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What is hypnosis?

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Hypnosis is a state of relaxation that is commonly experienced by everybody at least two times per day: when going to sleep and again when awakening. Hypnosis is a tool that can assist with weight loss, stopping smoking, insomnia, anxiety and stress, phobias, sexual problems and many other problems that cause people grief, upset and misery. Furthermore, hypnosis can be used to enhance human abilities by utilising the power of the mind.

Most people have experienced many hypnotic phenomena in their day-to-day lives. An example of this is losing your car keys. You begin to frantically search the house believing that you've lost them, only to find them in the first place you looked. This is an example of a hypnotic phenomenon known as a "negative-hallucination".

Another common example is when you are trying to remember somebody's name. The harder you try to think of the name the harder it becomes. In fact, you may proclaim it's "on the tip of your tongue", but still the harder you try the more distant the name seems. When you give up and move on to thinking about something completely different the name just pops into your head.

The irony about being human is that often the harder we try to achieve things in life, particularly when we try to give up things we don't want to do (like smoking, eating too much food), the harder it actually becomes. Hypnosis can be used as a tool to make changes in life much easier to achieve, and we do this using "suggestion".

What is suggestion?

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The human brain is an organ of the human body that is not fully understood by even the very best scientists. A model that has existed for some time proposes that the brain is composed of two components: the conscious mind and the subconscious mind (also known as the unconscious mind).

Our conscious mind is the part of our minds that we make, not surprisingly, conscious decisions with: for example, deciding to go shopping, or deciding to go to the cinema.

Our subconscious mind is effectively hidden from conscious thinking (by definition "beneath" consciousness) and has many functions. It takes care of all the involuntary needs of our bodies to keep us alive. These functions include breathing rate, blood pressure, heart beat rate, our immune systems, our red blood cell count; in fact, so many processes that the number wouldn't even be worth hazarding a guess at.

The subconscious mind also does the job of maintaining, amongst other things, how we actually behave in different situations: how we speak, our interests, our abilities and weaknesses, our bad and good habits and so on. Naturally, this list, like the bodily processes it maintains to keep us alive, is endless.

The subconscious mind works very much like a computer; it does not "reason" like the conscious mind and can be considered, like a computer, to run on programmes. If it learns a programme to do something and begins running that programme, it will do so even if the programme is detrimental to our (its) health or lifestyle. Why on earth would we otherwise continue to smoke cigarettes, for example, knowing (with the conscious mind) that we are hurting ourselves?

Suggestion therapy, then, is the use of words (both choice of words and intonation of these words) to first create a state of very pleasant relaxation. Once the client is in this relaxed state, alternative behaviours are suggested to the subconscious mind. In effect, we are able to re-programme the subconscious mind to do things that are positive and beneficial to us as opposed to negative and detrimental.

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