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Comparing Early Ideas about Hypnosis with Modern Ones

temple sleep

To understand the place hypnosis has in our society, its future direction and pathways, we must examine its history and the many ways humans have used hypnotic states to understand themselves and the world around them past and present.

Hypnosis has been used for the purpose of healing in every civilisation throughout time.

It is believed that most ancient civilisations, including the Egyptians and Greeks, used versions of hypnosis. Genghis Khan was said to have used group suggestion to his soldiers, apparently giving them power to hallucinate as they went into battle. Around this time hypnosis was not understood and results were thought to be connected with ritual, occultism and religious practices.

5000 years ago, in Egypt’s old kingdom, Temple Sleep was common practice. Ailing individuals travelled to temples searching cures from gods.

After long rituals involving ingestion of potent herbs and chanting of prayers, individuals were led to darkened chambers to sleep and await dream cures.

This practice spread to Greece. Sleep temples were built and dedicated to Aesculapius, god of healing. Greeks added individual touch, filling sleep chambers with snakes to please their god. How one sleeps with a chamber full of snakes in darkness is hard to imagine even if aided by the most potent of herbs!

Hypnosis as we know it, has its origins in the unique practices of Dr Franz Anton Mesmer who lived in Vienna during the mid-18th century. He believed in the influence of astronomy and magnets on human health and well-being. He tried to explain how hypnosis worked in scientific terms. In 1766 Mesmer wrote his university dissertation “On The influence of the Heavenly Bodies on the Human Body”. His theory became known as Mesmerism. He suggested that movement of the planets created tides in the body in the same way as they created tides in the sea. Mesmer had the idea that the planets gave off invisible magnetic rays which he called magnetic fluid and that this fluid could be manipulated to affect our bodies via animal magnetism.

In 1774 during a magnetic treatment with a female patient he felt that when he placed his hands on various parts of her body he experienced a magnetic fluid flowing through her. He believed it to be a second circulation to blood containing energy. Prior to treating this female he had witnessed a demonstration of  ‘magnetic cures’ and exorcisms by a priest named Father Maximillian Hell. Perhaps an unfortunate last name for an exorcist!

He further developed this theory, in that he believed blockages in the flow of this fluid caused emotional or physical disease, that certain individuals had more or less innate animal magnetism, therefore differing in ability to manipulate flow of this fluid. To remain well the magnetic influence (fluid) needed to be evenly distributed throughout our bodies in order to keep us well. If we became unwell we could be cured by use of magnets to correct imbalance by drawing fluid to places in the body where it was needed to create equilibrium. Later he found items such as paper and wood could be magnetised using his methods and that they worked just as well as metal bars. He found that simply, laying on hands or just speaking to the patient could be sufficient to cure. He believed his own magnetic fluid was especially powerful and that he was responsible for the cures achieved. Although he did get results, this theory was ridiculed by the medical profession.

He also developed ways to treat more than one person at a time. He magnetised trees, to which he attached iron bars with ropes for people to hold on to. He also designed a bacquet (a large bath) containing Mesmer’s ‘magnetised water!’

hypno 3


Patients were seated around a vat which contained a mixture of chemical ingredients. They were connected by cords or jointed rods, or by holding hands. People became hysterical, and seized with catalepsy, others convulsions, some palpitations of the heart; panic attacks and other bodily dysfunctions.

To anyone lacking in knowledge as to the purpose of this activity the scene must have appeared to be one of chaos and amazement!

By mid-1780’s Mesmer had been discredited after an investigation commissioned by Louis XVI. The King had become aware of Mesmer’s dramatic practices which had drawn the amazement and scrutiny of the citizens of Paris. The commission determined that Mesmer had not discovered a real physical fluid, the human body did not contain previously undiscovered channels and that any effects of his treatments were due to the imagination of his subjects. Mesmer retired to Switzerland where he later died.

Individuals continued to make their own unique changes to Mesmer’s underlying theories and procedures into the 19th century. Mesmer’s former student the Marquis de Puysegur discovered artificial Somnambulism. He believed that even though they were in this state, people could not be persuaded to do things they would normally avoid.

