Have you ever noticed that a day dream can make you become unaware of what is happening around you? Perhaps you lose your sense of time or you do not immediately notice when some one calls out your name. This is very similar to a hypnotic trance, however, a hypnotic trance is guided and goal oriented.

Humans use hypnosis as a way to control pain, promote healing and gain spiritual insights. We can infer that it has been used throughout prehistory based on studies of indigenous cultures. Chanting, dancing, drumming, and meditation are all methods used to induce a hypnotic like trance. In the modern world, hypnosis is used as an intervention for many types of issues such as smoking, weight control, anxiety, fears, and many others.

As a hypnotherapist, I work with a couple of definitions of hypnosis. First, hypnosis is a method for encountering the subconscious. There are other methods to encounter the subconscious such as dreamwork and active imagination, which I use in addition to hypnosis. The second definition of hypnosis is the willingness to act upon a suggestion, and this has little to do with the depth of a trance. The success of hypnosis is not how deeply you go into a trance, but rather how readily you act upon positive suggestions for healthy change.

Some people hold myths and misunderstandings about hypnosis which arose primarily from Hollywood movies, fiction novels, or a misunderstanding of “stage hypnosis.” Unfortunately, these have little to do with the reality of hypnosis.

A Brief History of Hypnosis

Modern day hypnosis began with Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) and his theories of animal magnetism. Later, the Scottish neurosurgeon James Braid (1795-1860) developed an induction based on eye fixation and coined the term hypnosis. Still later in the nineteenth century, Jean-Martin Charcot (1825-1893), the famous French neurologist and anatomist, developed his theories on hysteria based on his work with hypnosis. Charcot’s most famous student, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), began his own work with hysteria using hypnosis. However, he later abandoned it in favor of his psychoanalytical free association. Carl Jung also experimented with hypnosis.

Two historical hypnotists I personally greatly admire are Emile Coue (1857-1926) and Milton Erickson (1901-1980).

It’s About Your Needs

How can hypnosis actually help you? I answer that very question here.