What Is Hypnosis?

Published: 2021-09-15 02:20:10
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What is Hypnosis?
Hypnos was the Greek god of sleep and his name gives us the words 'hypnosis' (a particular mental state) 'hypnotism' and 'hypnotherapy' (related processes). It also gives us the familiar pharmacological term 'hypnotic' for a drug used to induce sleep.
Hypnosis is "a special psychological state with certain physiological attributes, resembling sleep only superficially and marked by a functioning of the individual at a level of awareness other than the ordinary conscious state." One theory suggests that hypnosis is a mental state (Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004), while another theory links hypnosis to imaginative role-enactment.
Hypnosis is in fact, a communication between the conscious and subconscious mind. It is a natural state of mind experienced as a trance. How hypnosis manifests itself can be very different from one individual to another.

Hypnotic states of consciousness are said to be the many ways we attempt to understand ourselves and the world around us.
Hypnosis was/is used as a purpose of healing and is part of almost every culture. The first recordings were some 5000 years ago in ancient Egypt - Saqqara. Here laid an important healing centre where ailing persons were led to the temple of sleep, a journey in search of a healing from the gods. This involved the ingestion of herbs, reciting hours of chants/prayers. The individual was then led to this special chamber to sleep and await a dream; that would hopefully lead to a cure.
This practice continued to be used and spread to Greece, where special sleep temples were built in dedication to the god of healing 'Asclepius'. These persons seeking a cure, where led to these chambers to undergo a proper ritual and dream. However, these chambers were filled with snakes - a symbol of the god.
There were also Egyptian paintings drawn on Papyrus in which it is believed that people were performing Hypnosis. To the contrary, there are lots of helpful hypnosis formulas and techniques in Egyptian medical text. However, in those days it was known as 'Shamanism' and although both involve entering a relaxed state of mind or consciousness and the methods were very different. In Shamanism the practitioner enters a trance-like state during the ritual, whereas in hypnosis the practitioner guides the patient into a trance like state, using a relaxation technique.
In the early decades of the 19th century Franz Anton Mesmer, born in 1734, was known as the "Grandfather of Hypnosis". Mesmer was an Austrian doctor who used magnets and the notion of transferring 'cosmic fluid' in order to cure illness. Mesmer believed that he could cure people of sickness and disease without medicine or surgery.
The earliest definition of hypnosis was given by Braid, who termed the word "hypnotism" as an abbreviation for "neuro-hypnotism", or nervous sleep, which he opposed to normal sleep, and defined as: "a peculiar condition of the nervous system, induced by a fixed and abstracted attention of the mental and visual eye, on one object, not of an exciting nature." Braid J (1843).
The Society for Psychological Hypnosis published the following formal definition:

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