So, what is hypnosis. The word hypnosis is derived from the word ‘Hypnos’ the Greek God of sleep. James Braid (1819), who is considered the father of modern hypnosis, coined the term hypnotism or hypnosis. Hypnosis, however is not sleep, so what is it and how does it work.
The Chinese, Egyptian and Roman people would go to ‘Sleep Temples’ to be cured. The earliest written record of hypnosis is from Egypt around 1550 BC. In India, the Sanskrit book, The Law of Manu described different levels of hypnosis: “Sleep-Waking,” “Dream-Sleep,” and “Ecstasy-Sleep.”
Hypnosis is believed to be a form of deep relaxation resulting in an altered state of consciousness. What we know is that alters states of consciousness are a natural occurring human condition. Children slip into this altered state of consciousness many times a day. It appears that as we become adults this decreases, and for some adults it is a rare occurrence.
As adults some of us are more susceptible to the suggestion of hypnosis, and can easily slip into this altered state, for others it is more difficult. Dr. Josephine Hilgard amongst others undertook research which suggested that those with a fantasy prone personality were more susceptible to hypnosis. It found that all subjects can be hypnotised, but this can only occur where there is agreement and co-operation.
In our day to day life we slip in and out of an altered state of awareness or hypnotic state during the waking day. This occurs when we are engrossed in something, like reading a book and we become unaware of what is happening around us. [i] A common experience is driving our car during a familiar journey, and we realise that we have not been aware of part of the journey ‘How did I get here’. These are natural states and we find that we will return to full consciousness if required, for example there is something different about the road we are travelling on, or someone requires our full attention.
[i] http://www.selfhypnosis.com/the-state-of-hypnosis/ A state of Hypnosis – A Natural, Hypnotic Trance State - Terrance Watts