How Does Hypnotherapy Work For Problems?

So how does hypnotherapy work? Throughout history, hypnosis hasn’t always had the best reputation.  It certainly hasn’t been portrayed positively in most of the media but that’s been changing over the last few years as more people and celebrities are using it with good results. The only interaction that most people are likely to encounter with hypnosis is that of a stage performer. Not necessarily a negative connotation, perhaps, but one which belies hypnotism’s true power especially that of hypnosis therapy, or hypnotherapy. The negative connotations of stage hypnosis can usually be traced to acts that make people play along with something outrageous,  act as if they are naked when fully clothed or act as if they’re a furry rodent, etc., etc.

Hypnotherapy has a real and spectacular power, however, in benefiting people’s lives. Unfortunately,  hypnotherapy is often sought out as a last resort, where people  have tried everything else available and nothing seems to work, which means that hypnotherapy is often not competing directly with other treatments, but providing assistance where other treatments have failed.

So how does hypnotherapy work? The pursuit of scientific understanding of hypnosis started in the 1700s with Franz Mesmer, an Austrian physician. We owe much to Dr. Mesmer for bringing medical hypnosis to scientific attention, however he certainly didn’t get it off to a brisk start with his hypotheses about the mechanics behind the process. He believed it was a magic-like process, with energy being transferred from doctor to patient in what he called animal magnetism. This idea may have been more believable several hundred years ago when our understanding of physics and biology was much worse. Fortunately, however, despite the relative scientific ignorance of the time, the idea of animal magnetism was quickly rejected by the scientific community but this idea of a power coming from the practitioner stayed rooted in culture for a long time.

The way hypnotherapy does work, is it taps into the subconscious mind and through trust with the practitioner, it interacts in a state of suggestibility.  Suggestibility has a very large range of variability.  Some people are highly suggestible, and others aren’t at all. Many find it a strength of their character to not be suggestible, and interpret it as not being gullible. This isn’t necessarily so, however; it has more to do with trust than gullibility. While some people may like the idea of not being able to be suggested to act a certain way, it has an important consequence, in that it means that they are less likely to be helped by hypnotism or hypnosis therapy.

Fortunately, the majority of  people are able to be helped by hypnotherapy. It can treat ailments both physical and psychological. Hypnosis can create or recreate the perception of sensations, like a scent or taste, or physical feeling. Importantly, it can also reduce or eliminate sensations, which is of enormous value to those who experience chronic pain or PTSD. Because patients are so highly suggestible, it can also be used to implant and / or reinforce positive ideas. This effect is used to help people overcome addictions or lose weight.

We have been learning about the medical uses of hypnosis for hundreds of years now, and the last few decades especially have given us incredible and diverse insights. Although science still understand little about hypnotherapy and the exact processes occurring, we do understand the range of benefits and the degree to which they can help. This is an increasingly intensely studied field, and in the coming years many more discoveries will be made giving us insight into the mystery of hypnotherapy.