Until 1978, I didn’t believe hypnosis was valid. I guess I was trying to be scientific in my psychology field, and it was difficult to explain why hypnosis worked—if it did. I thought it was a bunch of hooey; many folks feel the same way.
However, a student suggested we should take a six-week hypnosis training course. I said, “Why not?” Our practice, homework assignment was hypnotizing at least one person a week. I was teaching college and 18-25-year-olds are open-minded, so I was hypnotizing 5-10 per week. The results were stunning which surprised both my students and me. I became a believer.
Theories abound, but I don’t know which theory is correct. Mesmer popularized what he called animal magnetism in the 1700s. Researchers, one was Benjamin Franklin, proved Mesmer’s theory wrong. Yes, Mesmer’s theory was wrong, but he got results. He helped many people but did a few unethical things that plunged him into trouble. So, theory and ethics ruined him. James Baird popularized the term hypnosis from the word “Hypnos” meaning sleep. When hypnotized, you’re not asleep, but you look like you are as you relax to the nth degree.
I have a theory why hypnosis works, but I don’t know if it’s correct. Do patients care much about a theory? I also have a hypothesis why my “migraine with aura” treatment works, too, but I could be miles off. “Big deal,” my clients say. “Who cares about your hypothesis? It works.”
Here’s my theory on hypnosis. I believe when a person is in a “trance,” it shifts the person’s brain activity more to the right brain. The left is our logical brain; the right brain is our emotional side. Thus, when a person wants to overcome chewing her nails, left brain thinking doesn’t work too well. She’s told herself for years not to chew them, but that didn’t work. Why is it difficult for the left side? Because the emotional, right side dominates in such instances. Under hypnosis, the hypnotist says you won’t want to chew your nails anymore. If you bring your fingers to your mouth, you’ll stop and feel good you have such fantastic self-control. So, I think our right brain is more active under hypnosis. And, it believes the suggestions. Easy peasy.
The left brain can’t imagine a beautiful scene whether a mountain range or the ocean waves wafting in, like the right side can. That right, imaginative side can create the smell of the trees and hear the birds singing. It hears the waves rolling in, the seagulls calling, and can smell the salt air. Oh, yes. People can picture either one of these with the left brain, but the right brain experience is vivid when hypnotized. It’s difficult to believe until you experience hypnosis. Perhaps you’ve had vivid dreams? It’s similar—the brain can perform such acts.
See other blurbs about hypnosis for how a person can self-hypnotize and check out problems I’ve worked with. (Link to “Need motivation to try hypnosis?) Keep an open mind.
To learn about the history of hypnosis, see the following.
Check out Daryl Worthington’s article: http://www.newhistorian.com/hypnotic-therapy-pioneer-mesmer-dies-fraud/6058/
To learn why Mesmer lost credibility, check out: http://www.doctorsreview.com/history/aug05-history/ He made a few slips apart from a weird theory.
And, you can Google hypnotism.
See my review of Rick Smith’s book, How to Master Self-Hypnosis in a Weekend on this Website.