Is Self-Hypnosis Possible, and is It Safe?
The term “Hypnosis” was (surprisingly advanced thinking at the time) coined by a Scottish Medical Doctor and Surgeon, Dr James Braid around 1841. He is reported as having experimented with his hypnosis approach, helping other people with their various ailments for some 2 years before being daring enough to try it on himself!
The story is that he apparently suffered from the excruciating pains of Rheumatic attacks. In fact, the pain he wrote, was so intense that he could not sleep for as much as 3 successive nights.
He described his agony thus: “I could neither turn my head, lift my arm, or even draw a breath without suffering extreme pain”.
Thus it was that he was catapulted into using the hypnosis therapy he had recently pioneered, on himself. This was the first recorded instance of “Self-Hypnosis” in September 1844. Asking two close friends to hold a watching brief whilst he proceeded into the self-induced hypnotic state, whilst relaxed on a couch. He had asked them to awaken him at a pre-determined time, and after awakening from this state, he declared himself to be quite free from the ravages of the pain he had been subjected to for some time. He stated that he experienced a fair amount of stiffness.
Significantly, according to his statements at the time, he did experience a slight return of the pain, but after another self-hypnosis session, the pain was successfully countered, and he reported 6 years later that it had still not recurred.
The idea and practice faded somewhat into the background, until some 70 years later, in 1913, Émile Coué, a French Psychologist and Pharmacist, again took up the cudgels, initially for hypnotism, but later for Auto-Suggestion. He became well-known for the phrase (in French) “Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.” He published a book called “Self-Mastery through Conscious Auto-Suggestion” - and was responsible for influencing the thinking of famous motivational leaders like Norman Vincent Peale and Clement W. Stone.
From there, the acceptance of self-Hypnosis was widely spurned by the general scientific community for a long time, until Professor Clark Hull – Professor of Yale University's Psychology Department, enabled the publishing of an article on “autotypes” by one Andrew Salter in the esteemed “Journal of General Psychology” in 1941. That was the breakthrough that was needed, and indeed was a seminal event leading toward the scientific acceptance of the idea of Self-Hypnosis.
Indeed, Prof Hull has been credited with having begun the modern study of the subject of hypnosis. What is interesting is that the studies which followed, emphatically proved that hypnosis has no connection with sleep. What was most striking though, is that he demonstrated that self-Hypnosis effectively reduced pain, and contributed to the enhancement of memory, and general recall of past events. This was to prove extremely useful in the field of regression therapy.
In other work undertaken by Émile Coué, in his role of pharmacist, he noticed that in certain cases he could significantly increase the efficacy of a given medication, by just, sincerely, praising it's effectiveness to a patient. This observation, he noted, was in direct contrast to the level of improvement when compared to patients to who he had said nothing. These findings spoke volumes about the use of the concept of hypnosis (auto-suggestion) and the concomitant power of the human imagination.
Another one of his significant findings was that subjects could not be hypnotized against their free will. Perhaps more importantly, the effects of the hypnosis waned when the subjects regained consciousness. This caused him to move away from hypnotism as such, toward what he termed Auto-Suggestion, which, as is accepted today, just a form of self-Hypnosis.
Coué's approach relied on the tenet that: “any idea which continuously occupied our thoughts, tends to become ingrained, and turn into reality” - within the realms of possibility of course, meaning that if we have no hands, the belief that they will be returned is just not feasible.
It became evident that the main stumbling block to the ideas surrounding Auto-Suggestion was in fact a person's own willpower. This meant that for a suggestion to work in real life, the “idea” must be consciously accepted by the subject.
Unfortunately, in real life, where a person is undergoing a great deal of internal conflict, id being able to sleep is a problem, it is likely that they will tend to remain awake. The same argument can be applied to the idea of being able to use hypnosis to give up smoking.
What many people do not seem to realize about hypnosis, is that it is nowhere near to being in a somnambulistic (sleep walking) state – in fact, the contrary is true – hypnosis induces a HEIGHTENED state of awareness! It works because the conscious mind is being kept occupied by just one thought, and this can be traced to a person's sense of belief and expectancy.
ALL hypnosis, by projection therefore, is really just self-Hypnosis
So, all in all, the roots of both modern-day hypnosis and self-Hypnosis were entrenched many years ago. It is therefore, tried, tested, and proven to work. Case closed.
In spite of what many people tend to believe, hypnosis, self-Hypnosis, is a SKILL anyone can learn. Moreover, hypnosis is a totally harmless state, indeed a natural extension of our daily lives.
Self-Hypnosis is a completely safe, natural, everyday phenomenon, and is actually experienced by everyone in one way or another. No special skill or knowledge is required in order to bring the practise of self-Hypnosis into one's daily routine. It is a simple, and indeed natural extension of a very basic relaxation procedure.
For example, if one lies down on a couch, and then relaxes the body progressively, from top to toe, then slowly counts down from 10 to zero, equating each count with proceeding down one step of a staircase, into deeper relaxation and calm, then that is ALL that is required to advance the hypnotic state.
At this point, the self-Hypnosis session proceeds by giving yourself POSITIVE suggestions which are targeted at the subconscious mind. Say, for example, your concern is that you are undergoing some stress at work, your suggestions can be directed toward your own stress coping skills: “I am calm, and in charge of my emotions, in spite of what happens around me at work.” - Even this simple statement will help you a lot. There are, of course, a MULTITUDE of other areas of your life that can be changed for the better - so....TRY IT - you will not be sorry!
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Credits: Wikipedia Commons