What does hypnosis feel like?

The experience of hypnosis not only varies from person to person but even for each individual from session to session. It is as a unique combination of deep physical relaxation and heightened awareness. Many describe the soothing weight of relaxation in their arms or legs, or they may feel as though they are sinking into the surface beneath them. Others describe sensations of floating.

As clients progress from session to session, along with home session reinforcement, they further develop increased hypnotic skill and ability. Some even report a sensation of complete mind-body separation, as though their physical presence is no longer part of the equation.

Individuals also frequently experience profound clarity or resolution with problems that previously were complex and overwhelming. It is also very common for clients to find solutions to problems which were unrelated to the problem being addressed.

Most hear and remember everything that is said to them during a session, although on occasion, some may dip so deeply into subconscious thought that they may not consciously hear or recall segments of the session. This is not a problem because the subconscious mind absorbs everything of value.

For those who happen to doze off during a session, the therapeutic benefits are still absorbed. The subconscious mind is open and active when hypnotized and also when sleeping. When we sleep, the conscious mind sleeps. During hypnosis, the conscious mind is just less active, quietly monitoring things from the background.

A majority of my clients with demanding schedules find that bedtime is the only available time they have to listen to their home reinforcement sessions. The therapeutic value of the session is still absorbed but the client just doesn’t enjoy the ride as much. In general, the best time of day to listen is in the morning. After a full night’s sleep, you will be more engaged with the session, and you will also start your day with a burst of positive energy, clarity, and enthusiasm.

Hypnosis also offers dramatic freedom from lingering problems. For example, in my office there is a small sofa as well as a recliner. When a client comes in for their initial office visit they usually sit on the sofa, as it is closer to the entrance. This is when they share the details of their problem. The pre-talk, as it is commonly described, is not only helpful to the practitioner but it also gives the client the opportunity to offload their concerns, which helps them relax more easily.

Usually after 15-30 minutes I have gathered all the necessary information and when the client appears to be comfortable, I ask them to move over to the recliner, where I then begin the hypnosis session. After the session, I always ask if they feel disconnected from the problems they described when they were sitting on the couch. The answer is consistently positive. Then I ask them if the problems are anywhere in the room, and 75% say no.

They recall the pre-session conversation but after the hypnosis session, they feel separated from the problem. The overwhelming majority of first-visit clients leave with a new positive perspective regarding their goal. If they never followed up with another session, that new perspective would fade away, and they would revert right back to the problem patterns which brought them to see me in the first place. It is with routine reinforcement that this feeling of empowerment transitions from a concept to lasting reality.

By: Paul Gustafson RN CH

Hypnosis anesthesia before ether

While  James Braid was making quantum leaps with hypnosis, another Scottish doctor, Dr. James Esdaile, was experimenting and gaining permanent recognition in the history of hypnosis. Stationed in  Hoogly, India, James Esdaile used hypnosis in surgery with astounding  results; and even today many would say that Dr. Esdaile’s work with  applied hypnosis almost borders on the fantastic.

James Esdaile  submitted reports at the end of 1846 indicating that Dr. Esdaile had  performed several thousand minor operations and about 300 major  ones, including 19 amputations, all painlessly.

Due mostly to  the removal of post-operative shock through hypnosis, James Esdaile cut the  50% mortality rate of that time down to less than 8%! (One book  even reported less than 5%.) The Medical Association actually  accepted Esdaile’s report, and Dr. Esdaile was assigned to the Calcutta  hospital to continue “mesmeristic” operations. (more)

By: Paul Gustafson

Bringing hypnosis into 20th century

Milton Hyland Erickson, (5 December 1901 in Aurum, Nevada – 25 March 1980 in Phoenix, Arizona) was an American psychiatrist specializing in medical hypnosis and family therapy.

He was founding president of the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis and a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychopathological Association.

He is noted for his approach to the unconscious mind as creative and solution-generating. He is also noted for influencing brief therapy, strategic family therapy, family systems therapy, solution focused brief therapy, and neuro-linguistic programming. (more)

By: Paul Gustafson

Fascinating hypnosis history

Descriptions of the hypnotic process going back 6000 years. During the past 200 years, hypnosis became more formalized but had to battle for mainstream acceptance against organized religion and medical science.

Here is a time line listing of some of the most significant leader in the field involved in the advancement of hypnosis as a legitimate adjunct modality:

Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) The Austrian physician is commonly referred to as the father of Hypnosis. His technique at the time was called animal magnetism which he claimed involved the individual’s psychic and electromagnetic energies.

