Graham Caldwell investigates the intriguing world of Hypnotism

In recent years. more and more people have been turning to ‘alternative medicines’ such as homeopathy, osteopathy and acupuncture. Another form of therapy which is becoming increasingly popular is the most mysterious of them all, hypnotism. Hypnosis is a much misunderstood and maligned phenomenon, though frequently subject to research by scientists and psychologists, it remains hard to explain.

The origins ofhypnotism can be traced back to one Franz Anton Mesmer who. in the I77os linked certain behavioural patterns to magnetic influences within the body. He tried to induce this by various means. including distracting subjects by waving— creating the famous ‘mesmeric’ passes as well as the verb ‘to mesmerise‘. The actual term ‘hypnosis‘ was coined in 1841 by James Braid. a Manchester surgeon, who named it from the Greek verb, hypnos. to sleep.

In an attempt to discover more, I consulted Mr Robert Wilson DAAH (Diploma Association of Applied Hypnotics). Mr Wilson who trained in both physiotherapy and ‘a person’s mind must be


psychology is a Consultant Hypnotherapist. ‘People have some strange misconceptions about hypnotism,’ he told me. ‘For instance they feel it is some means by which someone can control a person’s mind and make them do things that they would not normally do and. of course, this is not the case. It is totally impossible to make a person do anything which they do not want to do.’

The only experience which most people have of hypnotism is from stage performers who give a show

specifically designed to entertain and further mystify the audience. Mr

Wilson feels that they exploit our lack of knowledge about the subject. ‘People like to be entertained and mystified and ifthey can get a laugh great. People who come to a Hypnotherapist do so because they have problems and they want to be helped. They don’t want to he laughed at or embarrassed. ‘All serious hypnotists would like to see such performances banned. When a person is under hypnosis, their mind is at its most receptive and thoughtless tampering can have serious and longlasting effects. At all times a person‘s mind must be respected!

Mr Wilson explains hypnosis as a complete state of relaxation, safety and mental receptivity. When a person is in this state his mind is most open to suggestion. ‘Provided these suggestions are for the benefit of the person involved,’ stressed Mr Wilson. ‘Ifyou suggest something obnoxious, then that person would come back to a state of awareness.‘

Most Hypnotherapists have gone through some sort of psychological training or social work and see

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themselves more as psychologists than anything else. ‘The induction of Hypnotism is one of the easiest parts,’ said Mr Wilson, ‘it's relatively easy to induce hypnosis by intonation and tone of voice. Apparently there is no such thing as a person who cannot be hypnotised with the exception of inebriates and imbeciles, whose minds are not co-ordinated enough to respond to It.

More and more people are now turning to alternative types of treatment and Mr Wilson, in fact, has most of his clients referred to him by medical practitioners. He has dealt with ‘practically every sphere of human activity.’ Hypnotherapy is especially effective in treating compulsive behaviour such as smoking, over-eating and phobias.

‘It’s relatively easy to induce hypnosis’

‘It‘s very effective,’ said Mr Wilson, ‘if a person wants to do these things it gives them positive support; it can be of real and lasting benefit. Hypnotism cannot help with anything which is outside of a person’s control.’

Mr Wilson is annoyed at how misrepresented and misunderstood Hypnotism is. Its mystic reputation undeserved, hypnotism is a very comfortable thing and should be seen as such. As Mr Wilson sums up: ‘If a person feels safe and everything around them is conducive to that tranquil atmosphere, then that person is in a state of Hypnotism.’



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