What is hypnosis?
While the roots of hypnosis date back to ancient civilization, its modern use is typically associated with the eighteenth-century Viennese physician, Franz Memser who used it to treat patients with hysteria. Although Mesmer was later declared a fraud (rather unfairly), the use of hypnosis continued to be popular with many nineteenth-century clinicians including the neurologist Charcot and psychoanalyst, Freud. Over the last 100 years or so, its use and reputation has been somewhat chequered due to its previously poor scientific status.
However recent advances in neuroscience have shown hypnosis to be a ‘real’ phenomenon. Brain imaging research has shown that suggestions given under hypnosis (eg., you will smell the aroma of freshly cut roses) can result in patterns of brain activation that resemble those of the real experience. There is also more and more evidence that supports the effectiveness of hypnosis for a range of psychological and psychosomatic problems.
A hypnosis session involves an induction procedure which encourages a state of focused attention, and deep relaxation. Under hypnosis, most people who are open to being hypnotised, are more open to suggestions than they would be otherwise. Following a hypnosis session, instructions on self-hypnosis are given to ensure optimal effect.
Am I hypnotisable?
Highly hypnotisable people (think tooth extracted with no anaesthetic) tend to be high on traits of creativity, empathy and mental absorption, that is, the ability to become immersed in activities, to the point that all else goes unnoticed. While around 10% of the population are highly hypnotisable, research shows that the majority of people can have some response to suggestions given under hypnosis – particularly when used to help psychological problems.
The British Society of Clinical and Academic Hypnosis
What can it help me with?
Hypnosis can be used for a host of issues. Some of the problems for which it is has been used for at the Goddard Clinic are listed below:
- Performance anxiety
- Eating disorders
- Problems related to the autism spectrum
- Sleep difficulties
- Medically unexplained symptoms
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