What Is Hypnosis?

“What Is Hypnosis?” Describe the psychological and physical aspects of hypnosis and discuss the role of relaxation in Hypnotherapy.

    Hypnosis is as old as the hills – well not quite but almost, as forms of hypnosis have been around for thousands of years. There is no exact definition of what hypnosis is as none of the definitions regarding hypnosis are exactly the same, so in this essay I will explore the question of what hypnosis is by going through the history of hypnosis to see how this has shaped modern theory and practice, I will then describe the various psychological and physical aspects of hypnosis and then I will discuss the role that relaxation plays in the hypnotic process and hypnotherapy.

A History of Hypnosis
    As I have already mentioned forms of hypnosis have been around for thousands of years, hypnosis is believed to have been used in Ancient Egypt as there are ancient paintings which depict ‘Dream Temples’ and papyrus’s have been discovered, the most famous of which being The Demotic Magical Papyrus which contains instructions for a ritual using a lamp in order to get the subject into a trance state. Trance states which often used rhythmic drum beats and monotonous tones are believed to have been used by many different civilizations all over the world, most often as some form of healing ritual.
    Frans Anton Mesmer a physician who lived in Vienna, Austria during the mid 18th Century and is known as the grandfather of hypnosis, he believed that every individual had magnetic ‘cosmic’ fluid flowing through channels throughout their body, and that blockages in the flow of this fluid caused emotional or physical disease. Mesmer believed that he could heal these people by using powerful magnets to influence this fluid whilst his patients concentrated on the positive effects of this fluid,   this was known as ‘animal magnetism’ or ‘mesmerism’. He later discarded the use of magnets as he began to see himself as the magnet that could conduct...