Hypnosis casts its spell | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Hypnosis casts its spell

4 December, 2022

The power of the mind is being used to treat everything from pain to phobia – provoking that there is something to the age-old art after all. We are in a new century with old century problems still clinging like tentacles of an octopus. Due to modern research in psychology and related fields, there is hope.

Mind to body healing is now mainstream, and hypnosis is at the cutting edge. Hypnosis can shorten the time of behaviour modifications or in dealing with addiction. Illegal drugs such as heroin and ice are invading society posing a real threat to life. Hypnosis can deal with such a devastating situation more than rehabilitation.

As psychology is still not a popular subject at universities, people are unaware of its healing powers. The ‘Prevention’ magazine in its inaugural issue of 2000 cites many examples of how hypnotic energy healing is proliferating in developed countries.

In New York City Center for Health and Healing, a department of Beth Israel Hospital is training patients to use hypnosis for mind-body health care. At the New York Presbyterian Hospital, patients in the Heart-Assist program are given the option of various therapies, with hypnosis leading the list.

There is a classic case of a young physician who had injured his nose in a basketball game. He found it difficult to breathe because of the damaged cartilage. Being a physician, he knew that he had to go for an operation. However, he was frightened when he heard how the operation would be done.

When he approached Harold J. Wain, a medical psychologist, he learned how to achieve a deeply relaxed state during surgery. After two sessions, he became confident of facing the surgery without even conventional anaesthesia.

Wain with the permission of the surgeon guided the patient into a trance state. Then the patient felt that he was on a tropical beach, watching the boats sailing out to sea. He even felt a cool breeze on his face. While he was so engrossed in such a mental state, he did not feel any pain.


The history of hypnosis as a healing art goes back thousands of years. In Egypt and Greece, priests ministered to patients through trance. During the Middle Ages in Europe, however, those with power to induce trance were treated as witches.

In the 19th century, hypnosis was tainted with mysticism and its practitioners were referred to as charlatans or magicians. Even today, such people are found in society. In the 21st century, we no longer cling to such outdated notions. Research and experience have proved the effectiveness of hypnosis as a powerful tool in controlling pain, phobia and habits.

During a recent experiment, a group of medical students was placed under hypnosis and was told that they would be given a strong sedative. When the group was tested, everyone remained awake and alert. Sometime later, the same group of students was given a greatly reduced amount of sedative without being put in trance. They could not perform the test because they felt sleepy.

Today, doctors prescribe painkillers to control pain. In an experiment conducted at Fort Sam Brooke Army Medical Centre at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, it was found that hypnosis could dramatically reduce the amount of painkillers. Patients recovering hypnotherapy required less painkilling drugs. Similarly, we meet many people suffering from migraine-headache. In one instance, a middle-aged man suffered migraine-headache for 23 years. Painkilling drugs did not have the desired effect. With the help of hypnosis, he managed to reduce the pain considerably.

In Britain, a large number of migraine patients have been treated with hypnosis. On the other hand, hypnotherapy has helped bring relief to patients suffering from insomnia, anxiety, high blood pressure, asthma and haemophilia. As a result, in developed countries, the number of doctors using clinical hypnosis has increased. Today, many leading hospitals have an expert in hypnosis on its staff.

Hypnosis and sleep

The average man equates hypnosis with sleep. Although the Greek word ‘hypnos’ means ‘sleep,’ hypnosis is quite different. Dr Herbert Spiegel said, “On the scale of human awareness, hypnosis is at the opposite end from coma, with ordinary consciousness in the middle.

Trance is an intensely focused and concentrated ribbon of attention that screens out external stimuli. Most of us may have experienced hypnotic-like experiences when we lose ourselves in a film or absorbing novel.

In hypnosis, you do not do anything to a subject because trance ability is something inherent. It is something that lies in your ability to play the violin or use a computer. Such abilities can be sharpened through practice. As W.D. Amaradewa once said you have to do ‘sathathaabhyasa’ (constant practice) to become a violinist or a singer. The hypnotist will help you use your skills effectively. There is no magic other than that.

If you can be hypnotised easily, it is not a mental weakness. On the contrary, it is a mark of intelligence. Such people have great powers of concentration and imagination. According to experts, a large number of people can benefit from hypnosis.

Unfortunately, people are unaware of its immense benefits. According to Spiegel, hypnotism is not only a psychological but also a biological phenomenon. Recent studies show that the human brain can produce its own opiates to mitigate pain. Chemicals such as endorphins are morphine-like substances.

Verbal suggestions

Some of us have seen how experts hypnotise people. A hypnotised person usually allows verbal suggestions to be accepted. On such occasions, your brain’s logical thinking mechanism becomes dysfunctional. A wide range of phobias can be treated effectively through hypnosis. I have heard of a woman who panicked by the idea of flying managed to get over her fear through hypnosis.

Today, there are a large number of people who want to get rid of some of their bad habits such as smoking or drinking. Hypnosis can be used to control such habits. According to reports, a large number of people have given up smoking after attending hypnotic sessions. A leading practitioner said that the success rate is about 80 percent. Hypnosis can also help overweight people. After a few sessions, they will be able to lose excess weight.

Experts suggest caution in choosing a therapist because many people practise hypnosis without qualifications and experience. Therefore if you need to consult a hypnotherapist ask your family doctor or seek the help of a professional organisation.

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