Hypnosis in the definition is an altered state of human consciousness where a person is induced into a trance by a human behavior expert who can be referred to as a hypnotherapist or a hypnotist. Hypnosis can be conducted on one person or a group of people at once. The deviation of consciousness can be measured on an EEG reading of the human brain. At this state of semi-consciousness, the subject is vulnerable to verbal influence and open to suggestions.
In some cases, self-hypnosis (auto-hypnosis) can also be administered on oneself. The difference between both forms of hypnosis is that one requires a professional to induce trance while the auto-hypnosis is self-induced by a person who understands hypnosis on a professional level.
It is evident that hypnosis has successfully been used countless times in the treatment of addiction and other psychological problems. The process of inducing hypnosis with psychotherapy is known as hypnotherapy. The process is delicately complex and is only effective when conducted by a trained/licensed therapist on an informed and co-operative client that consents to the procedure.
Hypnosis is effective due to the capacity of the mind to control the body when subjected to certain conditions.
Numerous studies in the past have shown that hypnotism was more effective than placebos and other therapy techniques on individuals with behavioral addiction and substance use disorder. In some cases, it was also very effective for chronic pain.
Hypnosis has been a part of many cultures in ancient times. The first significant evidence that supports the efficacy of hypnosis in the treatment of neurological problems was introduced in the 18th century by Franz Anton Mesmer.
The American Medical Association recognized the efficacy in the 1950s when a physician, Milton H. Erickson integrated the technique into a regimen for the treatment of intense pain from damaged nerves.
Hypnosis is so complex that in the state of trance an individual may be able to recall a distant memory from childhood or the occurrence of a traumatic event that may have contributed to the person’s state. The results are similar to those of hallucinogen use or meditation. The mind, in trance, can be influenced to become anything, act a certain way, remember anything, or do something.
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What does Hypnotherapy Feel Like?
When an individual is placed in a state of trance, he or she becomes unaware of what may be happening around them. The focus of the patient is usually solely on the voice of the therapist and on deep memories and various aspects of past experiences. This inner search is automated and often evokes thoughts, emotions, imaginations, and physical sensations that help them to relax.
The process of hypnotherapy can be categorized into three phases; the absorption, dissociation, and the suggestibility.
The initial stage, absorption, can be likened to reading a book. As you become more engrossed in the story you may lose track of time and all consciousness of your physical environment dissipate as you are drawn into the book. In the absorption stage, the patient develops a deep mental focus in their perception and begins to imagine it, filtering through different memories.
The next phase is the dissociative one, where the patient is able to sieve through distractions and nuances to focus on a particular memory while still subjected to the influence of the hypnotist. At this stage, the hypnotist may seem to have some form of control over the feelings and actions of the patient.
In the suggestibility phase, the hypnotist may ask the patient to try certain actions like raise their arm or nod their head; this action confirms consciousness and will to proceed to deeper energy channeling.
It has so far been established that hypnotherapy helps with all forms of addiction and severe pains. However, the mechanism is yet to be understood fully.
How Does Hypnotherapy Help with Addiction?
Addiction on its own is a form of mental disorder that affects the normal functions of the brain by altering chemical compositions. The presence of certain chemicals in the brain prompts the brain to act in a certain way and when there is a deficit supply of these chemicals that the brain has adjusted to, returning to regular functions becomes challenging.
Hartland, a scientist, made mention of two kinds of addiction:
Neurosis: the addiction experienced by people who try to tackle their anxiety and other mental and physical dysfunctions with drugs and the kind of addiction where people sort the drugs as a craving, specifically for the euphoria it creates.
So, how does hypnotherapy actually help with addiction? When a patient is under hypnotic trance they become more open to the suggestions made by the therapist. They find themselves in a state of compliance and become more susceptible to the verbal influence of the psychotherapist. Some individuals, under a trance, become more imaginative; recalling a distant past and excavating underlying issues that may have led to their addiction, this allows them to freely share, in a relaxed state, and then dismiss all forms of negativity that may have contributed to their condition.
The state of trance gives the patient a different perspective on their own behavior. It provides clarity on the dynamics of their addiction and the potential harm that it could cause in both the long and short term. The therapist helps the patient arrive at the most appropriate answer to their problem; that is quitting the addiction. To the patient, quitting the addiction becomes an achievable priority.
Even though hypnosis has been found to be effective for drug addiction, individuals may respond differently to the treatment. While some individuals may develop the capacity and enthusiasm to break out of their addiction, some other individuals may not experience any significant change.
There were also controversies on whether hypnosis is a safe practice, especially as a medical procedure. Hypnosis is completely safe, particularly when carried out by a trained hypnotherapist. The treatment works by strengthening the will power of the patient through a rewiring process during the trance. It influences feelings, behavioral patterns.
What Hypnotherapy is Not
There is a misconception that hypnosis or hypnotherapy is some form of magical act that ensnares the senses, and may likely erase the addiction to drugs in a single session. This is false. Hypnotherapy in summary unlocks human potential and motivates the affected individual to overcome the addiction on their own.
Hypnotherapy helps to address a lot of physical and mental health problems. Some of these problems may either relate to addiction or some form of trauma. One thing to note is that hypnosis is not a means to instantly fix a mental health problem.
Will Hypnosis Change One’s Behavior
Hypnosis can make an individual perceive addiction differently and can give them a positive attitude towards change, however, this largely depends on the nature of the addiction, triggers, and history. When a person returns home to a relationship, job, or living conditions that are a significant reason for his or her addiction, it is going to be difficult to overcome these challenges while immersed in these physical conditions.
The best way to heal from addiction is to discover underlying problems through psychotherapy and take the time to extract one’s self from everything that may trigger their addictions in the long run.