Monday, December 25, 2006

Hypnosis is about Changes Part 0: What is Hypnosis?


Though I had already finished the Hypnosis is about Changes Series of articles, I find myself still missing some important parts. So, I add this introductory Part 0, and latter a more advanced Part 8!

Hypnosis comes from the Greek word, Hypnos, which means the "god of sleep". But it has nothing to do with sleep. Just like "Psychology" comes from "Study of the Soul" and Psychology is nothing about the soul! People under hypnosis looks like sleeping, so a British doctor, James Braid described it as Hypnosis in 1841.

I like to discuss with you my Top 10 most important basic questions about Hypnosis in this article.

Q1: What is Hypnosis?

Have you ever experienced after you drived to work, you can't remember any details of how you drive there? This is very common in everybody else. You are in a "Dissociated Mental State". You consciously focusing on your thought, while your Non-Conscious Thinking is doing something else. In the above example, your Conscious Mind might be thinking of the meeting that morning, and your Non-Conscious Thinking is doing the driving.

In "Dissociated Mental State", there are 2 different "thinkings" happening at the same time, your Conscious Thinking and your Non-Conscious Thinking. Someone is talking with you but you are thinking about (consciously focusing on) some other thing else. You can still "respond" to him/her by nodding or smiling at the "right" time. It is your Non-Conscious Thinking responding!

In it simplest form, hypnosis can be defined as putting people in one's "Dissociated Mental State" (or the Hypnotic State or the Trance) in order to talk to/with one's Non-Conscious Thinking.

Q2: What can Hypnosis helps?

When someone has a problem, he/she consciously thinks that he/she cannot change/solve the problem. For example, in quitting a drinking habit, he/she consciously thinks that he/she does not want to drink but he/she need to drink. Their Conscious Mind is stuck by the problem. However, it is the Non-Conscious Thinking "makes" him or her to drink. There is an urge inside that makes someone non-consciously go for a drink. Most of our problems are non-conscously or else we can easily change it consciously.

These non-conscious problems might be some Bad Habits like drinking, over-eating, etc. You drink or eat non-consciously. You are not even immediately aware of you are doing them. Or these problems can be some of our Personal "Weaknesses", like unable to find a girl-friend, poor memory or unable to concentrate, etc. You are not consciously not to find a girl-friend or consciously not to remember something. They are non-conscious.

Or the problems can be the results of some Psychosomatic Diseases, i.e. physical symptoms created by some psychological causes, like headache and stomachache caused by stress. You do not consciously create the pain by yourself when you are stressed. It is non-conscious. Only medical professionals can diagnose Psychosomatic Diseases. After you consulted your medical professionals who classified your problem as a Psychosomatic Disease, then hypnosis might be able to help.

Hypnosis can only be helpful with either Bad Habits, Personal "Weaknesses" or Psychosomatic Diseases.

Q3: Why talk to/with one's Non-Conscious Thinking might help him/her?

1. Talking to One's Non-Conscious Thinking.

As we do not consciously create the problem, talking to the Conscious Mind doesn't create results. The "problem" is not there. In hypnosis, we talk to the Non-Conscious Thinking to tell "it" that it do not need to drink and it can stop drinking. We call this kind of "telling" Hypnotic Suggestions.

Furthermore, in hypnosis, we do not need to persuade 2 "Minds", the Conscious and the Non-Conscious. We just persuade the Non-Conscious Part but not the Conscious Part. The Conscious Part thinks that "it" can't do without the drink. Persuading the Conscious Part is a waste of time as the client is already being persuaded by him/herself that he/she wants to quit but only that he/she is not able to do so. The Inability is at the Non-Conscious Part. So, we only need to persuade the Non-Conscious Part. This creates Efficiency.

As the Conscious Mind can only handle 1 thought at a time. (Try focusing on 2 things consciously at one single time. You can't do it!) It is the stubborn part of our mind. If "it" thinks he/she can't, he/she just can't do so.

However, our Non-Conscious Thinking can handle many things at the same time. Driving, typing, playing piano, etc actually must be done by the Non-Conscious Thinking. You need to handle so many things all at the same time! As the Non-Conscious Thinking can accomodate many thoughts simultanteously, "it" is easier to be persuaded. "It" is more flexible. "It" can think of many different options, scenorios, causes and effects all at the same time.

You can think the Conscious Part is a "Must"-Thinker. But the Non-Conscious Part is a "Might"-Thinker. Many things might be possible. In hypnosis, we are persuading the easier-to-be-persuaded Non-Conscious Part. This creates Effectiveness.

When we are talking to the Non-Conscious Mind, we are giving Suggestions to persuade "it".

2. Talking with One's Non-Conscious Thinking. We have all our knowledge, experience, and memories stored inside our Unconscious Mind. We are not consciously aware of all our knowledge, experience and memories consciously until we want to "use" some of them. Then, we recall from our Unconscious Mind into our Conscious Mind. Such "recall" is just like searching a very, very large-sized harddisk. It is not effective. The Conscious Mind can only search one item after another one item. So, we "forget" and can't recall everything.

A more effective way to recall is doing through our Non-Conscious Thinking. "It" can handle many thoughts at one time. Why can Google comes back with more results and much faster than other search engines? One of the reasons is that Google employs a lot of "robots" searching actively around the world wide web.

Recalling using Non-Conscious Thinking is just like searching the web by Google.

