Bethlehem Press

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Healthy Geezer: Hypnosis: Now read this

Friday, August 9, 2019 by FRED CICETTI Special to The Press in Focus

First of two parts

Q. Can hypnosis help me to quit smoking?

Hypnosis is one of several relaxation methods said to be useful by an independent panel of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The panel found that hypnosis may be helpful for treating chronic pain, alleviated anxiety, reducing the frequency and severity of headaches, and controlling bleeding and pain during dental procedures.

Hypnosis is also promoted to change undesirable behaviors, such as smoking, alcohol dependence, and bedwetting. It is used along with other methods by some mental health professionals to help patients overcome common fears such as the fear of flying or of meeting new people.

Hypnosis achieves focused attention. It is like using a magnifying glass to focus the rays of the sun and make them more powerful. When our minds are concentrated, we are able to use them more powerfully.

Hypnosis, also known as hypnotherapy or hypnotic suggestion, has been a healing practice for thousands of years. The term comes from the Greek “hypnos,” which means sleep.

The use of trance-like states and positive suggestion was an important technique used in the Greek healing temples. Variations of those techniques were practiced in the ancient world.

Modern hypnosis can be traced to the German physician Franz Anton Mesmer, who believed that imbalances in magnetic forces in the human body were responsible for illness. Mesmer applied a therapy, which he called mesmerism, which involved the use of tranquil gestures and soothing words to relax patients and restore balance to their magnetic forces.

The evolution of Mesmer’s ideas and practices led the Scottish neurosurgeon James Braid to coin the term hypnosis in 1842. Called the “father of modern hypnotism,” Braid rejected Mesmer’s theory of magnetic forces and instead ascribed the “mesmeric trance” to a physical process that resulted from prolonged attention to an object of fixation.

Sigmund Freud, the father of psychotherapy, found hypnosis useful for treating hysteria, but later abandoned the practice after observing that he stirred up powerful emotions within his patients.

Eventually, using a state of altered awareness gained greater acceptance in conventional Western medicine. Today, hypnosis is used widely in the United States and other Western countries. People who practice hypnosis are generally licensed and are often trained in several psychological techniques.

Under hypnosis, you’re more open than usual to suggestions, and this can be used to modify your perceptions, behavior, sensations and emotions. Therapeutic hypnosis is used to improve your health and well-being and is different from “stage hypnosis” used by entertainers. Although you’re more open to suggestion during therapeutic hypnosis, your free will remains intact and you don’t lose control over your behavior.

Some people are not able to enter a state of hypnosis fully enough to make it effective. Certain qualities may mean you’re more likely to have success with hypnosis. These include the ability to be so engrossed in an activity that you aren’t aware of your environment, the capacity to recall vivid memories through the sense of smell, and the ability to recall physical sensations of past events.

Adverse reactions are rare but may include headache, dizziness, nausea, anxiety, and creation of false memories.

Next week: Hypnosis, Part Two

Have a question? Email: fred@healthygeezer.com. Order “How To Be A Healthy Geezer,” 218-page compilation of columns: healthygeezer.com

All Rights Reserved © 2019 Fred Cicetti

The Times News, Inc., and affiliates (Lehigh Valley Press) do not endorse or recommend any medical products, processes, or services or provide medical advice. The views of the columnist and column do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Lehigh Valley Press. The article content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician with questions regarding a medical condition.