Topic: Hypnotherapy General

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!’

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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 Hypnotherapy and can it work for me?

hypnosis old


Hypnosis has become very popular over recent years.  It no longer carries the old myths and prejudices, and there is now a much greater understanding of this ancient practice.

Hypnosis is NOT a state of deep sleep.

It involves the induction of a trance like state.  When in this induced trance the client develops an enhanced state of awareness and is able to concentrate entirely on the voice of the hypnotist.  Whilst in this trance, the conscious mind is suppressed and the subconscious mind is exposed.

The therapist is then able to suggest ideas, concepts and the lifestyle changes the client wishes to make in order for them to change and grow.  These suggestions, like seeds, then become firmly planted in the subconscious mind.

Hypnotherapy is the practice of promoting healing and positive development; it is therefore a form of psychotherapy.

The aim of hypnotherapy is to re-programme thought processes and patterns of behaviour within the mind, therefore enabling irrational fears, phobias, negative thoughts and suppressed emotions to be overcome.

Once the therapist has introduced a hypnotic trance it enables the body to be released from conscious control. The client’s breathing will become slower and deeper, the pulse rate will become slower and the body’s metabolic rate will decrease.

Similar, more complex changes along the nerve pathways to and from the brain and hormonal channels enable the sensation of pain to become less acute and the awareness of unpleasant feelings such as nausea and indigestion can be alleviated.

Hypnotherapy is now accepted within its field to be the most powerful tool for personal development and positive change.


What can hypnotherapy help with?

Here are just a few examples of the services I can offer:-

Stop smoking, weight management, insomnia, memory, exam worries, motivation, sports & hypnosis, phobias, confidence & self -esteem, stress management, fertility, health, relationships, fear of flying, driving test anxiety, public speaking, post-traumatic stress disorder, irritable bowel syndrome, nail biting, addressing issues & taking action, teeth grinding, comfort eating for emotional reasons, pain management, blushing, stuttering, allergies.

Home visits can be arranged in special circumstances.


Will hypnosis work for me?

Yes, if you want it to.

During a hypnosis therapy session, the client will usually experience a sense of deep relaxation with their attention narrowed down, allowing them to focus on appropriate suggestions made by the therapist.

Hypnosis uses the power of suggestion (made by the therapist during the therapy) to help people to make positive changes within themselves.

During a hypnotherapy session you are always in control and will never be made to do anything you don’t want to do.


How does it work?

Hypnosis works by altering the state of consciousness so that the analytical left-hand side of the brain is turned off, making the right-hand side of the brain more alert.  In other words, the conscious control of the mind is temporarily inhibited during a hypnotic trance and the subconscious mind is awoken and aware

In order for the client’s physical state to change, the subconscious part of the mind has to change. (The subconscious mind is a much deeper and instinctive force compared to the conscious mind).

For example, a client who wants to overcome a fear may try everything consciously to overcome it, but, will fail so long as their subconscious mind holds this terror which will prevent the client from succeeding.  Progress can only be made if the subconscious mind is reprogrammed so that the deep seated fears, instincts and beliefs are abolished or altered.


What happens in a therapy session?

Firstly, all misconceptions the client may have regarding hypnotherapy should be dispelled.

The introduction technique does not involve the patient being put into a deep sleep and the client cannot be made to do anything they wouldn’t normally feel like doing.  They will remain fully aware of their surroundings and situation at all times whilst in a state of hypnotic trance.  They are not vulnerable to every given command of the therapist.  The most important thing is that the client wants to change some behavioural habit be it addiction or a psychological issue and that they are highly motivated to do so.


The client has to want the treatment to work, it is essential that a good clinical rapport is established with the therapist for it to do so.

The client generally requires several therapy sessions in order to achieve meaningful results, however, the time can vary due to the readiness and ability of the client to actually be hypnotised.  Clients can learn the technique of self-hypnosis which can be practiced at home. This will help to reinforce progress in formal sessions with the therapist.

A hypnotic trance is augmented by the therapist who will generally use a relaxation technique by speaking to the client who will focus completely on the therapists voice.  Once the trance is induced therapy can begin.


What problems can be treated by hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy can be applied to many psychological, emotional and physical disorders.  It has, and is used to relieve pain in surgery and dentistry, fertility, pregnancy and childbirth.  It can shorten the stage of labour and reduce the need for painkillers.

It can ease the suffering of the chronically ill, the disabled and those with a terminal illness.

It has been shown to help people overcome addictions such as smoking, alcoholism, eating disorders, weight loss.  Children are generally easier to hypnotise and can be helped with nocturnal enuresis (bed wetting) and chronic asthma, whilst teenagers can conquer stammering or blushing problems which can otherwise make their lives miserable.

Phobias of all kinds lend themselves well to hypnotherapy and anyone suffering from panic attacks or obsessional compulsive behaviour and stress related problems like insomnia may benefit.

Conditions exasperated by tension such as irritable bowel syndrome, psoriasis and eczema or excess sweating all respond well, even tinnitus and clicky jaws (tempero – mandibular joint dysfunction) can be treated by hypnotherapy.