Abbe Faria worked in Paris around 1815 He rejected Mesmer’s magnetic fluid theory and believed that Mesmerism worked through powers of suggestion. He developed the eye fixation technique of inducing trance.

John Ellioston (1791-1868) a professor at London University Hospital found that his patients could undergo major surgery using the trance state as anaesthesia.

James Braid (1795-1860) a Scottish surgeon invented the term “hypnosis” in 1842. Braid rejected the magnetism theory and worked with the eye fixation method. Proving that visual fixation on a particular object could induce a trance like state. Braid also invented “the suggestions method.” His theory was that if someone was suffering from hysteria they were fixed on negative ideas and that if positive thoughts were suggested whilst in trance, they would be cured.  In 1846 another Scot James Esdaile was using hypnosis in hospitals in India. Several thousand operations were performed under hypnotic anaesthesia. He submitted reports to the British Medical Association showing the significant drop in post-operative death rate from 50% to5%.

In France there were two schools of thought. In 1860 Dr Liebeault heard a paper of Braids read at the French Academy of Science. Hippolite Bernheim a professor at the medical school in Nancy became interested in Liebeault’s practice after one of his patients was cured by Liebeaults hypnotic suggestions. They formed a centre for hypnotic healing, and taught that hypnosis was purely suggestion and that rapport between patient and Doctor was essential. They called this Psychotherapy. Around the same time 1862, Jean-Martin Charcot, an eminent neurologist, was working in a clinic in Salpettriere. He believed that hypnosis was a pathological state. He believed that hysterical illness had physical origins such as a diseased brain and that physical action, not suggestion, was at the root of the hypnotic healing theory. Charcot was also the first to believe in different levels of trance.

Freud disagreed with Charcot’s theories. Unable to get a patient into trance, he tried free association in the waking state and when his patient was cured, he dismissed hypnosis and interest waned due to his influence within the medical profession.

Freud invented the Iceberg model of the mind. Modern theory is based on this. The critical factor is the name given to the process by which we accept or reject suggestions or information we are given. It lies around the water line in the iceberg model. It is thought of as being similar to a filter.


hypno 4When we are told a fact, it is received in our conscious mind, this then checks with memory and emotion in the unconscious mind and decides how to process it. We are more likely to accept information we already hold in our data banks and likely to reject information which is not.

Suggestion is the process used in modern day hypnotherapy. To achieve this we aim to bypass or reduce the critical faculty. If we suggest that someone will find it easy to lose weight or stop smoking this will be rejected by the critical faculty if they believe the opposite. It is believed that part of the critical faculty remains in place at all times. This prevents people from taking in harmful suggestions. This means we have to use therapeutic suggestion in a way that is acceptable to our client. The principle ways of bypassing the critical factor are becoming an authority figure, using the client’s imagination, repeating the message until it becomes familiar.

Modern hypnotherapy uses induction to bring about hypnosis.

There are seven basic induction methods:

  • Relaxation
  • Eye fixation
  • Mental misdirection
  • Confusional
  • Loss of equilibrium
  • Shock to the nervous system
  • Post-hypnotic suggestion

We now know that our brain waves need to be slowed down. Between Alpha 8-13 cps and Theta 4-7 cps to enable hypnotic trance.

In the past hypnosis has been used in attempts to heal both physical and psychological ailments. Today it is primarily used to treat psychological issues. Although increasingly it is being used by dentist’s to anaesthetise, instead of injections, and also in child birth instead of pain relief.

Suggestion has always been part of hypnotherapy, along with trance like states or sleeps, and there has always been a degree of physical and emotional healing, which ever method used. The difference is we no longer use sensory overload from ingestion and inhalation of potent herbs to induce trance like states and we would not think of convulsions as being part of a cure as Mesmer did.

Due to our understanding of the conscious and unconscious mind, the critical faculty and how to bypass it, we are able to use hypnosis effectively in many areas such as smoking cessation, in the treatment of phobias, anxieties, weight loss and much more. Our knowledge of brainwaves has enabled us to understand Trance and the different levels of relaxation required to induce trance and hypnosis.

The Benefits to Smoking Cessation

Smoking Cessation


Hypnotherapists help many smokers achieve their goal of quitting on a regular basis.

