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Unlocking the Secrets of Hypnosis

The word "hypnosis" conjures up images of Svengali controlling his subjects. Actually modern hypnois is the "art of suggestion." How does a suggestion such as "when you think of 'blue skies,' you will forget about food," work? Discover the two ingredients in making suggestion work.

The word, "Hypnosis" for most conjures up images of Svengali controlling one with a pendant or the movie--the Manchurian  Candidate, or they remember a stage show where they saw a subject on stage quacking like a duck and not remembering anything after opening his/her eyes. All are images that leave one leery of hypnosis!

Even though the word, hypnosis, was not used at the time, Anton Mesmer in the 1700's is credited with the first use of hypnosis. Most of Mesmer's patients at that time in history suffered from "Hysteria." He would have them stand in a tub of water with metal rods. As they held onto the rods, he'd wave his wand resulting in the patients experiencing a cathartic reaction during which their "hysteria" was cured.

Even though, his technique revolves around the use of the wand and the theory of "animal magnetism," a few choice verbal suggestions along with and air of expectancy and mystique contributed to his results.

His career was questioned by a panel of experts, Ben Franklin being one of those on the panel, who judged him to be a quack which eventually ruined his career. Over the years, his disciples and other physicians such as James Braid used various forms of suggestion further refining--defining the art of hypnosis. Freud for a while experimented with it and then abandoned it. Remember back then were no strict educational standards as there are today.

Even though those who practiced various forms of hypnotism attempted to explain the techniques and verify the results, an air of mystique has always surrounded hypnosis. We have centuries of professionals using various forms of hypnosis for a plethora of human ailments and unhealthy habits and we have centuries of a few people such as The Amazing Randi--the magician--doing everything he can to prove that it doesn't exist.

Why aren't tubs and iron rods used today? Remember Mesmer's patients by in large suffered from hysteria. Today the frequency of hysteria occurring in the general population is nil. Hysteria is a rather simple stress reaction. It's a reaction to a particular type of stressor--shock. Typically the sufferer sees something traumatic and develops blindness. Or hears something traumatic and becomes deaf. Or in response to the shock they become mute, or lose motor control of certain muscle groups and become catatonic. Except for post Vietnam War years when many Vietnamese developed hysteria reactions in response to the atrocities they witnessed in the war, hysteria is rarely encountered.

Today, humans develop more sophisticated means of reacting to stress such as eating disorders, smoking, drinking, drugs or gambling, or physical reactions such as headaches, hypertension, ulcerative colitis..., and or mental abreactions such as depression, bipolar, schizophrenia... And then again, by now someone would have discovered a more effective means of delivering suggestion for dealing with hysteria than the use of tubs and iron rods. It seems that as the human race becomes more sophisticated in their thinking, their stress reactions become more sophisticated.

Simply put, hypnosis is really the art of suggestion. For instance, the TV world has produced many shows featuring educators who motivate his/her ghetto students to achieve. This educator is a master at motivational suggestions. That is hypnosis.

Advertising and marketing geniuses develop suggestions and images that motivate the viewer or listener to purchase a particular brand. That is hypnosis!

The salesman presents his product in such as way with verbal suggestions that makes the sale. That is hypnosis!

Professional hypnosis is the "art of suggestion." For specific problems, specific suggestions have been devised to aid the individual in overcoming the problem. How suggestions are phrased makes a big difference.

Not to say that charisma and believability doesn't count. The same suggestion delivered two different ways (one with confidence and rapport and one without confidence or poor rapport) will have different outcomes.

There are two necessary ingredients for hypnosis to work:1. The suggestion must make sense. 2. The hypnotist delivering the suggestions must have rapport (trust) with the subject.

Thus a suggestion could be as basic as every time you say the phrase, "blue skies," you will forget about food and lose weight."

Now that could be the suggestion, but in order to make the suggestion believable, the hypnotist needs to provide to the individual a conscious understanding how this could work--i.e. "blue skies" means that you're free of using food to deal with stress.

Thus hypnosis is the "art of suggestion," which requires the hypnotist having rapport and the suggestion making sense. 

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Richard Kuhns B.S.Ch.E., NGH certified operated a stress management clinic for 17 years, educator and seminar leader for various corporations. He is a prominent figure in the field of stress management and personal change. He is behind the creation of nearly 50 best selling stress management hypnosis cds at and

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