indeed, for many people this idea of hypnosis as “entertainment” is their first and perhaps only contact with hypnosis. Away from the glamour and the ‘wow factor’ of television, hypnosis can actually be a hugely empowering self-help tool. 
Trained and qualified hypnotherapists use hypnosis to help people gain insights into areas of their lives where they may be struggling or experiencing problems. Hypnosis can be used to dramatically change negative thoughts, behaviours and emotions. In simple terms it does this by allowing us to access an altered state of awareness. In this focused, yet alert state, the client is enabled to review and resolve their issues with direction and suggestion from the therapist.
Hypnotism was pioneered in the 1840’s by an English Physician, James Braid, who first linked the powers of suggestion to the trance state.  As early as 1892 the British Medical Association commissioned an investigation of hypnotism and reported that: ‘they (the BMA) have satisfied themselves of the genuineness of the hypnotic state.’ British Medical Journal, 1892. 
In the 1950’s the BMA reported that: ‘In addition to the treatment of psychiatric disabilities, there is a place for hypnotism in the production of anaesthesia or analgesia for surgical and dental operations, and in suitable subjects it is an effective method of relieving pain in childbirth without altering the normal course of labour. ‘Medical use of hypnosis.’ British Medical Journal, April, 1955
In 2001 the British Psychological Society said: 'Enough studies have now accumulated to suggest that the inclusion of hypnotic procedures may be beneficial in the management and treatment of a wide range of conditions and problems encountered in the practice of medicine, psychiatry and psychotherapy.’ The Nature of Hypnosis, March 2001
What usually happens at the first session?
1)     A full case-history will be taken by the hypnotherapist.
2)  The client and hypnotherapist will then work together to establish the client’s goal – ie. what they want to achieve from the therapy.
3)  The hypnotherapist will then teach the client a method of self-hypnosis that the client will be asked to practice in between sessions. 
The number of sessions required by each client varies as it is dependent on the client’s established goal and their ability to practice self-hypnosis and help themselves between sessions. Some clients may need only 2 or 3 sessions, others may need many more.
Hypnotherapy is effective in the resolution of many problems from anxiety to pain control to weight loss.  It can also be used to help improve performance, over come fears of speaking in public and other work-related issues.

One Response

  1. Hypnosis

    A most interesting article. Thank you.

    If anyone is interested in the uses & abuses to which hypnosis has been put, you might care to read about the Hillside Strangler case in the early 1980s. Kenneth Bianchi’s attempt to fabricate multiple personalities, & how this was uncovered under hypnosis by Dr Martin Orne,  makes for fascinating reading.


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