Patrick B. McGinnis, PhD, LMHC

Psychotherapy, Sex Therapy, Couple's Counseling, Addictions Counseling, Psychological & Psychosexual Assessment and Polygraph Testing


horizontal rule

Hypnosis And Its History

Hypnosis is a natural state that each of us have entered whether we realize it or not.  If you've ever missed your exit off the highway, gotten off the elevator on the wrong floor, or day dreamed your way through a long meeting, then you have been in a trance. 


Hypnotism puts you into a state of "focused concentration," during which you're vaguely aware of your surroundings -- you just don't care about them. There are different stages of hypnosis, some deeper than others. But when you're in any of them, your imagination is open to suggestion.

The suggestions made to you while you're hypnotized are part of hypnotherapy. This term, sometimes used interchangeably with hypnotism, simply describes the stuff that is suggested to you while you're hypnotized to help make you better after the session is over. Often the suggestions are images -- picturing your arm going numb, picturing yourself relaxed -- rather than orders to "stop hurting."

Over the years, hypnotism has had a rather seedy reputation. This bad rep can be traced back to the late 18th century, when Franz Mesmer, the guy who introduced hypnotism into medicine, got himself kicked out of France for his fraudulent healing practices. Hypnosis was soon discovered to have genuine healing potential, but it was exploited by enough crackpots and vaudeville magicians to stay associated with superstition and evil for a long time.


Today, though, hypnosis is about as mainstream as an alternative therapy can get. It has been recognized as a valid medical therapy since 1955 in Great Britain and since 1958 in the United States. Many mainstream doctors (particularly anesthesiologists and surgeons) are trained in hypnotherapy, as are a good number of dentists, psychotherapists, and nurses.

There are many misconceptions about Hypnosis
Many of us have seen stage hypnotists have people do outrageous things.  The stage hypnotists carefully select their "subjects" based on observations that indicate who the most suggestible people are who are willing to act in funny ways.  While in trance:

bulletYou cannot be made to do anything that you would not normally do. 
bulletYou have control of all that occurs during a hypnosis session. 
bulletThe Hypnosis specialist is there to help guide and assist you as the both of you go through your core issues. 
bulletMore often than not, someone who has just completed a hypnosis session feels refreshed and energized.


Good candidates for hypnosis

If you're trying to lose weight, stop smoking, control substance abuse, or overcome a phobia, hypnosis may be worth a try; it has worked for many people (but not all). And if you're unhappy with your current treatment for warts or other skin conditions, asthma, nausea, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, migraines, or other forms of pain, discuss the possibility of hypnotherapy with your MD and request a referral.


Hypnosis can work for almost anyone, though some people have an easier time than others. If you're lucky, you'll be one of the few people (about 5 to 10 percent of the population) who is highly susceptible to hypnotic suggestion. Some of these folks reputedly can be hypnotized (with no other anesthesia) before surgery and feel no pain. But even if you're not in this group, chances are high that hypnosis can help you: About 60 to 79 percent of people are moderately susceptible, and the remaining 25 to 30 percent are minimally susceptible. Children and young adults are often good candidates for hypnosis, perhaps because they're so open to suggestion and have active imaginations.

Hit Counter Last modified: 10/12/09