Hypnotism Essay, Research Paper
“You are completely relaxed… there is a wonderful warm feeling spreading
through your body…. you have a great desire to sleep… your eyelids are
getting heavy… heavier… and heavier… you hardly can keep them open
any longer… now they are closed… with every word I am saying, you are
getting sleepier…. and sleepier…. you are going to SLEEP… deep, sound
sleep… deeper and deeper asleep… SLEEP!”
You just read the exact words of a hypnotist, using the classical technique
of verbal suggestion. His subject is sound asleep.
Is this a science – or just a fascinating fraud, a little frightening? Think . . .
What is hypnotism?
According to the Webster’s New International Dictionary: “The induction
of a state resembling sleep or somnambulism, which is called hypnosis or
hypnotic sleep; also loosely – the induced state of hypnosis…” “There are
degrees of hypnosis which have been characterized as lethargic, cataleptic
and somnambulistic hypnosis and, again, simply as light and heavy hypnotic
sleep, with corresponding variations in suggestibility.”
A STATE OF SUSTAINED
In order to gain a better understanding of this greatly misunderstood
science, remember these words: Not witchcraft, not black magic, just -
on of man’s eternal search for a better understanding of his environment
and himself, science.
Because hypnosis is induced by verbal suggestion, the history of hypnotism
dates back to the early stages of lingual communication in precivilized
society. It is a great loss to modern science that hypnotism has been
studied only in the last 200 years in any organized form.
One of the early practitioners in the eighteen century was Franz Anton
Mesmer and his technique became known as “Mesmerism”, “magnetism”
or “animal magnetism.” – because he attributed his results to magnets
placed at various parts of the human body. It is almost unthinkable, but this
tremendous misconception prevails even today.
The word “hypnotism” originated from the Greek “hypnos”, meaning
sleep, transplanted into its present day meaning by the nineteenth century
Scottish doctor, James Braid.
It has been a proven scientific fact for more than 100 years that “hypnosis”
can be induced without sleep (because sleep is a symptom and not the
basic character trait of hypnotism) so, the word itself is a misnomer. The
above state is usually referred to as “waking hypnosis.”
HYPNOTISM DIVIDED INTO
From the viewpoint of induction, hypnotism can be divided into two
1. Hetero-hypnosis, the state of sustained suggestibility is induced by a
2. Auto-hypnosis, the state is self induced.
The results are both the same. Any suggestion that is carried out a period
of time after hypnosis, is known as post-hypnotic suggestion.
The use of hypnosis is extremely wide, ranging from psychoanalysis of
hysteria and nervous disorder – to an anaesthetic in dentistry, surgery and
childbirth. At times, it has been used as a pain killer in WW-II when drugs
were not available. On the average, about twenty-five people out of a
hundred are highly susceptible to suggestion – meaning that this
percentage is very easily hypnotized. Almost all children belong to this
group. About 50-55% are fairly good subjects, but it takes a longer period
of time to hypnotize them, and the remaining 20-25% may never be
hypnotized. The percentage varies with the personality, technique and
experience of the individual hypnotist. People who can not maintain
focused attention, for whatever reason, can not be hypnotized.
NO DANGER IN COMPETENT HANDS
No person can be hypnotized against his or her will and it is generally
accepted by the majority of practitioners that, while under hypnosis, the
subject will not act against his religious beliefs or moral principles. In the
hands of a competent operator, there is absolutely no danger involved in
the use of hypnosis, for the obvious reason that any suggestion that can be
“put in” the subconscious can also be “removed” just as easily. The false,
monster-like image created by the radio, television, movies and
sensation-thirsty newspaper reporters has done a great deal of harm to the
scientific study, development and application of this truly great science . . .
Stage Hypnotism is a unique branch of hypnotism which focuses on
providing theatrical entertainment for money. Stage hypnotists face many
unique challenges that are not encountered in a clinical setting. Timing, pace
of the show, and the entertainment value must be maintained by the
performer to hold the spectator’s attention for the entire duration of the
show. Rigged props and occasional human confederates sprinkled
amongst the spectators are not unknown to stage hypnotists. Generally,
hypnotists preselect participants before the show to speed up the
induction process during the show. The people whom the hypnotist
selects are not plants, they are just the best and most susceptible hypnotic
subjects available from the current group of spectators.
