Part Seven

I thought it was about time I returned to the subject of hypnosis and dealt with some important aspects in more detail. The tape that accompanies this month release is a self-hypnotic tape which does not contain any specific message. It is intended for you to use whenever you wish to implant a suggestion of your own choosing. There is a period of time allowed, after the induction process has taken place, for you to use your own affirmation. After this time the tape will bring you back to full waking consciousness.

HYPNOSIS CONTiNUED:-

From the dawn of time the human race has tried to control the actionsof others by brute force or other more subtle methods. Whether this was for the good of the community or not is immaterial. The chance discovery of this natural state of hypnosis must have been exploited to the full by various people involved in witchcraft, black magic, or even witch doctors in Africa. No doubt the resultant effects of a hypnotic trance on an individual could have been explained away by supernatural forces, spiritual possession etc. These days in the twentieth century it is hoped we can be a little more rational about it, however there are still some unscrupulous organisations who do use hypnotic techniques to further their own goals as I shall explain later!

It is important for you to understand when others are trying to manipulate you and how!

There is still a lot of confusion in the minds of many people as to what hypnosis involves. In fact even today there is still a lot of confusion as to how and why hypnosis works among the many scientists and doctors who study and practise it.

Early Theories about Hypnosis:

In the west our medical origins begin with a brilliant physician called

Hypocrites. Hypocrites, who is considered to be the "father of medicine", was born on the Greek island of Cos in 460 BC and died in 377 BC. During his life he practised and taught the healing arts throughout Greece and wrote many treaties on medicine. It was his theory that all our pleasures and our sorrows, i.e. emotions, emanated from the brain. He further stated that the cause of most aliments, disease, and all forms of anxiety find their origin there.

This concept of a link between the mind and body has been with us for thousands of years and is common to most civilisations. There have been many theories to describe and explain exactly what that link consists of Some five hundred years after Hypocrites another Greek physician called Galen, (AD 129 - 199), developed the ideas established by Hypocrites as to how the mind influences the body and vice versa. His idea was that there was some kind of heavenly fluid which acted as a bridge between the mind and body. He thought that a physical ailment could be caused by a problem in the mind and also that an physical illness could cause mental stress.

This concept of a substance acting as a bridge in this way remained in the minds of scientists and philosophers for many centuries to come. All sorts of theories were developed but it was not until the time of Sir Isaac Newton, (1642-1727) that the notion of animal magnetism gained particular popularity. Magnetism is a curious force, like gravity, which we can prove exists and yet it is invisible to the naked eye. This force seemed a useful way of explaining away the seemingly unexplainable. Of course nowadays it seems too simplistic but in those days it had its uses. In some ways these early theories had in some ways, curious similarities with those held in the east. If we substituted the term animal magnetism for Qi or Prana there would appear to be a connection.

Mesmerism:-

Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) is worth a mention mainly becauseof the work he did and the fame he achieved, or perhaps notoriety would be a better word, he was responsible for putting Hypnotism, or mesmerism as it was then called, firmly on the medical map.

He trained initially as a priest before studying law before eventually switching to medicine and qualifying as a doctor by the age of thirty two. He was widely read and knew the theories concerning astronomy and Newton's laws of gravity which greatly helped put the theories of animal magnetism to the fore.

Mesmer thought that it was possible to restore our state of health by harmonising and balancing these heavenly forces within us. Again these ideas had an uncanny similarity to those long held in the east. The problem was that with all the great discoveries being made in fields of mathematics, electricity, and magnetism, among others, he really thought he could offer a sound logical and scientific explanation for what was then called animal magnetism.

His treatment of patients involved the use of magnets and other paraphernalia. He himself was reputed to wear a great lilac cloak and held an iron rod in one hand. In the centre of the room he had placed a large vat out of which metal bars were projected. The vat would contain water and iron filings and each patient would sit around it grasping one of these iron bars. Mirrors where carefully positioned around the room so as to reflect a gentle light on the proceedings and soft music was often played to create the right atmosphere. In this amazing setting Mesmer is said to have walked around to each patient and touched them on the shoulder with his iron bar.

