What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is an ambient phenomenon. If defined as a communication with the subconscious, this is readily observed in conversations with friends; reading; interaction with screens. In formal hypnosis, a state of deep relaxation is induced (similar to partial brain resting seen in other animals), suppressing obstructing interference from the frontal cortex (a different part of the brain). The induced state of relaxation can be useful on its own; however the main therapeutic objective is increased receptivity.
What kinds of problems can hypnosis treat?
- chronic pain, and other somatic symptoms
- mood and sleep disturbances
- smoking cessation
- other therapeutic scenarios (more complex treatment protocols)
What are the advantages of hypnosis over other forms of therapy?
The primary advantage is speed. Unlike most other forms of therapy it can be completed in 2 sessions in many cases, even a single session at times. The effect also tends to take hold within a few days.
Also unusually clinical hypnosis involves mainly the therapist speaking rather than the client, so it might better suit patients averse to talking.
What are the limitations of hypnosis?
A person new to hypnosis may have more difficulty achieving a state of deep relaxation for maximum therapeutic effect. This will often improve by the second session. A related concept is “hypnotisability”, affecting one’s ability to be hypnotised — which may be genetically determined.
At the other end of this spectrum the hypnosis can be so effective a state of very deep relaxation is achieved, which results in transient amnesia. In this instance the therapeutic effect may be very potent, though the subject may not be able to recall the session.
Fundamentally hypnosis is a treatment of symptoms but not necessarily the underlying mechanism. The effect therefore may wear off eventually, though can be boosted over time. For chronic conditions the patient may choose to undertake training in self-hypnosis, so they can do this inbetween sessions.