Hypnotherapy - MENDING THE SUBWAYS OF THE MIND
by Vanit Nalwa
MYTH AND FACT
Hypnosis is a strange and mysterious art.
It is a science. Not mysterious, daydreaming is the first of the levels in a trance.
It is dangerous.
Rahul had a rather strange problem—he could go up in an levator but could not come down to one. He glossed over the problem for
years. In the company of others he would declare himself a health fanatic,
pretending he chose to run down the stairs to get exercise. In reality
he was just scared stiff. All went well till he got a job in an office
situated on the 20th floor. Now it was not possible to run down
the stairs, so he sought help from a hypnotherapist. Rahul was quite clueless
about what caused his problem.
However, under hypnosis it emerged that one day when he was about six he was playing with friends, when, as is common with boys, play began to get rough. As Rahul lay on the ground, someone jokingly suggested that they should bury him. Some of the boys began to "dig a grave"' while an older boy put his hand over Rahul's face to hold him down. Rahul was terrified—his brain made the association that going down into a small hole meant death.
Hypnotherapy uses hypnosis to bring about a lasting change in a person's behavior, thought and life pattern. Hypnosis has long been associated with the strange and mysterious, but the truth is that each one of us has experiences states similar to hypnosis thousands of times.
There is nothing unusual in being lost in your thoughts is there? Daydreaming is the first of the levels in a trance state. Hypnosis is a totally natural phenomenon and perhaps the best description is that of a state of "altered consciousness" a sort of guided daydreaming.
Every culture has used hypnosis in one form or another for centuries. The earliest evidence of its existence was found among the so-called witch doctors or medicine men. In the eighteenth century, an Austrian doctor, Franz Anton Mesmer, recognized this ancient healing phenomenon and used it with great success. The word hypnosis was coined in 1843 by an English surgeon, James Braid, after Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep.
Esdaile, a surgeon posted in India during the British Raj, first officially introduced anesthesia through the use of hypnosis. He perfected the technique while in India. The technique can be successfully used even with young children afraid of receiving an injection!
Hypnotherapy works on the principle of cause and effect. Every effect (symptom, for example, fear, headache, palpitation) must have a cause. Hypnotherapy reveals the cause, and consequently removes the symptoms. For example, once Rahul knew why he was afraid of going down in a small-enclosed space, the panic he previously experienced disappeared. People are sometimes fully aware of the circumstances that precede the onset of their problem, but are, nevertheless, unable to stop its recurrence.
This is certainly true of a number of physical conditions. For instance, you may consciously know that your ulcer becomes active when you are mentally stressed, yet there is little you can do about it. Why is that? Knowing that the physical condition is linked to emotions at the conscious level alone is not enough. Freud, the father of modern psychology, compared the human mind to an iceberg. Only one-seventh of the mass of floating ice is exposed, the rest remains submerged below the water's surface. Similarly, the part of the mind that we are aware of represents the region of the conscious, while the much larger mass represents the region of the subconscious.
The subconscious, according to Charles Tebbetts, director of the Hypnotism Training Institute of Washington, performs six vital functions:
• It is our personal database
• It controls and regulates the involuntary functions of the body
• It is the seat of our emotions
• It is the seat of the imagination
• It controls habitual activity
• It directs our energy
he object of the therapy is to discover and understand fully the past experiences, which caused the problem, thereby removing the harmful and restrictive consequences of these events. Hypnotherapy was long seen as the control of symptoms by suggestion under the influence of hypnosis. Modern hypnotherapy is not just suggestion therapy. Though suggestions do form a part of the basic therapy, by themselves they are only marginally effective and do not usually result in permanent change.
Ashu approached the doctor for the treatment of her claustrophobia, the irrational fear of small-enclosed spaces. She was terrified of getting into an elevator or being in any small room with the door closed. At a conscious level, she could recall being locked in the school toilets by some mischievous classmates at the age of 13. Despite this knowledge she could not rid herself of the feeling of extreme discomfort. Under hypnosis she found that the underlying cause was in fact an event that occurred when she was four years old. She had accompanied her mother to a toilet while at a restaurant. Her mother was unwell and while inside, fainted. The little girl waited awhile, and when her mother did not respond to her calls, became extremely agitated and began to cry. It was not Ashu, but her mother who had been, trapped in the toilet. But since that episode the child continued to associate closed spaces with a feeling of being abandoned. In hypnotherapy, hypnosis is used for analyzing the origin of a problem in a focused way.
