Hypnotism is a scientific phenomenon. The phenomenon has scientific explanations. Despite the fact being as it is, hypnotism continues to be one among the many subjects that the ill-informed persons rely for the propagation of superstitions in the name of extrasensory experiences.
The scientific principles of hypnosis and the working principles involved in hypnotisation have to be made clear for the public to assimilate the subject. Then only the false perceptions can find their way out.
The phenomenon that we call “Hypnotism” was in practice long before the Middle Ages. It was concealed behind the clown of mysticism. The power that generated this “mystic state” was believed to be and explained away in the name of supposed supernatural forces. Some called it ‘Oedic force’; others named it Animal Magnetism and still many explained it as the power that comes through and out of the Sixth Sense.
Priests in the temples of ancient Egypt, India and Greece practiced the art of hypnotism in disguise through ‘mediums’ for oracular prophesies. Later in the eighteenth century, an Austrian physician named Franz Anton Mesmer widely employed the phenomenon for curing mental ailments. It is after the name of Mesmer that the phenomenon happened to be called as “mesmerism”, in later years.
Scientific study of hypnotism started with the work of English surgeon from Manchester, Dr. James Braid who coined the word “hypnotism” to connote the phenomenon. Word ‘Hypnos’ means natural sleep. Hypnotism and Natural Sleep have certain resemblances, but both are not the same. Hence, James Braid chose to call the phenomenon by Hypnosis or Hypnotism.
Sleep is the consequential impact of the working of nerve cells in the central nervous system. During wakeful hours, the sensory centers in the nervous system would be continuously responding to the surrounding environs. Environs include both the internal and the external surroundings of the organism. The continuous working and interaction gradually make the nerve cells lose energy making the cells inactive, restful and inhibited. The inhibition thus produced in the sensory centers spread to the nervous system and to the physic as a whole. Such a state of restful inaction of the nerve cells and the body cells is what is known as natural sleep.
Sleep-like state can be induced by employing artificial means, say, by the use of narcotic drugs or by directing repeated suggestions or with the help of certain devises the stimuli released by which cause excessive excitation of nerve cells. The continuous excitation would bring in artificial inhibition in one or more than one of the sensory centres. The artificial state of inhibition induced by or through repeated suggestions or through devises other than drugs is called Hypnotism.
Hypnotism is a real scientific phenomenon. During hypnotic state, the subject would respond to the words and actions of the hypnotist while the subject would not be responsive to the words of others. There is no mystery in this aspect of the spectrum: During natural sleep as well as during hypnotic sleep, certain points in the brain centres would remain alert. These alert points are nicknamed as ‘sentry posts’. The sentry posts get rapport with the serious concerns of the safety of the physic that is the body of the individual.
A mother sleeping with her loved, new born child may not wake up even if one tries to wake her up. But the moment her child starts crying, the mother would abruptly wake up. Such is the sensibility of sentry post.
Hypnotist gets rapport with the subject or the hypnotized person through the activation of sentry post. This elemental factor helps to cure many a mental derangement. But, to be certain, the cure or the therapy as it is called shall have to come through appropriately trained and qualified Hypnotherapist.
Sentry posts keep suggestions made during hypnotic sleep in memory to be remembered and acted upon, on awakening from the trance. This happens in accordance with the suggestions imposed by the Hypnotist. This process is known as post hypnotic suggestion. Post hypnotic suggestions would remain in the memory of hypnotized subject until removed through reverse suggestions.
Many mental and related physical ailments can be cured through Hypnotism. The principle behind the effectiveness of hypnotherapy lies behind the work of the sentry post and conditioned reflexes formed through and by repetitive suggestions. Hypnotism may be employed to reduce the impact of severe pains as well as keeping the physic in aesthetic conditions. Hypnotism also helps pregnant women pleasant delivery devoid of anxiety and pains.
Hypnotism is not a panacea for all mental or other diseases. As a rule, hypnosis will be of no use to reduce weight or increase weight; to increase breast size or to give beautiful facial look; at no stretch of imagination hypnotism can help a person to fathom previous life. If any such things of past life experiences are reported, they are hallucinatory experiences induced by the hypnotist.