Hypnosis and the brain

Article by Tony Sokol

When most people think of hypnosis, they picture someone standing on stage, a dangling pocket watch in hand, making someone cluck like a chicken or forget their name, but there is a science behind it. When people think of meditation, they think of mystical gurus contemplating the space between their eyes, but cognitive science has been used to measure the effects and concluded they’re on to something. Meditation and hypnosis both trigger a relaxation response that is quantifiable and roundly considered healthful.

Hypnosis is basically meditation with intent. A person is relaxed into an artificially induced altered state of consciousness. The state resembles sleep but the mind becomes highly focused and responsive to suggestion. Hypnotherapist can use suggestion to explore repressed memories, instill a desire for heathy habits and even reprogram themselves to be open to ideas. During hypnosis the brain’s cognitive systems are still able to interpret communication. The cognitive systems allow people to process information, categorize information, and create associations.

Hypnosis has been proven to be helpful in dealing with pain and was used to relax patients before anesthesia. Records show that ancient India and China used a form of hypnosis to relieve pain during surgery. The first case of hypnosis being used in surgery in Europe was recorded in 1794, when Jacob Grimm, one of the Brothers Grimm, was hypnotized prior to having an operation for a tumor. Hypnosis was officially recognized by medicine for pain relief in the 1950s and is now recognized as an accepted treatment for anxiety, depression, trauma, irritable bowel syndrome and eating disorders.

So how is this possible? In the “X-Files” episodes “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space,” the fictional author played by Charles Nelson Reilly says he is fascinated by hypnosis, as a writer, because so much can be done with mere words. What gives the words this power? What happens to the brain that allows these words to effect such change? Science has tools that map and measure brain functions. Researchers compared the physical “body signs” of hypnotic subjects with unhypnotized people and found no significant physical change associated with the state of hypnosis. Hypnotized people’s heart rates and respiration slow down as it does in any relaxed state, not the hypnotic state itself.

Magnetic resonance imaging found that hypnosis is a natural state of the mind that produces measurable effects in the brain. Electroencephalographs (EEGs) measure the electrical activity of the brain. EEG research found that brains produce different brain waves, rhythms of electrical voltage, depending on their mental state. The brain produces consistent waves at all frequencies. According to the study “Plasticity Changes In The Brain In Hypnosis And Meditation,” by Ulrike Halsband, Susanne Mueller, Thilo Hinterberger and Simon Strickner, EEGs showed that the brains of hypnotized subjects showed a boost in lower frequency waves associated with the dream state of sleep. There is also a reported drop in higher frequency waves associated with the wake state, according to the Wikipedia page on the trance state.

According to Science Daily, the brain has four different brain wave states: beta, alpha, theta, and delta. The beta state is the normal waking state, which is measured at a frequency of 14-28 cycles per second. The alpha state is a relaxed state which is inductive to visualization and creativity. The alpha wave pattern occurs during a brainwave frequency from 9 to 14 cycles per second. Theta occurs during REM Sleep. The theta state is a deeper state of relaxation that also occurs during hypnosis and meditation. The brain shows a theta wave pattern from 4 to 8 cycles per second, reports Science Daily. Theta brain waves can be considered the subconscious. It is the first stage of the phase where people dream. The delta state is the sleep state. The brain shows a delta wave pattern from 1 to 4 cycles per second. Gamma occurs when a person is processing stimuli and grouping things into a coherent whole. It is not a state of mind. It occurs during beta.

Scientists found that the alpha and theta brain wave frequencies relieve stress; facilitate deep physical relaxation and mental clarity; increase verbal ability and performance IQ; synchronize the two hemispheres of the brain; recall mental images and creative thinking and can reduce pain, promote euphoria and stimulate the release of endorphins.

A 2006 study in Germany found that specialized MRI brain scans showed less activity in two areas of the brain during hypnosis, the area that processes visuals and the area that handles conflicts. Researchers found that changes occur in the brain’s cerebral cortex during hypnosis. Evidence suggests activity in the right hemisphere of the brain, which neurologists believe controls imagination and creativity, increases in hypnotized subjects. They found activity in the left hemisphere of the cerebral cortex, which controls logic, decreases. This could also explain why people feel less inhibited while under hypnosis.

When the brain is relaxed it is open to new ideas and is capable of turning those ideas into habits, if they choose to be guided in that direction.

Keep your new year resolutions

My new year resolutions for 2016; listen to more music, show random acts of love and kindness, and lose some weight. We all make resolutions for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes we may need a little extra motivation to keep them. If you fee this is you and need that bit of a kick up the backside. Hypnotherapy CAN help. Do you want to be fitter, give up smoking, lose weight, play better golf, pass driving test? The list is endless. P M me or phone me on 07528 326201 if you have any questions. You CAN have a very happy 2016!

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions about Hypnotherapy


How many sessions will I need?


Of all the Hypnotherapy frequently asked questions I’ve been asked, this is probably the most common. The number of sessions required is entirely dependent on the individual and the nature of the problem, and is unique in each case, though it can average between approximately two to ten. However, it is important to note that effective therapy is not a race!


If you genuinely want to free yourself from old patterns of negative thought, feeling and behaviour, then Hypnotherapy is one of the most effective and natural methods of self-empowerment and positive transformation available.


What can I expect in the first session?


Each initial session will focus on answering any questions you may have about hypnotherapy, so that you will clearly understand the way it works. Each person will be asked to describe the various symptoms of their particular problems, and how they would ideally like to manage their reactions. This is very important, for as each person is unique, so are the particular stress symptoms that they experience.


Talking openly and in the strictest confidence with the therapist is the first stage of release. Once these discussions have established the features of the individual’s stresses, tensions, worries and frustrations, I will then structure the rest of the sessions specifically to suit your particular needs.


Will I lose control while in hypnosis?


No, absolutely not. In fact hypnotherapy creates a heightened state of awareness, in which you will be in complete control of yourself at all times. However deeply relaxed you may be you will never do or say anything that goes against your moral judgement.


Are there any side effects?


No. hypnotherapy is both a natural and deeply relaxing therapy that helps you to release yourself from negative habits of thought, feeling and behaviour. The effect of this kind of release can positively transform, enhance and empower your overall quality of life.


Does hypnotherapy have a good success rate?


Yes, in fact it often works when other forms of therapy have failed. Unlike many other therapies, hypnotherapy doesn’t dwell on a problem but instead focusses on the development of a fresh perspective on the things which may have felt troublesome, and is very much a solution-focussed therapy.


Could hypnotherapy be contrary to my religion?


No. Hypnotherapy deals with enhancing the focussed use of the mind, and has nothing whatsoever to do with religion, nor will it compromise any religious beliefs.




Why I got into hypnotherapy

I have always had a passion for helping people even though I had a very bad temper I used to fly into rages at the littlest of things. When I nearly lost my girlfriend and my job and spent the night in a police cell, I decided  I really had to do something. I needed help. I sought out hypnotherapy in anger management. I had three sessions and began to gradually notice a change into how I was beginning to approach issues. I was a lot calmer more patient, but I think best of all I found a new self respect for myself and for others. Sometimes with therapy we won’t see the results straight away. Good fruit needs to grow.

On seeing a course advertised   I decided to go for it and today I have no regrets whatsoever. So that’s it. I feel confident  I can help you with any anger issues you may have, affer all I have been there.

Disability and Hypnosis

It is important to emphasise the use of adapting scripts so as to make them suitable for disabled clients. For example if a client cannot walk very well. one would say ” make your way to…” rather than use the word WALK.

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