The therapist helps the client to pinpoint the problem, identify the cause and observe the original trauma to set the person free. It is, however, sometimes possible to bring about this release without it being necessary to remember past events. There is no reason why anyone should put up with something which is within them but outside their control, provided they are prepared to free themselves of the problem. Motivation for change is at the heart of successful hypnotherapy.
Khurshid had sustained a back injury while at work. He was suing the employer for damages. He had tried every conceivable cure. The doctors assured him that there was nothing wrong with his back, the injury had healed. Consciously Khurshid did want to recover. Under hypnosis it emerged that subconsciously he believed that if his back got better, his legal position would weaken. Very often a physical symptom serves a useful purpose to the person, and if he were rid of it, other problems could emerge.
Hypnotherapy is a two-way process—the client and the therapist form a partnership. The client allows the therapist to access information under hypnosis relating to the problem. A popular misconception about hypnosis is that the person being hypnotized surrenders control to the hypnotist and can be compelled to reveal deep, dark secrets and do things against his or her will. If this were true all those who know hypnosis should be living in villas on the French Riviera! The client is always in charge of the hypnotic sessions and can leave the hypnotic state at any time, just as easily as he or she entered it. The therapist is bound by confidentiality and information revealed during therapy cannot be divulged.
There are many other misconceptions about hypnosis. People conceive of hypnosis as being a state of sleep or being unconscious. When in hypnosis you are neither asleep nor are you unconscious, but in a state of relaxed attention. In fact, legendary hypnotherapist Dave Elmen attention says that a person in hypnosis is 2,000 times more alert. Because of this heightened level of awareness, those under a light state of hypnosis may not even feel hypnotized.
People cannot be hypnotized. Against their will. Once in hypnosis they cannot be forced to do anything that they find objectionable. Under hypnosis people express what they want, or need to express, but the hypnotist cannot make them reveal secrets against their will. Hypnosis is a means of giving people more, not less, control over their lives. The only real danger in hypnosis is in being hypnotized. By someone who is not adequately trained.
Hypnotherapy is applicable over a whole range of problems—these may be annoying habits, psychological problems, social problems, education-related issues, childbirth, improving your performance in sports. Habits that respond to hypnotherapy are—alcoholism, bedwetting, blushing, nail biting, overeating, shyness, smoking, and stammering. Hypnosis has long been associated with the strange and mysterious but the truth is that each one of us has experienced states similar to hypnosis thousands of times. Rita had bitten her nails for as long as she would remember. How she envied friends who painted their nails!
Rita was 45 years old, and had been valiantly trying to stop biting her nails ever since she was a teen. It was just nervousness, she told herself. She had tried everything without success. Under hypnosis she realized that she had begun to bite her nails at the age of three to get her father's attention. Ever since the birth of her younger sister she had felt ignored. However, the minute she put her hand into her mouth her father would admonish he—at least she was noticed! It took two sessions for Rita to stop biting her nails—she could not believe that a habit that had been with her for all of 42 years was cured in just two sessions of hypnotherapy!
Another interesting case is that of Vaishali. Vaishali was 28 years old, pretty and happily married, and overweight.
She had tried various weight-loss programs, but the minute she would become extremely depressed. She could not understand this. During the course of hypnotherapy it was discovered that her weight was her security. Her parents were going through an acrimonious divorce when she was about seven years old. She was left in the care of her grandmother who fed her whenever she was distressed. Since then she came to associate eating with a feeling of comfort.
Social problems—lack of confidence, loss and separation, public speaking, shyness, timidity… Removal of one problem generally resolves a host of other issues. For instance, a lack of self-confidence can result in loneliness. Psychological and emotional problems that can be treated with hypnotherapy are: anxiety, depression, guilt, indecisiveness, insomnia, feelings of inferiority, inhibitions, marital problems, neurosis, panic attacks, phobias, poor self-esteem, lack of motivation, stress management victim of child abuse.
Abha was referred to a hypnotherapist by a doctor because marital difficulties were affecting her health. During therapy, Abha complained that her husband did not love her. She wanted to believe him but could not, no matter what he said or did. Under hypnosis she recalled her husband saying during an argument on their honeymoon 15 years earlier, that he was sorry he had married her. Though she had consciously forgotten the incident, her subconscious mind had absorbed it as fact. Once she realized that the message accepted by her subconscious mind as the 'truth' had been said in a moment of anger, she was able to resolve many accompanying physical and psychological problems.
