Hypnosis, also called hypnotherapy, refers to a modified state of consciousness close to sleep. It is a brief therapy, which will activate the unconscious in order to allow the changes that the person needs. Long decried, it is now recommended for many therapeutic applications, in particular for its analgesic action.
Practiced by a health professional, hypnotherapy can relieve or solve many disorders: pain, addiction, phobia, depression, digestion, sleep.
The origin of hypnosis
Derived from the Greek “ hypnos ”, meaning sleep, hypnosis designates both an altered state of consciousness and the practices intended to create it. This state, close to sleep or meditation, allows the individual to approach his unconscious while remaining aware of the world around him.
Hypnosis seems to have always been part of the arsenal of healers and shamans. It was not until the 18th century that it attracted the attention of a doctor, Dr. Mesmer. This one is convinced that there is a power of animal magnetism . According to him, some people have a fluid to influence other people to heal them. This idea brought him the wrath of the Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of Medicine in 1784. The method, ancestor of hypnosis, was treated as charlatanism.
It will be necessary to wait for the next century and the research of the British doctor James Braid. He rejects the idea of a fluid, but thinks that certain processes (such as speech and suggestion) can cause functional changes in the brain . These modifications are said to have healing properties on patients who experience them.
In 1955, the British Medical Society recognized the use of hypnosis as a medical procedure. In France, hypnosis was recognized in 1992 by Inserm after a conference on its mechanisms and effects by Dr Bongartz. It was not until 2001 that the first university training devoted to hypnosis opened its doors under the leadership of Dr. Jean-Marc
Application fields of Hypnotherapy
The best known fields of application are:
- Addictions (dependencies) such as tobacco, alcohol, video games, etc.
- Self-confidence (exam preparation, difficulty at work, sporting challenge, etc.)
- Pain (especially idiopathic pain)
- Phobias (fear of flying, fear of the dark, fear of water, etc.)
- Eating disorders: overweight, bulimia.
- Self-esteem (emotional shock, psychological trauma, enuresis, etc.)
- Depressive states (with medical treatment)
- Stress management
- OCDs (obsessive-compulsive disorders), manias
- Trauma, particularly emotional.
Principle of hypnosis
Hypnosis is a mode of functioning of our brain, provoked by different means. When a patient enters a state of hypnosis, his mind ignores everything around him. Hypnosis causes him to become hyper-reactive and hyper-sensitive to the speech of the hypnotist.
Thus, the patient perceives things more broadly, as a whole and with a certain distance. Once his sensoriality is increased, the patient can more easily confront his problems and solve them, calm a fear or modify a behavior that no longer suits his life.
This state of hypnosis has often been compared to a person so absorbed in what they are doing (reading, watching a movie) that they cannot hear what is going on around them. Sometimes it is our eyes that bring us into this waking state. Too busy, they no longer take the trouble to focus… we are daydreaming.
This state of letting go would open up possibilities for action on the mind, information processing, emotional reactions and the body. The interest of this psychological work lies in the fact that it is carried out at an unconscious level. Conscious activities are put to sleep.
What is Ericksonian Hypnosis?
Ericksonian hypnosis comes from the practice of Milton Erickson (1901-1980), American psychiatrist. This form of hypnosis is at the origin of many currents of modern psychotherapy such as family therapies, brief therapies (strategic, systemic) or neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), etc…
The principle of a brief therapy such as Ericksonian hypnosis is that it aims not to generate many follow-up sessions: it is generally considered that four (tobacco for example) to ten sessions (depression), over a period of a few weeks to a few months are enough.
In which cases is hypnosis effective?
In 2015, Inserm evaluated the effectiveness of hypnosis, analyzing all the medical studies available on the subject. Its therapeutic interest is confirmed for:
- manage stress, anxiety, especially post-traumatic stress disorder in adults;
- treat irritable bowel syndrome ( functional colopathy );
- treat diseases under psychosomatic influence such as psoriasis, asthma or eczema;
- reduce the amount of sedatives and painkillers during an operation (surgery, biopsy) or facilitate medical procedures or examinations ( analgesic action of hypnosis ).
The interest of hypnosis in smoking cessation is not yet recognized by the World Health Organization, a position confirmed by Inserm. This also remains to be proven for:
- reduce pain during childbirth;
- reduce pain during dental care in adults and children;
- prevent postpartum depression;
- limit the hot flashes of menopause;
- manage schizophrenia.
How is hypnosis practiced?
Hypnosis is usually practiced in a one-on- one session with a hypnotherapist. In recent years, we have also witnessed the development of online hypnosis, via Skype or MP3 files.