It is well known area of our work and the results we produce are quite astounding – that is why so many ex-smokers send their friends and family members to us.

Deciding to become a smoker is not a decision that most people make logically. It is an emotional decision taken at a subconscious level.  Therefore, any decision to stop needs to be taken at the same level.

Quite simply this is why hypnosis is such a successful way to give up smoking cigarettes.  Many people considering stopping smoking feel that their true choice is being taken away from them.  The secret of hypnotherapy is that it gets people to use their imagination to create a non-smoking future.  This is often very positive and empowering.  Studies have shown quite clearly that hypnosis is three times more effective than nicotine replacement therapy.


The Benefits of Stopping Smoking

The benefits to health start immediately.

These benefits are:

Within the first twenty four hours

  • Blood pressure and heart rate return to normal twenty minutes after last cigarette
  • Nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in the blood reduce by half after eight hours
  • Oxygen levels return to normal after twenty four hours


Within the first three days

  • Carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body after fourty eight hours
  • Lungs start to clear out mucus and other debris after fourty eight hours
  • The body is completely clear of nicotine after seventy two hours
  • The ability to taste and smell is greatly improved after seventy two hours


The first three days are always the hardest when trying to stop smoking.

It is during this time that nicotine – the addictive element in cigarettes – is being cleared from the body.

As the levels drop, the body is starved of its addictive substance and withdrawal symptoms begin.

However many people have successfully managed to stop smoking with the aid of hypnotherapy


Medium Term Benefits

  • Breathing becomes easier as bronchial tubes begin to relax and cilia start to recover
  • Energy levels increase two-twelve weeks. As energy levels increase so does activity


Longer Term Benefits

  • Circulation improves within three to nine months
  • Coughs, wheezing and breathing problems continue to improve over five years
  • Risk of heart attack and cancer falls dramatically up to ten years


Not forgetting the long term financial benefits, the most powerful tool of all is motivation

In stopping smoking there is hope of a better future and longer life.

What is Cognitive Hypnotherapy?

Cognitive hypnotherapy

Cognitive hypnotherapy is applied throughout all my hypnotherapy practice.

This is based on the theory that everyone has the resources they need to make the differences they want in their life.  Cognitive hypnotherapy is an interactive therapy where the therapist acts as a guide.  The principle being that the client can find their own solutions with the aid of skilled assistance.  The therapist is not involved as a controlling agent or some-one who dictates what is best to the client.  The hypnotherapist works within the clients model and experience of the world and supports them in reaching their own solutions, in changing the way they think about situations and habits etc.

Traditional hypnotherapy can sometimes be a ‘one size fits all’ approach, which can be heavily dependent on scripts.  However, I believe that we are all unique individuals and experience the world and our situation in our own individual ways.  Our problems are often the result of miscalculations our brains make about things when we are younger,  which will vary from person to person, so each solution established in cognitive hypnotherapy needs to be tailored to each individual.

During each hypnotherapy session I will listen to each client and use the most appropriate technique for their individual needs. These can be taken from a range of disciplines and put together to best suit the way each client thinks.

Cognitive hypnotherapy provides a facility for each client to find the best way to reach a solution for their problems in a manner that is unique to them.  It is an active partnership which involves both the client and the therapist.  I believe that everyone has everything they need to solve their problem, they just need help finding it.

What is Analytical Hypnotherapy?

hypno 2

Analytical Hypnotherapy is used to discover and remove the originating cause of the problem.

This is based on the theory that every effect (symptom) must have a cause.

Hypno Analysis aims to find and release the cause of the problem allowing the symptoms to disappear.  Emotional problems respond particularly well to Hypnoanalysis.  With Analytical Therapy we are talking about a complete and lasting release.  The aim is to bring the client to a point of unexpected freedom and enlightenment. This can take up to 10 sessions of therapy.

During the therapy sessions the client and hypnotherapist will work together to find and remove the originating causes as opposed to controlling symptoms ie – dieting & antidepressants.  During hypnotherapy the client will be very relaxed and therefore find it easier to talk about their emotions.

Relationship Issues and Hypnotherapy


Do you want to improve your relationship or find success in a new relationship?