Now you have to realise that these people would have been in a very heightened state of expectancy. Many said they experienced very curious sensations through their bodies while others fell about in convulsions. In any case after a few sessions they would state that they felt cured of whatever the illness was they were suffering from.

Today this use of ritual would be considered pointless but at that time it might have provided the necessary catalysis to help the patients cure themselves. It gave them a link to their subconscious mind. It was a bit like using a placebo.

Another technique he used was to strap magnets to a patients body in the belief that this would harmonise the various forces within the body. Again these patients would claim to feel strange feelings running up and down their bodies while having this treatment and would often declare themselves cured.

The success that Mesmer enjoyed and the fame and wealth it attracted also attracted great suspicion and envy, from his more orthodox medical colleagues. Although what I have described here is not strictly speaking hypnosis there are subtle links between two. As you probably now realise a strong positive expectation of a desired outcome can have a very powerful effect on the mind.

It was one Mesmer's pupils who is said to have discovered somnambulism. In this state a person can obey instructions, talk, open their eyes and yet still remain in a trance.

News of Mesmer's work and that of his pupils and associates spread throughout Europe and even to the USA. A number of physicians witnessed demonstrations given by Richard Chenevix, himself a fellow of the Royal Society, in London in 1829. Among the audience was a John Elliotson. Elliotson was born in 1786 the son of a south London chemist. After graduating from Cambridge and then qualifying as a physician he travelled to

Europe studying in various continental schools. Upon his return he set up his practice near the hospitals of Guy's and St Thomas's.

He was a man of strong views who did not suffer fools gladly and often had problems with figures in authority. He was elected Professor of Medicine at the then new "New University College" of the University of London. The university was non-denominational and this was surprisingly the first time medicine was taught at university level.

Elliotson pioneered many new and important techniques in medicine. He taught medical students at the bedside of the patients in order to give them greater experience. Before this students would serve a five-year apprenticeship with an older doctor. He was the first doctor to use a stethoscope and taught the correct way to examine the chest among many other useful discoveries on the use of drugs.

He became interested in the theories emanating from Europe at the time namely the work of Franz Gall. Gall maintained that our emotions could have a physiological effect on the body and were independent of our will.

This theory laid the foundation for the later work of Sigmond Freud and the study of the subconscious or unconscious mind. Elliotson was originally a little sceptical about mesmerism but soon became a great supporter of its use. He did in fact open the "Mesmeric Hospital" in Fittzroy Square in London.

In his journal "The Zoist" he detailed many of the cases he treated. One such case was that of a woman who had an amputation at the thigh while under mesmerism and who felt no pain. You have to bear in mind that many of his contemporaries were still treating their patients by bleeding them with leeches. Anaesthesia did not exist, except for brandy, and so surgeons had to resort to strapping their patients to the table in order to carry out an operation like an amputation. Against this grisly background Elliotson went on to publish the details of some seventy six similar operations which were carried out where patients felt no pain!

Elliotson was not the only physician using mesmerism as a form of anaesthesia. Other operations were featured in "The Zoist" one concerned a surgeon called "Mr Ward" who amputated a man's leg. There was also a Scottish surgeon called James Esdaile working in Calcutta who carried out literally hundreds of painless operations. He had the patients "mesmerised" for one and a half hours each day for five days. Although he had the total support of the Governor General at the time his reports were rejected by the medical authorities. Despite the fact that there were at the time records of at least four hundred operations using mesmerism as a method of anaesthesia it was abandoned in 1850's when chloroform and then ether took over.

