When asked to say what words in the English Language language one would most associate with the occupation of Doctor, the general sort of replies would be; clever, professional, helpful, trained etc, a Salesman would rate; glib, aggressive, pushing, smart etc., and a Tycoon would fare no worse than; ruthless, successful, power etc.,but now try the word, Hypnotist, and immediately; charlatan, faker, black magic etc. spring to mind.
A maligned science Hypnosis has certainly achieved more than its share of notoriety. Since 1770,when Franz Anton Mesmer, whose name lives on in the English as mesmerism was first decried by traditional medicine, a long succession of other supposed charlatans have continued to use Hypnosis to transform the lives of countless thousands of sufferers through the ages.
There is nothing magical about Hypnosis at all, so it follows that there can be nothing magical about any cure or relief it helps create – in fact Hypnosis is a perfectly natural phenomena, and is as much one of the senses, as are seeing or hearing.
Anyone who has experienced the Hypnotic state at first hand, will most likely say: “it didn’t work for me, I never went under”. In fact the state closely resembles our normal awareness, at one with a feeling of calm lethargic relaxation, and it is inconceivable that anyone could come to harm as a result of it. Why then the tarnished image? The answer must of course lie ‘in ignorance.
In olden days, anything not understood was feared, and despite our present day enlightenment, old myths die hard.
It has to be appreciated that Hypnosis is not a treatment in itself, but is only an aid to other therapy, and whereas it is very pleasant and relaxing to enter the Hypnotic state for a while, merely to do so serves no lasting purpose. It is what takes place when experiencing the state that matters, and this is probably the biggest single reason for any objection to it.
A Good Hypnotist is not necessarily a good therapist, and one sometimes hears people say: “I went to a Hypnotist but “it didnt’s work for me”. If there is to be benefit to the person, then the Hypnotist needs to have the skill of a general practitioner, the knowledge of a psychoanalyst, the forebearance of a clergyman, the intuition of a detective and a moral ethic of the highest order. As he can shape and improve the whole lives of those he treats he must be free himself from any ‘Hang-ups’ which may affect his own judgement.
To say that such men, or women,do not grow on trees is to understate the obvious.
Indeed, it is regrettable, but true, that Hypnotherapy can attract to its ranks, those who themselves need help,and unknowingly are subconsciously seeking a relief from inner anxiety.
Despite all these apparently unsurmountable obstacles, Hypnosis and Therapies making use of it, have much to offer humanity, and at a time when ‘modern medicine is fast becoming the greatest single threat to the Nation’s health’ it is vital that it should be afforded the respectability it so rightly deserves. Frailties of human nature, and the odd crank attracting bizarre publicity, should not stand in the way of its development any more than the occasional misconduct of a Doctor halts the progress of medicine.
There are two distinct and separate clinical uses for Hypnosis in Theraputic terms. One is to use the persons enhanced awareness as a tool for the power of suggestion; and suggestion in humans is a very powerful tool indeed. The other is to use the state of Hypnosis to aid recall of past events.
It was discovered by Sigmund Freud and Joseph Breuer, some three quarters of a century ago, that where a past event had later created a symptom in the person concerned – for instance, where a child locked under the stairs becomes claustrophobic in later life – then, merely to recall that lost memory, and to speak of it out loud, immediately and permanently relieves the symptom that had been created, the claustrophobia disappears.
The explanation of why this should be so requires detailed knowledge of the subconscious and is not explainable in lay terms, however, sufficient to say that it is so and that these two great men of yesteryear coined the word CATHARSIS to describe the effect.
The difference between Hypnotherapy, Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis hinges upon different uses of the hypnotic state and it would be fair to say that most Practitioners use the name Hypnotherapy because it has at least some degree of public acceptance. The name is beginning to cover a number of therapies, just as the words Medical Profession to embrace Drug Therapy, Surgery and traditional Psychology and Psychiatry. The skill of the Hypnotherapist comes in his combining the effective mix of suggestion/therapy cathartic analysis to make the appropriate treatment for each individual.
The list of nervous disorders and illnesses which will yield to skillful therapy is almost endless and contains many problems now known to be psychogenic but which were always assumed previously as physical in origin. Anyone contemplating therapy would be well advised to check the bonafides of the Therapist concerned – at least to the extent of making sure that he has Professional Indemnity insurance, and preferably membership of a organised Professional Body, not some obscure and sham society or institute which abound like plague.
Hypnosis is not a party game or the pursuit of cranks and really has no place in the theatre an instrument for ridicule. It is a power that exists in man for a purpose and that purpose is for the good of mankind – as such is should be used.