Stage hypnotists walk the very thin line of morality, decency, and fairness.
Unless the hypnotist’s demeanor project the highest respect for the
audience volunteers during the presentation, the stage show can degenerate
into an obscene spectacle of poor taste and psychological abuse. Making
fools of people who are willing to participate in stage experiments is the
despicable act of a scoundrel. To do stage hypnotism requires the highest
ethical level from its practitioners. “Professor” Leitner, the highly respected
German hypnotist provided an excellent early model for a dignified, lecture
type presentation. A more recent notable exponent of a well-executed
stage presentation is Peter Reveen, the Australian stage hypnotist.
Stage hypnotists in the theatre and on television have an enormous
opportunity not only to provide good entertainment but to correct the
public’s perception about hypnotism. Seeing a heavy smoker on the stage
reject, with great disdain, the offered cigarette – is something to behold.
Hypnotism is one of the great non-invasive, drug free medical treatment
methods discovered in the past two hundred years. When hypnotists
correctly apply hypnotic suggestions, the results can be phenomenal. The
possibilities of using the power of hypnotism are limited only by our
In the future, it can be – and it will be – a very useful instrument for the
better understanding of one of the greatest mysteries . . . man himself.
Some of the important people in the
History of Hypnotism.
Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815), French physician, lawyer, and
the earliest modern medical hypnotist and researcher in Europe. His name
became synonymous with hypnotism, which was known at the time as
“mesmerism,” “magnetism,” or “animal magnetism.” Mesmer
published his findings in “Schreiben Uber die Magnetike,” mistakenly
attributing the observed results to magnetism created by magnets placed
on various parts of the patient’s body.
Dr. James Braid (1795-1860), Scottish doctor who is probably the best
known early researcher and practitioner of hypnotism in the English
speaking world. He was introduced to the subject by La Fontaine, a
Frenchman, in 1841. It was Braid who coined the phrases “hypnosis” and
“hypnotism” (Hypnos Gr.= sleep) in 1842 to describe the induction
techniques used to create states of increased suggestibility. The terms were
first published in his book “Neurypnology” in 1843. The new labels
became the part of everyday language and quickly replaced the misleading
labels of “Mesmerism,” “magnetism” and “animal magnetism” created by
Dr. John Elliotson (1791-1868), brilliant Scottish physician, Professor of
Medicine, lecturer, researcher and writer. Among many other medical
diagnostic innovations, he introduced the use of stethoscopes in England,
and in 1846 he started publication of the first journal (Zoist) that focussed
strictly on hypnotism.
The Marquis de Puysegur, who early in the nineteenth century identified
three characteristic features of hypnosis. He stated that under hypnosis the
1. Focus on the hypnotist,
2. Accept the hypnotist suggestions and
(if suggested by the hypnotist),
3. Experience temporary amnesia for a suggested time period.
(Today it is known as “posthypnotic amnesia.”)
Dr. Ambroise-Auguste Liebeault (1823-), French physician known as
the “Father of modern hypnotism.” A brilliant communicator, who
developed a quick induction method during his practice and also
performed significant research into experimental methods of hypnosis.
Dr. James Martin Charcot (1825-1893), eminent French neurologist
who gained international fame for innovative diagnostic techniques and
procedures. He was probably the best known physician to research the
subject of hypnotism, in France, in the 19th century.
Dr. Josef Breuer, physician and medical hypnosis researcher who
became the catalyst to the application of hypnosis to psychoanalysis and
psychotherapy. Freud had investigated the work of Breuer, which lead to
the application of an “indirect” form of hypnosis by Freud in his
psychoanalytic procedures and a joint publication of a book with Breuer in
1895, titled Studien uber Hysterie, which is still studied by scholars of
Dr. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), physician and world renown as the
“father of psychoanalysis” was a very poor hypnotist. Probably, Freud’s
“free association” and “dream interpretation” techniques were substitutes
for his inability to create the state of heightened suggestibility in his patients,
which often can be attained through hypnosis. He was a most complex
man, full of contradictions who created a new branch of medical science
Interested individuals might also wish to research the works of Dr.
Hippolite Bernhiem, Dr. James Esdalie, Dr. Eugene Azam, Emile Coue
and several other sources for relate