In 1848 Elliotson published an article called "Cure of a true cancer of the female breast with mesmerism". His patient, a middle aged lady, had developed a large breast tumour. Originally he intended to prepare the patient for surgery. She had been seen by many of the leading surgeons of that time all of whom confirmed the nature of the growth in her breast. Some advised an immediate surgery while some declared the growth inoperable. Elliotson discovered that she was a good hypnotic subject capable of going into deep trance. He mesmerised her often sometimes up to three times a day and kept her in a very happy and peaceful trance for several hours at a time. Her progress was slow initially but she started to put on some weight and her general state of well being and strength increased. Eventually her tumour decreased and after a period of five years had completely disappeared a fact confirmed by those very same eminent surgeons who had diagnosed her condition all those years before.

There were many people experimenting with mesmerism around this time but the practice of using elaborate rituals involving magnets was receding. People were trying hard to explain just what mesmerism was. The concept of animal magnetism and ethereal fluids was dead. Instead a notion that mesmerism was a form of nervous sleep, or hypnos, began to take a hold. Hypnos was the Greek God of sleep and this was obviously where the term hypnosis originated.

Today we have a more scientific explanation and know it to be a psychological as well as a physical condition although there is still a lot we need to discover. There is no doubt it is possible to induce sleep in a subject which is indistinguishable from normal sleep but it is also possible to put a person in a trance who can walk around the room and appear to behave quite normally. Post-hypnotic suggestion, which is where a person is given a suggestion while in trance and told to carry some task on returning to consciousness, is now a well known technique. The point is the subject is still in a form of trance until that task has been executed.

To this day we still do not really know why the subconscious mind reacts to suggestions while in a hypnotic trance. There have been many theories about hypnosis over the past hundred years or so.

Goal-Directed Striving:-

Robert White from Harvard University in 1941 stated that "hypnotic behaviour is meaningful, goal-directed striving, its most general goal being to behave like a hypnotised person as this is continuously defined by the operator and understood by the subject". He maintained that a person must want to become hypnotised. While in trance it is possible to put a person in a state of catalepsy this is when a persons limbs can be moved and placed in any position and rigidly remain there. When the hypnotist suggests that the limbs are so stiff they cannot be moved the subject indeed finds that they cannot move them. White maintained that far from the hypnotist having an unnatural power over the subject the subject is in actual fact just co-operating with the hypnotist. If you like the subjects will is not strong enough to resist the suggestions of the hypnotist. This is a very difficult area, and one where a lot of controversy still exists.

It was about this time that the concept of "an altered state of the person" took hold.

Theory of Atavism:-

This theory was put forward by Ainslie Meares an Australian psychiatrist. He reasoned that logical thought was a comparatively recent function. He thought that in primitive man basic ideas and concepts would have been readily accepted without criticism and this process would in pad explain the state of hypnosis. In other words we thought that when we are placed in a trance, we regress to our primitive state of consciousness.

We certainly know that under hypnosis our critical factor is temporally suspended.

The Theory of Role Playing:-

After some twenty years of studies Dr T. Barber from the USA thought that a hypnotised subject's performance depends upon his attitudes and expectations of how they thought a hypnotised person would behave. The willingness of a subject to co-operate is very important. These ideas are closely related to those of Robert White.

Goal-directed Fantasy:-

Nich Spanos, an associate of Dr Barber, extended the ideas of "RolePlaying" into what he termed "Goal-directed fantasy". An example of this could be that a hypnotist asks his subject to lift their arm and at the same time the subject imagines their arm resting on a large deflated balloon which then gradually inflates, then the subject is described as taking part in "goal-directed fantasy". Indeed hand levitation exercises are used a lot in hypnosis to test the level of trance in a subject. You could very easily try this yourself When you feel you are feeling very relaxed just imagine your arm being lifted in the manner just described or imagine some other way in which your arm might be raised on pulleys or whatever.

Most of the theories just mentioned are really comments on hypnotic behaviour rather than a definition of what hypnosis actually is. Most have more than an element of truth about them. What all researchers agree on is that hypnosis is an altered and highly increased state of awareness. The degree to which a subject is receptive to suggestions made depends on the level and deepness of the trance. We will look into the different levels of trance in a moment. What I want to do now is give you an idea as to the physiological nature of hypnosis, what happens to your body while under hypnosis.

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