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The Mystery of Hypnosis

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The Mystery of Hypnosis

There are three people sitting down on a stage, they are joined by a mysterious

looking man in a suit and cape. With a smooth tone he tells the three people to close their

eyes and listen to his voice. He then says, "You're feeling sleepy and your eyelids are

feeling very heavy, at the count of three you will fall into a deep sleep, 1...2...3" and they

all fall asleep. He can now make these three people quack like a duck, make love to a

chair, or whatever else he wants them to do. This is the common conception of hypnosis,

but few people know the other aspects of hypnosis. Besides entertainment hypnosis, there

is clinical hypnosis, sports hypnosis, research hypnosis, self hypnosis, and many others

(Yapko 4). A person doesn't need a 'magical' hypnotist to swing his pocket watch back

and forth to induce him or her into a hypnotic state. Most of us have experienced everyday

forms of hypnosis without even knowing we were doing so.

In order to better understand and identify hypnosis, one needs to know what

hypnosis actually is. There are numerous definitions of hypnosis, there isn't really a

definitive definition, but the most applicable and accurate definition of hypnosis is "A state

of intense concentration, focusing and maximizing involvement with one idea or sensory

stimulus at a time" (Yapko 8). For years scientists have been trying to fully understand

and explain the mysteries of hypnosis, but what we do know about hypnosis is just

scratching the surface of the enigma.

Methods of hypnosis date back to the ancient Egyptian society. Egyptians had the

Temples of Sleep, where priests would use hypnosis to cure sicknesses. They felt that if

the patient believed enough that he was being healed, then the mind would begin to heal

the body. During this time doctors obviously did not have anesthesia, so hypnosis played

an important role operational procedures (Gedde). There is written proof that

hypnosis did exist at this time, the CE Demotic Magical Papyrus which was discovered in

the 19th Century. This papyrus provides information for preparation of a lamp that is used

in a ritual and it states:

"You take a boy and sit him upon another new brick, his face being turned to the

lamp and you close his eyes and recite these things which are written above down

into the boy's head, seven times. You make him open his eyes. You say to him:

'Do you see the light?' When he says to you, 'I see the light in the flame of the

lamp', you cry at that moment, saying 'Heoue' nine times. You ask him

concerning everything that you wish" (History of Hypnosis).

In more recent years than the ancient Egyptians, doctors have used hypnosis to

perform what seems like medical miracles. The most well known incident of hypnotic

healing occurred in 1951. A doctor named Albert Mason had a young patient with a

severe case of ichthyoids, his whole body was covered in a heavy, odorous, discolored,

dried skin that seeped with bloody puss. Conventional medicine was not working and the

last resort to relieve the young man's pain was hypnosis. At a hospital in East Grinstead in

Sussex, Doctor Mason hypnotized the young man and gave him suggestions that the skin

on his arm would be healed. Other doctors skeptically observed the procedure the whole

time. Within ten days the boy's arm was clear of any unhealthy spot of skin and proceeded

with the treatment until every inch of his body was clear of ichthyoids (History of


Hypnosis is used to cure not only physical disorders, but improve (possibly

terminating) mental disorders and habits as well. Many people have overcome their anxiety

disorders, depression, multiple personality disorders, sexual dysfunctions, substance abuse,

and self esteem problems using hypnosis. I wanted to try hypnosis to improve my self

esteem, so I made an appointment with Dr. L Smith from Newburyport, Massachusetts. I

was expecting my treatment to start immediately, but she needed to know a lot of personal

information about me and made me do a long to get to know me better. Some of the

questions were:

What is your chief complaint (CC)?

When did this problem begin? What do you think caused it?

Do you remember your dreams? Do you have recurring dreams? About what?

When you



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