POUGHKEEPSIE JOURNAL

Michael Salerno
The Truth about Hypnosis

Poughkeepsie Journal/Living & Being, November 2016

Hypnosis 'a magnified concentration'

A few weeks ago, I had a reader contact me through email about my monthly hypnosis articles. She wrote, “I’ve enjoyed reading your articles over the last few months and I found the one about smoking cessation of particular interest to me. Hypnosis sounds like a wonderful idea but I’m afraid it won’t work on me. I can be pretty stubborn and I hate to give up control.”

If you’re thinking the same thing then you may be surprised to learn that we experience hypnosis on a daily basis. Have you ever found yourself completely immersed in an activity to the exclusion of everything else? That is a natural trance state. Some other common examples of this are becoming transfixed on the plot while watching a movie or working diligently and finding that the last few hours have gone by without your conscious awareness. Since the name of this monthly column is “The Truth about Hypnosis,” I thought that I would use this month’s forum to dispel many of the myths that are out there about hypnosis and well… tell the truth about hypnosis.

While the “modern era” of hypnosis dates back to the late 1700’s and the work of Austrian physician Franz Anton Mesmer, for whom the term mesmerism was coined, the ancient Chinese and Egyptian texts all mention procedures that are hypnosis by another name. Despite the fact that hypnosis has a long and storied history, it’s almost as if most of the information that the general public has about hypnosis is misinformation and it’s not what they believe it to be.

While there are a number of definitions of hypnosis that are out there, the one that I use is the bypassing of the critical factor the conscious mind, that analytical judgmental portion of us, and the establishment of acceptable and selective thinking (thoughts, ideas or concepts).

The very name hypnosis in itself is a misnomer. The word hypnosis comes from a Greek root word meaning sleep. Although it might look as though a hypnotized is asleep they are not, in fact they are from it. In hypnosis you are even more alert and aware of everything around you than you are in your “normal” day-to-day life. In hypnosis your concentration, attention and awareness are heightened while everything else around is simply off in the background or in the distance. Instead of sleep, hypnosis is simply magnified concentration.

There is a belief within the hypnosis community that all hypnosis is really self-hypnosis. We enter a form of hypnosis everyday on our own driving from one destination to another, reading books, watching moves, or simply daydreaming. A brilliant hypnotist named Dave Elman discussed this in his book Hypnotherapy, written in 1964. Elman, who spent close to three decades teaching hypnosis to medical professionals, said that there is really no such thing as a hypnotist. As a practitioner employing this tool, all you can ever do is show a client how to go over the hurdle from a normal, waking or sleeping state into a peculiar state of mind known as hypnosis. You won’t hypnotize him or her, he or she will hypnotize themselves. This means that those of using hypnosis wield no power over any client.

Elman went onto write that a more accurate term than hypnotist is a hypnotic operator. As the operator you teach the client how to achieve hypnosis then, if the client is willing, you stimulate his or her imagination, acting so to speak, as a “dream pilot.” It is pleasant to know that you can pilot anyone’s imagination, stimulating more enjoyable, more intense, and more productive thoughts and behaviors.

Finally Elman stressed that this “piloting” ability should not be confused with power. He emphasized the words, if the client is willing, because consent is imperative with hypnosis. You cannot impart a suggestion unless the client is willing to take it. At all times and in all degrees of hypnosis, the client has complete power of selectivity. He or she therefore reacts only to suggestions that are reasonable and pleasing. You may have seen demonstrations of hypnosis at a comedy club or at a fair where people performed outlandish antics; but the fact remains that those individuals chose to perform those antics. Think about those times in your life when you’ve had a crazy dream. The odd behavior that you may have witnessed on behalf of someone who is hypnotized was just like dream that was induced by the hypnotic operator. And regardless of how odd or outlandish it was, it seemed reasonable and pleasing to the hypnotized person or they would have rejected the suggestions.

I hope this month’s article clears up any questions you may have had regarding hypnosis. If I can answer any questions that you may have please feel free to contact me.

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