Clinical Hypnosis is a system of non-medicinal treatment for mental disorders caused by environal influences. In other words, clinical hypnosis is Hypnotherapy practiced by appropriately trained clinicians who use word-suggestions to cure patients after putting them under hypnosis.
Researchers have confirmed that Hypnotherapy is free from side effects; it does not resort to use of medicines. In hypnotherapy the Hypnotist uses select words of powerful suggestions for the purpose of therapy.
How hypnosuggestion brings out cures? Is there anything mysterious about it? These are two important questions that come up while evaluating hypnotherapy.
The physiological basis of Hypnotherapy is simple and understandable brain activity. In hypnotherapy, the active player is neither the Hypnotist nor the Suggestions the Hypnotist spells out, but it is the ground work executed by Sentry Posts, the isolated but active points existing in the central nervous system.
Dictionary defines Sentry as a soldier stationed at a place to stand guard: The place where the Sentry stands guard is called Sentry Post. The Sentry Post takes care of the place within its jurisdiction to prevent unauthorized entries. The purpose of keeping a Sentry Post is to protect the premises and to save its inhabitants. The engagement of Sentry Posts has become a life-style requirement of modern society. The practice ought to have become necessary as a sequence of job diversification and individual-cum-collective engagements of modern social order. In ancient times, parents and elders used to take care and keep guard of their family and property. There used to be no Sentries and Sentry Posts in those days.
Guarding safety of the clan can be traced as a biological trait of living organisms. May be, it was one of the components of evolution of species. Ants and other insects keep twenty four hour vigil around the holes and the leaves where their female partners lay eggs. Birds keep constant watch over their nests where eggs and chicks are housed. The same is the case with animals and monkeys of all types. The insects, birds, animals and monkeys take over themselves the duty of Guards along with their routine work for food and means of survival.
The sentry posts which we find around the living organisms including humans are located in the premises where they live. But, then, what about the individual physique where the need of sentry post is equally obvious? Apart from the body itself, there are innumerable invaders from outside the body to turtle the balance and equilibrium of the physic. For that too there exists ‘Sentry Posts’; the sentry posts which are more vigilant and responsive than the sentry posts that human community deploy for its safety. Sentry Posts in human brain not only sends out alerts but it also nurtures memory for the safety of the physic.
In the year 1927, the great Physiologist, Dr. Ivan Petrovich Pavlov reached an irrevocable conclusion: It was about the existence of a Rapport Zone and certain points on duty in the zone:
While awake, the cerebral hemispheres of human brain represent a ‘system’. The system coordinates all parts of the brain with each other. The Coordination enables the sensory centres in the cortex to produce collective response to stimuli from external environs. The response helps bodily activities and cognitive functions to take place. When the process continues, the nerve cells start losing energy. Consequently, the cerebral areas become inhibited and the inhibition spreads to the entire brain and the physique as a whole. There thus happens what is known as Natural Sleep.
In the said brain activity there is yet another sphere of inhibition which produces partial sleep called Hypnosis. During hypnosis, the coordination of the System becomes absent. As a result, each segment of the brain responds to external stimuli in isolation. With reference to the partial, isolated inhibitory phase, I P Pavlov wrote:
“The following phenomenon is very often observed: Inhibition spreads over the cerebral hemispheres and sleep sets in. Nevertheless, certain points which I call points on duty or on guard in the rapport zone may remain active without being faded by inhibition. This is observed, for example, in the sleep of a miller who wakes up when the noise of the mill ceases, or in the sleep of the mother who wakes up at the faintest sound coming from her child but who is not disturbed by much louder sounds.”
The sentry posts get rapport with any or all of which are of serious concerns of the physic as revealed in the Pavlovian experiment. As explained by the Scientist, the mother sleeping with her loved, newborn child by her side seldom responds to calls for waking up even if one tries hard by shouting. But the moment her child starts crying, though the sound of crying is feeble, the mother abruptly wakes up. As for the mother, the safety of her child is the utmost concern: Here the sentry posts alerted the sensory centres in the mother’s brain. The impact of the alert was her sudden waking up. Such is the sensibility of the sentry post.
The duty of the sentry post in human brain is to keep a watch over sensory reactions to stimuli emanating from internal or external environs. If the reaction affects the interests of the physic, sentry posts send signals of alert to the sensory centres which are in partial inhibition. The alert signals excite the nerve cells for immediate action.
Turning to hypnotism, the most serious concern of sentry post in the nervous system of the person under hypnosis is the subject himself or herself. Therefore the sentry posts in the subject’s brain automatically build rapport with the Hypnotizer or the Hypnotist through temporary nerve connections called conditioned reflex. These temporary nerve connections are formed by the repeat suggestions made by the Hypnotist. Thus Hypnotist gets rapport with the subject or the hypnotized, through the activation of sentry posts. This basic brain activity is used for treatment of deranged mental conditions of patients.
Sentry posts keep suggestions made during hypnotic sleep in memory to be remembered and acted upon in accordance with the suggestions imposed by the Hypnotist. What is suggested to the subject during hypnotic sleep would remain in the subject’s memory unless removed through reverse suggestions.
Mental aberrations connected with abnormal nervous activity due to the influence of environs which might form temporary nerve connections called conditioned reflexes in the brain, can be set right through hypnotherapy. The environs can either be internal or external or both the internal and the external. Internal environs involve the physic whereas the external environs represent all that is outside the body. Disorders of muscular disarray, indigestion, breathing and cardiac functions belong to internal environs. External environs in the present context include natural furies, family, friends, foes, community, society, social order, rules, regulations, public utterances, ideological percepts, beliefs, religion, religious dictates, dogmas and similar other elements.
Mental imbalances may take place due to brain damages caused by injuries and serious diseases. In such cases hypnotherapy has only very limited role to play. Where the imbalances are created by the influence of stimuli emanating from various sources of environs, hypnotherapy can bring back normalcy to the patients. In such cases, the imbalance has been produced by conditioned reflexes. It is such imbalances and aberrations laid by reflex action that are viable for hypnotherapy. Because of the rapport retained between sentry posts in the patient’s brain and the Hypnotist, repeat word suggestions for cure generate internal conditioned inhibition to deflect or redraw the conditioned reflex already formed which caused the earlier malady.
It is the sentry posts in nervous system that helps therapists to cure the mental disorders through hypnosuggestion. While under hypnosis, the sensory centres of the subject become isolated and independently react to stimuli without coordination between each other. As a result, the mind of the subject loses the faculty of reasoning. The situation demands the patients and relatives to be extra cautious while selecting the therapist because Suggestions of the Hypnotist will be acted upon by the patient’s sensory organs due to the irresistible rapport of the sentry posts.
In the above background, the hypnotherapist needs to be one who is clean in dealings with a personality of nascent behaviour apart from being appropriately trained. Besides, the Hypnotist shall have to ensure the presence of one or two close relatives of the patient inside the therapy centre as witnesses.
There are possibly no chances of causing injury to the patients by the Hypnotist through ill-intent suggestions because the sentry posts may force sudden waking up of the subject to react strongly against any misbehavior on the part of the hypnotist. However, the Hypnotherapist, the Patients and their near and dear Ones have to be cautious as cautious and alert as the Honorable Sentry Posts are.