Sometimes in our lives, we can find that our relationships don’t always run true to course.  There are many ways in which relationship problems can arise, for example:-

  • Relationship issues within marriage
  • Overcoming problems in a long distance relationship
  • Friends or colleagues who have had a difference of opinion find they are unable to approach one another to make amends
  • Disharmony can arise with teenagers putting a strain on the family
  • People may have difficulty in forming new relationships, particularly when they are finding it hard to move on from a previous break up
  • Fears and problems associated with drinking or drug use

Often it can be difficult to ask for relationship advice.  Whether you are looking to deal with relationship problems or are interested in building successful new relationships, hypnotherapy can help in many ways.

Through the use of hypnosis the way we view things can be reframed to enable healing of damaged relationships or stabilisation of positive and healthy relationships.  Hypnosis can help to re-appraise key events, to look at situations from a completely different perspective and to gain an appreciation for anothers position.  Through hypnosis you can recapture lost feelings of love, friendship, romance and commitment, this allows healing to occur in the here and now.

How to improve your relationships using hypnosis

  • Hypnosis can help you to re-experience past memories in a more positive way and to gain new ways of viewing situations and experiences.
  • Learning effective techniques to relax and be calm around others can be a significant and positive benefit.
  • Hypnotherapy can start to help you to develop greater self belief and positive thinking. This leads to new confidence in yourself and your ability to create new and successful relationships.

Learning to imagine a brighter future can help you to enjoy more successful relationships.

What you think will happen, may well happen.

What you think won’t happen, won’t happen.


Panic attacks and how to use hypnotherapy for calm

panic attack

If you have ever been so scared that you have feared for your life, you will know what panic feels like.

You will have experienced an overwhelming sense of dread, your heart would have been thumping and you would have found it hard to catch your breath.  In some cases these intense feelings and associated symptoms can occur for no reason and when this happens it is usually called a panic attack.

The rush of symptoms both psychologically and physically are a frightening experience and for those suffering from a panic disorder, it is a common experience.

What is a panic attack?

This happens when your body experiences a sudden set of intense symptoms.  These symptoms are both psychological and physiological in their nature.  Usually an attack will begin with a sudden feeling of intense fear or panic, this is then followed by physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, nausea and sweating.  These feelings are understandably over whelming and those who suffer from panic attacks often over breathe (known as hyperventilation).  This can head to more unwanted symptoms due to a reduction of carbon dioxide in the blood.  A typical panic attack lasts between 5 & 10 minutes, but they can come in waves for up to 2 hours.  They tend to end as quickly as they begin and even though it may not feel like it they are not harmful.

When you first experience a panic attack it can be easily confused with breathing problems or a heart attack.  You should consult your doctor if you are concerned and they will be able to provide reassurance and advice.

Physical symptoms of a panic attack

Sensations felt will differ from person to person, common symptoms include:-

  • Thumping hear or palpitations
  • Feeling sick
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dryness and tightness in the throat, difficulty in swallowing
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Feeling detached from reality

Psychological symptoms of a panic attack

  • Intense anxiety
  • Panic
  • Fear of dying

Causes of panic attacks

The causes are not fully understood.  In some cases there is an identifiable trigger, for example, stressful life events –  death of a loved one or traumatic experience.

There are often links between panic attacks, phobias, anxiety and depression.  It is thought that a combination of factors come into play.  Genetics could be a contributory factor.  As research shows panic attacks do run in families.  Drugs and alcohol can put you more at risk from panic attacks.

The cause can be unknown and panic attacks can just appear from nowhere.  If this is the case for you, you may find hypnotherapy particularly useful.  Hypnotherapy can help uncover deep seated issues that may be subconsciously causing your panic attacks.

Hypnotherapy for panic attacks

Hypnotherapy lends itself well to treatment of panic attacks.  The basis behind this form of therapy is to help the client cope with specific symptoms using the power of suggestion whilst helping them to overcome limiting beliefs that restrict them in their everyday lives.

What will happen in a typical session?

I will begin by helping you relax deeply by inducing a hypnotic trance, you will be fully aware of your surroundings during this deep relaxation (or trance).  This will put you in the right place to benefit from hypnosis.  I will then ask you to focus on the physical sensations you feel during a panic attack, this will be proceeded by the power of suggestion.  I will suggest to you that “you are in control of the attack.” I will also suggest ways of coping, such as slowing your breathing. This will help you feel calm.

