Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Question of Hysteria

Since we have been going down the Charcot road, perhaps that is a good break in our travels to stop for this week's contemplation. Let's see, Charcot believed early on that only those suffering from a heredity disorder that caused hysteria could be hypnotized. He mainly studied woman, so that means hysterical females could only be hypnotized. In some circles this translates to weak-minded females. Now mind you, this view only lasted for a few years during the Victorian period. The theories around hypnosis and who could be hypnotized along with how has changed drastically.

But, here we have it, perhaps also the beginning of the development of many potential myths about hypnosis. So, let's get a little personal and take a few steps back.

Here is the question:

What are the best mental conditions for successfully hypnotizing someone or being hypnotized yourself?


Michael Raugh, C.H. said...

I'm going to be obnoxious and say it depends on the circumstances and the objective.

In a casual situation, where someone simply wants to experience trance but has no particular goal in mind, I'd say the best mental conditions are openness and a willingness to just let things happen. A high level of existing tension or apprehension would have to be dealt with first unless the hypnotist is skilled enough to know how to use that.

In the case of a client looking for help with change work, an open mind is important but I think a sense of confidence in the hypnotist -- belief -- is a more important component here. An expectation that this person *can* hypnotize, knows what to do to help, is vital and "I'm going to try this" is generally considered permission to fail. Again, a certain degree of comfort is also helpful.

Now take an extreme case: say you're with a friend when they fall off a ladder and possibly break a leg. You want to take his mind off it while you wait for medical help to arrive. Clearly this guy isn't relaxed or comfortable ... but he is still in a state that is conducive to being hypnotized. The key to emergency hypnosis is recognizing that someone focused on his pain is already hypnotizing himself; you can use that to direct that focus elsewhere and produce a trance state. It won't cure the broken leg, of course, but a calm, coherent patient is much easier for an EMT to work with than one who is writhing around and focused on his pain.

The Transparent Hypnotist said...

Ah, Michael. How really obnoxious. NOT. A most provoking answer actually. The emergency hypnosis was brilliant to bring up. Have you ever actually had to use it in a circumstance like you mentioned?

Michael Raugh, C.H. said...

Emergency hypnosis is fascinating. I took the Don Mottin course in it as part of my initial training.

No, I haven't been called on for a real medical emergency yet. I've relieved a few headaches (after making the sufferers promise to see a doctor if it came back) and helped a friend with a broken toe during the recovery stage. My mentor, Marcia Proctor, tells a story of using hypnosis to help her daughter recover quickly from a nasty facial burn. You should do a 10 Questions with her soon.

The Transparent Hypnotist said...

Thanks for the idea of Marcia for the 10 Questions. I'll see if she is interested. Thanks, Michael. Hey, are you going to Hypnocon or solid Gold?