When we talk about hypnosis, the first thing that comes to mind is a music hall show. A hypnotist puts a person on stage to sleep by holding their hand, or even almost the entire audience with a snap of the fingers. However, this playful, even “mystical” aspect of hypnosis often overshadows its many benefits. Indeed, it is a powerful psychotherapy tool. Hypnotherapy is effective in solving deep-seated problems, achieving a personal goal or changing perceptions – making it a valuable ally in relieving ailments.
What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a technique that allows access to a modified state of consciousness. This mechanism is distinguished by a moment of deep relaxation and increased inner concentration. The attention is focused on a specific subject, which excludes all other thoughts.
The word “hypnos” means “sleep” in Greek. However, the hypnotized patient is not asleep, because he remains awake. Better still, they remain in control throughout the session. The only thing is that their perception of time, space and external stimuli is deliberately changed to the point where they feel a kind of indifference to the world.
Hypnosis is like trance or even daydreaming. We have all experienced it many times. Examples?
- Letting our minds wander during a boring speech.
- Being so immersed in a film or book that we lose track of time
- Daydreaming on the bus to the point of missing our stop.
A secondary state favourable to suggestions
During the hypnotic trance, the psychotherapist gives advice to the patient. He or she makes suggestions to help the patient change a habit, a behaviour or a body perception – such as pain.
The healing power of hypnosis lies in its ability to bypass the conscious mind and communicate with the subconscious. Why is this so important? This part of the brain is a vast reservoir where our knowledge, memories, emotions, impulses and survival instincts are concentrated.
All of these have been shaped by our upbringing, or by our experiences – good or bad. As they take root in our brain, they become the basis of our beliefs and influence our behaviour and actions.
With hypnosis, the psychotherapist comes into direct contact with the subconscious. He or she instils in it new ideas and solutions that the conscious mind would normally block or ignore.
Thus reprogrammed, the subconscious activates its resources to bring about profound inner changes and help us realise our dreams.
The benefits of hypnosis in psychotherapy
Hypnosis is a type of therapy. Numerous studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in the treatment of many illnesses and the resolution of personal problems. It is particularly recommended for relieving:
– chronic pain (migraine, arthritis, fibromyalgia…) and childbirth pain
– insomnia, sleepwalking and permanent nightmares
– panic fears
– irritable bowel syndrome
– dermatological disorders (eczema, psoriasis, hives, etc.)
– post-traumatic stress disorder
– chemotherapy side effects (fatigue, vomiting, nausea…)
By suggesting to the subconscious mind to abandon harmful habits, hypnosis also facilitates weight loss and smoking (or alcohol) withdrawal.
Beware of confusion between hypnotherapy and stage hypnosis
The popular belief that hypnosis is used to manipulate or bewitch a person is incorrect.
However, why do some people behave strangely on stage in hypnosis shows? At the command of a hypnotist, they may start cackling like a chicken or singing at the top of their lungs.
The answer is simple. They are often part of a select group of volunteers in the audience and are therefore more receptive to suggestions. Once they are uninhibited, they are more likely to play along. This is because they want to “put on a show” or act more exuberantly – something they would not be able to do in everyday life. In no way does hypnosis make them act against their will.