For certain addictions (smoking) or in the event of eating disorders, it is possible to do group hypnosis. The results are better and access to care is facilitated by the possibility of joining an emergency therapy group.
The hypnotist has an arsenal of proposals to help the patient focus:
- visual arsenal: ask the patient to visualize soothing images or show them to him;
- auditory arsenal: a sound, most often the voice of the therapist, acts as a common thread;
- tactile arsenal: tactile contact is maintained between the patient and the therapist.
These different techniques adapt to the personality of the patient to allow him to enter a state of hypnosis as easily as possible. Prolonged focus induces hypnosis.
Classical hypnosis or Ericksonian hypnosis
There are two main types of hypnosis:
Traditional or classic hypnosis: this is the first known form of hypnosis. It is mainly based on direct suggestions from the therapist. They will be the same for all patients with the same pathology.
Modern Ericksonian hypnosis: named after its founder Milton Erickson (1901-1980), this hypnosis is the most practiced in psychotherapy and medicine. The hypnotized person is led into an altered state of consciousness through their own participation. Some specialists prefer to use the term self- hypnosis. Thanks to several communication techniques, the therapist allows the patient to connect his conscious with his unconscious in order to make a change. The therapist dialogues with his patient by proposing solutions in the form of metaphors, activation of dreams or memories, indirect suggestions, to solve his problem. Once awake, the patient will unconsciously choose one of the proposed solutions, the one that will have seemed the best for him: this is autosuggestion.
Are there any contraindications to hypnotherapy?
Hypnosis is not recommended for people with severe psychotic disorders: schizophrenia, paranoia, manic depression.
Hypnosis is in no way painful or dangerous. Staying stuck in a hypnotic state or even acting against your will on the orders of the therapist are myths.
As the authors of the Inserm report evaluating the effectiveness of hypnosis pointed out, the advantage of this technique is “that no serious adverse effect appears to be attributable to it. However, the existence of such adverse events but if they do occur, their incidence is relatively low.
However, you have to be on your guard because some sects use hypnosis as a solution to any problem. It is therefore preferable to refer to specialists recognized by the medical profession e.
What is a hypnosis consultation like?
The hypnotherapist begins by questioning the patient about his reason for consultation and his clinical condition. Then he invites her to settle down as comfortably as possible, sitting or lying down. He asks her to close her eyes or fix a point. The patient must concentrate on the voice of the therapist , the real common thread during the session. Little by little, this voice leads to relaxation by the evocation of soothing thoughts or by the play of breathing. The patient then enters the “pre-induction” phase: he is drowsy but not yet hypnotized.
It is necessary to wait for the induction phase so that he lets himself be totally guided by the voice of the therapist. At this stage, the practitioner more or less directly suggests sensations or mental images to him in order to mobilize his resources.
The legend peddled in particular by show hypnosis is that the hypnotherapist has a hold on his patient in order to do to him what he wants. In reality, the patient is always aware of what is happening and does not lose the memory of the session. The consultation ends with a countdown aimed at facilitating the return of the patient to his usual state.
How to choose your hypnotherapist?
Training in hypnotherapy is only accessible to health personnel with a state diploma: psychologists, psychotherapists, general practitioners, medical specialists, dental surgeons, nurses, midwives, physiotherapists and child nurses. The medical or paramedical professional must be registered with his professional order, the professional psychologist on a departmental list (ADELI number with the ARS, regional health agencies).
As a patient, it is best to choose someone trained in hypnosis techniques. In France, there are several university degrees (recognized by the College of Physicians) and several good quality private training courses, including that of the French Association for the Study of Medical Hypnosis (AFEHM).
Read Also: Physiotherapy: what are the benefits?
Duration and price of a hypnotherapy session
A hypnotherapy session lasts 30 to 60 minutes and costs 45 to 85 € depending on the specialists and their location. Do not hesitate to ask for the prices charged before committing to hypnotherapy. If the practitioner is a doctor, the sessions are partially reimbursed by Social Security and supplemented by mutual insurance as for a classic consultation.
Books on hypnosis
- Practical Treatise on Hypnosis: Indirect Suggestion in Clinical Hypnosis, Milton H. Erickson, Ernest L. Rossi, Sheila I. Rossi, ed. Jacques Grancher: a book that brings together the writings of the founder of Ericksonian hypnosis and his work in medical hypnosis.
- Hypnosis that heals, Dr Jean Marc Benhaiem, ed. J. Lyon: a book for all those who want to learn about medical hypnosis, whether they are professionals or patients.
- Discover hypnosis, Antoine Bioy, ed. Interedition: a book to discover modern hypnosis and its applications.