We develop a sense of who we are and how valuable we are through the care we received from others early in life. Parents are like a mirror. When we see how they relate to us we take that as a reflection of who we actually are. The problem is that when the mirror is flawed - and all humans are flawed - we develop a flawed view of ourselves. The key is that it is only the view of ourselves that is flawed not who we actually are. Unfortunately, we have a deep tendency to believe that view. It can influence every aspect of our lives.
For the rest of our lives we use a flawed reference point (usually parents) for who we believe we are and how we see ourselves. We think our parents were right. The vast majority of human beings have limited ability to truly see another person as they really are. We are finite. We have troubles. We have unresolved feelings, sensitivities, misunderstandings, and lots of confusion. These problems make relating to others, especially children fraught with traps. Whatever unresolved issues parents have from their own childhood will get projected onto their children. Because of how brains develop, children have little ability to evaluate a parent's confused judgments. The negative things parents do and say become instructions to the psyche. These instructions operate in the background, like a computer operating system. It feels like "This is who I am." Instead, this is what a parent was projecting - putting on the child - rather than who the child and how we are as adults today really are.
Eventually, the pain we feel from those early relationships becomes too much to manage. We develop a coping strategy. If we use that strategy often enough, and most of us use them a good deal, they become a problem. That problem/symptom is usually what brings people into therapy.
The truth is that we are all lovable, capable and worthwhile. We are all valuable and important whether we know it or not. The key is learning to see through the smog of messages we got as children so we can live in our true selves. What we came to believe was something we learned. But, it doesn't add up properly. It's like learning 2 + 2 = 3. Once we recognize our programming is faulty we can learn new ways to view ourselves. We can clear away the beliefs we learned from flawed people and come to recognize our ultimate worth. We can learn to use a more accurate, higher reference for our self esteem, something beyond what our parents gave us.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Simply repeating to yourself over and over, "I'm worthwhile" usually doesn't go very deep. This is because the areas of the brain that need to change - deep areas of the mind - only change under special circumstances. The good news is that neuroscience has shown us that hypnosis has the ability to penetrate those deep areas. When core beliefs are reevaluated in a state of hypnosis, when they are reevaluated in the context of old memories, the new learning is very deep. People actually feel different rather than just telling themselves they are different. Hypnoanalysis is specifically designed to do just that.
Hypnoanalysis uses a process of psychotherapy to identify core beliefs and where those core beliefs got conditioned. Then we go back to the memories and develop an understanding of how the problem began in the first place. We go to the root cause. The core. The beginning of it all. Then, we create a process to recognize the truth. It's like opening an inner eye and suddenly seeing beauty, strength, confidence, peace, wellbeing, and love - already present within.
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History of Hypnosis
Where did hypnosis come from? Why don't we use it more often? Here's some answers to these and other questions.
Hypnosis has had many names and explanations over the centuries. Many of the misunderstandings of hypnosis people still have today date back to early explanations of the phenomenon. In fact, hypnosis would be a much more popular psychotherapy and counseling tool if it wasn't for all those misconceptions.
Many histories of hypnosis start with Franz Mesmer. Mesmer was practicing in Germany, Hungary, and later in France in the late 1700’s. He was a charismatic, showy character who was also secretive about his theories and often in conflict with medical establishment and legal authorities of the day. This made it hard for him to get other medical professionals to pay attention to what he was doing. Then, his ideas got mixed up with the French Revolution and King Louis XVI decided to have Benjamin Franklin test Mesmer’s ideas. Franklin did a very good scientific study that debunked Mesmer’s explanationbut not his results. Hypnosis took a detour into the back alleys and stages of France.
Later, a French doctor named Jean Martin Charcot, an emanant neurologist began studying hypnosis. His interest shocked the French medical establishment. He taught Pierre Janet who used hypnosis to develop ideas of the subconscious mind and used what we now call hypnoanalysis very effectively. Sigmund Freud studied with Charcot and Janet and developed many of his early theories based on his work with hypnosis.
In the 1840’s James Braid, an English doctor studied the phenomenon and gave it the name hypnosis. He recognized the factor of concentration and realized hypnosis was not the same as sleep. His theories are the ones that have best stood the test of time and science.