Hopefully when you feel your next panic attack coming on, these suggestions that have been placed in your subconscious whilst you were under hypnosis will surface into your conscious mind and help you cope.

I will also teach you some self-hypnosis techniques so that you can continue your treatment at home.

Anger Management 

anger management

If any of the following have happened, you may benefit from professional help:-

  • Your behaviour has led you to break the law
  • You are violent towards your partner, family, pets or others
  • You deliberately break things or damage property
  • You regularly argue with those close to you
  • You constantly feel angry but feel unable to express yourself
  • You feel out of control when you are angry and you worry about what you might do

Hypnotherapy for anger

Hypnotherapy can help those with anger management problems in several ways.  As your hypnotherapist, my initial aim will be to understand the root cause of your anger.  Anger management problems often stem from past experiences.  These experiences can shape your behaviour and belief systems.

Emotional effects of anger

  • Depression
  • Self-harm
  • Anxiety

In some cases anger management problems can be symptom of another mental health concern, so you may like to make your GP your first port of call.

Why am I so angry?

Each person is different and will have their own individual anger triggers.  For example feeling you are being treated unfairly, taken for granted, not appreciated, frustrated with a certain situation.  Understanding the root of your anger is an integral step in anger management.

To understand why you might be angry it can be helpful to look at past experiences, childhood, relationships etc.

Feeling angry is a normal part of life.  Usually anger is a result of feeling frustrated, insulted, deceived or under attack.  For many, anger is a natural reaction that passes quickly, however, in some instances it can become a difficult emotion to control.  Failing to manage anger effectively can lead to mental and physical health problems.  You may find that anger management issues are affecting your relationships, your work, your self-esteem.

When does anger become a problem?

Anger can be a useful emotion which triggers a physical reaction in the body.  This reaction is often called ‘Fight or Flight’ and is triggered when we are anxious, stressed or threatened.  The hormone, adrenaline, is pumped around the body which gives us the strength to feel we can either run away or stand and fight.  This is a primal instinct originating from prehistoric times when we were cavemen and primitive and brutal in our behaviour.

The problem with the basic instinct of ‘Fight or Flight’ is that, fighting or fleeing is rarely appropriate in everyday life.  This can make it difficult for us to express anger and this is where some of us develop a problem.

When you aren’t able to express your anger you may bottle it up.  This can cause angry outbursts at inappropriate times.  It may also make you feel more angry in general, thus leading you to react more aggressively in other situations.

Everyone’s experience will be different, but, the following types of anger issues are recognised as potentially damaging.

  • Chronic anger – ongoing prolonged anger can affect the immune system and result in other mental health issues
  • Passive anger – when people express anger in a passive way it can often affect relationships
  • Overwhelmed anger – when an individual feels there is too much to cope with
  • Self-inflicted anger – when anger is directed toward yourself due to guilt, it can be mentally damaging
  • Judgemental anger – directed towards others, the feeling of anger usually comes with resentment
  • Volatile anger – leading to violent outbursts, this form of anger can be troubling for loved ones

So, whilst you may think that another person or situation is causing your anger it may well come from you!  Once this is understood, as your therapist I can, with your co-operation begin to work towards changing this.  In order to do this I will work on a conscious and unconscious level and aim to help change your negative thought processes.  In doing this I will introduce relaxation techniques and suggestions on how you can help to control your anger.  Hopefully, we will be able to change your reaction to anger triggers and instead of feeling overwhelmed and angry you will  be able to coax yourself into feeling calmer and more relaxed.  Having techniques to help you feel calmer in stressful situations helps you think more clearly, so, you can react in a more appropriate way.

Hypnotherapy can also help with conditions that may include anger as a symptom.  For example, if you are suffering from anxiety, stress or depression.

The number of sessions required will depend on your individual circumstances.  As your therapist I will teach you some self-hypnosis techniques and relaxation tips to be used at home in the long term.

Treating depression with hypnosis


For any mental health problem, as your first port of call you should always contact your GP.

