"How Do You Do That?" How Modern Hypnosis is Changing Minds

The differences between modern clinical, traditional and stage hypnosis.

The term hypnosis conjures up the image of swinging fob watches held by men dressed in waistcoats and sporting goatees, of audiences clucking like chickens, and proposing marriage to complete strangers. Some of the main misconceptions around hypnosis are that you will be ‘made’ to do something you would not otherwise do, that you will lose control, or that it's some form of magic, manipulation or control.

This is exactly what the stage, or entertainment style of hypnosis has banked on for decades; the hypnotist amazing crowds with their super powers of persuasion, through perpetuating these myths and stereotypes.

The history of hypnosis dates back to ancient times, with references in the Bible, the Talmud and from Egyptian artefacts, that are 3000 years old. It was explored as a healing art in Europe in the 16th century, and called ‘Mesmerism’ which eventually transformed, by Braid (1795-1860) a Scottish surgeon, into the term we now know and use, ‘hypnosis’. Braid used hypnosis for anaesthesia during surgery, as well as self-hypnosis to ease his own arthritic pain.

Still, the medical fraternity did not accept his findings, even though he is now known as the ‘Father of Modern Hypnosis’. Still, many doctors and healers throughout Europe used hypnosis, over hundreds of years, to eventually end up where it is today. The history of hypnosis is a trail that is long and winding, and not entirely clear in its path.

The reality of modern clinical hypnosis is a far way removed from the old fashioned stereotypes and, has undergone a metamorphosis into an effective therapeutic modality, used by modern doctors and therapists alike, for its non-invasive, results driven approach at relieving their patient’s presenting issues and conditions.

So what is hypnosis then?

Hypnosis is a trance state of consciousness that involves relaxed, focused awareness and an altered consciousness. These states differ from waking and sleeping states of consciousness, as the hypnotised person is still aware of sound, sight, touch, hearing and smell, but, the senses are changed. They can become heightened or diffused, and time distortions may occur. Trance can be induced by permissive suggestion, and through relaxation techniques.

There is not one ‘type’ of person who can be hypnotised, as we all exper