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Hypnosis Development, Research and Perspectives Research Paper

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Updated: Jul 3rd, 2020

Definition of hypnosis

Blair (2004) defines hypnosis as an altered state of consciousness, awareness, or perception used by psychologists or doctors in treating psychological problems. It involves a focused or concentrated attention of the mind over a single issue as a way of empowering the mind in addressing a given problem. It allows patients to maximize their potential in addressing a given issue. Hypnosis empowers one’s mind to overcome issues such as fear, phobia, and negative habits that one is struggling with in life. The ultimate aim of hypnosis is to ensure that one is given the mental strength enough to overcome the issues that may prove challenging under normal circumstances. As Yapko (n.d) puts it, hypnosis puts the mind in a supernormal state where it can overcome problems in various social contexts.

Different kinds of hypnosis

Hypnosis may be used in different contexts. According to Fromm and Shor (2009), scholars generally classify hypnosis into two major categories. The two kinds are altered state and non-state models. However, it is important to note that the procedure of hypnotization is almost universal. A psychologist will look at the mental disorder of the patient to determine the most appropriate approach that should be used. The intensity of the mental disorder and the nature of the disorder determine the appropriate approach that should be taken. Some of the common mental problems that may require different types of hypnosis include phobias, alcoholism, sexual dysfunction, speech disorders, smoking control, chronic pain, self esteem, habit control, age regression therapy, and memory improvement.

As stated above, the process is the same, but different psychological problems will require different approaches taken to address them. A person who is suffering from low self-esteem will be directed to focus on issues that will empower him to feel valuable from within his mind. On the other hand, a person struggling with a habit such as alcoholism will be made to develop hatred towards the habit by concentrating the mind on negative issues about alcoholism based on personal experiences or experiences of other people within the society.

History of hypnosis and its controversies in the field of psychology

According to Bastarache (2010), history of the modern hypnosis dates back to late 1780s when Franz Mesmer investigated the existence of animal magnetism and its effect on one’s mind. His work was advanced by his followers such as James Braid and Dugald Steewart in early 1818. The term animal magnetism was changed to Mesmerism in reference to the founder of this concept. The concept became very popular among the physicians and psychologists who were interested in finding a new way of dealing with mental and psychological problems.

This concept spread very fast to other parts of the world. John Bramwell and George Beard were some of the earliest American medical specialists to start further researches on hypnotization. Pierre Janet conducted an extensive research in 1898 when completing his PhD in the field of psychological autism. His works led to more understanding of hypnosis.

Sigmund Freud furthered this field of study in the early 1906. He was one of the psychologists who hypnotized their patients as a way of treating their mental disorders. Other doctors and psychologists who made major contributions in the development of this field include Emile Coue, Clark Hull, Dave Elman, and Milton Erickson. According to Fromm and Shor (2009), although it is widely accepted that it was Franz Mesmer who first came up with the concept of hypnosis, it was James Braid who did a detailed study on human beings to determine how this concept can be used in addressing psychological problems. With the help of the parallel concepts that were developed by William Carpenter, Braid used ideo-motor reflex response theory; he was able to give an account for hypnotism phenomenon.

Some controversies have emerged about the use of hypnosis in addressing mental problems. According to Hewitt (2007), opponents of hypnosis argue that it makes a patient to reveal secretes against his own free will. The scholar says that hypnosis has been used by hypnotists in a way that leaves the patient uncomfortable with their revelations. Some of them claim that in such contexts, the patient becomes the slave of the hypnotist. All these controversies have been addressed by the contemporary psychologists who argue that during the process of hypnosis, the patient is in full control of his senses.

How hypnosis is used in treatment for depression and its Effectiveness

According to Bastarache (2010), hypnosis refers to a state of focused attention, inner absorption, and concentration with the aim of empowering one’s mind. By allowing the mind to concentrate on a specific issue of concern, forgetting all the other issues in life, one is given the ability to confront the issue with all his might. The mind is allowed to concentrate on the issue causing the mental problem. For instance, the issue may be the need to fight phobia towards heights. A psychologist will take the patient through a mental process where the mind will be fully concentrated on the issue causing this phobia.

During this process, any other events and concerns in life are completely forgotten. Once the patient is on this state, he will be guided by the hypnotist to confront the fear using all his mental might. This way, it becomes easier to overcome such mental problems than when one is in a normal state of mind where many other issues are demanding for the attention of the mind. The research by Hewitt (2007) revealed that hypnosis has been confirmed by many experts to be effective in addressing psychological problems. However, this can only be possible if it is done by a professional who understands the entire process of hypnotization.

Determining whether it is the best method of treating depression

The use of hypnosis in the treatment of psychological problems has been in existence for the past several years. However, the question of whether or not it is the best strategy still remains an issue that is debatable. Many psychologists still use various methods of counseling other than hypnosis. As Blair (2004) suggests, it is not realistic to say with certainty that a specific method of addressing psychological problem is the best.

Different mental problems will require different methods based on the stage of the problem. Hypnosis is just one of the methods that can be used. It may be the best in one context and not the other. The condition of the patient will define the most appropriate approach to use. The psychologist will have to evaluate the psychological problem of the patient before suggesting the method that will give the best results.


Bastarache, R. A. (2010). The everything self-hypnosis book: Learn to use your mental power to take control of your life. Avon: Adams Media. Web.

Blair, F. R. (2004). Instant self-hypnosis: How to hypnotize yourself with your eyes open. Naperville: Sourcebooks. Web.

Fromm, E., & Shor, R. E. (2009). Hypnosis: Developments in research and new perspectives. New Brunswick: Aldine Transaction. Web.

Hewitt, W. W. (2007). Hypnosis for beginners: Reach new levels of awareness & achievement. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications. Web.

Yapko, M. (n.d). A Brief Therapy Approach to the Use of Hypnosis in Treating Depression. Hypnosis in Treating Depression, 75-97. Web.

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