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Hypnosis

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The

Encarta Encyclopedia defines hypnosis as,"altered state of consciousness and

heightened responsiveness to suggestion; it may be induced by normal persons

by a variety of methods and has been used occasionally in medical and psychiatric

treatment. Most frequently brought about through actions of an operator, or

"hypnotist", who engages the attention of a subject and assigns certain tasks

to him or her while uttering monotonous, repetitive verbal commands; such tasks

may include muscle relaxation, eye fixation, and arm leviation. Hypnosis also

may be self-induced, by trained relaxation, concentration on one's own breathing,

or by a variety of monotonous practices and rituals that are found in many

mystical, philosophical, and religious systems." Another generally reliable

source Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary defines it as,"a sleep

like condition psychically induced, usually by another person, in which the

subject loses consciousness but responds, with certain limitations, to the

suggest

ions of the hypnotist." As I stated earlier, these two sources are

very reputed and the general population believes that they are correct. Yet,

however often they may be correct, in this case they are not, or at least not

completely. Not according to the scientific community at least. My sources

for this statement are The World Book Encyclopedia, The Wizard from Vienna:

Franz Anton Mesmer, Applied Hypnosis: An Overview, American Medical Journal,

and Hypnosis: Is It For You? Although they state it in different ways they

all basically agree that nobody can give a very accurate definition or description

of hypnosis, or hypnosis. Although some may get the definition partly correct,

the chances of doing so completely are very, very low. So although I will

probably not be able to give a totally accurate account of hypnosis and its

workings, I will try.

Although evidence suggests that hypnosis has been

practiced in some form or another for several thousand years, such as in coal

walking, the earliest recorded history of hypnosis begins in 1734. It begins

with a man named Franz Anton Mesmer. Although he was eventually disavowed

by the scientific community because of his unorthodox methods that made him

seem more of a mysticist that a scientist, he is generally known as the father

of hypnotism. Mesmer called his methods Mesmerism, thus the word mesmerize,

but the name didn't stick, it later changed to hypnosis, its name being derived

from Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep. He believed that hypnosis was reached

by using a person's "animal magnetism". He used "mesmerism" to cure illness.

In

1795 an English physician named James Braid, who was originally opposed to

Mesmer's methods became interested. He believed that cures were not due to

animal magnetism however, but the power of suggestion. This was the generally

accepted opinion of the scientific community.

Then in 1825 Jean Marie Charcot,

a French neurologist, disagreed with "The Nancy School of Hypnotism", which

followed the guidelines of James Braid's ideas. Charcot believed that hypnosis

was simply a "manifestation of hysteria". He revived Mesmer's theory of animal

magnetism and identified the three stages of the trance; lethargy, catalepsy,

and somnambulism.

Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (1849-1936) was not a scientist who

worked with hypnosis. Although he had nothing to do with the hypnotic development

itself, his Stimulus Response Theory is a cornerstone linking and anchoring

behaviors, particularly NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming).

Emily Coue (1857-1926)

a physician, formulated the Laws of Suggestion which are greatly used in the

hypnotic community. Her first law is The Law of Concentrated Attention: "Whenever

attention is concentrated on an idea over and over again, it spontaneously

tends to realize itself". The second law is- The Law of Reverse Action: "The

...

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