What is Hypnosis?

The term hypnosis is officially attributed to James Braid a Scottish surgeon who lived in the 1800’s. The word Hypnos is derived from the Greek god of sleep. Braid actually used the word neurohypnotism as he believed hypnosis to be associated to sleep. Later on he realised this was not the case and then made reference to the word Monoideaism. He believed that the hypnotic state was the result of focus. The word Hypnosis stuck because let’s face it, it’s a great word.

So even if you hear a stage hypnotist saying sleep to one of the audience, he doesn’t actually mean go to sleep. In the world of hypnotherapy it is not uncommon for practitioners to use an induction method called progressive relaxation. Often they will lie the client down, dim the lights and progressively relax them into hypnosis.

Interestingly though, a person does not have to be relaxed to go into hypnosis. In fact sometimes a high emotional state makes it easier.

The best definition of hypnosis I can find is as follows:

“The bypass of the critical factor and the establishment of selective agreeable thinking.”

Let me break that statement down so it makes a whole lot more sense. First of all the critical factor is another term for the conscious mind. The second part refers to agreeable thinking. This means that the conscious mind is circumvented and the hypnotist communicates uninhibited with the subconscious. The key here is agreeable. That means the subconscious is open to the communication. NOTE: In hypnosis the subconscious may not be in agreement with the hypnotist.

The Conscious Mind

The conscious mind has a number of key functions but it is not fully developed until the age of 8 to 12. The conscious mind can only do 7 (plus or minus 2) things at any one time. It is the logical rational part of us. It can look at back at one’s self in a logical way. Have emotionless understanding of things. It can rationalize complex behaviour with simple explanations. Eg. I eat because I’m bored (when really there could be many deep seated reasons). Rationalization makes day to day living easy as we don’t have to dissect each complex thing we do. The conscious mind is also responsible for willpower, which we know can take a lot of mental effort and is comparitively weak when compared to the power of the subconscious.

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