What Exactly Is Hypnosis?
In the mid to late 1700's, a doctor named Franz Mesmer, amid a number of healing experiments, ended up performing holistic healing on his patients whereby he would waive his hands just above the body in an attempt to psychically realign invisible energies. Other doctors found no evidence in what he "did" as being effective. They did, however, find that what he "said" to them during the process as being extremely effective.
The neighboring doctors concluded that what brought about a cure to many illnesses was their trust in the doctor and their belief that they would leave the doctor's office cured of their illnesses. This is the very foundation that psychiatry, psychology and hypnotherapy was built on.
During the process, he gave them suggestions; to FOCUS on one spot, their affected area, and to PICTURE it clearly in their mind of the affected area healing. Together, this brought about many cures.
As I've mentioned on my home page, by focusing on one spot in your body, your eyelids as well as your body become very relaxed, very sleepy. And this sends you into a very deep daydreaming state of mind. Doctor Mesmer's patients named this daydreaming state of mind as in being MESMERIZED, named after the good doctor.
Around 75 years later, around the mid 1800's, another doctor, James Braid, used Doctor Mesmer's "visualization" techniques on himself many times in order to heal himself of various illnesses.
He noticed that as he focused on the area needing healing and nothing else that he would become very relaxed, very sleepy, just as I've explained earlier.
Having a knowledge of Greek, he renamed the word Mesmerized to Hypnotized because the word "ypnos" is the Greek word for sleep. And this is where all the problems began because he wasn't asleep, just relaxed.
Once Doctor Braid realized this, he tried to change the word hypnotized back to mesmerized, but it was too late. The new word had become so familiar to everyone that he abandoned his efforts.
In the following days of superstition, gullibility and naivety, the movie industry created movies showing a Svengali putting a woman to sleep and taking over her mind and calling it hypnotized. They connected a new popular word they couldn't properly interpret with a process that doesn't exist and the gullible public ran with it.
And that vision still exists today. Thanks to the movie industry and the thousands of movies that followed, there will always be people who feel the word hypnotism is mind control, witchcraft, voodoo, against their religion and is used only on the weak minded. The exact opposite of what it really is.
So let's forget the word hypnotized and go back to the word mesmerized. Being mesmerized is being able to focus on one spot as I've explained earlier, to the point where the surrounding things have become blurry, out of focus. Or by focusing on a book, a TV show or even the sound of someone's voice, to the point where you can block out the surrounding things that could easily distract you. When you have done so, your body relaxes and together, you have entered a "hypnotic state of mind."
You were "captivated" by that book or by the sound of someone's voice. You were "mesmerized" by that person's beauty. He has a very "hypnotic" voice. See? They all mean the same thing.
Yoga instructors get you into this state of mind by focusing only on your breathing and poses.
Meditators get into this state of mind by focusing only on one object in the room, on one sound or on one particular thought.
Professional sports players have this state of focus, but they call it being "in the zone." Their coach was the guide that got them to put themselves in that zone. He got them to focus on the job at hand, and most importantly, to not allow the problems at home to distract them in order for them to optimize their talents. Does that make the coach a svengali? Did he control their minds? Is his process against anyone's religion? Are his players weak minded?
And guess what? Regardless of what the coach tells his players, it's ultimately up to each player to accept what the coach tells them and to run with it or to ignore him and to also focus on the problems at home. If the players accept what the coach is telling them, then they'll do better at the game.
A hypnotist guides you into that zone, that state of focus, at which point he then gives you suggestions as to how you should act or feel, but, just like the sports players, it is ultimately up to you if you really want to be better.