People get hypnotized for lots of reasons.
Some do it to travel to a past life. Others do it to help alleviate pain or to quit smoking or to release another addiction. And some do it as a form of entertainment, or “just for fun”
One thing is for sure, the idea of hypnotism is shrouded in mystery.
Keep reading for a comprehensive look at the history and science of hypnotism and an answer to that ever-burning question, “What does hypnosis feel like?”
What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a focused psychological state. The act of being hypnotized is simply letting another person guide you into a trance. We experience mini-trances on a daily basis when we daydream or “space” out.
The goal of hypnosis is to remove all outside distractions. It is an extremely powerful therapeutic tool and it can promote rapid change in people.
During a session, the hypnotist speaks in a quiet, steady manner and leads the subject through a number of relaxation exercises.
Eventually, the person reaches a relaxed and focused trance. During hypnosis, the brain experiences an increase in theta waves, making the subject more open to suggestion.
What Hypnosis is Not
There has always been quite a bit of mystery and theatrics surrounding the idea of hypnosis. Most people have only been exposed to it through media portrayals and thus they think it is a dangerous activity where you lose control of yourself, and by implication, your mind.
Nothing could be further from the truth. People do not lose control while hypnotized. They are not being put to sleep and they are certainly not being brainwashed.
Hypnosis is not a one size fits all type of activity. Some people are more easily hypnotized than others. Everyone responds differently to hypnosis and each session is unique.
10-15% of people are “highly hypnotizable” Another 20% are very resistant to hypnosis. This may be due to slight differences between people’s brains.
A Brief History of Hypnosis
Many ancient cultures practiced hypnotism including the Sumerians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. In Egypt and Greece sick people even went to places known as “sleep temples” to be healed through hypnosis.
In modern times, the concept of hypnosis was originally coined in the 18th century by a physician named Franz Anton Mesmer. This is where the term “mesmerize” came from.
Mesmer believed that the heavens had a direct influence on the health of humans and that there is an invisible force that he called “animal magnetism” that runs through all humans. He experimented with the use of magnets to manipulate the subtle fluids within people’s bodies.
The use of these magnets would many times lead to dramatic spasms in patients who often collapsed. Mesmerism became very popular among a number of crowds, including, scientists, spiritualists, and religious sects.
James Braid, a Scottish ophthalmologist, is the father of modern hypnotism. The term refers to the Greek god “Hypnos” who was able to induce sleep.
Over the years, many scholars, including Sigmund Freud, have added to the understanding of how hypnosis works.
The 1920s and 1930s ushered in an era of intense hypnosis experiments, and since the middle part of the 20th century, it has been widely accepted among researchers that there is scientific merit in hypnosis.
The Science of Hypnosis
There is a great body of scientific evidence that hypnosis works, especially when coupled with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and anxiety as well as a number of other conditions. It is most notable for its effectiveness in aiding weight loss.
Irving Kirsch, of Harvard Medical School, conducted a study using hypnosis and CBT with subjects trying to lose weight. After four to six months, the hypnosis and CBT group lost more than 20 pounds. The group who just did CBT lost about half that amount. The hypnosis group also maintained that weight loss for more than 18 months!
Hypnosis has also been shown to be an effective way to quit smoking cigarettes.
According to Dr. David Spiegel, of Stanford University “Half the people I see once stop [smoking], half of them won’t touch a cigarette for two years.”
There is also research that proves that hypnosis can significantly reduce the amount of pain in children after surgery. It has also been effective in helping to minimize the pain of labor and delivery in women.
What Does Hypnosis Feel Like?
The setting in which you are hypnotized is of utmost importance. If you are not 100% comfortable with the hypnotist and where you are, you may not be able to enter hypnosis. In order to effectively be hypnotized, one must know they are safe and comfortable in their immediate surroundings.
Hypnosis involves two stages. The first stage is called the induction stage. During the induction phase, the subject is lead through gentle relaxation exercises.
The suggestion phase is a verbal invitation designed to lead the subject to experience imaginary events as if they were real. In a therapeutic setting, it is an invitation to explore past traumas and the effect they have on your current situation.
As you become hypnotized, you will feel extremely relaxed. Your body will feel heavy and you will be still. You may experience some involuntary muscle twitching, such as flickering eyelids. This is completely natural and is a sign that your autonomic nervous system has taken over your body.
As you sink deeper into hypnosis, time and space may feel different, but you still have complete control and can stop at any time.
Hypnosis Can Also be Fun
Comedy Hypnosis is a popular form of entertainment where a hypnotist asks the audience for volunteers who are then hypnotized and led through a variety of tasks. Comedy hypnosis is all in good fun and people are not demeaned or made to do embarrassing things.
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Hypnosis has a long history. There is scientific evidence backing its effectiveness against addictions, depression, pain and even weight loss.
Hypnotism is not dangerous, and can even be fun!
Book your very own corporate comedy hypnosis show today!