You are getting sleepy. You are getting very “sleeeeeepy”. For most of us, TV representations of hypnosis are the only ones we’ve been exposed to. And that’s a shame because hypnosis is helpful for everything from rewiring trauma responses to helping you fall asleep when you’re wired from too much coffee.
There’s more to hypnosis than the silly or sometimes scary (making you do ridiculous things you don’t want to do) representation it has in the media.
It’s a tool that anyone can learn and it’s been around for thousands of years. Want to learn more about it? Start with the history of hypnosis, below.
What Is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is more comparable to a guided meditation than something someone else does to you. Contrary to what the media will have you think, people who are accessing or “being” hypnotized have complete control of their body and can snap out of it, if they choose, at any time.
If you’ve never done a guided meditation, here’s the idea is broken down further: a trained practitioner helps you relax and calm your body down, so you’re open to new ideas.
They do this by inviting you to use visualizations and breathing techniques that are meant to subdue the “thinking” part of your brain temporarily so that you can access your subconscious.
The practitioner will then talk you through a mental exercise where they put new, and usually better, ideas into your head, based on your goals.
And while yes, they are guiding you through the hypnosis, and you are open to more ideas during the session than you’d usually be, this person has no control over your actual behavior.
So if you’re worried about turning into Kimmy Gibbler whenever someone says “Houseboat,” don’t – that’s all an act for TV.
The Uses of Hypnosis
Hypnosis, like meditation, has been scientifically proven to have an effect on mental health, pain levels, behavior patterns, and even side effects from cancer treatment!
The power doesn’t lie in the hypnosis itself. It lies in your mind.
Hypnosis helps you access your subconscious, which makes up a large chunk of the part we can’t, or more accurately, don’t know how to use.
You can trust us on that one, or look at studies done on the results of hypnosis here.
Want to know if Hypnosis is for you? It’s been known to treat/reduce:
- Addiction-related issues
- Weight issues
- Anger issues
The trick to using hypnotherapy correctly is to find a practitioner who has experience working with the problems that are specific to you.
Want to try it out? There are plenty of guided hypnosis sessions on YouTube that are made for the curious general population.
If you’re looking for extreme results, it’s best to work with a practitioner one on one, as they can create specific hypnotherapy sessions that are 100% relevant for you.
Is Hypnosis Real?
Another question many people ask is, “Is hypnosis real?” However, there’s no one clear answer to that.
Yes, there are scientific studies showing that it has a positive effect, or that it “works.” The problem is that these studies are based on psychological assumptions. Is anything real? Do we understand psychology correctly?
There’s no true “yes” or “no” when it comes to human behavior.
We can give you one definitive answer, though. If you believe it’s not going to work or are resistant to it: it won’t! The practitioner may be guiding you down the road during hypnosis, but you’re the one that has to take the steps!
The History of Hypnosis
So, where did this whole idea that someone can help you open up the inaccessible part of your mind come from anyways? Most people assume since it’s rather spiritual or “woo-woo” that the practice started in the far East.
That’s not true. The first record we have of the word hypnosis comes from cultures that were in the “hammock of creation,” which is what is now the Middle East and parts of northern Africa, plus Greece.
We know most about its early uses from Egyptian and Greek cultures, though those were two groups of people who were (literally) historically good at writing things down.
Ancient texts describe it as elevated sleep in one way or another. The idea is that your body is sleeping, but your mind is wide awake.
Between 2000 BC and the Middle Ages, there’s proof of almost every existing culture using some sort of hypnosis for healing or psychological purposes.
But what we think of as hypnosis today came much later. Our current understanding of Hypnosis is the brainchild of Franz Mesmer, who was an Austrian doctor in the late mid-late 1700s.
He called the idea that we now call hypnosis, mesmerism. In his mind, energy was magnetic (he wasn’t completely wrong), and he could use magnet-related tools to move it around the body.
He would use special “wands” to make sweeping motions over a patient’s body, which (we assume now) put them into a boredom-induced trance.
However, people seemed to respond to the treatments, and he kept practicing his art until his death.
The next hundred and fifty years were filled with people figuring out how the power of suggestion (which is what hypnosis is) works. Each person had a slightly different theory, and they all built on the others.
Freud wasn’t a big fan of Hypnosis, but Milton Erickson was – who you may know from his work in child psychology.
It’s been a long road for hypnosis to evolve into where it is today.
Hypnosis: Should You Try it?
Now that you know a little bit about the history of Hypnosis and what to expect, it’s up to you if you want to try it. It will only work if you want it to work, just like any other psychological tool.
If you’re scared someone’s going to make you do something you don’t want to do, don’t be – that’s not what practitioners are there for!
Make sure you work with someone who has legitimate training and experience in your area of need.
Interested in more human behavior articles? Browse our online magazine for some more healthy lifestyle tips!