“Don’t think about a lemon.” Now: are you not thinking about a lemon?
Most people are thinking about a lemon when they read or hear this statement. This is why it is so difficult for people to change by simply resolving, to do something differently than they did before, such as losing weight, stopping smoking, overcoming a fear or insomnia, or other things. They focus on what they don’t want, but the subconscious mind takes over, and the attempt to change fails. How frustrating that, try though you may, you cannot make the change you desperately want.
What is HYPNOSIS and how does it work?
Hypnosis is a state of mind in which your subconscious mind is dominating over your conscious mind. We all move into and out of light states of hypnosis everyday. For example, have you ever been driving your car down a road, fully awake, yet wondered how you got to where you are driving? This is a common occurrence. Another time when a person is in a light state of hypnosis is right before awakening. Finally when under stress, especially severe stress, our subconscious mind is dominant and we are in a highly suggestible state.
It is an interesting fact that nobody can find the exact location of ‘the mind” anywhere in our bodies. Yet, we know that it exists; it is our memory bank. Through the brain that which is stored in our conscious and subconscious mind controls our behavior.
When a person is in a very relaxed state, induced by progressive relaxation and possibly other techniques, it is possible to talk directly to the subconscious mind, which is kind of like talking to “the boss” in controlling behavior. It is with “new instructions.” This can finally put the individual “in charge”, with greater self-control than he/she ever thought possible.
What does being hypnotized feel like?
First of all, remember that we all move into and out of states of hypnosis. It is possible to go into a state like this and be unaware of it, as when you are enchanted by listening to a charismatic speaker or a symphony.
If you have ever practiced progressive relaxation, meditation, or yoga, you have probably experienced something like this feeling. You are awake (not sleep) and aware, (able to hear voices, or have intrusive thoughts pass into your mind). You can stand, sit, lie down, move, talk, or have your eyes open, all while in a state of hypnosis. The trained hypnotherapist should be able to tell if you are in a deep enough state of hypnosis for the therapeutic suggestions to be able to work to change ingrained behavior. He or she has available a number of techniques to induce a state of hypnosis. When the session is complete, you may want to sit quietly with your thoughts for a while. Returning to the conscious state of awareness is usually guided by the hypnotherapist counting to three.
Can hypnosis ever be dangerous?
Hypnosis could be dangerous if practiced by an unscrupulous or untrained hypnotist or entertainer who does not have a good understanding of the techniques or a good background in the dynamics of human behavior. Also, cult leaders who use mind control methods (usually by induction of severe psychological stress) are using hypnosis for highly unethical purposes and this, of course, is dangerous. However, remember that the subconscious mind can reject any suggestion it would find to be unethical or out-of-character. Some survivors of concentration camps and torture have taught us that it is possible to retain total mind self-control and not be “programmed’ by others. Such survivors have hypnotized themselves!
What are some uses of hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a powerful force which is transforming the world of psychotherapy by accessing deeply and directing the resources of the subconscious mind.
Medical hypnotherapy became officially recognized as a therapeutic method of treatment ten years, an ever-increasing group of therapists have recognized the potential for helping people to change and feel better, in a shorter period of time, through the use of hypnosis.
Some situations where hypnosis has proven itself to be very beneficial are:
- Weight control
- Smoking cessation
- Chronic pain management
- Sleep problems
- Phobias (cripping fears about certain things)
- Imagery to help with healing and to boost the immune system.
- Recovery from severe trauma or early life trauma, such as sexual abuse.
Can it wear off?
Re-induction of stress can cause you to backslide.
However, once you are taught the process of self-hypnosis, you can use it again and again to reaffirm new suggestions.
Please feel free to discuss this with a therapist. Gail Weissert, L.C.S.W-C, has trained with the Institute for Medical Hypnosis. She is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and member in good standing of the National Board of Hypnotherapy and Hypnoanesthesiology.