Does Hypnosis Work? Learn The Science of Hypnotherapy

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Does Hypnosis Work? If yes, how does it work?

It’s a question that’s been asked for centuries: Does hypnosis work? And if it does, how exactly does it work?

If you’re at a point where you’re just beginning your journey with hypnotherapy, you’re probably asking yourself these exact questions. The short answer is that extensive research has shown that hypnotherapy can be a very powerful tool for improving one’s life. The explanation as to why it works is relatively simple.

Hypnosis empowers individuals to update and change their beliefs that are buried in the subconscious. Through effective hypnotherapy, we’re able to update and re-frame those old beliefs, such as the need to smoke, and replace the beliefs with helpful and new assumptions.

How Hypnosis Work to Reshape Assumptions?

Why is hypnosis effective? Being hypnotized involves entering into an extremely relaxed state of mind. This helps us bypass our critical mind. To put it another way, the mind is fully relaxed and opened up to learning new information. It’s much more open to new ideas and suggestions.

Within this deep state of relaxation, we’re able to override the automatic thoughts that our subconscious minds fall back on and update these thoughts with different thoughts. Let’s take the example of undergoing hypnotherapy for losing weight.

There are many beliefs your subconscious mind has regarding weight loss. You might be conditioned to believe that it’s impossible for you to lose weight, that you won’t be able to stop eating the foods that comfort you, or that there’s no time in your day to workout.

The specific subconscious thoughts you have about losing weight are shaped directly by past experiences, expectations, and memories. The end up driving your conscious approach without you even realizing that it’s happening.

Unfortunately, your subconscious mind has a way of setting you up for failure. This is true about nearly all of our poor habits, whether they are drinking alcohol in excess, smoking, eating too much or thinking of ourselves in a negative light. All of these issues are rooted deeply within the unconscious mind.

By undergoing hypnosis, however, we start the process of updating and altering assumptions that have negative life impacts. This helps explain why thorough research tells us that hypnotherapy is effective for people suffering from substance abuse, weight issues, and chronic pain.

When we train our minds to take a different approach to our goals and challenges, the negative thoughts that sabotage us are eliminated.

To gain a better understanding of why our minds are suggestible under a hypnotic state, let’s dive even deeper.

The Theories of Why Hypnotherapy Works

The Theories of Why Hypnotherapy Works

There are a couple of theories about what our minds go through while under hypnosis. To fully understand the process, it’s important to discuss both theories.

1. The State Theory

This theory makes the assumption that individuals in a hypnotic state enter into a completely altered state of their own consciousness. Within this altered state of consciousness, a person is able to disassociate awareness from the control of their behavior. A subject is able to completely bypass their conscious thoughts in order to get a better focus on what they are doing and why they do it.

For example, in an experiment, Ernst Hilgard had his hypnosis subjects hold each of their hands within an ice-cold bucket of water. Individuals that were in a hypnotic state were easily able to keep their hands within the cold water for a much longer period of time than those who were not hypnotized.

However, once the cold became too powerful for those under hypnosis, they came out of the hypnotic trance and took their hands out of the cold.

What this experiment revealed is that patients that were hypnotized were bypassing their critical thought of “the water is far too cold” and were able to endure it for a longer period of time.

This is exactly what the state theory goes to prove: when a person reaches such a deep relaxed state of mind, the way the brain processes information is altered.

2. The Non-State Theory

The non-state theory is quite different. It makes the suggestion that an individual who is under hypnosis is simply playing a role. It states that the individual has specific assumptions and conclusions of how they are to act in a hypnotized role, which influences behavior both during and after a session.

As such, the non-state theory proposes that the positive responses displayed after a session are because it’s how the individual assumed they would act, or expected to act.

Which One is the Correct Theory?

Thanks in part to the developments of brain imaging technologies, recent studies strongly suggest that the state theory is correct. This research shows us how the activity within the brain is physically altered when a person acts on suggestions during hypnotherapy.

The research, in fact, has been quite conclusive. As an example:

In 2005, a Columbia University professor named Dr. Amir Raz asked his patients to do an easy task. He wrote four simple words in big block letters: BLUE, GREEN, YELLOW, and RED. However, the ink color he used for each written word didn’t match the word. Instead, he wrote the word BLUE in red-colored ink, and so forth.

If you were asked the color that BLUE was written in, your brain would automatically want to respond, “blue” although the right answer is red. This phenomenon is referred to as the Stroop Effect, where incongruent ideas are mixed and it takes more focus to give the correct answer.

Dr. Raz then proceeded to put his subjects into a hypnotic trance, telling them that they were about to see gibberish words. Their only job was to accurately identify the ink color of each of these words.

Each subject was able to properly identify the colors without a delay. But beyond that, through the use of brain imaging technology, it was revealed that the areas of each subject’s brain that deciphers the written word did not activate at all.

This study shows proof of how the state theory works and why it is the correct one of the two theories of hypnotism.

Preconditioned Beliefs Can Be Reframed

Another study asked a group of subjects to embark in a test of wine tasting. Each person was given two different choices to taste: a glass of inexpensive wine or a glass of expensive wine.

However, what the participants didn’t know was that both glasses had the same exact wine in them. However, the subjects fully expected that the pricier wine would taste better. As such, they automatically gave it better scores for taste.

Although it was a subtle suggestion (one glass was much more expensive than the other), it shows us how simple it is for suggestions to alter perception.

Unfortunately, however, our critical minds aren’t very open to the power of suggestion. When a person hears a suggestion, they automatically critique it and attempt to analyze it.

But with the power of hypnotherapy, our minds are much more open to suggestion. Within this deeply-relaxed state of mind, pre-conceived notions that hold us back are bypassed.

This is how hypnosis works: by reframing critical thinking patterns into new ways of looking at our worlds.

Will Hypnosis Work for You?

If you’ve never tried hypnotherapy, you might still remain skeptical of its effectiveness. While the process isn’t a be-all and end-all solution, it definitely plays a large role in ridding ourselves of destructive thought patterns and behaviors.

Why is hypnosis effective? Perhaps it’s time that you gave hypnosis a shot in your life and find out for yourself.

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