Depression is a common psychological disorder.  Anyone can become depressed.  It is more than just feeling unhappy, bored or fed up.  If feelings don’t go away within two weeks or so it may be time to seek professional help.

At any one time throughout the year, approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will suffer from a mental health problem; depression being one of the most common issues.

With the right support and treatment such as counselling and hypnotherapy, people can often overcome these negative feelings.

The aim of hypnotherapy in helping to treat depression is to target the root cause of the issue and to develop better coping behaviours.  In most circumstances people will usually forget or supress the initial cause of their depression due to the association with negative feelings.  An event can easily be forgotten on a conscious level, but, the subconscious level rarely forgets.  This is why it is better to confront the issue head on rather that burying it in the subconscious which can worsen depression.

Hypnotherapy connects directly with the subconscious mind.  The therapy session will address your perception of the event that has caused you to become depressed with the main aim to improve your self-esteem and low mood and will help you regain your self-confidence and independence.


Symptoms of depression can persist for long periods of time and can interfere with your family, social and professional life.  If you experience any of the following symptoms everyday for 2 weeks you should contact your GP:-

Psychological Symptoms

  • Constantly expecting the worse to happen
  • Constantly feeling sad, anxious or empty inside
  • Feeling restless and irritable
  • Feelings of worthlessness, helpless or guilty
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Suicidal thoughts, thoughts of death, generally morbid thoughts
  • Losing interest in things
  • Low self-esteem

Physical Symptoms

  • Changes in sleep patterns – early morning wakening
  • Tiredness
  • Changes in bowel habit
  • Aches & pains
  • Changes in appetite
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of libido

Social Symptoms

  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Not performing well at work or school
  • Avoiding contact with friends
  • Having problems in your family and home life

Hypnotherapy for Stress & Anxiety Management


Stress & anxiety management are two of the main reasons for people seeking hypnotherapy.

Importantly, many people who come for hypnotherapy for issues such as insomnia, nail biting, smoking cessation and weight loss etc, will report stress and anxiety as playing a significant part in their problem or habit.

Stress and anxiety are everywhere in our society and if not dealt with, can cause real problems, for example:

  • Back complaints
  • Stomach complaints
  • Migraines
  • Depression

Hypnotherapy can help us to relax and change the way we think and manage situations.

It incorporates lots of different therapeutic models of help to deal with the presenting stress, but can also help to avoid the development of high, underlying stress levels.

Hypnotherapy helps unconscious learning by tapping into the subconscious mind.  It does this by teaching you relaxation techniques and exercises. It can enable you to develop natural responses – a ‘relaxation reflex’ as opposed to a ‘stress reflex.

Hypnotherapy can also help with positive thinking and assertiveness.  By understanding stress and your body’s reaction to it, you can start to create new positive reactions which will give you a sense of fulfilment and confidence.

In summary, the better you feel about your ability to cope with stressful situations the better you will, in fact, cope with them.

Whilst hypnotherapy is an effective treatment for stress and anxiety symptoms, it is also a great approach to dealing with stress and anxiety before they even happen!

Hypnotherapy to help with confidence & self-esteem


Hypnosis helps to remove unhelpful beliefs and confusing interference in the way you talk to yourself, therefore enabling you to focus on what you really want.

You can then start to develop new and exciting beliefs. Your self -confidence will improve because it was always there anyway.

We are all born with confidence. Generally, it’s just life experiences and ‘knocks’ that lower our levels of confidence and self-belief.
Hypnotherapy can help us to re-learn how to be confident and positive. Self-confidence is a natural and basic resource and lack of self-confidence is often one of the reasons for lots of other problems and difficulties. Therefore, when seeing clients for phobias, losing weight, stopping smoking etc, hypnotherapists often work on confidence first of all.
Questions to ask yourself:
• Is a lack of self-confidence making life harder than it needs to be for you?
• Do nerves make you self-conscious and hesitant so that you don’t give off your best or get the best out of yourself?
If you achieve more confidence just about every area of your life will change in some way. When you become more confident how do you expect to feel? What will you do with your new found self-confidence?

During hypnotherapy you will be encouraged to consider questions such as these and to start to imagine and prepare for a more confident future where goals become much easier to achieve each day.