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Understand What Is Meant by Hypnosis.

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Learning Journal 1: Understand what is meant by Hypnosis.

1.1 Explain the state of hypnosis

“Hypnosis is a state of human consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness and an enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion.” [Wikipedia]

Most people, myself included, hear the word hypnosis and immediately envisage

pendulums and comedy acts, performers such as Derren Brown and Paul McKenna...

Hypnotism has long been associated with fairgrounds and sideshows, and more recently

the world of pub entertainment and cabaret.

In fact, I now know that hypnosis is a perfectly natural state of consciousness that lies

somewhere in the veil between wakefulness and sleep. Meditation and hypnosis are close

cousins and both trigger a quantifiable relaxation response. Hypnosis could be called

‘meditation with intent’.

In a therapy setting, this means a client is relaxed into an artificially induced state of

consciousness wherein the mind is highly focused and more responsive to suggestion. The

brains cognitive systems are still able to interpret communication, to process and

categorise and create associations.

1.2 Explain the psychological aspects of hypnosis

1.3 Explain the physical aspects of hypnosis.

It seems there is no way at present to quantify the effectiveness of hypnosis in any way that

is concrete. It is a completely individual experience and as such, cannot be measured in

the same way as we may measure body temperature or heart rate. However we are able to

use Electroencephalography (EEG) to measure the electrical activity of the brain / brain

waves - a procedure widely used in the assessment of brain damage and other conditions.

There are four main types of brain wave:


Beta brainwaves dominate our normal waking state of consciousness when attention is directed towards cognitive tasks and the outside world. Beta is a ‘fast’ activity, present when we are alert, attentive, engaged in problem solving, judgment, decision making, or focused mental activity.

Beta Waves run at 15 to 40 cycles per second and are characteristic of an engaged and focused mind. A person engaged in active conversation would be in Beta Rhythm. Those debating would be in the high range of Beta waves


Alpha (9 - 14 cps) brainwaves are dominant when we are on down time; relaxed and daydreaming or perhaps meditating. Generally associated with right-brain thinking activity, Alpha is when the brain rests and recharges. Alpha waves aid overall mental co-ordination, calmness, alertness, mind / body integration and learning. They are present during the creative process and during lighter hypnosis.


Theta brainwaves (4 - 8 cps) occur most often in sleep but are also present in deep meditation and hypnosis. Theta is our gateway to learning, memory, and intuition. It is the place where we hold our past experience, thought and behaviour patterns. In theta, our senses are withdrawn from the external world and turned inwards. It is a twilight state which we sometimes experience fleetingly as we wake or drift off to sleep. In theta we may see vivid imagery, intuition and information beyond our normal conscious awareness. It’s where we hold our emotional baggage, our fears, anxieties and nightmares.


Delta brainwaves (1 - 4 cps) are the slowest brainwaves. They are generated in deepest meditation and dreamless sleep. All external awareness disappears in this deepest state of rest. Healing and regeneration are stimulated in this state, hence deep restorative sleep is so essential to maintain our health and wellbeing.

Scientists have found that Alpha and Theta waves relieve stress, facilitate deep relaxation and mental clarity, increase verbal ability and performance, synchronise the two hemispheres of the brain, improve visualisation and creative thinking and can reduce pain and stimulate the release of endorphins.



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