Among educational problems, hypnotherapy can improve learning, study habits and memory; help with learning disabilities, exam nerves, enhance creativity, reduce hyperactivity. Athletic performance has been greatly enhanced through the use of hypnotherapy. Also, quick and easy childbirth can be facilitated—the list is far from exhaustive.
The relationship between mind and body is very well documented. It is known that excessive, prolonged exposure to stress can result in damage to the organs in the body. Hypnohealing is the dynamic physical healing component of hypnotherapy—it alleviates physical conditions that arise from psychological stress. We all go through a certain amount of stress to meet the demands and challenges of life. However, if stress levels cross bearable limits, psychosomatic diseases manifest themselves.
The one thing that invariably accompanies stress is tension. The first step is reduction of stress, achieved by various techniques— yoga, meditation, or hypnosis. The very act of relaxing will reduce painful symptoms. In the course of hypnohealing, the therapist teaches the client how to use hypnosis to ease personal stress, and goes a step further with training on how to repair the damage already done to the body. Clients can thus rid themselves of psychosomatic complaints and can function effectively and develop their personal talents and abilities to the full.
It is really quite amazing how many physical ailments respond to hypnohealing.These include allergies, anorexia, asthma, diabetes, diarrhea, cancer, cardiovascular disorders, colds and flu, colitis, high blood pressure, tension, migraine, headaches, muscle spasms, insomnia, stomach disorders, peptic ulcer, chronic pain, frigidity, impotence (without a physical basis), indigestion, menstrual disorders, psoriasis, torticollis, warts. Hypnohealing is the dynamic physical healing component of hypnotherapy—it alleviates physical conditions that arise from psychological stress. Hypnotherapy and hypnohealing bring together a whole gamut of practices: meditation, Neuro-Linguistic programming, hands-on healing, creative visualization, past life regression.
These are often used in conjunction to deal with specific problems. It is quite irrelevant whether past life regression can be proved or disproved. The fact that it actively helps in understanding and handling the problem at hand makes it an important technique. There are many documented cases where people have reportedly been regressed to a time before birth, to a time in history they had no conscious knowledge of. These people have been able to describe places, people and things with remarkable exactitude. Their historically accurate accounts have left psychologists stunned.
George is a priest. He trained as a counselor and works at a large university. Students approach him with their personal and academic problems. George decided to enroll for a course in hypnotherapy because he felt that the techniques at his disposal was somewhat inadequate. During routine procedure, in the course of training, he volunteered as a subject for past life regression. During regression, to his surprise, he found himself in the 18th century. He 'saw' himself as a young woman, the 19-year-old daughter of a very rich businessman, in love with a man far below her station. Her father objected to the alliance and declared that he would disinherit her. She went ahead. The man, however, was a fortune seeker, and on realizing that pecuniary benefits were not forthcoming, abandoned her. In remorse, she committed suicide. George was intrigued. He now understood why he reacted so violently at the mere mention of marriage all his life. His parents had been happily married. He could not relate the strong emotion the word evoked to anything that had happened either to him or to anyone he knew. Interestingly, when he analyzed what he did in this life, the message seemed to be clear. Most of the students who came to him for counseling at the university were young women in the age group 18-20, many of them suicidal. He had, in fact, learnt hypnotherapy to help them!
People generally wonder if they can be hypnotized. Almost anyone who chooses can be hypnotized.—both adults and children. Remember, hypnosis is a voluntary state, which you can easily enter into with a therapist's guidance. Of course, for hypnotherapy to work you must want the change. Going in for therapy because your mother, wife, or husband think it will help you become the way they want you to be, will not do. You need to want the change.Feelings while under hypnosis vary from person to person, but you will almost certainly experience deep relaxation even as you retain an awareness of everything that is going on around you.
There are many ways of inducing hypnosis. Hollywood films show the hypnotist in a flowing black cloak with a swinging pendulum or watch. In most clinical setting there is none of this drama. The verbal method is most frequently used.
People are generally confused on how to find a qualified hypnotherapist. Here are a few basic guidelines:
First, find out if the person is a trained hypnotist or a hypnotherapist? A hypnotist is someone who knows how to hypnotize but does not necessarily know about therapy. Next, find out where the therapist has been trained. Ask if the therapist is certified and registered.
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