Even though his work was shunned by the medical community at the time, it was Mesmer who was responsible for spreading the word of the soon to be called hypnosis to the newly settled United States. Now you know where the term ‘to become mesmerized’ originated.

In 1784 the French Academy of Sciences led by Benjamin Franklin were commissioned to evaluate Mesmer. They concluded that he was not the one doing the healing but that his patients were self-healing. They said that the patient’s imagination was enhanced with Mesmer’s technique empowering them to become completely self-healed.

On the surface it seemed that Mesmer was labeled a failure. Actually, the commission proved what we have all come to learn about the true nature of hypnosis; all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. As a hypnotist, I not only teach individuals to independently descend to a powerful level of thought but I also supply them with positive words, images and metaphors.

The result is new patterns, values and beliefs supporting the client’s goals. True power always resides within the client; the hypnotist is merely the facilitator.

James Braid (1795-1860) was an English physician who coined the name ‘hypnosis’ which is a Greek derivative for sleep. Braid soon realized that hypnosis was not sleep at all and unsuccessfully tried to change the name to ‘monoeidism’.

James EsDaile (1805-1859) was the surgeon who successfully performed 345 major operations using only hypnosis as the anesthetic. Soon after his dramatic research was published ether was discovered replacing the need for hypno-anesthesia.

Jean Martin Charcot (1825 –1893) was a French neurologist who labeled the three stages of hypnosis as lethargy, catalepsy and somnambulism.

Pierre Janet (1845-1947) was a French neurologist who advanced the use of hypnosis for the therapeutic value of relaxation and healing. He was in the minority of those who used hypnosis during the growing popularity of psychoanalytic therapy.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) claimed to not prefer hypnosis because he thought he couldn’t hypnotize patients deep enough but it was also commonly known that he was just not that good at it. Freud’s shunning of hypnosis slowed its acceptance by the medical community.

Milton Erickson (1932-1974) was an Arizona psychiatrist who is commonly referred to as the father of modern hypnosis. He was the master of indirect hypnotic suggestion. He played a significant role in the 1958 acceptance of hypnosis by the American Medical Association.

By: Paul Gustafson RN CH

It’s okay to call it hypnosis

I get frustrated when people dance around descriptions of imagery without incorporating hypnosis into the dialog. This morning I saw an article on a popular weight loss website teaching the reader to visualize their weight loss without mentioning the “H” word.

It was a well written piece but there was no specific direction that would enable one to actually enter the depth of meditative thought (hypnosis) necessary to initiate substantive positive change. Instead, there was nebulous verbiage on how to take calming breaths and quietly be with the notion of weighing less.

I ask all of my clients if they have any experience with meditation, and those who do, usually describe frustration and failure to achieve the desired results. This frustration is rapidly relieved when they are shown how to take control of their thoughts with self-hypnosis.

4 steps to meditative bliss

Step 1: Take 5 deep breaths with the intention of stimulating the flow of relaxing endorphins. Why not take advantage of how the body works to get the relaxation ball rolling? Smokers think smoking relaxes them but is really because of the deep breaths they take while smoking that does the job.

Step 2: Once the endorphins initiate the shift into relaxation it is time to focus within for the purpose of entering meditative thought. The fastest, easiest way to do this is to just pay attention to the process of each breath. By paying attention to how the chest expands and contracts you force yourself to focus within thus begins your journey into self-hypnotic bliss.

Step 3: This where it gets good. With the subconscious now activated we can begin imagining, fantasizing or pretending we can inhale pure relaxing comfort with each breath. Intend for this to happen. Feel it before you feel it. This works for two reasons. 1) We all like the feeling of deep relaxation; 2) The subconscious can easily create the sensation with just a little practice.

Once you feel the shift into relaxation deepen, begin to imagine the accumulation of relaxation. If every breath carries in more and more it makes perfect sense that it will quickly fill you up, so get to the business of making it happen. You will be pleasantly surprised how deeply relaxed you will become.

Step 4: If you can pretend that you can inhale the good stuff, then pretend you can exhale and release the rest. Spend a few moments anticipating letting go of any and all limitations, frustrations or distractions. Once you get into the flow of pure 100 proof hypnotic comfort, then you can start visualizing yourself weighing less, being less stressed, or just being happier with your life.

By: Paul Gustafson RN CH