What is Hypnosis

What is Hypnosis


The state of Hypnosis

An individual who is in the state of hypnosis appears to hear only the communications of the hypnotist and typically responds in an accepting, automatic manner while at the same time ignoring all aspects of the environment other than those pointed out by the hypnotist. In the deeply relaxed and pleasant state of hypnosis the subject tends to see, feel, smell, and otherwise accept in accordance with the hypnotist’s suggestions, even though these suggestions may be the complete opposite to the actual stimuli present in the environment. For example, a client sitting in a chair in my office will be asked to see themselves in a beautiful garden, The effects of hypnosis are not limited to sensory change; even the subject’s memory and awareness of self may be altered by suggestion, and the effects of the suggestions may be extended (post hypnotically) into the individuals subsequent waking activity.


History and early research

The history of hypnosis stretches back to ancient times in the same way as sorcery, magic, and medicine; in fact, hypnosis has been used as a method in all those three. The truly scientific history begins in the late 1700’s Franz Mesmer, a renowned German physician used hypnosis in the treatment of patients in Vienna and Paris. Unfortunately he had a mistaken belief that hypnotism was harnessing an occult force (which he called “animal magnetism”) that somehow flowed from the hypnotist and into the subject, because of this association with the occult Mesmer was soon discredited; but Mesmer’s method—named mesmerism after its creator—continued to be of interest to medical practitioners. Many respected and influential doctors of the time made use of mesmerisation without fully understanding what it was. In around the middle of the 1800’s, a well-respected English clinician James Braid studied the phenomenon of mesmerisation, and it was he who introduced the terms hypnotism and hypnosis, after the Greek god of sleep, Hypnos (meaning sleep).


Scientists and doctors from around the world becake interested in hypnosis in the 1880s. Ambroise-Auguste Liébeault, a well-qualified but obscure French doctor who used the techniques of mesmerisation, came to the attention of Hippolyte Bernheim, an eminent professor of medicine at Strasbourg. By coincidence but quite separately they had written papers suggesting that hypnosis involved no physical forces but was a combination of psychological responses to the suggestions given. At about the same time, whilst he was visiting France an Austrian physician Sigmund Freud was impressed by the potential therapeutic effects of hypnosis for what he called neurotic disorders. When he returned to Vienna, he used hypnosis to help his patients recall disturbing events that they had apparently forgotten.

Use was made of hypnosis in the psychoanalytic treatment of soldiers who had experienced what was called shell shock in World Wars I and II. Hypnosis gradually acquired other limited uses in medicine.

Hypnosis has been accredited and officially endorsed as a therapeutic method by medical, psychiatric, dental, and psychological associations throughout the world. It has been found particularly useful in preparing people for anaesthesia, complementing and enhancing the drug response, and in so doing reducing the required dosage. In childbirth it has been proven to be helpful, helping to alleviate the mother’s discomfort and avoiding potentially anaesthetics that could hinder or even damage the child’s physiological function. More commonly hypnosis is regularly used in attempts to stop smoking, stop drinking, weight control and it is highly regarded in the management of otherwise intractable pain, including that of terminal cancer. It has been shown to be valuable in reducing common fears or phobias such as fear of dental procedures, heights, spiders and so many more. In the area of psychosomatic medicine, hypnosis has been used in many positive ways.


To induce hypnosis requires little training and no particular skill, but when used as a treatment, it can be very damaging especially if used by individuals who lack the competence and skill to treat such problems without the use of hypnosis. It is unfortunate that particularly in the UK there is no official regulation of who can call themselves a Hypnotherapist or who can claim to offer training.

When seeking the help of a Hypnotherapist is is essential that you should seek someone with at least a degree in Psychology (BSc Psychol) from an official and accredited university.

My name is Dr David Postlethwaite I hold a PHD and a BSc in Psychological disciplines, What is HypnosisI have various post graduate qualifications in Counselling, Psychotherapy and of course Hypnotherapy. I am a member of the prestigious International Hypnotherapy Association; I am listed in the Hypnotherapy Directory and Psychology Today. I am proud to have won the Three Best Rated award seven years in a row, At the time of writing tis article (2022) I have been in practice for 32 years, my clients only need to see me once and I am proud of my success rate of over 97%.

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