While Freud abandoned the practice of hypnosis because he was not very good at it, he did say in his later writings that he found nothing more effective than hypnosis. He found that when traumatic memories were revisited, the symptom the patient was experiencing would often disappear.
In 1954, the American Medical Association confirmed that hypnosis was effective for use in all areas of medicine. This revived interest in hypnosis and brought it main stream credibility. While it was not mainstream, the keen interest of prominent scholars and researchers such as William James, Ivan Pavlov, Clark Hull, Earnest Hilgard and others kept momentum behind our understanding of hypnosis.
In 1974, William Bryan founded the American Academy of Medical Hypnoanalysts (AAMH). He designed the process brilliant of hypnoanalysis we use today. AAMH continues to licensed train psychotherapists in the effective, ethical use of hypnosis.
In recent decades, neuroscience and hypnosis are combining forces to help us understand both hypnosis and neuroscience. Neuroscience has offered us compelling evidence that hypnosis happens in the brain. When the brain when it is in a state of hypnosis what happens depends on what is suggested. But, one thing that seems sure, hypnosis can influence the areas of the brain that have to do with emotional and mental problems in positive ways, ways medicines and simply talking with someone can’t. In other words, using hypnosis we are often able to help people be symptom free rather than merely manage the problem.
People have been trying to figure out what hypnosis is for hundreds of years. Why? Because it worked so extraordinarily well. The problem is that some of the explanations for it were way off base. For example, some people thought it was mind control, demon possession, that people were “out” or unconscious, that it was sleep. None of that is true. All of those explanations have proved to be wrong.
So what is it?
Hypnosis is very simple: it is concentrating intensely on something and ignoring what’s going on around you. Here are some examples: day dreaming, meditating, concentrating when you’re playing a video game or watching TV. If you’ve ever driven down the road while you were preoccupied and then looked up and said, “How did I get here?” you’ve been in hypnosis.
Children are naturally in hypnosis a lot. When they’re playing they’re ignoring adults talking in the background. Then when mom says, come for lunch and they ignore her, they’re not being disobedient, they actually don’t hear her. If mom makes eye contact and breaks their concentration, they’ll get the message. The fact that children are in hypnosis a lot is also one reason why childhood trauma has such a big impact.
Now that we have modern imaging technology, we can see what’s going on in the brain when people are in hypnosis. We’ve discovered that hypnosis is a state of mind. Most people can be hypnotized at least well enough for therapeutic hypnosis to work. Some people are very good at hypnosis. The people who are good at it share one characteristic: a history of trauma. That’s actually very good news because it means when trauma stomps through someone’s life, it leaves a trail for healing.
What is therapeutic hypnosis?
Therapeutic hypnosis is using this natural brain state for the benefit of the person seeking help. People wonder if they’ll bark like a dog if they come to the office for hypnosis. When stage hypnotists do that, their goal is to entertain an audience. They are asking people to do things that benefit their performance. At Northwoods Hypnosis and Counseling hypnosis is governed by a set of ethics. Our goal is to help you meet yourgoals to have a better life. Besides, if you don’t want to do something while you’re in hypnosis you can refuse to do it. You are always in control of what you do and say. Hypnosis power is in the person who is hypnotized, notin the person doing the hypnotizing. It is yourability and one we can use to help you meet your goals more effectively.
We have a lot neuroscience research to back up the idea that using hypnosis can make therapy more effective. In fact, research is showing us that positive results of using hypnosis in therapy makes therapy faster and the last longer that other forms of therapy that don’t use hypnosis.
The key is making sure you have a therapist who knows how to use hypnosis effectively for your benefit. Hypnotists can advertise all the benefits of hypnosis but may not know how to make sure you actually receive those benefits. Watch for future blog posts about what to look for in a therapist or call us to get answers to your questions.
Hypnosis has unfortunately been portrayed for entertainment and shock value in novels, movies, television and by stage hypnotists. Medical Hypnosis is very different from those portrayals. In fact, using hypnosis the way it is sometimes presented in popular media would be a violation of a therapist’s ethical standards.