Dr. Uma Devi P.
KOCHI: The therapist induces a deep hypnosis, where the conscious mind steps aside, giving control to the subconscious mind, which has tremendous powers. Under hypnosis our sensory faculties become more alert, the hearing, understanding and creative powers becoming keener and more acute. The healing is actually done by the person himself/herself, the therapist only helping in the process by appropriate verbal suggestions.
A hypnotized person retains his/her control, even though his/her suggestibility increases manyfold and he/she becomes more open to verbal suggestions. So he/she visualizes or imagines as guided by the therapist through suggestions and these images become real to his/her mind. As an example, a person may visualize the pain being washed away by the waves as he/she stands on a beach and this becomes real to the mind; as a result, on being awakened the person realizes that the pain has disappeared; and this feeling becomes reinforced when the same process is repeated in a couple of sessions.
But some problems like depression may need more than simple suggestions, and more number of sessions. What is done is positive changes are brought about in the perception regarding the problem in the mind of the patient. Once the mind accepts it, the change is incorporated and the old negative feeling/perception is replaced by the new positive one.
As a result, next time the person encounters the same or a similar problem, his/her reaction is changed to a more positive one under the influence of the changed perception.
Hypnosis produces deep relaxation, releases tension and stress, and promotes neuro-secretions that control the moods in a positive way. Actual measurements in laboratories have shown that certain neuro-humors like serotonin and norepinephrine (pleasure hormones) are enhanced during relaxation.
A general hypnotic session can be divided into three parts:
- Induction of hypnosis: Different methods are available for inducing hypnosis. Hypnosis can be induced by progressive relaxation through suggestions or using devices like pendulum, etc. along with verbal suggestion.
- Treatment/giving suggestions: Desired change is effected through suggestions given under deep hypnosis. Guided imagery (imagining that the changes suggested by the therapist are actually happening) is also being used, for example, for improvement in performance (e.g. sports, facing interview, examination, etc.).
- Bringing out of hypnosis: Afterwards the person is brought out of hypnosis, by appropriate suggestion. Most of the time, on waking up, the person is able to remember everything that is said during the hypnotic state. Since hypnosis relaxes the body and mind, he/she will feel good and relaxed on waking up.
Areas amenable to hypnotherapy
Most problems treated under psychiatry/psychology are amenable to hypnotherapy; the results are faster and more lasting. It is used successfully in the following areas:
- Anxiety, depression, insomnia.
- Antisocial behaviour in children stealing, telling lies, fighting, creating tantrums.
- Eating disorders anorexia, bulimia, overeating, nausea, vomiting.
- Fears and phobias: fear of animals, spiders, etc.; fear of darkness, closed spaces, flying, heights, water etc.
- Pains: Migraine and other headaches, joint pains, back pain, menstrual pain, pain from cancer, arthritis, surgery, dental extraction, piles, fractures, burns and other injuries.
- Ease child birth.
- Induce anesthesia and analgesia in surgery; tooth extraction, etc.
- Paediatric problems: Bedwetting, nail biting, stammering, timidity, etc.
- Students’ problems: Increase concentration and memory, improve study habits and performance in exams, overcome examination fear, stage fear, etc.
- Build selfconfidence and selfimage, personality development, improve sports performance, social interaction, public speaking skills.
- Deaddiction: smoking and other tobacco habits; drug abuse, alcoholism.
- Solving marital discords.
- Coping with bereavement, loss of status and position, failure in business.
- Relief from chronic diseases, e.g. asthma, diabetes, etc
Some myths and truths about hypnotherapy
Several myths about hypnotherapy are in circulation, mostly because of the stage shows, where people act funny and do ridiculous things under the magician’s command. Some of the myths include:
- It is black magic and the effects are not real, but only illusions.
This is not true. Hypnotherapy is an accepted and proved form of treatment.
- The person may get stuck and may not wake up from hypnosis.
Not true. No one has so far been known to be stuck in hypnosis. The hypnotized person might drift off into natural sleep, but then will wake up into full consciousness, without any effect of the trance.
The hypnotist can make a person jump like a monkey or bark like a dog or do other ridiculous things under hypnosis.
This is not true. The fact is that a person never loses control of self and he/she cannot be made to do or say things against his/her will.
- Hypnosis can damage the brain.
Not true. Hypnosis does not damage the brain or any other organ; in fact, under hypnosis, one’s concentration becomes more focused and it is possible to recall events/persons that are otherwise forgotten.
- It is not safe and can disturb mental balance.
Not true. It is absolutely safe in the hands of a qualified hypnotherapist.
(The writer is a clinical hypnotherapist. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)