When our clients come to us for a problem, apart from just talking to their Non-Conscious Thinking through Hypnotic Suggestion in order to persuade "it", we also talk with the Non-Conscious Thinking. We talk with "it" to encourage "it" to search for the answers in the clients' Unconscious Mind. There are so many information in one's Unconscious Mind that might be useful in understanding the problem and providing possible solutions.

We just various Hypnoanalysis Techniques like Inner Guidance (IG), Inner Regression (IR), Inner Communication (IC), Inner Mediation (IM) to talk with the Non-Conscious Thinking to get information from the Unconscious Mind. We use IG to search general information about the problem. We use IR to search for the information related to the origins of the problem. IC is used to find the information about the people who are related to the problem and IM is used to search for the information about the clients' beliefs of the problems.

When the clients get enough information about their own problem, they understand it better. They might then be able to find solutions or they might see their problem differently.

So, we talk with the Non-Conscious Thinking to help others to discover more in order to persuade themselves.

Q4: Then how do we induce others into their "Dissociated Mental State" during hypnosis?

We do it by simply narrowing their attention (consciously focusing on) on something. We call this procedure Induction, in hypnosis. This Conscious Focus can be done physically or mentally by focusing on something visually or thinking of something respectively.

Q5: Then, what we do after the Induction?

Then we increase clients' focus to Deepen their "Dissociative Mental State". This makes talking to/with clients' Non-Conscious Thinking easier.

When clients are in this "Dissociative Mental State", we do the talking to/with Non-Conscious Thinking by either giving Hypnotic Suggestions or Hypnoanalysis Techniques. In either case, we will repeat the Hypnotic Suggestions for many, many times. (in the latter case, the Hypnotic Suggestions are the new understandings of the clients)

Why do we need to repeat the suggestions many, many times? Because we want to transform them into new Beliefs of the clients. We act according to our Beliefs. Our Beliefs produce Thoughts. Our Thoughts generate Actions, and our Actions create Results.

According to new Neuroscience Researches, when we think, we create connections of neurons into a Neurons Pattern. Each Neurons Pattern is a thought. Each time we think of that thought, we gradually make firing that Neurons Pattern easier and faster. When this is repeated for many times, the Neurons Pattern is so "strong" that whenever we think of anything related to that thought, we fire off that Neuron Pattern (consciously or non-consciously). This becomes our Belief.

It might take very long time for the client to repeat our suggestions to become his/her Belief, or he/she will never do so in daily life. We do it for him/her by repeating the suggestions during hypnosis.

The final step is Dehypnotization (or Awakening). We do this by suggesting clients to be gradually aware of all bodily senses and feelings so that they are not "focusing" on anything else.

Q6: Can Hypnosis be dangerous?

Of course very yes! We can give Dangerous Suggestions to our clients. If they accept our Dangerous Suggestions, the suggestions become their Beliefs. They might think and act dangerously!

Or when we talk with their Non-Conscious Thinking, we might mislead them. We can tell them something what we believed but these can be not useful or even dangerous to the clients. We might also mislead them to think about something which do not exist at all. We create their False Memories. These Fasle Memories can then be turned into False Beliefs. In turn these will mislead their thoughts and actions!

Q7: What is the right attitude for a Hypnotherapist?

Being a Media who facilitates the process of hypnosis. We do not have any answer to their problems. We only give Hypnotic Suggestions from the result of discussion with the clients before Induction. We do not advise anything.

When we talk with the Non-Conscious Thinking, we facilitate their own discoveries by themselves.

Q8: Can reciting some scripts or pre-prepared suggestions be useful?

In most of the case, it is not useful. We talk to/with clients but not reciting anything to them. The problem of client is unique to the client. For example, the same problem of finger biting can be totally different for different individuals.

Q9: Is Induction the most important part of doing Hypnosis?

Many people believe so, and therefore many people spend their time to learn different kinds of inductions. The truth is Induction is not the most important part. Everyone goes into natural "Dissociated Mental State" everyday. When you drive, type, read, watch movie, day-dream, etc, you are in different degree of this mental state.

This is so natural that we can go into this state easily.

The most important parts are how to Formulate Hypnotic Safe & Effective Suggestions and how to Facilitate the Discovery of the Non-Conscious Thinking. This is the purpose and core of hypnosis. Even though you can induce someone into Hypnotic State, it is useless if you can't help him/her solve his/her problems.

Q10: If Hypnosis is about bringing changes to clients' problems, what are the most important forces behind Chaages?

Why we do something? Because of Pleasure and/or Pain. It is either pleasurable to do it or painful of not doing it.

So we can stop doing something that causes the problem by reducing the Pleasure and/or increasing the Pain of doing this old action. And you can induce a new action by increasing the Pleasure and/or reducing the Pain of this new action.

We do this by Hypnotic Suggestions or by facilitating clients' own Discovery of these Pleasures and Pains.

Even the clients have successful installed their new Beliefs through hyonosis, they will or will not do the new actions. You can believe in many things but you might not do them all. We need motivations and motivations are the Pleasure and the Pain.

This article is written as an introduction to Hypnosis. Hoping this article can clarify some of the misunderstanding about hypnosis.

Explore, Exceed & Excel

P.S. Go to to see Part 1 to Part 6 of our articles series, Hypnosis is about Changes. You can also go to to see Part 7. I am planning to add Part 8 later to really complete the series.